In my family, I’m the person who truly loves the holidays. And candles play an important role in our Yule traditions (and have been part of our Christmas decorations as well since –forever). Candles have always played a prominent role in my witchcraft practice and life, which is one reason I light them every night during Yule.
CANDLES: SIMPLE. BEAUTIFUL. MAGICKAL.
Available in various shapes, styles, and sizes, candles bring light and energy through flame as well as beauty into a room or a magickal working. They are accessible (most of mine are purchased at the Dollar Store) and allow flexibility in their use.
As mentioned, candles work through the element of fire which can embody will, intention, passion, energy, and transformation. In my experience, the light offered by a candle flame can also be healing, soothing, and protective.
A candle’s flame can even provide warmth and nurturing energy when necessary. Additionally, a candle flame can be an excellent focal point during meditation. For these reasons (and more), I love working with candles.
CANDLES: OUR YULE TRADITION
There are many reasons to light a candle throughout the holiday season. For our family, we begin setting flame to wick at the beginning of December in our version of a Yule Log crafted by Car.
A Christmas tradition, the Yule Log is meant to be placed in a hearth as part of the Winter holidays. The customs vary by region. For instance, in Norway family members write wishes on pieces of paper to be burned with the Yule log to celebrate the return of the Sun. Others will burn a small portion of the log from Christmas until Twelfth Night in January. There is a lot of history, so check out Jason Mankey’s blog post on Yule Logs or his latest book: Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule.
For our family, the Yule log is a candle holder made from a small log that gets nestled on top of festive holiday finery. The Yule Log resides on our altar. Three tealights are lit at dusk and allowed to extinguish on their own (sometime in the evening) throughout December until the Winter Solstice when a separate, larger candle is set to burn from dusk until dawn. There is also a candle in the window every night.
Candles: Shining Into the Night
I cannot speak for my family’s motivations during this season as we have different paths. For me, one reason is as a light in the darkness. Winter does not begin until the solstice but in Michigan, the light steadily wanes at the Autumn Equinox to the point it seems like midnight at 6 PM by December 1st.
But after the longest night, the Sun begins its slow return and I greet it with candlelight, bells, and words of welcome. I also use this time to create spells of healing, goodwill, and prosperity for the upcoming year. This includes orange pomanders as well as a candle spell to be performed with my family on Yule.
It makes me happy to observe these simple rituals. And this year, lighting the candles offers additional solace and deeper meaning when reality dims the holiday spirit. Sitting in a room lighted by candles brings serenity to my spirit.
Always has done. Long before I started my path as a Witch. Long before I understood the “fire” energy at work within the flame. I can remember many holiday seasons past, sitting in a darkened room by myself, enjoying the ambiance of the candlelight. A sense of “possibility” in the air. That is what candles represent for me. Peace and possibilities.
Watching a single candle flame (while murmuring a spell) during the Winter Solstice, knowing the flame heralds the Sun’s return throughout Middle Winter, bringing with it the future warmth of Spring. Placing a candle in the window to indicate warmth, welcome, and shelter to friends and family. While candles are a beloved tool of my magickal practice as a Witch, they become even more sacred as part of my personal ritual and celebration at Winter Solstice.
Enhance Your Calm This Yuletide Season
So if, as many of us, you are feeling disconnected or difficult emotions this holiday season, I encourage those who are willing to sit in a darkened room, light a candle, and just breathe. Put on some music. Watch the flame. Don’t worry about spells or focus at this time. Candles can be used to bring light into a personal “night” as well.
Exist with “fire” as offered to you through a lighted candle and receive what it offers. Energy where yours might be flagging. Creativity where blocks have cropped up. Warmth where emotions have chilled or grown cold. Peace for a moment while chaos reigns elsewhere. Comfort where tears must fall. Experience what you need by asking fire to assist.
Then, on some other day if you are inspired, light another candle to welcome the return of the Sun (it doesn’t even have to be on the Winter Solstice). Draw to yourself what you need for the coming New Year. Allow the magick of a candle spell to work to manifest what you want or need. Use the candle as a magickal tool but also as the vehicle in which “fire” can be an even greater spirit ally. After all, it a force of possibilities.