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Candles Unite Our Spirit and Our Humanity

Candle lighting is a practice that transcends cultures and religions, symbolizing various elements from divine presence to personal intentions. It is my belief that our inability to see the things that unite us in our practices is stabilizing our inequitable distribution of power and is a model of our disconnection to spirit. My personal journey to finding my spiritual path started with lighting a candle because I just needed to do SOMETHING. I needed to hold space for myself as a very burnt out workaholic people pleaser, who had left her authenticity and connection to spirit some where in a Tennessee middle school. Our current social climate seems to have us strong held with hatred for anything that makes us different from one another and is taking a toll on our ability to believe in a whole and loving humanity. I want to be clear that this goes beyond the overt hatred of religious and racial prejudice. It also manifests as jealousy for people who have a “greater piece of the pie than they need” or annoyance for people who don’t care to share the load in cleaning up the planet. Our egos find a way to push others away to support our own special brand of individuality which can be an attack on sharing our whole ass humanity. All that said, It is my goal today to admit my own guilt in perpetuating any distance I have created with humanity, as well as, point out how one of my favorite things, the magic of candles, unites us to our spirits and each other.


In Catholicism, lighting a candle is a form of prayer. It symbolizes the light of Christ and is often accompanied by a spoken or silent prayer. The practice dates back to the early days of the Church, around the 4th century, where candles were used in the Catacombs during Mass. Candles are lit for various reasons: as a votive offering, for the repose of souls, or during the celebration of the Eucharist. Over centuries, the tradition has evolved, with candles now being integral to ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals .

Eastern Orthodox Christianity

Similar to Catholicism, the Eastern Orthodox Church uses candles extensively in its rituals. Candles are lit as a symbol of Christ being the Light of the World. This practice can be traced back to the early Christian communities in the Eastern Mediterranean, around the 3rd and 4th centuries, where candles symbolized the presence of the Holy Spirit. They are used during services, for personal prayer, and as offerings. The faithful light candles before icons of saints and Christ, praying for intercession and guidance, maintaining a tradition that has been observed for centuries .


In Judaism, candles play a crucial role in various rituals. The most well-known use is during Shabbat, where two candles are lit to mark the beginning of the Sabbath. This practice, believed to have originated around the 6th century BCE during the Babylonian Exile, symbolizes the creation of light and peace. During Hanukkah, the menorah is lit for eight nights to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE. Yahrzeit candles are lit in memory of the deceased, marking the anniversary of their death, a tradition rooted in medieval Jewish customs around the 12th century CE .


Candles and oil lamps, known as diyas, are integral to Hindu worship. They are used in rituals and ceremonies to invoke divine presence. The use of light in Hindu worship dates back to ancient Vedic times, around 1500 BCE, where fire (Agni) was central to rituals. During Diwali, the festival of lights, homes and temples are illuminated with numerous diyas to symbolize the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Lighting a lamp in front of deities is a common practice to show reverence and seek blessings, a tradition that has been observed for millennia .


In Buddhism, candles are often placed on altars as offerings to Buddha. They symbolize the light of wisdom illuminating the darkness of ignorance. This practice originated from early Buddhist rituals around the 5th century BCE, where light offerings were made to honor the Buddha and his teachings. During significant ceremonies and festivals like Vesak, candles and lanterns are lit to honor Buddha's enlightenment and teachings. The act of lighting a candle is also seen as a way to cultivate mindfulness and focus during meditation, reflecting practices that date back to ancient Buddhist traditions .

Paganism and Wicca

In Pagan and Wiccan traditions, candle magic is a central practice. Different colored candles are used to represent various intentions and energies. The use of candles in these practices can be traced back to ancient European pagan rituals around 500 BCE, where fire was a symbol of life and energy. For example, a green candle might be lit for prosperity, a red one for love, and a black one for protection. The act of lighting a candle is often accompanied by spells, chants, and invocations, channeling the practitioner's energy and will into the flame, continuing a practice that has ancient roots .


Santería, an Afro-Caribbean religion, uses candles in its rituals to communicate with the orishas, or deities. Different colors and types of candles are used to represent different orishas and intentions. The practice of using candles in Santería has roots in the Yoruba religion of West Africa, which dates back to around the 12th century CE, where light was used in ceremonies to honor spirits. Candles are often placed on altars and lit during prayers and offerings, acting as a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds, a tradition adapted and evolved through the African diaspora .

New Age Spirituality

In New Age practices, candles are used for meditation, manifestation, and healing. They are believed to carry specific vibrations that can enhance spiritual work. The use of candles in New Age spirituality draws from various ancient traditions, including Paganism and Eastern philosophies, which date back to around the 19th century CE when these ideas began to merge in the West. Practitioners might use scented candles, colored candles, or even crystals embedded in candles to align with their intentions. Lighting a candle can help create a sacred space, focus the mind, and amplify one's energy, blending modern spiritual practices with ancient wisdom .

Whether it's to honor the divine, seek blessings, remember loved ones, or manifest intentions, the simple act of lighting a candle continues to be a powerful ritual connecting the material and spiritual realms and now...I hope it can be a thing that connects you to your neighbor. I love all of you whole ass humans.



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