What Can We Learn from Candles and the Elements?
Candle magick is one of my absolute favorite forms of casting. I perform candle magick spells anywhere from one to 10 times per week, whether it be for myself or others. But outside of the powerful simplicity this type of spellwork offers, it goes deeper with connection. You see candles represent every single element, and in turn, can teach us a thing or two.
In this post, we will take a closer look at how candles correlate to the elements (Fire, Earth, Water, Air) and what we can learn from each of them. Maybe the next time you light a candle you'll see a little more than wax and flame.
THE ELEMENT OF FIRE
I would venture to say that the first thing that comes to mind when we think candles is fire. That little flame that casts off light and shadow, that glow that jumps around with a life of its own, obviously corresponds to the element of the same name.
Spiritually, the element of Fire represents motivation, creation, compulsion, and passion. Just as fire can forge steel, it can also forge our will and determination. Our inner glow, that fire divine, burns inside of every soul.
The first principal of basic human survival falls on fire. The catalyst of thriving, fire give us light, warmth, and nourishment through means of cooking.
HOME AND HEARTH
Throughout history, the idea of home is equivalent to hearth, a symbol of one's residence. A literal definition of a hearth is the floor and area around a fireplace. It used to be the center of the home where families would tend flame, gather for warmth, and cook their meals.
Fire itself cannot subsist in its own natural state. Rather, fire must gobble up another element to come into its own: air. This is the literal definition of transmutation - the action of changing or the state of being changed into another form.
Once fire is established, it can give life to a totally new substance or essence through alchemy. Once the new entity is created, fire can also destroy it. Its very own formation changes from spark to flame to smoke then finally to ash.
Our nature as humans is represented through this element. From the womb, we are constantly changing and growing and evolving into the next stage. Beyond physically, our mental and emotional states change as well. From spark to flame to smoke to ash.
THE ELEMENT OF EARTH
A candle's wick made from Earth itself (cotton, wood, etc.) corresponds directly to what the element does for us: it grounds the flame and keeps the candle lit.
Spiritually, the Earth has the ability to ground us and keep our inner fires burning. We've all experienced anger, feeling spacey, and being out of control emotionally. This is indicative of soul disconnection.
When we aren't experiencing the here and the now, the Earth is the quickest way back.
When we take a look through history and its mythology and culture, Earth has been personified as a mother for many millennia. The embodiment of the feminine directly connects as the mother figure does: it's life-giving, supportive, strong, nurturing, and of course, grounding.
Through grounding, our souls are rooted and our flames are lit.
The element of Earth is representative of the material plane and all that is tangible. This includes our physical body and the environment in which we live.
Allowing perception through all of the senses, Earth is where everything comes from and where it begins. It simultaneously offers us a stable place to anchor our roots and the strength to grow.
THE ELEMENT OF WATER
When the element of Fire and Earth come together in a candle, the transformative qualities turn solid wax into liquid. This is representative of the element of Water. Just as melted wax swirls and moves, Water too captures this same quality.
Akin to Fire giving us light, warmth, and nutrition, Water is necessary for our survival too. Without Water, our physical bodies would not last beyond a couple of days. So what about the spiritual connection?
Like melted wax and the element of Water, our emotional state is rarely still. Under the surface, we all ebb and flow, come and go, diminish and expand. Learning to let this happen naturally is a great lesson we could all benefit from.
When we do the opposite, when we refuse to feel our feelings, we live in a spiritual deficit. Damming the flow of emotions, we allow and usher in stagnation. Just as wax hardens and water lies still, our creativity, thinking, imagination, and manifestation all stop.
Historically, cultures worldwide have seen Water in the same light: a symbol of renewal, healing, and cleansing. Physically, this element washes us clean of dirt, mud, sweat, and grime. Spiritually, Water washes out the muck and the mire that invades our hearts and souls.
Similar to Fire and its ability to transmute, Water also holds transitory properties. From liquid to solid to vapor, Water is life, motion, and purification. It holds the ability to cleanse us inside and out. Through this metamorphosis, it can change us both in and out - if we allow it.
Water is regarded as a type of wisdom in Taoist tradition. The thought process behind this is that Water resists nothing, so in turn, Water can do anything. Below are seven tenets of Taoist connection to this element.
Water flows to the lowest position closest to its locale. The Tao likens Water's physical behavior in nature to being a humble person. On the opposite end of humility, is arrogance. An arrogant person would always be seeking the highest position - one of visibility and envy of others - whereas a humble person would flow like Water.
A shallow person typically concerns themselves only with silly and unimportant things, like how a person looks or their financial standings. The opposite would be someone with depth. Their waters run deep and not everything is obvious right away. This depth of character is a highly regarded Taoist virtue.
Is Water capable of passing judgement? Of course not. This element delivers its benefits to every creature with equality. No choice is made based on bias. Water can teach us to live without judgement and to treat all we share time with - no matter the length of time - with basic, human decency. Act as Water and nourish all who we come across.
Does a Spring shower ever fall in the Winter? What about a Winter snow storm drifting in the Summer? Obviously not. Why is this? Nature is inherently wise. It just knows. And when it is in balance, the element of Water shows us that everything has its own time. When we begin to emulate nature and mimic the elements, we too become conscious of when to make moves at the right time. By knowing ourselves and knowing exactly who we are, we can move like Water - with confidence and ease.
Nurturing in nature, Water benefits every living thing. It flows far and wide and goes on its way once the job is done. It does not hang around for applause, accolades, or recognition. Now think about those who give and do things for others with expectations and strings attached. Once again, Water shows us a better way to live.
When Water is calm, its surface reflects the surrounding environment perfectly. In the same vein, when we learn how to calm our waters that flow within us, we can speak clearly and truthfully. You see people like this in your day-to-day happenstances, or maybe you known someone personally. They imbue an integrity that can be felt by others. This integrity often wins them the respect and trust from whomever they meet.
One of the most beautiful lessons water can teach us is how to be flexible and embrace change. It can handle every obstacle without worry as it flows to its destination. In the same sense, this element is not limited to one form. In different situations, it can change itself to its best embodiment. If we can learn how to adapt to the situation at hand, we can capture the strength of Water and apply it to every situation in our life.
It would do all of us good to remember to yield, change, flow, cleanse, and release just like Water.
THE ELEMENT OF AIR
As stated above under the element of Fire, Air aids in keeping the flame alive. Without it, we could not exist. And just as it physically connects to candles, it spiritually connects to us, too.
The breath of life (both literally and metaphorically), this element is necessary to our spirituality. Air is symbolic of all things invisible: our thoughts, our feelings, our very souls.
When working to release blockages in our systems to counter feeling lost or stuck, Air is our number one ally. There's a reason why we're told to breathe during anxiety attacks or panic episodes. Just as Air feeds the candle flame, it too can ignite relaxation within ourselves.
THE ELEMENT OF EXPERIENCE
Air is invisible. We cannot grasp it or hold it close to us. Instead, Air lends us the gift of experience: through thought, through aura, and through universal life force. Our thoughts allow us to experience a complete range of emotions, the ability to relive our memories, and experience the unknown through imagination.
Through our auras, we experience the energy of ourselves and others. Every living thing (including plants and animals) has an energy biofield surrounding them. This is known as the aura. Within the aura, there is said to be seven primary layers. These layers are known as bodies of energy because they also form around the body. The aura is said to hold the energy of our thoughts, choices, actions, and emotions.
We all have direct access to work within our auric fields to heal and transform negative thoughts and patterns. When we imagine a better outcome, meditate, set intentions for change, etc. we can work with this element to create a better life for ourselves. It is in this way that we effectively link the cerebral function of the Air element to its spiritual counterpart.
CONVERSATION AND CONNECTION
The element of Air connects all of creation in a few different ways. But have you heard that we all breathe the same air? According to Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist, that statement is close to 100% accurate.
Krauss' research* supports this belief, stating that molecules we inhale are redistributed equally throughout our atmosphere, spanning across multiple centuries. Physically, we are all subsisting off of the same element. But how does the element connect us in other ways?
The element of Air corresponds to communication. Physically, we rely on Air to move past our vocal chords in order to make them vibrate which turns our speech into sound. Spiritually, Air can teach us to tune in and be mindful of our conversations and exchanges with others.
By being present and aware, we can discern what exactly it is we can share and contribute to others. We can also learn to be quiet and breathe while other people share their piece with us. Through these exchanges, both parties are allowed to learn and grow through words shared from both sides
Hopefully this post sheds light on a new way to see candles and their connection with us. All forms of our bodies - mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical - can truly benefit when we see the correlation. The next time you light a candle (with or without magickal intent) remember:
The flame corresponds to the element of Fire - it gives us strength and motivation.
The wick which is necessary for grounding the flame and keeping it lit corresponds to the element of Earth - it reminds us to nourish, heal, and ground ourselves.
The wax which liquifies when heated corresponds to the element of Water - it shows us how to be flexible, go with the flow, and be more in tune with our emotions.
The oxygen needed to keep the flame lit corresponds to the element of Air - by tuning into our breath, we can harness being present and relax into ourselves while fostering a true connection with others.