Doesn’t it feel like this happens every year? When the New Year is upon us, many of us take time to look at the possibilities of our personal focus for the coming year. We plan and plot for what we could do as we prepare ourselves for the future, find new projects, or revisit old ones.
We think of what we want to achieve and how we can get there. Planning the steps and creating lists, in a grand endeavor to capture our intent.
Then Spring comes along, and all our plans seem to go out the window. We lose sight of those goals and plans because life never sticks to ‘the plan’. We drift out of alignment with our guiding light. We need to retain our inspirational motivation going forward to make the projects go from just great ideas to action-based accomplishments. Maintaining that focus can be difficult and finding the motivation can be even harder, especially weeks and months later. But what can we do about it? How do we look at our plans and lists and keep ourselves going in the direction we intended so that we stay on track with our goals? We need small touchpoints at each phase of our journey to stay on track and to keep the spark of our intentions moving forward.
What I have found beneficial in my personal practice is to create Intention Candles and use them in rituals to help me focus and prepare. Often rebuilding the spark for myself in my projects. When I light a candle for the intention of my work, it illuminates what I am missing in that moment. I use the flame as a reminder of my inner flame. It brings me back into alignment with my heart’s purpose. When you have doubts and need that bit of inspiration, you can create your own flame of mindfulness. You can call for help from spirit guides, draw connections from the elements, and focus the mind and will to tend the flame of passion and stream of action.
You can make candles, buy candles or even create symbolic candles from non-flammable items for when you’re somewhere you cannot light a real flame. Whatever method works for you, as long as it can bring you that bit of light to shine in the darkness when you need it most. Once you have decided on the type of candle you want to use you can then explore the possible colors, herbs, and oils you might want to use to infuse your candles with to help you stay clearly on your path with your projects. We can create sigils in and around our candles to help channel our intent. Then comes the ritual itself: how to focus and realign with your goals using our Intention Candles we have created to re-ignite our hearts and get us back on the path.
Let’s dive into each of these aspects separately:
If you want to use herbs with magical properties that align with your project, you can add them directly to the wax you are pouring, or you can press the herbs into the sides of the candles after they are created.
What about a scent that connects you with your goal? You can go with a personal favorite or one that is associated specifically to what you are trying to do. You can research scents that evoke creative and magical connections, attract loving partnerships, deliver abundance with money, or other focuses. Once you select the scents you want and confirm they will blend well together (if using more than one). Then decide if you want to add your mixture to the wax if you are making your own candles, or if you will add it after candle creation to apply directly to your candle. When going with premade candles, consider burning incense alongside your Intention Candles. Be aware of your environment and the possible fallout of introducing strong odors to the air. Either method can work, and it is best to do what you feel most comfortable doing.
Scent isn’t necessary, but there is a strong correlation in our brains between scent and memory. Even more so when experienced with intent, so consider at the start of a project and when planning one, choosing a scent and experiencing it at the initial stages of a project so that when you experience it again later the association is stronger.
In my personal experience, I’ve used petrichor (the smell associated with rain) and sea salts for rituals involving refreshing and cleansing. This scent helps ground me, and I have often used it right before diving into a writing project to help focus and get into the ‘headspace’ necessary to bring my thoughts into coherent sentences.
The next step is to acquire your candles. I have done dipping candles with cotton wicks and beeswax as well as rolled candles with cotton wicks and beeswax sheets. You can make them using molds or using melted wax or paraffin and cotton wicks or you can use the dipping method. There are lots of tutorials on the internet and some in-person stores that hold classes in making candles.
I have also created cardboard “candles” with battery-operated tea lights for when I can’t have a live flame in places like hotel rooms or outdoors. These are reusable, inexpensive to make, and they store well for future use and reuse.
You can scent the wax in any way you see fit. You can also scent the cardboard “candles” but remember that most paper does absorb moisture and you might get streaks from where the oils came in contact with the paper tube of the body of your paper candle. Oils also may contribute to flammability which is not the intent with a symbolic candle.
You can carve sigils into the sides of the candles that represent your project or the focus you need to complete the work at hand. A cardboard candle can have stickers, or hand-drawn symbols applied to achieve the same effect. If your project is to focus on self-care and self-love, then symbols of love, acceptance, and peace might be appropriate.
If you want multiple candles, such as when planning ahead for future workings or rituals for a specific project, making them all at once can save on costs later (time and materials) and also produce more consistent components.
Additionally: consider creating a ritual mat (of fire-resistant materials) to hold your ritual burning of Intention Candles (and/or other burning incense or oils). A ritual mat can have the symbols and iconography you need placed upon it, rather than altering candles directly. This makes cleanup after the ritual easier.
Remember: if you can’t custom make your own ritual materials, store-bought is fine. It’s 2022 and you can find just about anything online and get it delivered.
Once you have created your candles, it is now time to use them. It is best to burn them in a place where you can focus on the flame and embrace the light of that flame. Bring it into your mind’s eye and focus on how the flame illuminates your world and what it shines a light on for you. Can it show you things you were missing about your project? Is it giving you a new perspective for where you could take the project? What might you be missing that this candle has renewed in you? You can then create a small prayer or verse to chant while focusing on the flame. Consider including your original goals, your intent, your vision statements associated with this project. Mantras that are easy to remember and repeat. (Having a script included with your ritual kit is not cheating).
For example, my husband likes to recite the Litany Against Fear made popular in the novel DUNE by Frank Herbert. We worked together as an experiment to ritualize this into a way of dealing with anxiety and feelings of indecision. For those who don’t know it, the Litany against Fear goes like this:
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Yes. My husband is a raging nerd, whom I love dearly.
For myself, I draw heavily upon my love of song lyrics for incantations. Nothing inspires me more than quoting from Wicked or channeling my inner P!nk when I need the motivation to be the kickass pagan that I can be.
I hope this exploration of creating ritual Intention Candles inspires you to experiment on your own, associating rituals with sparking motivation when you need it most.
As seen in The Spring 2022 Copy of The Cartomancer