Reading candle flames is usually called pyromancy. This practice is deeply rooted in Greek mythology as fire was a very important part of life.
Finding spiritual meanings in the flame of a candle is a type of divination that has been around for thousands of years. In classical Greek times, people would “gaze” searching for enlightenment or visions. Let’s see how to read candle flames.
Candle Burning Meanings
According to Richard Webster in his book Candle Magic for Beginners, the shapes, colors, and dancing motion of the flames, and the varying patterns that candle wax creates can all be interpreted.
The Greek system for divination used four candles. Three created a triangular shape, and the fourth was placed in the center. All four candles were lit, but only the center one was interpreted.
Candle Flame Interpretation
If the flame burns brightly, it is considered a sign of success.
A dim flame indicates disappointment.
A flickering flame shows wavering fortunes.
A spark means an important message will be heading your way.
Jumping candle flames represent that there is a lot of energy for the spell to work with and that raw emotions have been unleashed with the spell.
Dancing flames indicate change.
A spiral-like effect is a warning.
Sometimes candles go out for no apparent reason. A sudden breeze can do this if you are working outdoors. All you have to do in this case is to relight the candle and continue with the ritual. If there is no apparent reason for the candle to go out, abort the ritual and conduct it again later.
Grimoire Page: Candle Flame Magic
Flame Magic: Brightness
The brightness of the candle can be interpreted too:
A flame shining more brightly than the others is a sign of good luck.
If a candle is easy to light, it is a good omen. Especially if then it burns with a strong flame.
When candles are hard to light, and then burn with a weak flame, it is a sign that the time is not right for the magic.
If you have to proceed with your spell, be aware of this and remain as clearly focused on your intent as possible.
Language of the Candles’ Flame
If you have two or more candles that represent people on your altar, see if they have equally strong flames. If one is stronger than the others, it is a sign that he or she is potentially more powerful or important than the rest.
A flame may also be weak because the person it represents is unwell or lacking in energy. Alternatively, this person may not be receptive to your magic.
Candles that burn cleanly, and leave little wax, are an excellent sign. It means that the ritual has gone well.
A small puddle of wax left as residue should be examined. The shape of it can often give a clue as to the outcome.
Reading the Wax
Ceromancy is the art of interpreting the shapes that are formed by melted wax. You’ll need:
- 1 candle
- Bowl of water
How to read the wax for a Ceromancy session:
Think of a question as you light the candle. After the candle has been burning for a few minutes, titl slightly and allow some molten wax to fall into the bowl of water.
The first drops will be attracted to the side of the bowl and create a border. These are not interpreted directly, but give clues as to the nature of the outcome.
As more wax drips into the water, various shapes are formed, and these are interpreted.
- Some shapes will be obvious, while others need a degree of imagination to determine what they might represent. Some people are naturally good at reading symbols, while others have to practice to develop the skill.
The Flickering Flame
The flickering flame of a candle has been given many different meanings, so it will almost always depend on context. As you interpret the flame of any candle, make sure your mind is clear and you are focusing on your question.
“A flickering flame may be burning off the bad wishes of others, or there may be spirits present. It may not be interfering with your spell yet, but you can take action to make sure it never does. Light a reversing or protection candle if you feel the interference is others’ green eyes of envy. If it is the spirit trying to communicate, take a moment and ask them to talk to you in a way you can understand. Some people use candles to communicate with spirits, so give the spirits their own candle with which to play and through which to talk to you.”
From: Coventry Magic with Candles, Oils, and Herbs by Jacki Smith
Mundane Explanations of the Candle Meanings
There can be perfectly rational explanations for candles and flames behaving in certain ways.
- All candles flicker in wind, burn more slowly in cold weather and burn faster in hot rooms.
- A wick that is too small for the size of the candle will naturally burn with a slow, low flame.
- A wick that is too thick for the width of wax will burn extra fast.
Candle Scrying Spell: Spiritual Candle Burning
Here’s a spell you can repeat as you focus and watch your burning candle:
"Candles that flicker and flames that dance,
Show me the truth with a simple glance.
By the sound of the flames, their shape and hue,
Reveal to me how my magick will do."
From Practical Prosperity Magick by Ellen Dugan
Tips for Scrying
Last year I shared a video I made about my scrying technique using a glass marble. The basic concepts remain the same when reading candle flames:
- Surround yourself with white light and focus on your intention, clearing your mind.
- When you are ready to begin scyring dim the lights or if possible turn them off entirely electricity interferes with divination.
- Light some candles and burn some incense.
- When you are in a calm and meditative state with all the tension released from your body focus on your scrying tool (candle).
- Do not strain, do not try to focus staying relaxed and open is the key to success, letting your thoughts flow freely keeping your eyes slightly out of focus.
- When scyring you can also ask questions and look for the answers in the images that appear. The images that appear can be anything words, colors, numbers, symbols, etc trust yourself and what you see.
- The more you practice the easier it will get.