The skull candle and the symbolism of the skull

A novelty candle is a type of candle which does not have a cylindrical shape. The skull candle, which is shaped in the form of a human skull as the name implies, is one example of a novelty candle. As early as the 1930’s, suppliers have provided figural candles. These are generally used for very strong or very particular spells because they may be worked upon in order to represent individuals. In other words, they are used in a kind of sympathetic magick which constitutes a blend of puppets and candle magick. Depending on the colour, a skull candle can be used for various purposes although often skull candles serve to manipulate persons or objects. The most colours in which it appears are black, white, red and green. In contemporary Hoodoo, black candles are mainly used for meditation on death or for gamblers’ luck. The gamblers acknowledge that gambling is a sin (according to the Christian faith), only to refute it and make fun of religious condemnation by calling on the black candle. By so doing, the gambler regards “sin” as a life style.  In addition, the black candle is also used to bring harm or pain to one’s enemies. Healing work can be done with a white candle, a red candle or a green candle. The skull candle is frequently used in healing mental or physical disorders of the mind and head. The green candle is also used to help separate an individual from his money, a red candle to make someone fall in love or to bring this person physically closer or farther away from you. Finally, a white candle may also serve to bend someone to your will.

The skull has been an important symbol in many cultures, of which the Celtic culture and the culture of the Mexica will be discussed in this essay. According to the Celts, the skull housed power as well as the soul. They used to throw skulls into the water of sacred wells as an offering, perhaps in an attempt to cleanse (due to the water which symbolizes purification) and renew the soul or as a way of obtaining a divine message. The Celts were also intrigued by gateways. As such, they might have seen the openings of the skull as a portal to divine wisdom. Some other associations with the skull include the concept of time, creation, initiation and concentration.

In the pre-Columbian era, Mictecacihuatl “The Lady of the Land of the Dead” was revered by the Mexica. She was their beloved goddess of the dead and was believed to protect the souls in the underworld. She was portrayed as a woman in traditional Mexica clothes and flags which were used to cover the bodies of the dead to be cremated. A skull mask with a beak in the place of a nose sits upon her face. Nowadays Mictecacihuatl is more commonly known as “La Santa Muerte” (“Holy Death”) or “La Santísima Muerte”. When petitioning the favour of “La Muerte”; skull candles, also labeled “muerte contra mis enemigos” (“death against my enemies”), are brought into play to achieve domination (red candle), to hex enemies (black candle) and to acquire protection, peace or spiritual cleansing (white candle). These three colours are shown on the three skull candle which can be used to represent the Goddess and to ask for her protection or for her aid in dealing with troublesome people. The reason why the candle has three skulls may be explained by the fact that in the Mexica tradition, people die three times. The first time, the body stops functioning. The second death occurs when the body is buried, returned to mother earth. Finally, the most definite death is when the dead person is forgotten.

In conclusion, the skull is still regarded as a powerful symbol. It does not just represent death, but also power and the soul. This is probably why skull candles are still widely used by Hoodoo practitioners or by other spell workers for a variety of purposes. Another striking similarity of various cultures is that black, white and red are among the most important colours of the skull candle.

Gana Moonfire

Sources spells for head injuries.

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