Once again I was told we should not blow out the candle. But why? It is actually a very fun thing to do. We do it on birthday cakes and at parties. We even get to make a wish first! So why then is it considered socially unacceptable by Wiccan and traditional crafters’ terms to blow out the candle? Some would even be wiling to refer to it as blasphemous.
So, I tried to do some research on this. If others of you have done research I would love for you to share your findings. But it seems pretty persuasive that the “birthday cake” is gifted to us from a tradition from the Greek’s in celebration to the moon Goddess Artemis. The cake would be round in her full glory and lit candles to emulate her shiny appearance. Wishes would be made and then blown out so that they could be carried aloft to the heavens to reach her. This would take place on May 24th her birthday. Many Greeks today will still offer their blessing and good wishes by spitting on a bride’s gown as she walks down the aisle. It could very well be because spit has water and salt much like the ocean and be it of good intent could easily seen as heartfelt blessing. Greece is surrounded by wind and sea and this could understandably help form their traditions and customs.
So, if pre-christian Greek Pagans thought that to blow out a candle was to aloft your wishes, intentions and thoughts to the heavens; why is it that neo-pagans think it is just the opposite? I have heard some say that to blow out a candle is to extinguish one’s soul or the soul of a spirit. But I found that cited as a Jewish belief on the site http://ohr.edu/ask/ask106.htm:
Other spiritual reasons I have heard are:
That it is always best to let the candle with its intention burn out by itself. I can easily understand this reason and am apt to agree. I myself enjoy watching the candle flicker and burn out on its own. Feel and see the intentions of the candle or the nights magick transform from one form to the next. But we are not always able to let a candle burn out on its own.
That you will insult the fire element Well why? Why is it insulting? To extinguish one element with another perhaps? But if I was a fire element and had my choice of being extinguished by an over indulges of what I eat (air) or by being deprived of it by suffocation I would gladly desire the overindulgence. And then with the mixture of fire, wax, spit and air you have the embodiment of the four elements. How can that possibly be wrong?
That if you blow out the candle the fire spirit will not have the opportunity to learn what it is that it is suppose to learn. Ummm. A friend of mine that I have immense respect for offered this reason up. And I had to give it a good deal of thought and meditated on it as well. I decided that the best way to address this would be to address it as a statement of “intent” a candle wick lives longer than a lit match. If you light the candle with the “intent” that the flame only be devoured for the length of the spell, the ritual, an hour, etc. Then the fire element would have learned its “intended” lesson which it way created for.
That to blow out a candle is simply messy and smelly, wax will drip and the smell will rise. True enough. But to that I would say magick should have an element of mess and smell.
What feels right to you? Because for me to blow out a candle when its requested job is complete is joyful. A joyful experience. It is a wish fulfilled. It is filled with a small thrill of magick and energy, a crackling if you will. While for me, to snuff it out seems empty, a “goodbye” not said, an opportunity lost. In fact, to deprive a flame its breath seems quite oppressive to me. I think if I was a fire element to be oppressed like that I would feel violated And funny too the words which are used. “Snuffed” and “extinguished” are words which also have meanings of death or murder. Where as “blown away” is used for being very much alive and in the middle of an amazing moment.
Creation Magick: Blowing out a candle also feels very similar to manifestation magick to me. You have all the elements, Witch’s breath, Witch’s spit, Witch’s intent, all the elements Fire, Water, Earth (from the tallow) and Air and mixed in with a attitude of fun, mischief or reverence. And then the smoke lofts up to the heavens, magick. A spell upon a spell, magick overlapping magick, a perfect ending to a ritual, feast, gathering.
Speculation: I think that blowing out a candle is a purely magickal experience. That the absolute persistence that our culture and the christian culture and the jewish culture have against blowing out a candle is the give away. I think that it was assumed one was doing magick if they were blowing out the candles. And it went deep into hiding except for once a year when you would get to have your birthday “wish.”
Additional Reference material. Religious sects instructions but none state their reasoning: