The practice of using candles, oil lamps, or a flame of some sort to accompany prayer is universally accepted by most religions. While candles are used in many traditions, the act of burning a candle as a focusing tool in prayer is nothing more than an act of devotion.
Candle magick is a primary activity in New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo. The intermingling of Catholic, Spiritualist, and African traditions in New Orleans resulted in an evolving form of candle magic that incorporated the saints, psalms, devotionals and vigils, alongside making gris gris, doing séances, Voodoo rituals and laying tricks. Eventually, the New Orleans style of candle magick spread to other areas of the south to the degree that it became a standard practice among practitioners.
COLORS AND TYPES OF CANDLES
Candles are available in all kinds of colors, types and shapes. Some of the Hoodoo candles are multicolored, some are one color or specialized, such as the lucky lottery candle. Some of these candles are made for specific orishas and saints. The most common candles are the seven day glass-encased candles, self-standing candles and figural candles. Thanks to Henri Gamache’s (1942) classic book The Master Book of Candle Burning, the use of small altar candles and setting lights rose in popularity and their use by rootworkers has remained popular to this day.
One of the basic areas of knowledge necessary for conducting effective Voodoo hoodoo rituals is in understanding the color symbolism. The correct colors must be known for choosing candles, making mojo bags, oils, creating altars, ritual bathing, and otherwise pleasing the loas, Orishas, saints, and numerous Divine entities. This is necessary knowledge for what is referred to as “working the rainbow” in New Orleans Voodoo. For a more in depth discussion about working the rainbow, I highly recommend Luisah Teish’s book, Jambalaya, the Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals.
Here is a breakdown of the basic colors used in New Orleans Voodoo hoodoo rituals and rootwork and what they mean.
White. White is associated with subtle energies and used for devotions in remembering, contacting departed souls, and for blessings, protection, purity, healing and cleansing.
Red. The color red represents love, passion, romance, affection, energy, lust, fertility, attention, libido, victory, and sexuality. Red candles are used in love spells and charms, fertility spells, sex magic, and seduction, for example.
Purple. Works using the color purple are typically concerned with power, psychic ability, commanding, compelling, controlling, mastery, ambition, prophetic dreams or bending others to one’s will. Spells having to do with power, invocation, and controlling will include the color purple. Purple may also be used for peace, protection, and abundance purposes.
Green. The color green is associated with money spells, wealth and prosperity spells, gambling luck, general good luck, fertility, bountiful gardens and business success. When you want to influence anything to do with money and prosperity, you will use the color green.
Black. The color black can be used to remove evil or send harm. For example, black is used to repel negativity, for protection, or to banish negative people from your life. Another way of using the color black is in inflicting harm or destruction on another. Binding spells, hexes and jinxes, curses, enemy tricks, coercive magic and summoning dark spirits will often be associated with the color black. Black can also be used in grieving rituals.
Yellow. The color yellow is associated with mental agility and clarity, communication, fast action, success, happiness, money (gold), court cases, and excelling at school or an academic setting.
Pink. The color pink is used in works to draw love, success, friendships, romance, and attraction.
Blue. For health, peace, harmony and abundance. Blue is associated with Marie Laveaux and St. Joseph in New Orleans and also with séances and love spells on occasion when harmony and peace in a love relationship are desired.
Brown. For practical and material blessings, court cases, and neutrality.
Orange. Recognition, control, changing plans and creativity. Orange is associated with strong or gentle energies, and can be coercive or subtly suggestive.
Red and Black (Double Action). Used to remove a love jinx or to remove obstacles and open the path for opportunities.
White and Black (Double Action). Used to remove negative energies and draw positivity and blessings, and to reverse a curse by sending evil intentions back to the sender.
Green and Black (Double Action).Used to remove money jinxes, to eliminate debt and draw money, wealth and abundance. Can also be used to reverse infertility and to bring new growth during a drought.
Alvarado, D. (2011). The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook, Weiser Books.
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Other articles about New Orleans Voodoo you may find interesting:
Congo Square, African Heritage, and New Orleans Voodoo
Marie Laveaux, La Belle de Nouvelle Orleans
The Basics of New Orleans Voodoo: Part 1
The Basics of New Orleans Voodoo Part 2: Africans and Indians