Candles carry powerful and profound spiritual significance
Lighting is central to several faiths
Candles are generally known for their relaxing and healing properties, as well as their ability to enhance and adorn any romantic mood. However, lighting a candle is also a sacred act which bears much spiritual significance in the lives of many believers.
Whether used for manifesting, aligning chakras or as a portrayal of the light of God in the physical sense, candles carry powerful and profound meaning in different belief systems. They are a source of hope, an integral part of finding healing and an essential aspect of connecting with souls departed.
In the Christian faith, candles carry a deep meaning tied to the gospel and are used by various denominations. Candles are lit, not only to enhance the worship experience in church, but also to appreciate faith in a manner that surpasses human understanding.
According to Rev Father Lithemba Busakwe of the Anglican Catholic Church, candles serve as a physical representation of hope and light.
“Lighting a candle symbolises Christ, the Light of the world. Jesus Christ said: "I am the Light of the world; the one who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have light and life" (John 8:12),” he said.
“From baptism, one receives the Light of Christ so that they may live and sustain that flame of faith burning alive in their heart. To symbolise this light of the world, we’ve always used the ancient source of light: the candle.”
Outside of church services, there are various other occasions where candles are used. These include times of personal devotion and prayer, as well as while saying grace before eating. In these instances, the burning candles serve to invite the light of God and His presence.
While there is no specific time of day when candles ought to be lit, Busakwe shared that there are different candles for different occasions within the Anglican Catholic denomination.
“An Easter candle is only lit for the duration of the season of Easter and on baptisms, while votive candles are lit by individuals during personal devotion.”
Additionally, the act of lighting a candle comes with specific spiritually-inspired do’s and don’t’s.
“On certain occasions, depending on how many people are present, the number of candles should match the number of persons. In this instance, each candle is set alight by each person. And when extinguishing candles, you use your hands to mystically internalize that light into your body and life. You don't blow them out,” elaborated Busakwe.
Indeed, candles are more than just a magical mixture of wax and wick. There is much spiritual significance linked to their light for many in the Christian faith. As such, the lighting of a candle, whether at church or in one’s personal space, remains a greatly sacred, powerful and rewarding act.
Nomfundo Dhlamini, known as Gogo Nomi in the traditional healing space, is a traditional health and faith practitioner. Dhlamini strongly believes in the influence that candles have in shifting the aura and bringing synergy to a space. “As a healer it is to bring in the aura of light in our work spaces, and to ask God and the ancestors to strengthen and light up our ways.”
Dhlamini uses candles when consulting with her clients as well as in her personal space. She says that there is no particular occasion where you should burn candles and that it is a personal preference. “I’m a person who likes having candles in their space and I believe it guides me when I’m sending energies towards a person, situation, or even myself.
“Sometimes I would light the candle when someone I know is not feeling well or is going for an interview and I would like to add extra luminance and light to their situation,” she said.
When it comes to the various colours of the candles Dhlamini said she has a set of three candles that she opens all her consultations with. “I normally use white, blue, and yellow for their symbolism. However there have been instances where people have come to the consult knowing what colours they need to use but perhaps not knowing the significance behind them.
“Normally, these clients have been told by their ancestors prior to their consultation with me, so then it becomes my job to explain to them what the colours symbolise, which relates to their situation,” she said.
The conversation around the significance of candles in the African traditional space is one that Dhlamini is familiar with and believes needs more light to shed on it. “I believe that it’s absolutely possible to speak to our ancestors without candles. Our ancestors can hear us from anywhere and in any form as long as we are present and are intentional.
“Candles are there as a guide to help us set the intention when we send vibrations to the universe through clapping of hands, and impepho is used as well. Ultimately, like any other relationship, it’s about being intentional about what you are doing when speaking to your elders,” said Dhlamini.
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