It’s become second nature now, something I do more nights than not. I take out a vigil candle and charge it with reiki or write an intention or a wish or a prayer on it, light it, and let it burn.
It takes approximately one-and-one-half hours for said candle to burn. Different colored ones, like the ones I buy at our local witchy shop, burn a bit faster. And of course, when a candle is really charged, or the intention is really in synch, that speeds things up too.
But lighting a candle on a regular basis has its origins in something that was not speedy—waiting for you to come into my life.
Before I even knew who you were, before I even knew your face, I would light a candle and wish, wish, wish for the right man to come into my life. I would put the candle in the window as a beacon, so that you could find your way home to me.
I never told you that, did I? Yet another secret revealed.
And yet it worked, didn’t it?
There has been a lot of really dark, negative energy recently. Not just for us, but for everybody. I’ve been burning through (no pun intended) vigil candles like mad. Sometimes I have two or three going at the same time. Intentions for us, protections for friends, more major mojo ones for the sticky situations.
And that’s what I was dealing with earlier in the week—another sticky situation. I always try to be super careful when setting intentions and prayers for others—always put an “escape” clause—“if it be their will,” “as it harms no one,” “as it works for the good and benefit of all,” but I always fret about boundaries. Boundaries, one of my major issues. More on that in a later post.
But this one I feel justified—there’s abuse going on, subtle abuse, but as someone who grew up in an abusive home I know it’s there; even when everyone else sees the smiling faces and thinks everything is wonderful, I’ve had many decades of learning to read between the lines. Body language is everything, and the vibes I’m getting is that it’s beyond the usual dysfunction/addiction matrix—there’s dark stuff going on here, stuff that is not consensual, stuff that is meant to stifle free will.
So how do you help free someone who is bound without violating free will?
It’s tricky. There are soul contracts, and karmic lessons, and psychological and developmental growth points that have to be respected and honored. Yet no one deserves to suffer, and no one deserves to be afraid.
I mulled it over. Wrote an intention that I thought would deal with the situation while still respecting free will, and provided multiple escape clauses. I lit the candle, with the prayer that if something could be done, it would be, and let it go.
Things progressed as usual. Stressed out, I curled up in my chair and grabbed my yarn and crocheted like mad. The repetition of the movement, the feel of the yarn, the texture of the fabric and patterns in the color—they usually bring me (close) to a trance state.
Then my eye is drawn to the shelf where the candle is.
It’s nearly burnt down, just a small fragment left, and it’s sputtering and guttering as if it’s going to go out.
There’s no draft in the room, and no ghostie I can discern, so I take it at face value: this intention is hitting a nerve and someone (or something) is fighting back.
So now I’m at a decision point: Do I let the flame die out? Do I refocus my attention and keep it going until it hits the end? Do I take this as a sign that I’ve crossed a line?
I don’t think it’s the latter, or the candle would have gone out way before this. There’s still a good ten minutes left, so I decide to try to refocus and see what happens.
I try to remember exactly what the intention was. It’s always long, because I’ve learned I need to be explicit as possible to avoid unforeseen consequences (more on that later), but I need the quick and down-and-dirty essence of the request. I compose a short sentence in my mind and start saying it to myself.
The candle continues to sputter.
I start to think maybe it’s not meant to be. Maybe I crossed a line; maybe this grief is supposed to go on.
So intent am I in trying to suss out the philosophical ramifications of all this, I don’t notice when you sneak up behind me. I jump when I hear your voice in my ear, reciting the intention I’ve been reciting. Of course you’ve heard it; I know it’s like me yelling at the top of my lungs in your head when I really get focused (sorry sweetie; it goes with the territory; besides, I get to hear that soundtrack that runs through your head on a 24/7 basis).
You rest your head on my shoulder and we fall into cadence, almost chanting.
And immediately the flame leaps up.
There’s an overwhelming sense of relief that I haven’t overstepped my bounds, that my instincts were right in doing this, and that you support me and want this situation to be resolved as much as I do.
My partner in life and love and magic.
And that leaves me mulling over this core issue that comes up for me again and again: owning my power, believing I have a right to it, and putting it into practice.
I’ve nearly gone through an entire box of candles in the last few weeks. I was trying to light one and drip some of the wax into the base of the candle holder so that it would be secure. I’m tired, and I keep holding the candle at the wrong angle, and keep snuffing it out. Not a good sign.
I keep scratching matches, and lighting the candle, and getting frustrated. Should I just give up? Maybe it’s another sign and then Bingo! The wick finally catches on and flares up in a good solid flame. I get a couple of drops of wax in the holder (and more down my hand; ow!) and finally get the candle solidly upright.
I go into the kitchen to pick the wax off my hand and see if I’ve given myself a good burn. It looks okay, so I go back into the living room.
The dog has jumped from the chair to the floor and is looking up at the shelf.
I look up too and see flames—and they aren’t on the candle.
I run over and realize that one of the matches I used to light the candle hadn’t been completely out when I put it in the empty votive holder. It’s reignited, and since there were several other matches in the jar, they’ve caught fire too.
But instead of a steady flame, the flame has separated into two separate flames, joined at the bottom but each leaping on its own, first one flicks up as the other retreats, then the other leaps up as the first one crouches down, dancing with each other in perfect rhythm.
And of course this just happens to be occurring right in front of our picture.
Talk about spontaneous combustion.
And while I laugh at how apt this is, I am still not going to risk burning down the house, so I carefully put out the fire.
Besides, we’ve both learned the fire between the two of us can’t be extinguished, even if we tried.
I take the matches out into the kitchen, far away from the candle, and get the jar of sand just in case. From here on out, lighters only. Sometimes I forget just how powerful this energy is.
It’s ten years ago, right after I got my master’s initiation. One of my friends has the perfect guy for me, she says. He’s older, and has money, and is a professional, but he’s into spirituality and Buddhism and yoga and such. She’s keen on setting us up on a blind date. She’s working on the first stage: lattes at the local coffee shop. Nice, neutral, safe.
I’ve just moved, and I’m sorting through stuff in the boxes that are filled with things for the hall closet. I come across something I had completely forgotten about: a reiki infused candle I’d picked up at the last New Age fair. There are two of them, actually, one for love, and one for money.
Well, it seemed to me that this was a sign. My friend’s trying to set me up with what seems like the perfect guy (again, other people’s definition of “perfect” for me–I still wasn’t strong enough in myself to acknowledge that what I genuinely wanted in my heart was radically different from what everyone else just assumed I would want, mostly because of what they wanted, or some stereotype they had of a “young professional woman”).
Anyway, a reiki infused love candle. And since I did reiki now, the more reiki I put in it, the better, right?
I wish I could blame this on being blonde, but I was still a brunette back then.
At least I had the sense to do it in the kitchen. It was about the time I was hanging out a lot with one of my wiccan friends, and we had been talking about candle spells. . . you can see where this is going, right?
At least I had the sense to know not to use his name. And I knew about the “escape clauses,” so I was sure to put them in too. And I poured out my heart, all my yearnings, and desires, and wishes for the perfect man for me. All very benign, so it seems even in hindsight, and I put the reiki symbols on the candle and then held it in my hands to charge it even more.
All I can say in my defense is that I was very new to all of this and I had absolutely no idea exactly how powerful reiki was. The New Agers I knew (and the only reiki people I knew at that point were New Agers) were all the peace and love recycled hippie types. Let the sunshine in and Age of Aquarius and everything is wonderful and lovely, man.
Sigh. I lit the candle.
Not only did I get a good strong flame, I got a flame that shot up about a foot in the air.
I was completely freaked out.
The dog was just a puppy, nearly five pounds sopping wet, and even she knew this was not a good thing. She stood at at the door, looking at the flame, and barked at it.
The flame just kept growing higher and higher.
I panicked. This was a new place. The last thing I needed was to burn down the apartment the first month there. I grabbed a glass of water and tried to dowse the flame.
The candle must have had fat in it, because instead of putting out the flame, it made it stronger. The flame flashed up a good seven feet, nearly to the ceiling. I thought it had hit the ceiling and I stood there, waiting to see the flames take off along the stucco.
But luckily it didn’t. It must have been only a few seconds, but it seemed an eternity. It was one of those moments when you are terrorized to the point that you can’t move. I stood there, immobile, watching a seven foot flame leap and dance on the stove.
By the time my mind finally started working again (flour, flour, grab the flour) the flame had died down to a normal size flame. I snuffed it out and threw the whole mess in the kitchen sink, watching it for a few minutes to make sure it was really out, and then throwing the flour on it to make sure.
What a mess.
The blind date with the guy never took place. It turns out that the “perfect” guy had a deep dark secret, and to try to hide it, guess what he did–yep, arson.
And I suppose in a way, what happened was for the best. Once his “secret” saw the light of day, everyone realized he needed help and he got it. It’s so easy to look at the face that people show the world and to just assume because someone seems happy and smiling that they really are. To have to confront the pain and suffering of another is just too hard–after all, look at how modern man deals with his own suffering: booze and pills, denial and projection, anything to numb the overwhelming agony in his own heart.
Better to suffer and to acknowledge the suffering than to lie to ourselves and to others.
And I suppose it benefitted me in multiple ways too. It burned away for me the illusions I had about the “perfect” man–made me realize that “Mr. Wealthy Professional Guy” was not what I wanted or needed in my life.
That was the last time I ever trusted anyone who said to me “I know the perfect guy for you.”
I also never again trusted anything anyone was selling as “reiki-infused” or set with any kind of intention, charm, or magic, by anyone else. Even if someone has set the item with good intentions, you can’t know exactly what they said or what they did. And without being sure of exactly what they said or did, you’re on dangerous ground. From that point on, any intention, energy, or “magic” I used was mine and mine only, one that I had thought through carefully and agonized over before I ever said a word or lit a match.
This was the beginning of my education as to what it really meant to be an energy worker. I began to trust less and less in the New Agers and even in some of the reiki people I knew. The world that they seemed to live in looked to me more and more inauthentic; as big an illusion in its own way as the culturally sanctioned, capitalist-approved world of stereotypes and assumptions I was growing more and more weary of. In that first year after my initiation, I was given a series of tasks that tested me, taught me how powerful I really was, and made it clear that I didn’t need anyone else’s approval or help to manifest what I needed. Even when I still doubt my power, doubt my right to act or to intervene, I think back on that first year and what I learned and it helps me center and find my way back to my power.
And, I suppose, looking back, even though I was thinking of that “blind date” potential when I lit that candle oh so many years ago, I can’t help but wonder if our higher selves, guardian angels, or whatever, had a different intention for that outpouring of yearning and desire and hope, because all of these things that happened, beginning with that last initiation, put me firmly on the way to crossing your path years later.
Desires, hopes, dreams–we see them all through the mundane lenses of what this world tells us we are, who we should be, and what we should want. Our higher selves really know, and if we listen and are true to what we find whispered on our hearts, so do we, if we are courageous and brave and honest with ourselves.