Many times in conjure and rootwork, and sometimes within other witchy contexts you will hear about setting lights, or candle altar services. If you're unfamiliar with the rootwork and folk magic culture these may seem like beautiful and intriguing concepts - so just what does "setting lights" mean?
Setting lights is a lovely service that many magical practitioners offer to the community. Sometimes setting lights is referred to as a candle altar service. Generally speaking, a client will tell a practitioner about their current situation, and the practitioner will decide what color candle and what herbs and oils would be best used to dress that candle in order to have the desired effect on the client's situation.
What the client is getting is a very basic magical consultation, spiritual prescription for a candle magic remedy, and a candle prepared and dressed especially for their case by that experienced rootworker.
Dressing a candle is when magically-potent essential oil blends and traditional herbs that resonate with an specific spiritual goal are rubbed onto or worked into a candle, to impregnate the candle with the desired energies.
The candle is dressed by the spiritual practitioner, while they pray or otherwise channel large amounts of energy for that particular purpose into the wax. The name or initials of the client, or symbols of their goal may be inscribed onto the surface of the candle, and then oils and herbs applied to it as well. The prayers of the practitioner help to awaken the spirits of the herbs that are within the oil blends and also in the dressing mixture, and call them to play a role in manifesting the goal on behalf of the client. The prayers also call upon the aid of the Divine &/or other helpful spirits such as saints and angels, asking for favor to be shown to the situation at hand. The candle may also be impregnated with planetary energies of the day and hour if a practitioner utilizes such in their work. All of this creates a candle that is "programmed" to manifest a very specific intent for the person for whom it is made. Once a candle has been dressed and is ready to be set working, it is referred to as fixed.
A small paper that has the name and goal of the client may also be prepared and will sit under the candle while it burns in order to help personalize and direct the energy even further. Such a paper is called a name paper or a petition paper. Petition papers usually include some form of a formal statement of the desired goal, and the name of the person the candle is meant to aid. Sometimes the name and petition statement will be written a certain amount of times for a stronger effect. In hoodoo 3, 7, 9, and 13 are common numbers used in work, but they are not a hard-and-fast rule. The name will sometimes be written in such a way as to cross the petition statement, which is a way of symbolically claiming power over the situation stated in the petition. If the candle is for money, dollar signs may be drawn upon it in the corners; if it's for love, hearts may be added. This just further solidifies the nature of the energy being summoned into manifestation by the candle. This petition paper will also usually be dressed with dabs of the same oil blend that has been used upon the candle. In some cases some of the same herbs which have been sprinkled onto the candle will be folded into the petition paper to make sure the request is well surrounded by the energies of the oils and herbs.
Sometimes a photo may be used, or a hair or fingernail of the person for whom the candle is being fixed may be also folded up inside the petition paper to make a powerful sympathetic link to that person. Modern quantum theory has shown us that matter that was once part of something will still be effected and be able to effect the original mass of which is was a part, even if it is far away from its source. Using a hair or nail, also called a personal concern, from someone is a very potent energetic link that will help the energy speed to its target without any trouble. Photos and handwriting can also be used very effectively as links, because these do carry an energy pattern closely related to the person, however they are not as reliable as actual personal concerns which come from the person's body. A good practitioner will be able to have some measure of success without having a personal concern, as long as they have the full name of the person for whom the work is being done. Names have power!
Once the candle has been dressed and fixed, and the petition paper prepared and set underneath, that candle - usually a 7-day glass encased vigil candle - will then be set to work by the practitioner there in their own home altar or an altar at their place of business. The practitioner will watch over the candle and see how it burns over the days, as they can often tell alot about how the energy is moving and working by observing the burn and any signs that occur during it.
For example, if a candle burns very quickly, it can indicate that there will be a strong positive result, but that it will not be long-lasting. The practitioner may wish to inform the client that they may wish to back-up their work with something else to make sure the result will last. On the otherhand, if the candle burns very slowly, it can mean that there are delays and obstacles that the energy is having to wade through before being able to manifest. Depending on how the burn finishes and what other signs may be present, it could mean success, but at a weaker level than desired, or simply that it will take longer than expected for the result to manifest. In both cases the practitioner will want to help the client decide if more work is needed for the desired outcome to be reached. However, if the burn is clear and steady, and finishes cleanly, this means that the energy has not encountered any serious impediments, and that all signs point to a successful outcome.
When the candle is through, the practitioner will report back to the client with news of the how the candle burned. This is sometimes referred to as a candle burn report. Often the petitioner paper which was underneath the candle during the work will be returned to the client - they can then bury it on their own property to create a physical link for energy of that work drawing it to their home, or they may carry it with them until the goal has manifested. If the candle burn showed some difficulties, the client may want to schedule to have a full reading and consultation with the practitioner to get a more detailed perspective on the situation, and determine what magical actions should be taken to assure the greatest possibility for success.
Having lights set is a very traditional way to have spiritual work done on one's behalf. Considering all the work and knowledge that a client can gain through having this simple ritual done by a practitioner, the costs for this service are usually very low. Depending on the base costs that a practitioner incurs from the supplies needed to perform this service (some can afford to buy in bulk, while others pay retail or close to it for their own supplies), the price ranges from $10-30 for the entire personalized 5-7 day service. It is especially useful for those people who wish to utilize magic to influence their lives, but for various reasons are not at liberty to have candles burning in their homes - either for nosy or dissapproving housemates, not wishing to have candles burning 24/7 with a baby or pet in the home, or some other reason. Even if the client is able to work on their own behalf, it can be extremely beneficial to have another practitioner perform this service for them.
For one, it gets a completely separate and potent stream of intent pouring towards one's goals. Some practitioner like to back-up their own work by having another practitioner set lights on their behalf for just this reason. I know I often ask trusted workers to set lights for me when I feel I could use some extra support! It also can provide you with divinations as to how the work is going overall, when you may be doing more complicated work that doesn't present such visible evidence of how the energy is moving and manifesting. Sometimes I will have a worker set a light for me at the outset of a new complex working, just to get a read on the situation as a whole. Hearing the candle report gives me another source of info to work with in addition to my own divinations on the matter.
When having work backed up by having lights set, some clients may request that candles be set on their behalf in runs. This means that once one candle finishes, another one fixed identically, will be set working. This keeps heat on the situation and ensure that energy will be moving towards the goal 24/7 for the duration of the run. Court cases or other legal matters are situations where keeping the work going constantly during the period of time that things are taking place on the physical plane, is one example of when someone might have candles set in runs. Someone having a run of lights set for the healing of a loved one who is chronically ill, or in the hospital, is another example.
Professional practitioners will likely have a much larger inventory of oils and herbs than your average non-pro practitioner, and may also have a wider set of knowledge about which oils and herbs would be best suited to your particular situation. Rather than needing to go out and buy all the necessary supplies, you can have the professional prepare the work for you for you to burn at home. In this case, the candle is still dressed and fixed for your individual needs, but rather than having the practitioner burn it and watch over it, you can take that fixed candle home and do all that yourself. This service requires even a smaller monetary investment than having the light set for you, as the practitioner does not need to watch over your candle for signs for a week. However you still reap the benefits of the practitioner's skills, experience, and inventory!
Some people like to take advantage of this even more by employing a tandem burn. This is where two identical candles will be burnt - one by the practitioner and one by the client. This doubles the output of energy towards the goal, and also provides the service of the candle burn report. In most cases the client can present the finished glass candle jar from their home to the practitioner to get a general read on its appearance, and compare that with the candle burnt on the practitioner's altar for a larger picture of the work at hand.
Having lights set for you is also a great way to establish a working relationship with a magical practitioner. It involves very little financial investment, and with it you can get a good idea of how a practitioner manages their cases, get a feel for their working style, and also get a taste of their skills as a reader of signs. If you enjoy working with a practitioner through the process of having lights set, you will feel more confident in investing more time and money with them in the future for things like readings, consultations, individualized services and products such as mojo bags, bottle spells, etc, and even altar work done on your behalf by them.
I hope that you've enjoyed learning about candle altar services - and that you'll take advantage of enlisting spiritual aid in this way sometime in the future! It really is a unique and powerful experience to be part of, and it can be quite a comfort when times are challenging.
Queen of Pentacles Conjure Shop and Village Witchery offers a full range of candle altar services for nearly any need - aside from crossing/cursing, revenge, or other aggressive or unjustified coercive work which we won't accept. Having a light fixed and set working for you, and with a detailed candle burn report complete with digital pictures of your candle is $15. We are more than happy to accommodate tandem castings, and setting candles in runs.
Our Setting Lights page provides pull-down menus listing all of the conditions for which we can fix your candle. If you are unsure as to what condition might suit your case best, please do not hesitate to contact us directly before ordering, and we can make sure that you get exactly what you need.