“The use of candles in magic dates back many centuries, but the specific system of magic in which colored, anointed candles are the primary tools is a relatively recent innovation, developed in the nineteenth century out of Catholic devotional practices using candles of various kinds. The southern United States, with its rich heritage of hoodoo magic and African tradition, seems to be the homeland of candle magic, with New Orleans probably the original place of invention.
“The basic practices of candle magic involve a detailed color symbolism in which red candles represent sexual desire, green stand for money, white for spirituality and healing, black for cursing and banishing, and so forth. Candles used in magic are “dressed” or anointed with specific oils, which are typically rubbed onto the candle from the middle out to both ends. A candle magic working may simply involve lighting one or more candles and reciting a charm while it burns; it may also involve rearranging candles on an altar to represent the rearrangement in the world that the working is intended to bring about.
“Originally, candle magic was mostly practiced among Southern folk magicians of various kinds, but in recent decades it has spread far more widely. Many Witches and Pagans in the current Pagan revival movements make use of it, as do a great many occultists who simply picked up a book on the subject and found it to their liking.”