Grovedaughter Witchery

Practical Magic - Magical Flame and Fire Safety

Fire is an important element in many traditions. It summons, it cleanses, it creates, it destroys, it inspires, it illuminates. And it can also cause a lot of problems if you're not careful with how you use it.

 

When using open flame in your rituals or magical workings, always practice common-sense fire safety. This includes:

  • Removing flammable materials from the immediate area
  • Ensuring proper ventilation for smoke and heat
  • Using a fireproof surface such as cement or stone for hot elements like burning bowls
  • Employing catch dishes for falling embers, dripping wax, or hot coals
  • Keeping water or a fire extinguisher within reach in case of accidents
  • Fully extinguishing the flames AND the embers when you're finished
  • NEVER leave a burning or smoldering substance unattended ("Still aglow, you don't go")

And guess what, kids? That last one applies directly to any spell or ritual where you’re called upon to let a candle burn down completely.

That means you are going to park your happy witchy ass right there to attend the flame until it goes out. None of this tripping on your merry way and leaving a open flame somewhere to set fire to god-knows-what. (This is actually a huge problem in some rural areas, and I do recall someone talking recently about brush fires being started by candles left unattended in the woods. Like really, what did you THINK was going to happen to that candle you left burning in the middle of a clearing full of flammable material?)

If for some reason you cannot wait for long periods for candles to burn down, either use smaller candlers (chime candles or birthday candles work great) or don’t use this method in your rituals.

 

For practical and health-related purposes, take your burning bowl OUTSIDE. Smoke fills a room and a house much faster than you think it will. Nothing spoils a magical mood like setting off the smoke detector, or worse, the sprinkler system. And that's saying nothing of the smell of burnt herbs that can saturate your entire home for days afterward. Take any allergic conditions of anyone involved (including passive ones within wafting range) into account before you begin.

Keep your pets away from the area. Not only are curious pets prone to knocking over candles and singeing noses and tails on open flame, but the smoke from incense or burning herbs can cause respiratory issues or settle on their skin and fur and make them sick when they lick themselves clean later on. (If your furry friend does happen to come into more-than-incidental contact with the smoke, just give them a quick wipe with a damp washcloth to remove the residue.)

 

If you're going to be moving around with your burning object (i.e. a smokestick or a candle), make sure that you have a safe part to hold onto. Whether it's a handle or a jar or a bunch of stems, make sure it's a safe distance from whatever bit of the thing is on fire. Also, if the flame is not in a container of some sort, or if you're carrying a bundle of burning herbs, keep a firesafe dish underneath to catch anything that happens to drip down or fall off. This will prevent you getting hot wax or burning embers on your floors or your clothes.

 

For safety reasons, the idea of perpetual flames for devotional or magical purposes are really not good ideas. Fortunately, there are plenty of practical...and much safer...alternatives.

The easiest solution is to use one of those flameless LED candles. They’re battery-operated, they come in all sorts of colors, and they flicker and glow just like real candles…but without the open flame. Some models are even scented, if that's something you enjoy. LED candles are available in pretty much any candle type. Pillars and tealights are the most popular and the easiest to find. Tapers are often out around Halloween and the winter holiday season too.

I’ve recommended these in the past to witches who do not wish to use fire in their practices but still want light, or who are in situations where they can’t light a candle for their castings (dorms, parent’s homes, etc.) but still want the symbolism, or who just want the ambiance of flickering candlelight without the smoke or heat or hassle.

 

In all things, practice safety and common sense before any kind of symbolism or aesthetic.


Disclaimer
The views expressed on this website are the Unshared Personal Gnosis of the witch known as Bree NicGarran. They are not intended to be taken as absolute truth, nor are they intended to invalidate the religious views of the reader. They are meant only as a suggestion and are limited by the knowledge of the writer. Please always be sure to double-check your sources, refer to medical texts, and read critically before using any information in your own practice. 

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