Candles hark back to a time when they were a vital component of life. In this day of ever expanding forms of technological advance, the humble candle is undergoing an amazing renaissance. Its magic never really died, however. It merely went underground during the time when people were so fascinated with the mechanical and manufactured products of their own nimble brains.
My own sense of the amazing interest in and use of candles, both commercially available and more so made by both professional handcrafters and ordinary home candlemakers, is that it is a reaction against the alienating experience of all that is technological and, therefore, soulless. As an exemplar of the soul, the candle provides something that switching on the electric lights can never offer.
Perhaps this is why candles are so valued as mood-altering tools — you can create a wide range of moods with candles that are totally drug-free! You can use candles to match a mood, whether reflective or festive, or to change a mood — from ho-hum to romantic and exciting.
So, hail to the candle and to its burgeoning return to our daily lives.Fascinating Flames
Why does the candle continue to fascinate us all? I am reminded of an old saying: “The gods gave humans cats so they could stroke the tiger.” In some ways, a candle is like a cat — a domestic version of a great force.
Fire — the essence of the candle — was believed to be one of the four elements basic to life on earth, and it is an element fraught with mystery. We gaze into the flames of the fireplace and see all sorts of inner dimensions within ourselves, or we project shapes from our imaginations onto the dancing, leaping flames. Fire fascinates us, whatever its form. We are irresistibly drawn to its magic and mystery.
True, many people still think of candles as something to be used only on holidays such as Christmas or for fancy dinner parties, but more and more of us are finding that we enjoy candles every day. We might light a candle while we are soaking in a tub to relax after a long stressful day, because its gentle flame will enhance our sense of relaxation. Or, we might set a couple of long slender tapers on the dining table, even if the menu is meatloaf, to make dinner more than a humdrum meal. Candles make us linger over our food, they encourage conversation, and they bring people together in their soft glow.