By Ana Vice
Skull candles come in multiple colors (including white, black, green, and red) and can be used to represent the human cranium and the thoughts within. Here’s a brief history of skull candles and how to use them in your ritual work.
In the Celtic tradition the skull was believed to be the place where the soul resided. The Celts would place skulls into sacred wells because they were thought to be associated with the water element. In this way, the soul of the deceased was cleansed and renewed, making a person ready for eternity in the afterlife. In India, skulls adorned ancient gods and goddesses in the form of necklaces or bracelets. This was meant to show their divine ability in conquering death. Nataraja (an incarnation of Shiva), for instance, wears a necklace of skulls around his neck as he dances the dance of creation. This garland of skulls in Hindu culture represented the passing of time and the life/death cycle for all mortal beings.
For the Mexica (indigenous Nahuatl-speaking people during the pre-Columbian era), the Lady of the Land of the Dead was revered and respected. Today, she is better known as La Santa Muerte (Holy Death). When wishing to gain favor from La Santa Muerte, skull candles (also known as muerte contra mis enemigos or “death against mine enemies”) can be used. In Hoodoo, skull candles are used similarly to poppets or Vodou dolls, and are often utilized to effect an individual's mind. Sometimes this can be your own mind and that is what we will focus on here.
Three Skull Rituals For Clarity, Motivation, and Banishing
Clarity ritual: Use a white skull candle. After taking a cleansing bath, set the intention to clear away all negative thoughts, change maladaptive thinking to positive thinking, and gain mental clarity. Either Kyphi or sage essential oil would be good oils to use to anoint your candle.
Optional: Burn a bit of Kyphi incense or sage (you can also add other herbs along with a written intention folded into the space under the base of the candle). Carving your name and astrological sign into the candle makes the spell more personalized to you and your intention.
Motivation ritual: Use a red skull candle. After taking a cleansing bath with sea salt, set the intention to incite passion and mental motivation. Motivation oil can also be used on the candle to help invoke energy.
Optional: Burn some Motivation incense or mint leaves. You can also put other herbs (along with a folded written intention) into the space under the base of the candle. If you look underneath the base of the candle, you’ll notice a little groove where you can add your herbs; otherwise, a space can be carved. Carving your name and astrological sign into the candle personalizes your spell.
Banishing ritual: Use a black skull candle. After taking a cleansing bath with sea salt, set the intention to banish only negative thoughts and/or to overcome bad habits. Banishing oil can help with this intention. Be sure to be very specific in your intention about what you’d like to banish – especially because you don’t want to wipe out any positive energy.
Optional: Burn some Banishing incense or Angelica root alongside the candle. You can also add other herbs along with a written intention folded into the space under the base of the candle. Carving your name and astrological sign into the candle will make the spell more personalized.
For more spells and rituals using wax image figures, check out this story.