Magick in the Mundane: The Wounded Candle

by Erica Sittler

Our little group of nine has finished Witchcraft I here in Mississippi. Initiation was both beautiful and meaningful. Now, we are launched into the world to practice what we’ve been taught and continue the disciplines we established together in class over the past thirteen months.

For me, it’s been months of both physical and emotional pain. A long season of things breaking open and shattering in ways I could not have foreseen. There is a weighted feeling of being bereft and alone. My heart is pierced through. Suddenly, my daily practice feels overwhelming. Like, “something’s got to give, so it has to be my spiritual practice for a moment. For a few days.” Life sometimes is simply not fun. At times, life feels so magnified in the yuckiness of it. Perhaps magnified when you descend from something as profound as initiation.

Slowly as the days passed, it was not just my spiritual discipline, but also my regular housekeeping skills seemed to have taken a long overdue vacation. Clutter everywhere. A pile of mending that has sat forlornly on a chair since Yuletide. Dust everywhere. Sticky floors and, well, most of you have been in a similar place before. I needed a bath.

“But I’m supposed to be happy! After all, look what happened: I passed W1. Spring is finally here.”  On and on I could go, but the truth is, I wasn’t happy, haven’t been for a while and the joy of initiation overshadowed the months-long malaise of deep sadness and grief that has seemingly crept into everything. My youngest child keeps asking, “Mom, are you ok? You look sad again.”  At one point, I snapped at him and said, “Yes. I am sad. It is not your job to fix me. Go away please.” Not my finest mothering moment, but there it is.

There I sat, numbly, in the dark and sifted thoughts like beads. Not meditation. Rather a form of soothing I adopted long ago to give myself the needed space to process the overwhelm that I can’t easily shake off. A solution gradually presented itself: just light a candle. Nothing more required. No words need to be said. Just light the little candle on an altar.

So I went to my main altar and lit a candle. And left. No special words. No incense. Just a little tea light. The next day the same. And the next and the next. By Sunday, while the rest of the family was out, I lit all the little candles at all their respective places. Next day, just the one on the main altar. And freshened the little water jug at another.

And so it went. Stumbling. Imperfect. But there. Reminding me, without judging me, that I am not alone. That I am a part of a wider community, both corporeal and spirit. The following Sunday, the candles were all lit, along with the little offerings brought. During the week, just the main altar candle and the little water jug. A little prayer of thanks came. All of six words. Last night a spontaneous song and a bath.

Today, I moved my bay tree with the help of my youngest son. He fetched the shovel. I instructed him on how we don’t just attack the tree, we speak to it and ask its permission to move it to a safer place. We dig slowly. I bless the bay and then stir my shovel in my large outdoor cauldron and words come out as I stir. I move dirt and more words come and we plant the bay in its new home. Blessed cauldron water. Roots moved into position. The bay tree is heavy and its root ball large and saturated with days of rainfall. My son helps yet is silent as we clean up. More words come out as I stir and clean the shovel. My son thanks me for letting him help.

I light more candles and do the littlest of blessings over each. The candles and offerings are all lined up on a favorite tray that once belonged to my grandmother. The candles twinkle in their little holders. The little assorted goblets all share the same drink: a stinging nettle gin cocktail. There are pieces of donuts and homemade bread. I nibble a little bite, sharing the meal and talk to the ones they are intended for. Then set them out in their various places around the house. They twinkle back at me. Reassuring me, that despite this long wave of grief, it will not last forever. I am far from healed and my spiritual practice is humble and quite unimpressive. But with each candle lit, I am telling all those layers of “me” that I want to heal. I want to know joy again. I want to sing and sleep with ease.

If you find yourself here in this desolate place, I sit here with you. Even if it is years and decades from now, a part of me remains here with you and acknowledges this immense grief and open wound you feel here in the darkness. Until you are ready to do it for yourself, I shall light a candle for you. Every day. Just one candle. Right here on my altar. May its glow comfort you.

Blessed be.

Erica Sittler is a Witch practicing her craft in Mississippi where she is a local, active member of the Temple of Witchcraft. Her magick is in the mundane and in bringing honor and attention to those small things that build a sustainable and adventurous life. She is a Temple Mystery School student under the instruction of High Priestess Sellena Dear.

Temple of Witchcraft