Homes with candles burning brightly
are filled with sexy wood nymphs nightly.
As best I recall, that was a couplet from one of Al Manning’s books. I never met him, but from his how-to books and particularly his early-1980s autobiography, Eye of Newt in My Martini, I get the impression of a guy who could have been the house with of the Sterling Cooper Draper Price advertising agency—or perhaps of its hypothetical Los Angeles branch office.
My first Craft teacher always had candles burning, and before then there had been the highly aesthetic literature professor at Reed College who held class in his home, where the walls were covered in black felt and racks of votive lights burned in every room.
And I had my altar boy days behind me—I liked candles.
When we got together, M. and I burned lots of candles: ritual candles, nightly dinner table candles, meditation candles, et cetera. But then she got religion about candles. Most of the candles you buy are petrochemical-based (parafin), and when you burn them, you are putting some unfriendly stuff into your household air.
It is kind of like running a diesel engine indoors. So for some years, we cut way back on candle-burning except during (a) electrical blackouts and (b) outdoor use.
Meanwhile, a friend gave us a big beeswax pillar candle, which is now on the dining table — kind of like this. Nice, but not cheap. Maybe that is why St. Luke’s Episcopal Church always had donors for each week’s beeswax altar candles. (The big paschal candles were probably partly parafin.)
Another friend recently tossed in some soy-based tea candles as lagniappe on an order of — wait for it — battery-powered LED candles. (Suitable for homes with toddlers or in areas of high fire danger.) We use them indoors in one of our many votive-candle holders.
At Natural Grocers I recently picked up a box of palm oil-based tapers. But there are environmental issues connected with palm oil plantations too. It’s another case where “green” is not as earth-friendly as you might hope.
What is an environmentally conscious Witch to do?
RELATED: A video on getting wax out of fabric.