Its become common for people to record their cord-cutting ceremonies and post them on TikTok, letting others try to decipher the meaning behind whose candle burnt out first, which way the flame leaned, which flame burnt the cord, etc etc. However theres been a worrisome trend within this trend – people keep putting their candles on paper plates!
In witchcraft, we use a lot of fire. Lighting candles and incense, burning sigils and petition papers, even bay leaves. There are so many ways we incorporate fire into our practices. However, we all need to remember to do it safely. What follows is a list of basic fire safety rules you might already know, but some you might not have thought of. Either way, not a bad idea to read it over.
1. Dont put candles or other burning things on a flammable surface. Having a beautiful altar cloth is definitely aesthetic, and can make your space feel more complete, but consider what would happen if one of your candles were to tip over, or your incense fell just a little too fast? That lovely cloth will be gone, and if youre lucky you wont burn down your entire altar with it. Whenever youre using a candle that isnt in a jar, remember to use a ceramic, metal, or glass holder with it. (Wooden is usually fine but youll have to keep a closer eye on it.) Even tealights can get hot enough to leave scorch marks, so put something underneath those as well. This DEFINITELY means dont use a paper plate to stage your cord cutting ritual on. Use that pie plate in the back of the cabinet that never gets touched, or even a cookie sheet if thats all you have.
2. Never burn sigils, incense, or anything similar outside of a fire-proof dish. Those little cast iron cauldrons you see in every metaphysical shop were MADE for these purposes. If youre the type of witch who enjoys loose incense, your charcoal tablets will fit right in. The ones with little feet are a bonus, as it keeps the hot bottom of the cauldron from touching whatever surface youre working on. Remember to use long metal tweezers or tongs if youre burning paper or bay leaves, you can drop it right into the cauldron. Cant get a cauldron? Use an old saucepan from the thrift store, and set it on top of a silicone or metal trivet.
3. Dont hang flammable items above your candles. Bunches of dried herbs are gorgeous, and usually smell amazing as well. But theyre also SUPER flammable. Hang them to the side of your altar instead of directly over it. This goes for photos, posters, or anything else you might want right above or behind a candle.
4. Trim your candle wicks! You can use a normal pair of scissors for this or even fingernail clippers. If you have a wick trimmer, even better! (Theyre about $10 on Amazon if youre in the market for one) Its so cool to see your candle light up with a giant flame, but that giant flame also produces more soot and is more of a danger than a neatly trimmed wick. Wicks should be about 1/8th of an inch in length before lighting. The top rim of your jar candle will thank you by not turning black.
5. Dont overdress your candles. Personally, I never dress my candles out of fear of fire. The herbs and oils you see people adding to candles on social media make them feel more reverent and more powerful, more devoted to whatever specific deity. But heres a secret: You can put the same ingredients around the candle on a plate or large candle holder, the magic will be the same, and your deities will still receive the offering. If you truly want to dress your candles, less is more in this case. Use just a pinch of herbs instead of a handful, and dont drown the candle in oil. And the number one tip – keep it all away from the wick!
6. Do your best not to wear long flowing sleeves around candles, and keep your hair back. Its so easy to reach across your altar space absentmindedly, and run the sleeve of your gorgeous ritual gown or shirt through a flame. You lean over to read a tarot card more clearly and your hair falls forward against the tealight youre using. Keep track of your clothes and hair, and try to move mindfully around fire. If youre alright sacrificing the aesthetic, tight sleeves and hair pulled back are definitely the way to go.
These are all very simple precautions you can take to keep yourself and your tools safe. No one wants to call the fire department because a candle tipped over, or a flame got tangled up in the beautiful ribbons and scarves you have draped over your altar. A trip to your local thrift store can yield you a treasure trove of old saucers, mugs, teacups, baking dishes, and even actual candle holders to use. A lot of the time, you can even find sets of matching dishes if you want your altar to have a certain aesthetic. Theres also plenty of shops on Etsy that create specific candle holders for deities, which are worth a look.
In the end, we all want to do magic, and be safe. So why not make sure were safe while we do magic?
Written by Divinaytion