Hoodoo and Color
Many occultists state every color "vibrates" with its own magic and has a specific effect on individuals and the universe. The symbolism and associations of colors varies from culture to culture and individual to individual. I've discussed colors elsewhere on "Yet Another Wicca Site" and "The Goddess Aradia and Other Subjects."
This particular list is taken from Carolyn Morrow Long, Spiritual Merchants: Religion Magic & Commerce, 2001. I've included this list because, according to Long, it represents an early set of color correspondences.
White--peaceIn 21st century hoodoo candlework, numerous different colors of candles are used. Candles are now available in red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, white, purple, brown, and black. See 21st century list below.
Brown or Black--jinxs
I've been able to find very little information on the development of colored candles. Yet, apparently, candle dye for coloring wax was not widely used in candle manufacturing until the 19th century. Prior to that, candles would simply have been whatever color the material was they were made of.
My guess is that, as different colored candles became readily available, practitioners incorporated them into their spiritual and magical practices as they thought appropriate.
In 1935, Zora Neal Hurston published in her Mules and Men this list of the meanings for candle colors.
Red--for victoryIn 1942, Henri Gamache published his Master Book of Candle-Burning, How to Burn Candles for Every Purpose detailing magical practices involving candles.
Pink--for love (some say for drawing success)
Green--to drive off (some say for success)
Blue--for success and protection (for causing death also)
White--for peace and to "uncross" and for weddings
Lavender--to cause harm (to bring triumph also)
Brown--for drawing money and people
Black--always for evil or death
Red--love spells, affection, passion, bodily vigourIt is certain that by the 1940's mmany African-Americans were incorporating sundry colored candles into their spiritual and magical practice to draw luck, love, and money and for protection from evil, etc.
Pink--attraction, romance, clean living
Orange--change of plans, opening the way, prophetic dreams
Yellow--devotion, prayer, money (gold), cheerfulness, attraction
Green--money spells, gambling luck, business, a good job, good crops
Blue--peace, harmony, joy, kindly intentions, healing
White--spiritual blessings, purity, healing, rest
Purple--mastery, power, ambition, control, command
Brown--court case spells, neutrality
Black--repulsion, dark thoughts, sorrow, freedom from evil
Gamache also included references to Double Action candles.
Red and Black (Double Action)--remove a love-jinxing spell
White and Black (Double Action)--to return evil to the sender
Green and Black (Double Action)--remove money-jinxing
As an example of color association in the late 20th century, this list is from one of Anna Riva's books, printed in 1980. Riva wrote, "There are currently available over 200 books on the subject of color--from such diverse points as to how color can affect moods, beauty, emotions, creativity, health, and sales." Anna Riva, Candle Burning Magic: A Spellbook of Rituals for Good and Evil, 1980 (p. 6).
Red--life, love, sex, courage, energy, strength, health, impulsive, fiery, willpower, conceipt, vitality, magnetism
Pink--affection, service, love, honor, spiritual awakening, unselfishness, leadership, diplomacy, femininity
Orange--joy, enthusiasm, friendship, attraction, stimulation, self-control, adaptability, intellect, receptivity, organization
Yellow--unity, success, univeral love, activity, creativity, action, develop occult powers, invoke spirits, inspiration, concentration
Green--abundance, cooperation, generosity, fertility, success, luck, money, ambition, greed, envy, peace, harmony, health, healing
Blue--truth, health, inspiration, wisdom, immortality, loyalty, serenity, sincerity, devotion, kindness, patience, fidelity, honesty, peace, harmony in the home
White--purity, truth, sincerity, spirituality, wholeness, generosity, expansion, outgoing, cleansing, respect, innocence, prophecy, clairvoyance
Purple--dignity, ambition, idealism, wisdom, psychic ability, power, progress, independence, protection, pride, honors
Brown--balance, concentration, indecision, telepathic power, study, intuitive communication, earthiness, thrift
Black--evil, loss, adversity, protection from evil spirits, shield from the evil eye, repell black magic
The following is a 21st century list of colors used in hoodoo candlework, which is similar to the list of color correspondences assembled by Gamachi as well as others. The magical symbolism associated with the candle colors shows an influence from European magical traditions as well as early 20th century color symbolism.
Red--passion, victory, vigor, sexual spellsGamachi also listed Double Action candles, which are candles with two different colors, one atop of the other. Double Action candles magically combine the correspondences of both colors.
Pink--love, reconciliation, romance, clean/healthy living
Orange--open roads, remove blockages, marriage, change
Yellow--success, attraction, money (gold)
Green--luck, money magic, gambling spells, business, employment, good crops Blue--protection, healing, harmony, peace
White--spiritual blessings, peace, purity
Purple--mastery, rulership, ambition, power, control, command, victory
Brown--court case spells, paper color for magic
Black--jinxes, mourning, removing hexes and crossed conditions
A number of traditional work root practitioners do not bother with this color system of symbolic correspondences. When they do use candles, they use white.
The symbolism involving different colored candles has also affected use of colors in other components of hoodoo magic.
According to Catherine Yronwode, many Southern hoodoo mojo bags were originally made of red flannel--probably because they had a lot of red flannel scraps. Eventually, some practitioners began using different colors of flannel, relating to the bag's specific purpose. For example, green cloth would be used to make a "money mojo."
Doubtless, other hoodoo practitioners may use color in an unrelated manner to the 21st century list. The Roman Catholic church first employed naturally colored beeswax candles (which are often a pale, honey-colored yellow). A few practitioners prefer pale, yellow beeswax candles for spiritual devotions.
The Gullah people of the Sea Islands use the color blue as a protective color. Their windowsills were painted blue to keep out malevolent spirits. Yet, I haven't read anything about the Gullah using colored candles.
Over time, different color candles have become associated with the magical use of Psalms. The addition of using colored candles with the Psalms is apparently an example of "reinforcement." Two separate blessings/charms/prayers are used together to "reinforce" and enhance the effectiveness of the outcome. In this case, the candle color system is a later practice added onto an earlier traditional hoodoo practice involving the Psalms.
The following table has a collection of examples of specific colors of candles associated with the recitation of the Psalms for certain purposes.
Examples of Uses of Colored Candles with the Psalms
|blue||Psalm 3||Healing Severe Headache or Backache|
|green||Psalm 4||Bringing Good Luck|
|green||Psalm 4||Needing Financial or Real Capital for One's Business|
|purple||Psalm 5||Favorable Outcome for Dealing with the Government|
and Bureaucratic Authorities
|brown||Psalm 5||Successful Court Case Outcome|
|blue||Psalm 6||Healing Eyes|
|purple||Psalm 7||Breaking a Hex|
|blue||Psalm 9||Remedy for a Sick Child|
|purple||Psalm 9||Against the Power and Malignity of Enemies|
|purple||Psalm 11 and 12||Protection from Oppression and Persecution|
|pink||Psalm 14||Gain Trust and Favor|
|purple||Psalm 14||Protection from Corrupt Fools|
|purple||Psalm 17||Protection During Travel|
|purple||Psalm 22||Protection from Storms and the Elements|
|purple||Pslam 22||Repeling Terrestrial Danger|
|white||Psalm 23||Blessings and Beneficent Work|
|blue||Psalm 23||Divination and Dreams|
|purple||Psalm 29||Empowering Through the Word|
|purple||Psalm 29||Overcoming Troublesome Spirits|
|purple||Psalm 30||Safety from Evil|
|red||Psalm 40||Make Good Wishes Come True|
|blue||Psalm 42||Recieving Instruction in Dreams|
|red or pink||Psalm 45||Bring Love and Passion|
|red or pink||Psalm 45||Restore Love, Romance, and Peace Between a Husband and Wife|
|white||Psalm 51||Cleansing and Purifying|
|purple||Psalm 52||Freeing One's Self from Slander|
|green||Psalm 61||Blessing When Moving to a New Home|
|green||Psalm 64||Healthful Sea Voyage|
|green||Psalm 65||Blessings and Luck in New Endeavors|
|green||Psalm 72||Gain Prosperity and Happiness With Others|
|pink||Psalm 85||Restoring Peace Between Two Friends|
|purple||Psalm 90||overcoming wild animals|
|purple||Psalm 90||protection in one's dwelling|
|purple or brown>||Psalm 90||overcoming evil influences|
|purple||Psalm 94||Triumph in Legal Court Cases|
|purple or red||Psalm 100||Overcome All Enemies|
|purple||Psalm 101||Learning to Break Bad Habits and Behave Wisely|
|red or blue||Psalm 102||Against a Grievous Affliction|
|red||Psalm 103||Healing and Renewal|
|purple||Psalm 111||Charming and Lovable|
|purple||Psalm 112||Increase in Might and Power|
|blue||Psalm 112:13||Develop Self Tranquillity and Harmony|
|green||Psalm 114||Drawing Success in Business|
|green||Psalm 114||Attracting Luck While Gambling|
|purple||Psalm 116||Protection from Violent or Sudden Death|
|purple||Palm 116:16-17||Safety from Imprisonment|
|blue or green||Psalm 119||Help in Speaking with Someone About a Financial Dispute|
|purple||Psalm 121||Safe Travel After Dark|
|purple||Psalm 126||Protection for Newborns|
|purple||Psalm 127||Protect Children|
|purple||Psalm 129||Empowerment Against Oppression|
|blue||Psalm 142||Relieving Pain in the Legs, Thighs, and Hips|
|blue||Psalm 146||Curing a Wound or Wounds Requiring Surgery|
|white||Psalm 150||Praise and Thanksgiving|
|red||Psalm 150||Turning Sadness into Glee|
Some hoodoo practice also involves "spiritwork." Certain spirits, angels, saints, etc. traditionally have certain colors associated with them. These traditional associations may be completely different than the 21st century hoodoo color association. For example, St. Expedite is associated with the color red and red candles are frequently burned to petition and honor this saint. This use of red probably relates more to the color of the saint's cloak or the fact that red is frequently associated with fast action.
It is important to remember not all hoodoo practitioners use the 21st century list of colors, and those who do may only use it in relation to the color of candles. Some do not concern themselves with matching the color of the candle to mojo bags, beads, altar cloths, clothing, etc.
copyright September 2010, 2013 Myth Woodling
Candle Burning Using the Psalms,
Dragonstar and Gypsy Witch, Tropical Spells Hoodoos and Voodoos + The Rare Black Pullet Manuscript, 2010.
Kenaz Filan, The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook, 2011.
Henri Gamache, Master Book of Candle-Burning, How to Burn Candles for Every Purpose, 1942.
Zora Neal Hurston, Mules and Men, 1935.
Carolyn Morrow Long, Spiritual Merchants: Religion Magic & Commerce, 2001.
William Alexander Oribello, Candle Burning Magic with the Psalms, 1988, 2011.
Catherine Yronwode, MOJO HAND and ROOT BAG, accessed 9/9/10.
Catherine Yronwode, HOW TO PRACTICE HOODOO CANDLE MAGIC, accessed 11/5/10.
I have found an online version of
Use of the Psalms, for the Physical Welfare of Man, which I add here for your convenience and illumination.
A Time to Every Purpose Under The Heaven
Psalms and Verses
"That Hoodoo..." Home
Wiccan Use of Color