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.

Brown or Black--jinxs
In 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.

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 victory
Pink--for love (some say for drawing success)
Yellow--for money
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
In 1942, Henri Gamache published his Master Book of Candle-Burning, How to Burn Candles for Every Purpose detailing magical practices involving candles.
Red--love spells, affection, passion, bodily vigour
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

It 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.

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 spells
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
Gamachi 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.

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 3Healing Severe Headache or Backache
green Psalm 4Bringing Good Luck
green Psalm 4Needing Financial or Real Capital for One's Business
purple Psalm 5Favorable Outcome for Dealing with the Government
and Bureaucratic Authorities
brown Psalm 5Successful Court Case Outcome
blue Psalm 6Healing Eyes
purple Psalm 7Breaking a Hex
blue Psalm 9Remedy for a Sick Child
purple Psalm 9Against the Power and Malignity of Enemies
purple Psalm 11 and 12Protection from Oppression and Persecution
pink Psalm 14Gain Trust and Favor
purple Psalm 14Protection from Corrupt Fools
purple Psalm 17Protection During Travel
purple Psalm 22Protection from Storms and the Elements
purple Pslam 22Repeling Terrestrial Danger
white Psalm 23Blessings and Beneficent Work
blue Psalm 23Divination and Dreams
green Psalm 26Employment
purple Psalm 29Empowering Through the Word
purple Psalm 29Overcoming Troublesome Spirits
purple Psalm 30Safety from Evil
red Psalm 40Make Good Wishes Come True
blue Psalm 42Recieving Instruction in Dreams
red or pink Psalm 45Bring Love and Passion
red or pink Psalm 45Restore Love, Romance, and Peace Between a Husband and Wife
white Psalm 51Cleansing and Purifying
purple Psalm 52Freeing One's Self from Slander
green Psalm 61Blessing When Moving to a New Home
green Psalm 64Healthful Sea Voyage
green Psalm 65Blessings and Luck in New Endeavors
green Psalm 72Gain Prosperity and Happiness With Others
pink Psalm 85Restoring Peace Between Two Friends
purple Psalm 90overcoming wild animals
purple Psalm 90protection in one's dwelling
purple or brown Psalm 90overcoming evil influences
purple Psalm 94Triumph in Legal Court Cases
purple or red Psalm 100Overcome All Enemies
purple Psalm 101Learning to Break Bad Habits and Behave Wisely
red or blue Psalm 102Against a Grievous Affliction
red Psalm 103Healing and Renewal
purple Psalm 111Charming and Lovable
purple Psalm 112Increase in Might and Power
blue Psalm 112:13Develop Self Tranquillity and Harmony
green Psalm 114Drawing Success in Business
green Psalm 114Attracting Luck While Gambling
purple Psalm 116Protection from Violent or Sudden Death
purple Palm 116:16-17Safety from Imprisonment
blue or green Psalm 119Help in Speaking with Someone About a Financial Dispute
purple Psalm 121Safe Travel After Dark
purple Psalm 126Protection for Newborns
purple Psalm 127Protect Children
purple Psalm 129 Empowerment Against Oppression
blue Psalm 142Relieving Pain in the Legs, Thighs, and Hips
blue Psalm 146Curing a Wound or Wounds Requiring Surgery
white Psalm 150Praise and Thanksgiving
red Psalm 150Turning 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, accessed 11/4/10.
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