April 11, 2018

Candles have been used for thousands of years as a source of light. Since the dawn of electricity, the purpose of candles has shifted to the aesthetic. We now use them to create mood, ambiance, atmosphere, whether by the way they look or the way they smell.

But what if I told you that candles mean so much more?

Symbolism is a device used by artists and authors to connect meaning to an image. A typical example would be a country's flag. To nationalists, that flag may represent patriotism, freedom, and a sense of pride. Candles have embodied great symbolism since the first writings of Homer in Ancient Greece.

Prometheus, the great Titan, whose power included foresight, was notably punished by Zeus for giving humans fire. Prometheus had a great love for humanity, and after his brother, Epimetheus (after-thought), gave all of the animals distinct qualities, such as speed and agility, there was nothing left for humans. So, Prometheus went up to the top of Mount Olympus, took fire, and gave it to humans. The use of fire completely changed civilization: Blacksmiths and Ironworkers were born, food was cooked, predators were now prey. Zeus was so displeased at the likeness humans now had to the gods that he punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock and commanding an eagle to eat Prometheus' liver every day for eternity. About 11 generations later, Prometheus was saved by Hercules, but the power of fire remained with the humans. Humans now had light even during times of great darkness.

Since the great feat of Prometheus, the candle has embodied all the gifts he gave humanity; candles were the light in the vast array of darkness, a symbol of life, truth, and goodness. Light was used as the beginning of life and vitality in the Old Testament and these ideas have permeated into our daily language, as you've probably heard the metaphors "shedding the light" or "the light of my life."

But even before common metaphors, Shakespeare often used light to symbolize the dawning of truth. He has Lady Macbeth sleepwalking aimlessly with a taper (a candle) as she begs, "Out damn spot, out I say," seeking to wash away her sins and bring in the light of the darkness she's been holding in. He has poor Desdemona light a candle before her fateful and final meeting with Othello, who proceeds to "Put out the light, and then put out the light," as he extinguishes the candle foreshadowing the end of Desdemona, and thus, the end of goodness and life. Macbeth's final, and most powerful soliloquy, refers to life as "Out, out brief candle" as candles have served as the extension of the symbolism of light into the impermanence of life.

A modern example of the candle being used as a symbol of life includes Elton John's famous tribute song to the late Marilyn Monroe, "Candle in the Wind," as he refers to her life as a candle trying to be ignited against a world of troubles, taking the form of the wind. He follows with "your candle burned out long before, your legend never did," again showing how candles are the light of life, brief, but beautiful and enchanting while they burn.

While the use of candles has transitioned throughout time, their silent power to remind us about the brevity of life still transcends. That's why we create candles to highlight the little moments in life, such as the moments After the Rain, or the blissful Summer Break, and even the soothing Serenity Prayer. Candles, while a reminder that our moments are limited, also offer hope.

Buddha is quoted as saying: "One candle does not lose its light by lighting another," showing how our spark, our flame, our very life-force remains powerful and beautiful while sharing success. We still use candles to commemorate and memorialize the dead because their light, their life is what will continue to live on long after the wax has faded.



Leave a comment


Also in Scents the Moment Blog

The Final Moment

July 04, 2019

Yesterday, we made the big announcement on social media that we will be closing down Scents the Moment. Together, we have helped rescue so many dogs and cats with Staten Island Hope Animal Rescue and Twenty Paws Rescue. You were with us as we adopted Lucy, the rescue pittie. You were with us as we … Continue reading The Final Moment

Continue Reading

Taking a Moment for the Game of Thrones Finale

May 20, 2019

*SPOILERS AHEAD* I have been a devout fan of Game of Thrones since the very beginning. I’m not just talking about HBO, I mean I-read-the-books-hardcore-fan.  I have felt love, I have felt loss, but I have never felt disappointment until HBO took over and released George R.R. Martin to the wind. My analysis is simply the … Continue reading Taking a Moment for the Game of Thrones Finale

Continue Reading

What’s In Your Soap?

April 09, 2019

I don’t ride bandwagons or hype-trains. I was never one to tout “all natural” or “organic” because it was trending. So, several years ago, when I started my research into making my own soap, it was out of the sincere need to help my husband’s struggle with psoriasis and eczema. At that time, prior to … Continue reading What’s In Your Soap?

Continue Reading