The Symbolism of Candles

The Symbolism of Candles

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.

Start Scrubbing the News

Candle Moments Body Polish Body Scrub Staten Island
Candle Moments Scrubby Body Polishing Oil in Sunrise Lemon Burst

This has been an exciting week for Candle Moments! We were recently featured in our local newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, with an article about how our hazelnut wedding cake inspired our business. Having the opportunity to grow even closer to our Staten Island community is extraordinarily important to us!

Along with being featured in the paper, we officially launched our Scrubby Body Polishing Oils, in both Lemon and Lavender. These body scrubs, or body polishes, are crafted with shea butter, dead sea salt, sugar, essential fragrance oil, and several other moisturizing plant-based oils. As with all of our products, these scrubs are vegan and cruelty-free.

You may notice some color differences in the body scrubs. Rest assured, these scrubs are made without any dyes; however, the natural variation in color comes from the different brands of shea butters that we used.

So how does a couple go from cake to candles to scrubs? It may seem like our train is devoid of direction, but it’s quite the contrary. Our number one priority is producing products which are vegan and cruelty-free that appease our nose. We want you to go from scrubbing in the shower, to lotion-ing up with our lotion and massage candles, to cozy-ing up with our scented candles. We want you to feel as happy with the little moments as we did when we cut our wedding cake, and why not extend those happy moments to all aspects of our daily rituals?

To Dye or Not to Dye…That is the Question

Candle Moments Weekend Getaway Soy Vegan Homemade
Candle Moments Weekend Getaway
Christmas Tree Fragrance Candle Moments Soy Vegan Homemade
Christmas Tree Scented Candle Moments

Our company is part of a fabulous network, called the Indie Business Network, and lately there has been a debate on whether or not candles should be dyed. I’ve noticed that the opinions of chandlers are often quite polarized; they are either fervently for or against dying candles.

There appears to be basic psychology when it comes to colors. People are visual first, and psychologists have explained the importance of color for decades. My best personal example would be a pre-school classroom. A pre-school classroom devoid of “happy” colors, such as pinks, blues, and yellows, would be seemingly uninviting; on the contrary, a police precinct office decorated in the same colors would seem awkward.

At trade shows, I’ve noticed the process of customers seeking candles. First, they pick up on a color they like, then they read our names (which are named after “moments,” so there is a bit of mystery as to what the candle will smell like – for example, “Clean Drawers“), and then they smell it. Though the olfactory sense will always be the predominant sense when it comes to choosing a candle, there is a staggered process to getting there.

Online, people will often judge by the color of the candle even heavier than the description. There is a direct association between certain colors and certain smells; this is especially true if someone is synesthetic. Our “Summer Break” candle is a light blue, and before people even open the jar, they ask me if it will be like the ocean. This is most likely related to our primordial days when we would use sight and smell combined before we ate food. If something looked green, and it shouldn’t, it was probably rotten. Even now, think about eating a pizza that was green. Pushing aside our sense of adventure, which would come after we realize it wasn’t rotten, our brain would first have to digest the idea of “green” with “pizza.”

When it comes down to the business end, our company serves both ends of the spectrum (pun intended). We make colored and uncolored candles; we can customize – so if you want a blue candle that smells like brownies, no problem. For those aiming for purity, we have our naturally soy white candles. It’s all about personal preference.

I invite your opinions on colored candles; please comment below!

Managing Work & Life Balance

Managing a small business, especially a start-up, is one of the toughest jobs because it’s your “baby.” You wake up and think about it, go to sleep thinking about it, and any free moment you wonder if there’s something else you could be doing to engage people in your business. As someone who just launched a small business, and still works full-time as a teacher, I find my universe-given 24 hours simply unacceptable, but there are always greater priorities.
When it comes to balancing work and life, it’s all about prioritizing; the question is how to prioritize. I advise looking at the bigger picture of time. In the limited time we have on Earth, it’s the lives you’ve affected that really count. I always put my family first, no matter if I have a big vendor show, or a pile of papers to grade, when it comes down to it, I want to know that I spent my time with people who I love, and people who love me. I never want to regret missing the opportunity to spend time with my parents or grandmother, because time is fleeting, and in the end, the work will be there tomorrow, but your family may not be.
When it comes to friends and having a social life, I advise looking at it through a big-picture calendar. Pick a weekend or two that you will absolutely make free of work obligation, and send out a mass invite for your friends to go out for dinner. We know that true friendships can withstand the absence of physical presence, but they don’t withstand the absence of caring. I also always stash a stack of random cards and stamps; when I find myself with ten minutes (and we all can find ten minutes), I will hand-write and mail a random friend a card. Little acts go a long way.
In whatever situation, it’s important to remember balance. You have to listen to yourself. You know when you can go hard, and you know when your body is telling you to take a break. Take those breaks. Pick those days to go hard. It’s okay to say no. Repeat – it’s okay to say no. Nothing should be so taxing on your time that you feel obligated. If you’re not going somewhere or doing something with your heart intact, just don’t do it.

Staten Island – The Forgotten Borough

We live in Staten Island, New York, we were married in Staten Island, and we handcraft our homemade candles and body scrubs in Staten Island. This is our home, but sadly, it’s often referred to as the “Forgotten Borough” of New York City. It’s amazing how much reputation damage an over-priced bridge can create. Despite the misleading stereotypes, and the world’s second largest dump, Staten Island is still a wonderful place, and the older I become, the more I appreciate what a wonderful community we have here.

First of all, we have an amazing zoo. The picture for this blog is Frank (co-owner, and my husband), taking our nephew to the petting zoo about 2 years ago. There are so many activities for children, and it’s run predominately on the goodwill of beneficent community benefactors. We also have Snug Harbor Cultural Center, which also “harbors” Art Lab, two astounding resources for local artists, and a great part of history. We are also known for our vastly important place in American history, granted, our side was with the…ahem…”other guys,” but the haunting ghost stories of slaves working for the American side at the Confederate House is enough to bring you back, and send chills down your spine. Aside from all of the attractions that Staten Island has to offer, it embodies the home-town community feel, wrapped in the big city.

We love all of our customers – and we’ve had customers from Hawaii, to Washington State, to Texas, and beyond – but we choose to continue our fairs and shows in our hometown because this is the community that has supported our growth. Our neighbors who freely spread the word about us making a small business in a big city, our neighbors who help us break into our house because I locked myself out, our neighbors who experiment with me as I use essential oils to fight off mutant mosquitoes.

We encourage our locals, and people from everywhere, to come check out what Staten Island has to offer, and hey, why not stop by at one of our amazing upcoming craft and holiday fairs and shows!
10.12.15 – Monday (Columbus Day) – Zion Lutheran Church – Staten Island – 11am-4pm

10.17.15 – Saturday – Reformed Church of Huguenot Park – Staten Island – 10am-3pm

11.14.15 – Saturday – Staten Island Tech H.S. – Staten Island – 9am-3pm

11.21.15 – Saturday – Christ Lutheran Church – Staten Island – 9am-3pm

12.5.15 – Saturday – Art Lab – Staten Island -10am-5pm

12.6.15 – Sunday – Monsignor Farrell H.S. – Staten Island – 10am-5pm

But I Was an English Major?

I majored in English Literature and Rhetoric and minored in Russian Language and Literature. My first master’s degree is a Masters of Arts in Teaching English, my second is in School Building Leadership with a Principal’s Certificate. What happened to me that I declare myself a “Teacher Gone Rogue Candle-Master”?

Breaking Bad happened. Yup, the acclaimed AMC television show which my husband and I binged-watched on Netflix in the late part of 2014.

I have taught high school English for 9 years, and I had aspirations to become an Assistant Principal. I worked day and night, weekends, and breaks; I have been set on fire, I have bled, I have cleaned urine and vomit, scrubbed out unmentionables graffiti-plastered on painted walls; I have called 911, I have been 911; I’ve watched beloved students pass away from childhood cancer, I’ve watched beloved students pass away from drug overdoses; I have been insulted, disempowered, disgusted, and disheartened. I have done it all in the name of love. I love my students, each one, and I cherish how much they are always teaching me. I saw all of this in Walter White.

If you’re a fan of the show, you know what I mean, but if you’re not, it’s easy to dismiss it as “that chemistry teacher who started making meth.” It’s so much more. It highlights the troubles of the American education system. It shows how the best part of teaching is, was, and always will be, the students. Everything else just chips away at your soul, little by little.

In the process of binge-watching, I realized I needed a more productive sense of stress relief besides binge-watching television. Inspired by the chemistry, I bought myself a starter pack of essential oils and tried to start using them to resolve household troubles. First was our fruit fly problem, so I bought peppermint, and ignorant of the powers of measuring, doused my house it in. Drowning in the attack on our sinuses, my husband banished me from ever opening peppermint again.

But the burning sensation lingered.

There had to be more to life than this.

So, I started cooking, and even started a cooking blog. And while I still love cooking, my oils called to me….I started mixing, and then pouring, and then filling mason jars. As I poured and filled, I felt a part of me getting filled with a new passion. I started painting, and took up my writing again. I realized that as much as I loved my students, it wasn’t enough; the confines of teaching were diminishing the creative artist in me. In fact, I had forgotten that the artist was ever there; she was lost in rubrics, and Common Core, and testing. I needed to create anything that wasn’t a lesson plan.

Then there it was – the birth of my first “candle” made out of Crisco. (I later realized marrying my love of candles with cooking wasn’t a genius move.) I found passion again in candles. I also found soy wax (which makes a far better oil than Crisco).

My love of Breaking Bad remains fervent in its attribution to seeking out my passion, but as rogue as I feel now, the teacher in me must still remind you to “just say no.”