Bell, Book, and Candles…
Don't get your hopes up, Guys. She's nowhere in the column.
With apologies to Kim Novak, Jimmy Stewart, Richard Quine, Daniel Tardash, and the whole gang down at Columbia.*
Okay, so this is another in my ongoing series about my seriously warped attempts to make candles during lockdown…when I was bored to tears…and apparently over-supplied with wax.
Anyway, I was talking about how I had a bunch of expended container candles that still had re-usable wax in ‘em. And I mentioned how we have a lot of votive or devotional candles…the tall ones, with saintly stuff printed on them…because they’re relatively inexpensive and last a long time. And I mentioned in passing that we had three “curse candles.”
What are those?
Well, devotional candles aren’t always…er…really devotional. People put out joke versions of them. Visit any funky gift shop and I’m sure you’ll see votive candles devoted to, oh, everyone from comedians to political figures. I’m online right now and I just did a search for “parody devotional candles,” and I’ve come up with candles for everyone from “Saint” Charles Darwin to Ruth Bader Ginsberg to Keanu Reeves to Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft’s demon god of storm and madness.
Equal time, Ladies. Here's not here either.
Now, these are just jokes. They’re merely light-hearted parodies. But, there’s more. You don’t have to look very far, even if you’re just shopping at your local grocery store, before you may run across devotional candles devoted to “Folk Saints,” that is, saints and other figures who are not recognized by any church. One of these is Santa Muerte, or, Our Lady of Death. She came up from Mexico a long time ago. She’s a bit scary in appearance—a female skeleton in long robes—but apparently she’s on the side of the Angels.
Indeed, I’m told, at least by some people, that she was an angel once herself, but that she hesitated (briefly) during Lucifer’s Rebellion, was condemned for that, and now waits in limbo for the redemption that will come at the end of the world. In the meantime, though, she performs good works for her devotees.
Or — and this is more likely, I suppose — she has a very different origin. Other people tell me she is a pre-Columbian deity, a goddess sacred to the peoples of Mexico and Central America, who survived (in secret) the Christianization of the region, and the subsequent Inquisition, and now returns to her people at a time when Christianity itself seems incapable of solving their problems. Already, her cult is one of the fastest growing religions in the Americas.
Oh, and yes, she is already a media star. She has had parts in everything from Breaking Bad to the Penny Dreadful spin-off, City of Angels.
So, it isn’t surprising that you can find votive candles with her image almost everywhere now. I used to see them at the most middle-class, the most suburban grocery stores in Albuquerque. It was always a little bit of a shock, but there she was…usually on a shelf slightly lower than that which held the Virgin of Guadalupe and St. Michael, but she was there just the same.
Santa Muerta...she is in my story.
Sometimes you can also find votive candles devoted to folk magic. Again, you don’t have to look very far. We found ours at our local grocery store here in Central Texas. And, again, they were right there on the shelf, just below Saint Jude and Sant’Antonio.
Specifically, what we found were “double action curse reversing candles.”
No. I’m not making that up.
What they are is container candles with black wax at the top and red wax on the bottom, and various incantations and mystic symbols printed (in white) on the glass. The idea is that if you feel that somebody’s hexed you, you buy a candle, say a little prayer, light it, and let it burn to the end. Once the black wax has been consumed, the curse has been lifted from you. And once the red wax is consumed, whoever it was that hexed you will get a double dose of their own malevolent medicine.
Oh, no. We don’t believe in curses. Not really. And we don’t believe in magic. Again, not really. But, well, it’s fun to pretend. It’s sort of like Halloween. Or reading the Tolkien. I know there’s no such thing as magic rings or horrid, nasty little toad-like Gollum monsters (okay, excepting Mitch McConnell), but it’s fun to think about them.
It was a hard time in our lives right then. It was the middle of 2020. Our candidate for president didn’t seem to have a chance. Donald Trump seemed to be cruising toward an easy victory. Covid was killing people right, left, and center. We hadn’t been able to see our kids for, like, ever because of the pandemic. And, frankly, if we didn’t really think we…honestly…had been given a dose of the bad ole juju, it kinda felt like it.
So, one day, kinda as a joke, I got three curse reversing candles…one for us, one for our family, and one for the country as a whole. And, then, a few nights later, we had dinner in our fly-proof tent-shelter in the back yard and I fired up the candles.
And that’s when things got sticky…
But it’s also for next time.
Onward and upward.
*So look it up already: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell,_Book_and_Candle
Copyright©2021 Michael Jay Tucker
Special Note: if you want my more political writing, please check out my other blog, Crisis and Cure, which you can see here: https://theleftcrisis.blogspot.com/