The meaning of the dream symbol: Candle

In a dream, lighting or carrying a single Candle may represent a ray of hope where there is nothing but darkness. In this, a candle is akin to a prayer for knowledge and guidance. In many cultures a candle is lit for a loved one who has passed away. The candlelight is symbolic of the loved ones soul which bums bright and flickers its warmth and light through the worldly haze. If, in our dream, a candle is blown out, we may be experiencing the surrender of an important part of ourselves. If many candles are lit in a dream, we may be surrounding ourselves with a certain faith in ourselves, our loved ones, our society, or a spiritual calling in general. It must be remembered, in all cases, that a candle is a delicate and soon parting moment of love and hope. In this, we need to fill ourselves with the candles precious warmth and hope. The Unconscious may be warning us not to overlook some small miracle of promise which may have recently appeared in our present waking life.


A lighted candle might symbolize enlightenment, or a search for truth. The darkness illuminated by the candle might be what Jung called the ‘Shadow’; in which case the dream would be an invitation to explore the unfamiliar and perhaps frightening regions of your psyche.

A burning candle may express your awareness or fear of death or of growing old.


Candles symbolize light. Their wick melts the wax and thus the wax shares the flame, emblem of the flesh and the spirit.

By ancient custom virgins carried lighted candles in each hand. In countless religious rites candles retain their phallic symbolism - the reverse aspect of the symbolism of the soul and of immortality. In Catholic ritual there is the Paschal Candle and the tall candle set beside the coffin in the funeral ceremonies for a pope. In the twelfth century Guillielmus Durandus explained this usage by saying that virgins carried candles to show that they were ready to receive the Bridegroom, like the Wise Virgins in the Gospel (Matthew 25: 1-13). He also points out the further symbol in the carrying of candles: virgins seeking to be like the Light of the World. The symbolism of light has always played an important part in Christian thought.

This ritual may have been borrowed from Classical marriage ceremonies in which the bride was led in solemn, TORCH-lit procession to the home of her husband to be. Bride and groom also carried torches. This custom is retained in Greece and among most Orthodox communities.

In Ancient Greece candles were offered to the gods of the Underworld as well as to those of fertility.

Pope Paul VI, in an audience to nuns on 2 February 1973, gave a modern twist to the language of the books of ritual. Candles, he said, symbolized ‘the pure and primal source of light’ by which nuns should be enlightened.

Unwavering and gentle, they are images of purity and innocence. They burn and give light and typify a life wholly devoted to a burning, total and unique love... Lastly, candles are doomed silently to bum away just as your lives are consumed in the inevitable struggles of hearts which have renounced the world, in self-sacrifice like that of Christ on the Cross, and in the joys and pains of love which will not end with death but which will shine for ever in the everlasting encounter with the Divine Bridegroom.

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