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Wiccan Samhain Crafts: How to Make a Memorial Candle for Your Altar

Updated on August 25, 2016
WiccanSage profile image

Sage has been celebrating the Wheel of the Year for 25+ years, and being a holiday junkie, she just can't get enough of the sabbats!

Wiccan Craft

Acknowledging those who've passed in some way during the season is a major part of celebrating Samhain (learn more about Samhain here). It's a time to honor the dead, and remember how they've touched our lives-- directly, or indirectly.

A memorial candle makes a beautiful addition to the Samhain altar. It can sport a photo of your loved one and any information or messages you want to include. And if you don't have a big altar and are not planning on any major rituals, you can set out this candle on Samhain night as a simple, quiet tribute to someone. Just light it and meditate on it.

The best thing about making these candles is that you can reuse them year after year!

It's pretty easy, and pretty cheap... here's how to make one:

Memorial Candles for Samhain


This Type Of Paper:

Grafix Deluxe Vellum 8-1/2 Inch by 11 Inch Iridescent Shimmer, 12/Package
Grafix Deluxe Vellum 8-1/2 Inch by 11 Inch Iridescent Shimmer, 12/Package

This translucent paper is ideal for this project because the ink shows up well on it, yet the light will shine through to make it glow.


Looking for More Samhain Crafts..?

Try these here: Samhain Pagan Pumpkin Carving Printable Stencils.

You can print and use my own Pagan pumpkin stencil designs-- free!

What You Need to Make a Memorial Candle

You don't need any artistic skills or specialty supplies for this memorial candle. You probably have most of what you need already.

- a computer with a photo editing software

It does not have to be advanced. I use Adobe Photoshop, but you can use any basic software that comes with your computer or with your camera

- a digital file of a photo of your loved one

if you only have old photos, scan them.

- digital scrapbooking files for decoration, if desired

this is totally optional. But you can really jazz it up with scrapbooking decorations.

- a printer

it does not have to have photo printing capabilities; just a regular printer will do. You don't even need colored ink, you can do your candle in black and white.

- vellum

Vellum is a translucent paper. You can find it in just about any craft store or most office supply stores. You'll need at least one 8-x-10 sheet of vellum per memorial candle you wish to make. Vellum comes tinted in a variety of colors, but remember that ink may not show up well on darker colors.

- a tall, white pillar candle in glass

White is best because darker colors will show through the printed image and you may not be able to see the image well. Also if you use tinted paper, colored candle wax will 'blend' with it (for example, if you put your blue vellum on a yellow candle, your memorial candle will look green wherever the wax shows through.

The candle must be in glass because it would not be safe to burn without the protective glass casing.

This Candle

Plain White Candle - 1 Color 7 Day
Plain White Candle - 1 Color 7 Day

Is the kind of candle you want to use... best of all, when the original candle burns down to nothing, you can get a refill candle and insert it into your decorated glass holder.


Memorial Candle Instructions

Measure your candle's height and subtract about 1/2 inch so your vellum won't reach the top edge of the glass and become a fire hazard.

Measure it around, and add about 1/2 inch for overlap so you can tape it later.

Open a blank document in your photo editing software to the size you measured. Open the file with the photo of your loved one as well. If you need to adjust the color or make any edits to your image, now's the time to do it.

Copy and paste the image of your loved one onto your blank document. Resize the image so it's only about 1/3 of the width of your document. Remember-- it's going to wrap around. If your image is too wide, all you'll be able to see is a big nose and mouth on the front of your candle, with an eye on each side. It won't look like a face, it'll look weird.

The Wrong Way/The Right Way


Decorating Your Candle

Open the text tool (most photo editing software has this) and select a nice font and color. Write whatever you like-- name, dates, sentiments.

Decorate as much as you want. If you know anything about digital art or scrapbooking (or if you're eager to learn) you can dress it up however you like.

Me, I like to keep it simple. Since I have a black and white photo, I stuck to black and white, just added a frame and a couple of little doves.


Finishing Your Candle

When you're finished playing with your design and settle on one you like, save it and print it on vellum. Cut the vellum to the original size you calculated.

Wrap it around the candle and tape it in the back. Now your candle is ready to go on the altar-- burn it on Samhain night to remember those you love.

As the candle burns down, it will make the vellum glow. When the candle is used up, I like to just toss a votive or tea candle in there and light it year after year.

Tip: you can use this method for more than just memorial candles... print whatever seasonal images you like on them-- jack-o-lanterns, flowers, Gods and Goddesses, leaves, etc. and you can use candles like this all year round. Make them for all different occasions.

A Favorite Chant for Samhain

When We Are Gone (feat. Anne Hill)
When We Are Gone (feat. Anne Hill)

"When we are gone they will remain; wind and rock, fire and rain.

They will remain when we return; the wind will blow, and the fire will burn." Beautiful, isn't it? Second chants has been one of my favorite all time Pagan CDs for about 15+ years now. We chant this at our house every Samhain. You can check out the Mp3 song sample.



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    • WiccanSage profile imageAUTHOR

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      5 years ago

      Thanks Mystic; you're right, the possibilities are endless, it's just a great technique. A little clip art and you can make candles for any holiday, occasion, or just to match your home décor. Appreciate your comment!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Love this, Sage! Beautiful idea and so many uses! Endless possibilities here, thanks so much!


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