Sacred and wicked candles

This is a Chicago Tribune story, but I just ran into it while reading through the drifts of South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspapers that collected while I was in Washington, D.C. The tradition of burning candles is, of course, very ancient. Try to find a reference to public ritual in the Bible that does not involve this tradition (and incense). I had no idea that the whole seven-day candle phenomenon was this modern. In fact, I am going to try to do some more digging online to see if reporter Monica Eng has this straight. Hey Amy Welborn, if you are reading this, let us know what you think! Ditto for you, Dawn Eden.

But here is the part of the story that amazed me. It turns out that this very populist form of devotion has, well, spread into other parts of life. If you live in the right kind of ethnic neighborhood, you can find all of this at the local grocery store. Who knew?

The use of these candles has evolved far beyond a religious context. On the same Web site and even on the same store shelf, you can find Virgin Mary candles not far from "D.U.M.E. Black List" candles that are purported to help you, well, kill your enemies.

More common uses include attracting a specific mate with a "Come to Me" candle while simultaneously sabotaging the mate's current relationship with a "Break Up" candle. According to Carlos Soto, manager at Indio Products, a chain of botanicas in Southern California, the "Come to Me" + "Break Up" combo is his No. 1 seller.

Isn't that kind of mean? "Not really," Soto says, "because usually [the customer] is a woman . . . whose husband or boyfriend is cheating, so she is just getting back what was hers."

Be careful what you pray for, people. You might get it.

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