Piera Bochner
Prayer Candle, 2020
Wax, cotton wick, fire

Candles have been used in spiritual practices across time. Now that the lightbulb has replaced candles as a necessity in people's lives they have come to further represent and evoke a spiritual atmosphere. In many cultures candles are lit for prayer; their light, warmth, and ephemerality become symbolic of the prayer and give materiality to the users abstract thoughts and desires. To further express these prayers specific colors of wax are used in candles to represent a general prayer theme. These colors range from the obvious such as green symbolizing prayers for money, fertility, growth, and luck to the more poetic like purple representing psychic power, attunement with higher realms, and a general deepening of knowledge.

For this project we sent out a survey asking Reed students what they are praying or hoping for in this new semester. This year going back to school has become a life or death decision with the COVID-19 pandemic and the wildfires ravaging the West Coast. In difficult times there is often a return to spirituality and a growth in religion as people face an unpredictable and harsh reality. In our survey we found that Reed students are most hoping for friendship, romance, relationships, intimacy, self-love, forgiveness represented by the color pink; healing, peace, focus, harmony, creativity represented by blue; passion, power, potency, sex, confidence, courage represented by red; new beginnings, improved spirituality or connection, calm mind, unity, truth represented by white; and protection, removal of negativity, end bad habits or unhealthy situations, connect with ancestry represented by black.

Using this information I created a candle with the five colors that represented students' hopes and prayers. I then burned the candle, giving these desires light and warmth and as the candle burned down the prayers were released to the universe in the hopes of manifesting these prayers in our lives and futures.

Find Piera’s candles here: www.pierabochner.com