On the rare occasions I post pictures of my working altars, you’ll see two types of candles there: tapers and vigil lights. Sometimes I offer clients a choice, but I also have my own reasons for choosing one over the other.

Vigil lights

  • burn constantly, so they require less attention one the flame is well established.
  • provide welcome extra heat in the winter.
  • are easier to dress, so there may be a quicker “turnaround” time.
  • are usually available in the colors my clients most frequently need.
  • usually get cool labels from my lovely and talented Art Department.


  • are available in a wider range of colors.
  • can be customized into reversing candles or Road Openers with a wax overlay of the proper color.
  • are prayed over daily, since they do not burn constantly but are relit every day.
  • are pleasanter to use en masse in hot weather, since they do not burn constantly.

When you need to have a candle burning at an unusually early or late hour (because, folks, 9 am on the East Coast is 6 am for me), I’ll probably start a vigil light at my usual altar time the night before.

When you need a candle that nobody makes as a vigil light – say a pink-and-black reversing candle to keep people from trying to break up your friendships – I’ll customize a taper for you. Often, too, it’s easier to find the color you need as a taper than as a vigil light.

And sometimes I can’t resist my husband’s beautiful labels.

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