Who Is Papa Candelo?
Papa Candelo is a very popular and powerful loa. He is said to originate in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but his influence has spread far beyond to the Caribbean and mainland United States. He is a wise and fiery spirit who demands respect.
The Origin of Papa Candelo
Papa Candelo may have come from a folk hero. Some stories say that, before he became a deity, he was an enslaved African man. Even as he was forced to labor on a sugar plantation, he was regarded as a source of knowledge of Yoruba traditions and someone of great spiritual power. In other versions, he was never truly human. Instead, he was a powerful spirit who lived as a human in order to give spiritual wisdom and inspiration to the people around him. He was there to comfort enslaved African people and give them the secrets they needed to survive and keep their religious traditions.
Whether he was once a man or always a powerful spirit, Papa Candelo now exists as a powerful, lively loa who loves dice games, cockfights, dancing, and fireworks. His friend and partner, Belie Belcan, is a deity who defends people against enemies, injustice, and evil. He is syncretized to the Archangel Michael. The Archangel Michael is also petitioned for protection from fire. This shows the balancing effect Papa Candelo and Belie Belcan have on each other, and explains why they are often honored together as a team.
Honoring Papa Candelo
Papa Candelo is a fire spirit. Like fire, he can be severe or lively, punishing or warm. He demands respect and adherence to tradition, but is also humble. Though he has seven paths, not many are seen during actual possession -- the most common is Candelo Sedife, from the Kreyol words meaning "is fire."
Papa Candelo is not a loa that should be approached lightly. He is not for an inexperienced practitioner of Santeria or Voudou. Much like fire, he requires knowledge, caution, and the same respect you would give an open flame. Do not be careless in working with him, or you will get burned!
His favorite offerings include fiery things. Red candles are lit on his altar. Some light cigars for him and set them horizontally on a glass, to allow Papa Candelo to smoke them. Others take puffs of the cigar, and blow the smoke over an image or statue of Papa Candelo (sometimes, he is served with an image of San Carlos Borromeo). He also enjoys offerings of alcohol-based things, like yellow rum or Florida Water cologne, that are set on fire. Papa Candelo is also a popular figure for portable shrines, particularly for protection. Small statues of him are often set up in cars or other vehicles to help keep passengers from harm.
Some sources give his feast day as November fourth, the same as San Carlos Borromeo, while others consider it to be November third. His devotees dress in red and give him his favorite offerings, dance, offer prayers, and give thanks for his aid.
Petitioning Papa Candelo
He is the patron of those born under fire signs, and a protector of women and children. As a deity tied to fire, he is called upon to burn away unwanted things. This makes him ideal to call upon for unhexing or uncrossing, cleansing, protection, and fighting disease. As an old man, he is a source of very good advice for fixing your life, but he can become very angry if he is not given the respect he deserves. When giving him offerings and asking for his aid, it is a good idea to exercise fire safety -- he likes to make a scene and show his presence with fire, so flaming offerings, candles, and other open flames may flare up.
Papa Candelo is wise, old, and as lively as a flame. He contains a vast amount of knowledge, and is very good at burning away evil influences, whether they are sickness, hexes, evil, or just unclean influences. Call upon him when you need good life advice, or the help and protection of this fiery loa. Just be careful -- he knows his worth, demands respect, and loves tradition. Always approach him correctly when calling upon him, and practice common sense fire safety when working with him or setting out offerings.