Contrary to popular belief, witches do not spend most of their time casting spells. Most of us have full-time jobs, busy social lives, families, and other demands on our times. A spell, properly cast, can be a tremendous drain on a witch’s physic resources. It’s not a task to be undertaken lightly.
Spellcraft does have its place the life of a witch, but not nearly as major a one as many people suppose. In fact, a wise witch is very sparing in her use of spellcraft. Pagans practice first and foremost a religion — a religion quite unlike many others, in that beliefs and practices vary, but a religion nonetheless. We have many different conceptions of what the Divine might be, but we do all believe that One exists. By definition, God/dess is more powerful and wiser than us. So before we jump in and try changing things according to our own limited understanding, we consider the situation carefully.
Remember the Wiccan Rede
, a basic ethical guideline that Wiccans – and many other pagans – follow: An it harm none, do what you will. As has been discussed elsewhere, the Rede is deceptively simple. Obviously, physical harm, emotional harm, slander, theft, and other crimes are verboten according to the Rede. But what about other, more subtle forms of harm?
Most witches agree that curses, hexes, and other harmful spellcraft is more trouble than it’s worth. Hand in hand with the Wiccan Rede goes something called the Law of Returns. In general terms, this Law states that all energy you send out into the Universe comes back to you. It may not come back right away, and it may not come back in the form you’re expecting, but it does come back. Different traditions put their own twist on the Law of Returns, saying that the energy comes back threefold or fivefold. I’m not so picky about the math, but I have seen the Law in action, and respect it highly.
Interpreting the Rede
Witches continue to disagree over other grey areas. For instance, does casting a spell on another person without consulting them first constitute harm, even if the intentions are good? What about actions taken in self-defense?
Personally, I avoid all actions – whether mundane or magickal – that can cause harm to another being. In my experience, acts of hatred and vengeance are best countered with actions of love and kindness.
Working my will on another person without their consent constitutes harm. To that end, I never cast a spell on another person without obtaining permission first. Manipulative spells designed to make someone else fall in love – whether with me or with a third party – to move away, or to leave a job ultimately backfire on the person who casts them. This policy also extends to more beneficial spells, such as spells for healing, prosperity, or other kinds of blessings. Only the Goddess has the power to know what is best for another person. No matter how noble my own intentions, it is presumptuous and ultimately harmful for me to meddle in someone else’s affairs.
That’s not to say that I haven’t done a little juju for my friends. Far from it; I’ve prepared charmed sachets for newlywed couples, given suggestions on how to attract jobs, held a healing circle for my lover, and even suggested a ritual to help a friend open herself up to the possibility of a love affair. But the main ingredient in all that magick was consent. Before I drag out my herbs and my athame, I get the permission of the person whom the spell is meant to benefit.
Often times people ask me if I have spells. Yes, I have spells. Some have worked, some haven’t. What a witch must keep in mind is that what works for me, may not work for another witch. Magick is within everything. How it is perceived is different from witch to witch. Some think patchouli oil is the best oil for a prosperity spell. I prefer clove oil and have had success in using it. One of the wonders of magick is that there is normally a wide variety of correspondences to choose from for any one desired result. There must be about a hundred different herbs listed for love and at least thirty for wealth and money (a few of which I have listed).
I prefer to perform candle magick. Candle spells are simple, they are not time consuming (very important to a witch with little time) and they work. When I do a candle spell, I carefully choose an appropriate color for the candle, a stone, an oil, and three herbs, one for the physical realm, one for the mental realm and one for the spiritual realm, plus one more as a type of catalyst (normally these catalysts are either Dragon’s blood, Mandrake or Mistletoe).
How do I pick my correspondences? First, I must know what I’m doing the spell for. Is it a prosperity spell, a healing spell, a spell to find a new job or maybe to improve communication with a loved one? Once I determine what I’m trying to accomplish, I hit the books. Within my library, I have several books that index what various colors, herbs, oils and stones correspond with various desired results. I try to be as specific as I can and try to blend my choice of correspondences to better “describe” my desired result. If I’m going to perform a prosperity spell, what attributes are going to be needed to reach the final goal? Creativity, physical strength, courage? I try to chose some herb or the oil to correspond with those added aspects and keep in mind that most herbs and oils have several attributes. Its is very possible to have an herb with the attributes of both wealth and, say, strength. With one herb you can accomplish two ends. I leave the color of the candle to the core of the spell. For a prosperity spell, green, a banishing spell, black. The same applies to the stone I use. I leave it to the core of the spell.
Having said all that, now I must also add, use what you have! One of the first spells I did I literally raided my spice cabinet for the herbs I needed. Okay, so maybe fennel would not have been my first choice, but it worked! I am fortunate to have an orange tree in my back yard. Yes, I use the leaves, blossoms, fruit, and bark in place of other possibly more popular herbs. Use what you have!
Once I’ve gathered my correspondences, I then charge them with the purpose of the spell. How is this done? There are a few techniques that must be utilized for this part of spellworking.
Ability to Meditate
This is the art of clearing the mind of all mundane thoughts and feelings. It is a state of relaxation and peace, the goal to reach a state of non-thought. This is not easy and I still haven’t mastered the technique yet, but do the best you can. There are several very good books on the subject and even in many of the books on Wicca and witchcraft there are simple techniques to help in mastering meditation. This is essential to spellwork. Your mind must be at peace so that you can focus on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Ability to Visualize
This is the ability to see with your mind, not with your senses. Although it is called visualization, remember, use all your senses! Close your eyes. Within your mind’s eye, see a tree, whatever kind of tree you want or are familiar with. Let your mind see its limbs, its leaves or needles (depending on the type of tree), the trunk, etc. Let your mind feel the bark. Is it smooth, rough, spongy? Does the tree have a fragrance? Let your mind smell that fragrance. Let your mind hear the wind as it rustles the leaves. Visualization is not easy for some, but with practice you can visualize anything. (Taste also falls into this category, but for our little discussion, tasting a tree may not be prudent.) During spellwork you will visualize your goal (and be specific and detailed!) before directing it into the item you’re charging.
Ability to Direct Energy
This is the ability to take the energies of the correspondences and your own energy and directing it towards your goal. When you charge an object, that energy is initially coming from you. From within yourself imagine (visualize) a bright light, maybe white or the color that corresponds with your goal, forming within yourself centered between your chest and stomach. Let that light grow and expand. Then direct that light up through your body, down your projective arm, out your fingertips (or through your athame or wand) and into whatever your trying to charge. While you direct that light, that energy, you will be visualizing your intent with as many specifics as you can.
It is important to realize that magick is energy flow. It is not power. All spells create a tangible connection between the objects used and yourself. When you work magick, be specific, but be careful! If you do a spell for a new job, remember to be specific in that your new job doesn’t come at the expense of another! “An Ye Harm None” Remember these words when you work magick. As you finish your spell, (for me after I light the candle), I add something to the affect of “May the energy of this magick harm none and take a path that is for the good of all involved.”
For candle spells remember that the flame must be allowed to continue to burn until it goes out on its own. I use three and seven day candles that are in glass jars. You can sprinkle your herbs on the top of them and they are safer. Remember not to leave a burning candle near drapes or where something flammable may fall into the flame. Keep in mind that the glass jars get hot, so handle with care and as the candle reaches the bottom of the jar, make sure the candle is not sitting on something that might burn from the heat. I suggest getting a ceramic dish and put some sand in the bottom to act as insulation. When I leave my home, I place the candle in my bath tub, just in case. If for some reason it gets knocked over, there is nothing in my tub that could catch on fire.
For positive spells, once the candle is out, use the stone as a talisman. Carry it with you or put it someplace where its presence will have an affect. For banishing spells, very carefully remove all remnants, of the candle, especially the stone, without touching it. Wrap the remnants in white paper and bury it outside, preferably some distance away.
Remember to write down your spells! You can either keep these spells in your Book of Shadows or elsewhere. My Book of Shadows is riddled with pieces of paper, napkins, whatever I happen to jot notes and spells down on. Some choose to use their computers as their BoS. Regardless, with the spells written down, can keep track of what works and what doesn’t and you can also keep track of what you are doing while you’re doing it.
A few words about magick and ethics. Most magick, at least initially, is done for yourself. There will be times when spellwork will be used to benefit other people. Any ethical witch WILL NOT do a spell that will affect someone else specifically without that person’s permission. A witch must respect another person’s soul path. What if you can’t ask them (i.e. you can’t reach them, the person is unable to communicate, etc)? Then you must honestly consider if that person would object. If your favorite aunt were deathly ill and could not communicate, and you wanted to do a healing spell for her, you would need to consider if she would agree to the spell if she could. If she were a devout Fundamentalist Christian, chances are pretty good she’d say no. You must respect her choices and her soul path.
No witch in their right mind will perform magick that is intended to manipulate, control or harm another. Remember, what you send out will come back to you threefold.
A witch should never sell a spell. If someone asks you to do a spell for them, it is not unreasonable to ask them to cover the expenses of the materials used, but other then that, no money should be received for the magick you do. That is counter productive and can cloud the intent of the magick.
When someone asks you to do a spell for them, if possible, instead of you doing the spell, teach them how to do it. The spell will have a better chance at success and they will have a better understanding of how the magick works