Magic isn’t black and white or light and dark. In fact, I get irritated when practitioners grandstand about the merits of being aligned exclusively with either side of the craft. Part of the wisdom of working with the gods and nature is that nothing is clear-cut and life is too complex to be confined in a restrictive mentality. That being said, there is such a thing as ethical and unethical witchcraft. Yeah, yeah, I know. Ethics implies that there is a right and a wrong way to approach a situation, and as we established dichotomies suck. But most ethical traditions and systems of personal ethics embrace the grey areas and nuances to every situation. So ethics isn’t a dichotomy so much as a multi-layered approach to acting and reacting. Continue reading
Let me tell you about two spells I did on the same day. The first was an elaborate spell bag I planned for days for a very specific purpose. For the second one, I found out I had to make an emergency trip home, so I threw a few gemstones in a bag, said the fastest possible blessing over them, and threw them in my bag. Both spells worked perfectly. In their basics I did the same things: applied knowledge with wisdom, visualized, and believed in the outcome I desired. But the amount of planning I did for each spell was vastly different. Mind you, I knew the circumstances surrounding the first spell for a few weeks, whereas the second event was a curveball.
The point is that magic doesn’t have to be crazy and elaborate, because let’s be honest who has time to perform ceremonial magic for everything. Sometimes you have to work on instincts and let your knowledge guide you.
So, fellow Witches, what can you do to be successful in your spontaneous spells?
- Take Your Magical Education Seriously: If there is one rule to being a good Witch, it’s never stop reading and learning. The more you know, the easier connecting your problem to your magical solution will be.
- Keep Your Tools Well Stocked: Ever go to do a spell and find you are out of the ONE INGREDIENT you need? Yeah, not good especially in an unexpected situation. Keep track of what candles, herbs, stones, or whatever your use the most and make sure you buy more when your run low. If you are new to the Craft and don’t have a handle on your favorite techniques and tools, pick up some white votive candles and clear quartz since both are so versatile.
- Be Prepared: Try to learn at least one spell for each of your five magical basics: health, wealth, love, prosperity, and protection. Remember, they need to be quick and easy. Once you’ve mastered those areas of your life, expand as needed to other needs.
- Consider Ingredient-less Workings: Sometimes you want to do something instantly, but lack the tools. So, do what you can with simple techniques, such as shielding.
- Relax and Evaluate: How much time do you REALLY have to complete this spell? Are things moving quickly or slowly. If you have the time to plan, take it. If not, use your short spells.
© Ariadne Woods
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. For some people it’ll be a great day with your partner. For others experiencing problems in their relationships, the day might seem weird or off. For single ladies and gents, it can be a bittersweet holiday. Whatever your relationship status, this is a time of the year for love.
Which means it is time for the love spell talk.
There is a lot of material out there regarding love magic and ‘snaring a mate.’ Some of it is harmless, for example workings a couple does together to work on and strengthen their relationship. Some of it is deceptive and destructive, such as anything that advocates using a specific person in mind when doing any love spell. Why? Free will. Fucking with it is not only stupid, but also unethical. Not only are you affecting the person’s life, but also the life of the person they are supposed to love. That is a lot of heartbreak going on just because you are lusting after someone. Trust me, it will bite you in the ass.
As someone who was single for a very long time and is adjusting to being single again, I understand your perspective. Maybe you have never been in a relationship and you long for that experience. Maybe you have been dating for a while and are ready to settle down with the right person. Maybe you have had bad relationship after bad relationship and you want to change those patterns. Maybe you recently got out of a relationship and are considering getting back out there. Maybe you have been divorced or widowed and are scared to move on. What do you do? How do you effect change to bring someone fabulous into your life?
Honestly, you have to get your shit together before a partner can come into your life. In my life, the times I have been happy, confident, and comfortable in my own skin are the moments love has come into my life. And when I have lost my way and disliked myself, I have lost love. In fact I didn’t have much of a love life until I embraced the witch in me. I think there is a strong correlation between the love and acceptance of self and the love from others. It’s magnetic, draws the right people to you. As I have seen on many a t-shirt, ‘confidence is sexy.’ Sometimes though, getting your shit together means being alone for a while. Taking the time to consider your life and ethics. Making a few changes. Getting comfortable in your own skin. And that is fine. It’s scary as hell. But it is so worth it.
If self acceptance is an issue for you, there are a few things you can do both magically and mundanely:
- Affirmations: Little sayings you use every day to bring about a new truth about yourself. There are lots of resources online and anyone from any faith can use these. I recommend using mala or prayer beads as a tool to help you concentrate on your affirmation. If need be, making this part of your Morning Ritual or Greet the Day.
- Little Luxuries: One thing you do on a regular basis just for yourself. For examples, I buy flowers and paint my nails every week. Both activities make me happy and bring a little beauty and harmony in my life.
- See a Professional: If you suffer from deep seeded self loathing, perhaps this is something you cannot tackle on your own. By taking to step to reach out to a psychologist or religious professional, you already put yourself in the right place to believe in your awesomeness.
Alright so you have been working on yourself and you know you are ready to begin a new relationship. This is the perfect time to consider a little magic. Again, not for a particular person. We have covered that bad idea. The best advice I can give is to stick to qualities, not specific ideas. Write down everything you want in a partner before you do any workings and keep those qualities in mind when doing any sort of magic. Just let the Goddess and God know ‘okay I am ready.’ Put the vibes out there. And starting making room in your life for someone wonderful.
© Ariadne Woods
Spell writing is an art. It takes a little practice, planning, and consideration. For people new to the Craft, the abundant resources online and in books can seem a little daunting. For people well versed in magical ways, sometimes we develop ruts and lose a little creative mojo by doing the same types of spells all of the time. So for all you new and seasoned spell casters, here are a few steps to assist in your magical workings.
- Have You Considered All Your Options?: Yes magic is lovely. But it is not always necessary. Make sure you have explored all aspects of the situation. This is especially true when the action affects others. Sometimes a simple conversation solves all the problems.
- Refine Your Need: Be really specific in what you want. Let’s say you need a new job. Don’t be general and do a spell for a job. Make a list of all the characteristics you want in that job, like salary, duties, and benefits. The one time I recommend NOT doing this is attraction or love magic. You never should be specific in the person, but rather the qualities of the person.
- Timing: If you work with the Moon or Sun, use their power to enhance yours. For example if you want to do protection magic, a good time to do it is around the Summer Solstice. To get you started, here is an easy guide to moon phases and their connection to magical workings.
- Spell Speed: Most spells at their core use one of the Elements. This means the characteristics of Earth, Air, Fire, or Water become part of the spell. Not only should this be considered when planning your spell, but the actual speed of the manifestation will differ from spell to spell. Consider the situation and how quickly you want it to become reality. Be careful though. Sometimes if you want it to happen too quickly, the spell will not be as effective. For example if you are addicted to something and want to change that behavior, avoid quick release spells. Let these things take time. The utterly prolific CharmingPixieFlora made a video a few years ago discussing this topic, so for more information here you go!
- Accessories: Do you want or need to use herbs, crystals, food items, libations, parchment, candles, etc. specific to the properties of the spell? Do you have them on hand? If not, how long will it take you to obtain them? Also, what magical tools do you want to use, such as a Working Candle, cauldron, or athame? If you really feel you need the ‘stuff’ then wait until you have them. Also if you have no idea what to use, check a few books with great indexes (example: any of the Cunningham encyclopedias [if you do a lot of spell casting, I recommend splurging for all of them they’re REALLY useful]). There is a reason I refer to these items as accessories. You don’t really need them but they are nice to have.
- Try Something New: Seem to always to candle magic? Try an Earth or Sea spell. Get out of your comfort zone a little.
- Belief: If you think the spell is not going to work, then it won’t. Simple as that. Doubt is the number one negation of spellwork. So buck up and have a little faith in yourself and your ability to change your life.
- Visualization: Basically, picture the change and outcome while performing the magic. This method provides focus and clarity. It does take a little practice though. There are plenty to exercises on the Internet to help develop this skill. Here are a few to my favorites to get you started.
- Follow-Up: I have mentioned this before and don’t mind beating my readers over the head with this point. After you do a spell, do some sort of action in the mundane world that mirrors your intent. For example if you are doing a spell to bring a new lover into your life, then actually accept the dates that come your way. Even if the person isn’t your ideal mate, creating a little momentum towards your goal will go a long way to manifesting it to reality.
© Ariadne Woods
Not everything goes right all of the time. You could have the perfect candle, the best timing, and the freshest herbs, but something still happens and you feel like the spell is going to fail. No worries. Here’s a few pieces of advice to help you keep your cool.
- The Candle/Incense Went Out: If you’re still in ritual, relight it. If not, the spell is done and dispose of the materials.
- Something Shatters: I’ve never had this happen to me, but if you’re burning something or using a glass container to hold a candle for a long period of time it can happen. Clean it up and consider the spell done.
- You Can’t Concentrate: Take a moment and just breath. Try to calm down and get your blood pressure lowered a little. If you can’t, clean up and do the work another time.
- Someone or Something Interrupts You: First of all, minimize the chance of this happening: turn off your cell, tell your roommates or family to leave you alone, put your pets in another room (familiars excepted), etc. But if it does happen, play it by ear and have a good perspective on the matter. If your dog breaks your circle, that is so much less of a big deal than if one of your kids is bleeding and needs medical attention.
- You Don’t Have the Appropriate Materials: This is where indexes come in handy! Look up the type of spell and see what materials will work for you. Most spellbooks have them in the back. I prefer Scott Cunningham’s indexes in the back of any of his encyclopedias or Dorothy Morrison’s because they’re comprehensive and easy to use. However as you do more and more work, you’ll develop an instinct about what materials will work in a spell.
- You Feel Like the Spell Didn’t Work: Calm down and be patient. Trust in yourself and your abilities. And sometimes a spell needs time to work out, so try to distract yourself.
- You Don’t Like the Outcome: Tough shit. Accept it and move on.
© Ariadne Woods
I dislike the common perceived dichotomy of magical arts in the Pagan, Wiccan, and witch community between light and dark magic. It creates a sense of morality that does not respect the nuances in everyday life. “I am a good witch, therefore I can’t work this kind of magic because it would make me a bad witch.” It boxes the practitioner into a moral box that may not serve their purposes or be practical in everyday life.
In my life magical workings provide not just an outlet to bring love and light into my life, but also a source of protection. Sometimes that means doing spells other practitioners consider “black magic.” Yet I would not consider myself a dark worker by any stretch of the imagination.
So when you read on the internet or in a book that a type of magic is “bad” or “dark” or “black,” consider the nature of the working in the context of your life not just in relation to the label.
© Ariadne Woods
As you probably well know, herbs serve many purposes in the magical and mundane worlds. Mugwort, for example, is an herb generally associated with dreams, but also can be an aid to female reproductive health. When collecting and growing herbs for magical use, I take a practical tack in my choices. Yes, I could buy goldenseal for a money spell, or I could snip an extra sprig of basil for the working when I make pasta.
For me and my practice, there are several key herbs I always have on hand or growing in a pot in my kitchen:
- Basil: You love Italian food? There is no replacement for fresh basil. Generally, it is associated with love, wealth, money, and exorcism. I prefer not to use basil alone in love spells (due to the exorcism association), but it works nicely with other herbs (see below).
- Lavender: I do not think it is a coincidence that love, peace, and harmony are the associations with this herb. It is great for treating mild anxiety (with medical consultation) and can be added in its essential oil form to a tincture of witch hazel and white willow to treat acne.
- Earl Grey Tea: The combination of bergamot and tea leaves is not only oh so tasty (and keep you awake during all nighters), but also is great for academic and education spells.
- Raspberry Leaf: Women really should have this on hand for dealing with menstrual cramps and uterine health. Until I looked it up last week, I did not realize that it associates with love and protection. For me that makes sense because it medically assists the ultimate space of protected love.
- Rosemary: It’s kind of a catch-all herb when it comes to magical work: protection, love, exorcism, purification, health… It also tastes great with chicken and potatoes.
- Parsley: A refreshing and detoxifying herb. It literally goes with everything and is crazy easy to grow. Magically, it is associated with protection and purification.
- Nettle: It has been called one of the perfect herbs for humans for its nutritional and nourishing properties. It’s a great herbs for exorcism, protection, healing, and lust.
This is my basic herbal. Do I use other herbs in culinary, medicinal, and magical practices of course. And other people use other herbs for their practices (having a magically academic herb on hand, for example, may not be a priority for everyone). Look at your life and begin to collect herbs that will fulfill the mundane and the Goddess-born areas of your life.
*The majority of the magical information in this article comes from Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.
© Ariadne Woods