I am wondering about spell substitutions and how to best do them, especially when I do not have all the items on hand for a working?
I will warn you in advanced that my advice will probably not be what you were looking for in the way of an answer. I have a strict policy in regards to spells which is “If you have to ask for help you probably shouldn’t be doing the spell in the first place”. Spell work always has consequences and a positive and negative side to it, and being prepared for both sides of the coin to happen is going to be your first priority. This is why I am a huge advocate for people to write their own spells. This being said however, spell books do have an important usage for newer witches.
Pre-written spells are great to give you ideas of things to try. You may be looking for a particular method or idea to express a certain desire. This is a great starting point, but ultimately I would not do them as written. Every working you do is for a particular situation and goal. If every goal is different how can a spell written by someone else fill the needs of your working completely?
I also feel that when doing spell work you want to put as much of your own energy into it as possible. Writing your own spell brings energy into the working from the very beginning. Using items you already have around your house that have been sitting there soaking in your energy for some time also helps with this. By doing this you also will not have to worry at all about finding a substitution for a spell, because you can literally look around your home to find objects you can use and base your spell work around what you already have. In this context there is no need for spell substitutions.
You may be asking how you write your own spells at this point. This can take some time, but do not rush yourself and the process of learning to do it. I suggest starting off with a worksheet to build your spell. For the purposes of this lets assume you want to loose weight. You may be thinking of doing a working to be thin. What you would first want to do is write down your goals.
“Goal: To be thinner and healthier and to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Once you have your goal I suggest writing down all the things you can do in a mundane fashion first to accomplish this goal.
“Mundane Methods: Eat healthy foods, lower calorie intake, exercise more, become educated on healthy lifestyles”
Once you have this down I suggest writing down ways you DO NOT want this spell to do and the negative side effects of how it could possibly work.
Then I suggest writing down the best way to word your ultimate goal and how the divine or the working can aid you in the safest way possible.
“Magical Goals: I would like the divine to help me to be able to stick with my mundane plan and aid me in the power to resist temptation to go back on my old habits, I would also like to ritually say good bye to my old life style”
Once you have this set down you can brainstorm ideas to accomplish this goal.
“Magical Ideas: Get rid of all the unhealthy foods in the house and donate them to a food bank while saving some to ritually get rid of. Ask for a blessing from the gods to aid me in strength to do this process. Ritually celebrate the beginning of my new healthy lifestyle. Start a garden to grow healthy veggies while ‘growing’ into this new part of my life.”
From here you can easily prepare your own spell and at this point I would research different spells to get ideas to accomplish your goal. Remember the worst thing you can do is rush into anything. Take your time and make sure that this is exactly what you want. Seek out the mundane methods first and until you are more comfortable with spells try to use all the mundane methods you can. The best part of this method is that once you do have the spell written you can use your work to start building your own Book of Shadows that you can refer back to for future spells. This in turn will make it easier over time and you will know the ins and outs of the materials around your house and be able to work with what you have.
Best of luck to you,
Jasmine is a 15 year veteran pagan and Wiccan High Priestess and has been a leader in her local pagan community and done spiritual counseling. To submit questions please email JasmineMoon@gmail.com.