“Spells work if you believe in them; only you don’t need spells at all. Everything happens by itself. You happen by yourself, so does the world. And the principle behind all is magic. And magic is the beingness within and behind all things.”
~ Jane Roberts 1
The sort of magic I know and am most familiar with is a kind of natural, unscripted, everyday magic, resulting from a lifetime of living and coping with it. It does not precisely follow any traditional constraints other than being what I believe to be closest to the way magic is woven by the wild things of this world. In any case sometimes we need a spell in a hurry and do not have time for more strict formalities.2
This is not a how-to on spellworking. I haven’t included any spells, techniques, or specific recipes to try for love, luck, money, etc. Rather, because of the nature of spellworking there are certain basic principles which I have found good to keep in mind when performing any conscious work for the purpose of altering reality in some way.
Spellworking that actually produces the desired results can be tricky and complicated to master. This is because as magical beings everything we do can be considered a kind of spell. Our actions and attitudes in life very much play a part in creating the reality we live in every day, and this is truth.
Spellworking then gives us the knowledge and means to accomplish this natural creation more consciously, to better shape our lives, and hopefully learn something about our wonderful natural world in the process. This article addresses those principles I think are most important to remember, gleaned over some years of solitary faerie hedgewitching.
I make no pretence of following any sort of tradition other than my own faerie workings when it comes to spellwork and dealing with magic. Yes I’m hopeless and probably dangerous, I know. I have followed this path from my heart for many moons, so you would think that by my age I would have it figured out by now. I can only say that it is ever an ongoing process.
Here I will define spellwork as a method we use to set our intentions plainly, to make known to the universe the objects of our desires, and to create the reality that supports those desires coming into being. Our intentions are then fuelled by whatever energies we choose and are able to afford to them. The stronger and more pure our energies, the more likely it is that real magic will happen.
Intention is the key to any successful spellwork. It is most useful to know exactly what we want, and to have an idea of how we would like it to be manifest (without choking our spell with too many restrictions; it’s a trade-off). Our intentions for performing a spell need to be as clear and concise as possible, and we need to be especially sure that what we intend is really what we want, because there is a good chance we will get it.
Spellwork is quite simply conscious reality creation. In this world we naturally always act, in accordance with our desires, to achieve the ends we want. We all have the means to create reality, and we do it every single day without even thinking about it. Spellwork helps us to remember that we are responsible for our lives, and that the choices we make, good or bad, help determine and define our experience.
Learning to fine tune intention is another ongoing process, and by its nature nothing written down is ever able to teach us all the subtleties involved. Like anything else in which we wish to gain proficiency, just being clear on what our intentions are requires personal practice and determination.
Once we have set our intention clearly, it needs an energy source to facilitate its manifestation into reality. The most powerful natural energy source we have at our disposal is our emotions. Strong emotional energy is potent fuel for reality creation, and nothing is better for propelling intention and desire together than deep emotional longing. It is one of the ways we have of releasing magic into the world.
It is well known that spells can also draw on the energy of celestial events, and certainly of Nature Herself. For example it has been my experience that sincerest wishes from deep within the heart made under a bright and comforting full Moon in the midst of tall trees beside a babbling stream will come true, more often than not.
This is not to say we don’t help guide our wishes to fruition, and we remain vigilant to discern when the opportunities created by our spells present themselves, ripe for our taking. But our spell crafting helps open up and provide a work space for our intentions to enter and congeal into reality.
Sometimes it seems it should matter what specific items or tools we use but often it doesn’t so much, as long as our meanings and intentions remain crystal clear. I can write this to you here with some degree of confidence, having personally learned all too well what sorrows careless wishing can bring.
Whatever tools we might use to create our spells – candles, flowers, stones, statues, seeds, herbs, food, drink, rhymes, chants (written or spoken), the elements – all serve at least two significant purposes in regard to the work we want to accomplish.
First of all our spellworking tools help us to focus our intention for the magic to flow through. You could say in this case the purpose of form is focus. The more meaningful to us the items we use, the better they will work to channel our own inner energies into our spells. We don’t need to wear black pointy hats (but we can if we want to). Meaning and significance are always what we make them out to be.
The second primary purpose for the tools we use in our spellwork is to provide additional energy to work with. To me the best tools are the ones we make ourselves, if possible, but as always whatever works for you is okay too. I also find that natural items work best, where appropriate. Remember that ultimately they are only tools – the real magic resides within us.
And thou who thinkest to seek me, know that thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou know the mystery, “That if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee,” for behold; I have been with thee from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.
~ Doreen Valiente with Gerald Gardner, “The Charge” 3
If some item in your spell speaks to you of conflicting emotions, it might be better to use something else. The more intense the emotions we use to energize our intention, the stronger our results will be. There is set up a kind of positive feedback loop between ourselves and our tools, each strengthening the energy that flows to our intention. This is why we avoid adverse energies as much as possible.4
One of the more interesting things about this is that after a while the tools seem to become largely unnecessary, at least on a personal scale. We learn to feel and know our own peculiar magic and what directs it, focuses it, strengthens it, and how to more efficiently use our own energies. With growing proficiency of course comes personal responsibility – this stuff is real, and yes, it can be dangerous.
Magic doesn’t know what we want, so we have to make our intention clear. Learning best how to do this is another of those ongoing processes. If we are ambiguous about what we want to accomplish or have conflicting desires, the resulting magical outcome can produce unpredictable and negative consequences.5
Magic doesn’t care how much of its power we can handle or not. Spells don’t work by hocus pocus; items don’t necessarily suddenly appear from the ether when a witch wrinkles her nose. As anyone who has seen magic in action knows, it works through channels already in place. This makes sense if you think about it – the world is ultimately made of magic after all.
That is, the fruits of our spellwork appear from ordinary places, such as that new work contract that comes in unexpectedly just when you need it, or you win third place in a contest where the third place prize is exactly the thing you wished for two weeks previously. This is simply the nature of magic and reality manipulation on this level, but it is no less real or effective for operating in this manner. In spellwork, coincidence is hardly ever coincidental.
It is in fact possible to work our spells too well. Magic unleashed when fuelled by deep, sincere, emotional energy can be overwhelming, and will subsequently take the most direct route to get to us without caring what else happens to be in the way when it comes. It can be similar to lightning striking in that respect, and every bit as damaging.
Larger spells often require more time for all the pieces of your desired reality to fall into place. These are the reasons I recommend patience with spellwork and a kind of hopeful anticipation, rather than an attitude of if I don’t get what I want right now this minute I’m going to explode. You probably won’t but something else might, and it may be something you love.
The Broader Context
A successful spell will achieve the desired outcome, eventually, and hopefully without too much collateral damage. Remember again how this works, and try to be patient. These things we refine as we grow and learn. Eventually we come to realize that spellwork doesn’t just begin or end at the altar.
The workings of magic permeate everything we do, from the greatest aspects down to the least. Over time we learn what works and what doesn’t. We see how our very lives are the most important spells of all, continually woven by us, day to day to day. We adjust our behaviour accordingly as we observe the outcome of our grand Spell of Life in all the things that come our way – the good, and the not so good. It is living by magic, and being aware of it.
We learn to direct our energies towards those things that draw happiness, joy, and contentment into our lives, and less drama. We surround ourselves with like-minded folk, who seem to be drawn to each other in any case (as if by magic). While this doesn’t at all mean we will have a trouble free life, it does mean our lives become something of a living testimony to how and how well we are applying our own natural energies.
Spellworking not only changes the world around us, it changes us as well. This is another positive feedback loop that helps us determine the right path, if we can pay attention. What works will lead us into a deeper understanding, a kind of message from our inner souls telling us we are on the right path and in going this way we have nothing to fear.
It is the most amazing thing, and for me at least has drawn me into and closer to the natural world, and has made me more aware of all the living things around us moment by moment. By all the living things around us, I mean pretty much everything.
I can’t imagine life without magic. Perhaps it is science we don’t understand yet, perhaps the inner workings of quantum entanglements or observer consciousness-created realities. I’m not sure that really matters, practically. Whatever it is, it is surely real, and we cannot deny our own experience.
Used carefully and wisely (which is I think another lifelong learning process, one to which I make no claims of mastery in any sense), magic brings us not only the desires of our hearts, but its very existence and the fact that it does work lets us know there is so much more to this world and this life than first meets our eyes. Magic is life itself, sweet and bitter and hopeful and true and scary and wonderful all at the same time. It is the Dreamtime from which we and all things emerge.
- From The Further Education of Oversoul Seven by Jane Roberts, Oversoul Seven’s Little Book, an Appendix [back]
- This appears to be the wilder faerie’s viewpoint of it all, but remember if you truly believe something is required then it likely will be. [back]
- As quoted in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Practical Magic by Susan Greenwood and Raje Airey, pp 204-205 [back]
- I once tried carrying an authentic relic Native American arrowhead around in my pocket for its magic. Turns out this is not such a good idea. Those people led hard lives, and the residual energy of their struggles became very much evident to me, sealed into the stone. It’s good to understand the provenance of your magical tools. [back]
- This includes any negative karma you might generate if you try to force something that doesn’t want to be forced. [back]