So I have a confession: I am the worst about overthinking spells prior to casting them.
Whenever I have a spell in mind, I research and cross-reference and dig up herbal correspondences and planetary associations and swipe incantations out of old grimoires and rewrite them for the task at hand and fixate on incense blends and generally just fling myself overboard while clutching a kitchen sink.
It’s a lot like method acting, except Witchcraft.
Here’s the thing, though: Once the spell is cast; once the candle burns down or the sacrificed goat stops twitching or whatever, I set it aside and move on, and let the magic work without any further interference on my part. And it was a challenge to learn how to do that, but it was vital if I was going to progress as a Witch.
Less Deadly Sin, More Stumbly Misstep
“Lust of result” is exactly what it sounds like: being so emotionally invested in the outcome of a magical working, that the working itself is negated.
I know it seems contradictory — I mean, shouldn’t we want our spells to work? Of course we should! But if we get tangled up in fantasizing about what we’re going to do after a given spell comes to fruition, or if we start worrying about whether or not we did enough to manifest our goals, we’re decreasing the probability of achieving them.
When we cast a spell, we need to do so with utmost confidence (NOT cockiness, mind you; just confidence), and lust of result gets in the way of that. It’s a lot like shooting a gun: I can stress over my ability to use the gun correctly, and let my anxiety get the better of me, and get so worked up that I become a danger to myself and others. Or, I can take a deep breath, clear my head, aim, and pull the trigger, which will dramatically increase my chance of hitting my target.
Having been to a gun range before, I can say that my first couple of shots were like, “AAAAAAH, I’M WIELDING A LOADED WEAPON AND I AM UNCOMFORTABLE.” But once I simmered down, I was able to zero in on what I was doing; my aim improved, and I got sort of good at it. It’s the same with magic. It just takes practice — and an excellent way to hone our abilities is to cast spells for things in which we’re not invested, so that we can get familiar with that non-attached mindset and recall it whenever necessary.
In fact, here’s a spell I worked over the weekend for that very purpose, using the Austin Osman Spare method of creating a sigil.
I’m Here to Put the Lime in the Coconut, and I’m All Out of Coconut
The first thing I did was write down my desire (I tend to say “desire” instead of “intent,” because “desire” has a little more oomph to it, but that’s just me):
Within three days, I will see a lime green truck.
With my desire on paper, I crossed out all the repeating letters…
in thre e days, I wil l see a lim e g reen truck.
… which left me with the following jumble:
W I T H N R E D A
Y S L M G U C K
Next, I grabbed a Sharpie and started moving the letters around in different sequences and arrangements, letting my imagination take the wheel, and eventually, I doodled this perky little fella:
Before we go any further, I want to step back for a second and look at the desire itself. It was an improbable objective, but not an impossible one, and the three-day timeline magnified the improbability. In other words, If my desire was just “I will see a lime green truck,” and I saw one a year and half later, I wouldn’t really know whether it was the spell or coincidence.
The timeline also gave me some wiggle room to put the spell out of my mind after I cast it and go about other business, with the understanding that the spell would work sooner than later (but probably not immediately). Oh, and as a side note: While coming up with the sigil, I disassociated and almost forgot what the sigil was for in the first place. But that’s a good thing, because it means I got into a gnostic headspace.
Once the sigil was set, I charged and fired it (literally: I burned it in an ashtray on my porch), then went on with my evening, which almost entirely consisted of binge-watching Teen Titans. The next morning, I learned that an event I needed to attend started an hour earlier than I thought it did. So I was in a rush to get on the road and not thinking of much else, but I did drive past a canary yellow SUV, which made me go “Hey, that kind of reminds me of…”
And right then, I glanced in the other direction while switching lanes and saw a lime green truck in a bank parking lot.
I know, right? Lamest superpower ever. But the spell worked, and my disengagement with the outcome played a big part in that.
Setting and Forgetting 202
To continue working with non-attachment, we can borrow a lesson from Chaos Magic and cast spells without knowing what spells we’re casting.
Sounds fun, right? I think so, too.
What you can do is this: Write down a series of simple desires, and create a sigil for each one (if you’re cramped for time, the Sigil Engine is ideal for this). Once you’ve got your sigils, mix them up and set them aside for a week or so. Then, pull one at random and charge it. Charge a different anonymous sigil every day, until you start getting comfortable with the work itself being the focus of your attention instead of the desire.
You can do a similar exercise with candles. Get hold of five identical candles — either plain white or pure beeswax. Every night for five nights, anoint and dress one of the candles for a specific purpose, then wrap it up in tinfoil or butcher paper (or anything non-absorbent) and put it away. Give it a few days, then select one of the candles and light it. Again, let your concentration settle on the work, not the outcome. See what happens.
There’s a weird concept out in Greater Pagandom that magic should only be used as a last resort, when all else fails. But as I’ve said before, magic is a craft, and just like any other extracurricular activity, time and effort are required to improve our skills — which we should be doing whenever we can, not just when we have to.
Plus, at some point in your Witchcraft career, you’ll more than likely find yourself having to do some magic in which emotional investment is unavoidable: A spell to get your dream job; healing for your best friend; protection from bears (if bears are an issue in your area). In these moments, being really, really desperate for the magic to work will be a distraction and a detraction.
Instead, having trained yourself, you’ll be able to shift into non-attachment mode and practice quantitative Witchcraft to the best of your ability. And when that happens, the results you need will be inevitable.