Talking about spells is probably one of my least favorite things to do when discussing elements of Witchcraft. Even as a teenager, I was more interested in books on mythology and folklore than those focusing on spellcraft. History, theory, practice, culture: all day long please. Modern books on spells? Nope.
So you could possibly imagine the fields of joy I was experiencing when I was on Coast to Coast AM last week to promote The Witch’s Cauldron, and the subject kept coming back to spells. Which meant me talking about solving problems through mundane means, no easy fixes, and doing work for yourself. Yet afterwards, my inbox got flooded with emails asking for spells. (No, I wasn’t surprised either.)
It is perhaps ironic that for as much as I dislike talking about spells, I’m really good at magick. I rarely do “ingredient” spells (aka, sympathetic magick), but I have a knack for prescribing the right spell or ritual for folks who need it. (In person counseling or folks I know – not random emails from people looking for a quick or easy fix.) Most of my magick doesn’t involve what you may classically think of as spells.
I DO love the “stuff.” I collect magickal tools, I love herbs and oils, random ephemera, beautiful handmade items and things collected from nature. It’s the artist part of my nature to collect and admire beautiful things – and they often serve as inspiration for art, even if I’m not using them for spellcraft.
I feel far more comfortable doing spellcraft paintings and designing sigils for other people. There’s a science to it that I respond to innately. The “action” of the spell doesn’t stem solely from my drawing or painting it, but the interaction the end user has with it. It’s a tool for them to activate. It’s like connecting circuits – the power happens when they make contact with it. My art is not a magic bean that bestows miracles. I also feel the majority of my clients understand this as well. They understand that they are responsible for making change happen.
I suppose my inherent dislike for talking about spells is that the majority of people don’t understand them, or how they work. They’re looking for an easy fix to whatever their issue is. They think if they follow a series of steps and put in the right ingredients, it’s just like a recipe for baking a cake. But even baking a cake isn’t that easy. My mother is an accomplished baker, and there are numerous times when recipes she’s been making for years come out wonky for one reason or another. There’s more to it than following a recipe: quality of ingredients, timing, heat, humidity, containers, etc. And if you keep working with a broken oven or old flour, things aren’t going to work out well.
The same is true for magick and the nature of metaphysics. True, you may follow the list of ingredients and might get the desired result on your first try, but that doesn’t make you a witch, magician, or a baker. Magick isn’t just spellcraft, it’s understanding the flow of energy, recognizing patterns, and getting beyond elbows deep in it all.
There is no instant-fix, wave-of-a-wand spell to solve your problems. You can’t do a prosperity spell to get a new job, then sit on your arse, not updating your resume, or networking. Well you can, but it’s probably not going to actually work. Magick isn’t an outside force, mystically waiting around to do your bidding. Magick is the energy of things you set into motion – in your environment and most especially, in yourself. A spell can help give you focus, but you need to actively invest in your choices, needs, and take responsibility. A ritual can help relieve tension, stress, and emotional issues, but they still need to be dealt with mundanely.
So with that said, magick can be a band aid that helps protect you while you heal, like it can be a splint to help set a broken bone. It can guide the way. But if you keep hitting people with your bruised hand, it’s not going to heal, regardless how strong that band aid is. It won’t prevent you from getting more bruises. A cast helps, but if you keep insisting on kicking concrete walls, it can’t stop you. Nor can you leave on a band aid forever – the condition needs to be addressed, aired, cleaned out, and taken care of. That part is up to you, and following your will with action to support your work.
Be the magick you wish to see in the world, but first you must see it within yourself.