I think most people can agree that blessings are a wonderful thing. They are an integral part of most ritual structures. We talk about them frequently in regard to devotional work, and when giving thanks at sabbats and esbats. Minor blessings are standard fare in mundane greetings and partings, and in colloquialisms throughout the English language. Blessing magic gets talked about as a component of consecration, in protecting the spaces where we live and work, in healing magic, and as an important step in banishing and warding. Specific blessing spells are crafted and posted online on a fairly frequent basis. A huge portion of pagan and occult books mention blessings or provide blessing spells and rituals within their pages.
Yet, blessing magic, as a topic unto itself, is often approached in a cringeworthy manner, especially in casual discussion. When blessings are emphasized as a practice, it has a depressing tendency to turn into a parade of toxic positivity, path shaming, ego stroking, and self-delusion. This results in a lot of people who write about magic skirting the topic of blessings, mentioning it only superficially (everyone understands what is meant by blessings, right?), or taking steps to distance the writing from those cringeworthy problems (like I am doing right here).
This is truly a shame, because understanding and learning how to effectively use the versatility of blessing magic is, well, a blessing! Exactly how to do that, like any other specific aspect of magic or witchcraft, is not going to be immediately apparent or intuitive to every single person. Some people will “get it” without specific guidance, but not everyone, and even those who are comfortable with the subject can benefit from additional perspectives. Just as with baneful magic, it is worthwhile to make a general exploration the subject of blessing magic in its own right.
What Exactly is Blessing Magic?
Most magic users use blessings all the time, but what exactly does that mean? You may have taken the time to contemplate the blessings you use regularly, or you may have simply taken them for granted. Take some time to think about it. What exactly is blessing magic? How often do you use it, and in what ways? Do those uses truly have meaning? Could they be modified so that they have more meaning and impact? Would it be worthwhile to use blessings more often, or in different ways?
The precise nuances of what “blessing” means will vary from person to person, but generally it can be agreed that a blessing involves wishing for good and beneficial things to happen. I see blessings as being any magical act which is focused on positive manifestation, nurturing benefit, good luck, health, and prosperity. That includes a lot of spellwork that does not normally get labeled as “blessing magic”, like manifestation spells, healing spells, and social justice activism.
The Perspectives Behind Beneficial and Good
Even when you have a clear definition, opinions on what qualifies under the label of blessings will vary depending upon what each person views as “good” or “beneficial”. “Good” and “beneficial” are anything but universal, and what is great for one person or situation can be disastrous to another. “May you have time alone in the woods,” is a blessing to someone who enjoys being outdoors and spending time alone. It is a hex or curse to someone who does not know how to navigate wooded spaces, fears insects or animals, is highly allergic to woodland flora or fauna, or hates to be alone.
No spellwork is going to be 100% beneficial or 100% harmful. Each and every action we take, mundane or magical, will have affects which are good and bad, for ourselves and others. Much of deciding on any course of action involves weighing the benefits and drawbacks, and the same is true for magical workings, even blessings.
When you seek to embark upon spellwork beyond extremely vague “bless this food” type blessings, it is important to recognize not just your intentions, but the effects which are likely to result. If you are conducting a blessing on behalf of someone or something else, it is also important to step outside of your point of view. Consider what they would find beneficial or good. Does your idea of a blessing coincide with theirs, or do you need to make adjustments so the outcome is genuinely a blessing for them?
Why to Bless Often and Freely
The world is in turmoil right now. Everyone’s lives are upside down. The news is a constant parade of bad deeds and bad luck, and our friends and family are literally dying of COVID-19 or finding themselves chronically ill or disabled after recovery. It can be hard to see a good reason to bother with blessings. It can feel pointless, but when things are at their most difficult, that is exactly when we need more blessings, not fewer.
I have always felt that at a minimum I should avoid adding to the misery in the world as much as possible. When possible, I should add to the joy and hope in the world. There are already enough people out there making life harder for those around them. I would rather be one of the people making this a nicer place to live.
Blessings are one way to make the world a little better, even if it is just for a moment. And we could all use that right now. It can also provide a different approach to social justice magic, especially for those who are wary of baneful magic. Focused blessings can be used to help make real changes in the world.
However, be careful not to fall into the thought traps of toxic positivity, thinking that you need to be in blessing mode constantly. That is not realistic in the best of times, and the stresses of current events are taking their toll on all of us. Be compassionate with yourself. If you can, bless yourself first and foremost. Do not worry about it if you are not in the right frame of mind for blessings, or if you do not have the energy to hand them out to others. You have to take care of yourself in order to be able to help others.
The most common blessings people encounter are of the especially vague kind. These are things like saying “Bless you” after someone sneezes, saying “stay healthy” to friends during COVID, “Bless this food and this drink” during ritual, or “May we receive the blessings of the full moon” during the esbats. That vagueness is usually appropriate because a very vague or generalized blessing allows for the magic to work in whatever way is most appropriate for each person receiving the blessing. The drawback is that vague magic tends to be less powerful, but mileage will vary depending upon the specific circumstances and people and spirits or deities involved.
These are feel-good blessings which are safe to give to anyone, at any time, with complete confidence that there will not be any truly bad outcomes. Usually the worst they can do is nothing at all. However, they can also come off as trite or condescending or patronizing or just plain weird, especially if you are verbally throwing vague blessings around strangers or acquaintances.
Culturally, we are conditioned to say and receive vague blessings at specific times, under specific circumstances, or from specific people. No one is going to think very much of a priest wearing a collar giving blessings in the produce isle of the grocery store. It’s a little weird, but they are a priest, so no worries. Your average person definitely does not expect a witch to do it, especially if that witch does not “look like a witch”.
Despite that, everyone in Western culture, even those who do not believe in magic, are conditioned to see vague blessings as a way of expressing caring. Even if someone thinks it is very strange for you to bless them, they are likely to take it as a kind, if perplexing, gesture of well-wishing. For most people, the psychological effect alone is enough to add a little shine to the day. Even if the magic falls flat, it added something good to the world.
This does include the New Age idea of “random acts of kindness”, but I promise you that it is possible to do without the blinding saccharine of toxic positivity. It will not solve the world’s problems, but it can make the day a little better for both you and the people you encounter. Just take care not to be intrusive, or to make unreasonable assumptions about what other people need. Keep it vague. Keep it considerate.
If you want to throw around vague blessings, but do not want the inevitable weird looks, you can also cultivate the ability to give them silently. Use a tiny gesture, or just pure intent. While COVID is still an issue, though, please refrain from touching anything to impart your blessing. Right now that is a good way to spread death and disease, which is anything but beneficial.
Magic cannot heal everything, but it can help to bump odds and increase the efficacy of medical treatment. Most healing and health focused magic is a form of blessing, whether or not the blessing aspect is explicitly stated. If you have health issues, or know someone who does, take some time to consider how reframing the problem as a blessing could aid the situation.
Here are some relatively simple foci for healing blessings.
- May your insurance approve treatment and pay for it.
- May you receive appointments and results promptly.
- May your doctors and nurses hear you accurately and take you seriously.
- May your medication be effective, with minimal side effects.
- May you always remember to take your medicine on time.
- May your diagnoses be swift and accurate.
- May your treatment be effective.
- May your quality of life be as good as possible.
- May those in your life be compassionate about your situation.
- May your life be long and full of good health.
House blessings are a good example of a popular form of protective blessing. There is usually some banishing and/or warding, with blessing energy added into the mix. This is because effective banishing tends to leave things energetically sterile, and the blessing adds life back into it. Blessings are also excellent for reinforcing wards, because if you have a ward, it is definitely beneficial for it to work as intended.
Such protective blessings can be done to anything that you can shield or ward. That includes buildings, structures, objects, spaces, events, groups, animals, vehicles, people, and more. Depending upon the exact circumstances, you can be vague about the blessing, or be extremely specific. It is up to you.
Manifestation and Prosperity Blessings
Not all manifestation or prosperity magic falls under blessings, but a lot of it does. If the intended manifestation or prosperity is of a fully beneficial variety, adding the extra layer of explicit blessing can add to the power of the spell.
For example, if you are applying for scholarships to help pay for college, you can frame the spell as being blessed with scholarships. After all, it is definitely a blessing to have less debt when you get out of college.
If you are unsure, see if you can phrase your intent as an explicit blessing. If you can, then it is easy to add the magical boon of a blessing. If you cannot, just proceed with your magic as you normally would.
This can also come into play when doing blessings on behalf of friends and family. Be vague if you are unsure of the specific details about what is needed, and give those blessings to those you love.
Everyday Blessings and Gratitude
Anything that is good or beneficial in your life can be viewed as a blessing. It does not even need to be credited as originating anywhere in particular. Just the fact that it exists and makes your life better makes it a blessing.
Gratitude practice is about recognizing and appreciating the blessings that exist in your life. Ideally, take a few minutes each day to consider what in your life is a blessing. In times as trying as these, gratitude practices help to remind us that no matter how bad things are, there is always something good as well. It helps to make things a little less bleak, and can help give us the strength to continue on in the face of it all.
If you can think of nothing to be grateful for, I challenge you to sit with that. Think through everything in your life until you find just one thing to be grateful for. It might be your health, a friend, the availability of food and shelter, access to a phone or computer with which you are reading this article, getting to hear a favorites song, a beloved pet, etc. It can literally be anything which brings benefit to your life. When you find it, claim it as the blessing it is in your life. The next day, find another thing to be grateful for, and claim that. Continue each day until you can see the good things in your life, and not just drown in the bad.
There will still be bad things in your life. Gratitude practice is not about ignoring that. It is instead about refocusing and recognizing the good things, so that the bad does not overwhelm you when you inevitably have to deal with it.
Blessing Magic and Shadow Work
If you are not familiar with shadow work, or unsure how to do it, you can find my thoughts on the subject in my article Shadow Work and the Magic of Critical Introspection. Blessing magic can be used in conjunction with shadow work to foster personal wellbeing, or more effectively approach your spellwork.
Since shadow work is all about understanding yourself, it can be worthwhile to use shadow work to better understand your motivations and desires around a blessing spell you are constructing. This can give you clarity about what you are doing and why, which will help with the focus and potency of your working.
You can also use blessing magic to help you do shadow work. That is, if you are having a particularly rough time with a shadow aspect, you can create blessing spells to help you through that. You can bless yourself with clarity and understanding, to help ease anxiety and trauma, to heal from past hurt, to break bad habits, to change behaviors that no longer benefit you, etc. Just make sure you are still doing the work, and that the “blessings” do not become a method of avoidance.
Blessing Magic and Social Justice
Blessings can be incredibly powerful for social justice workings. If your focus, for example, is on wanting black people to be safe from police brutality, wanting kids let out of cages, or wanting a working vaccine for COVID, those things are right up blessing alley. If your intent is of strong benefit to an entire group of people, then it can definitely be structured as a blessing.
The hardest part about using blessings for social justice is that it will never be universally seen as a blessing. Simply by the fact that justice is not present, we know that there are people who prefer systems the way they are. There are people who benefit, or are blessed (privileged), by the current systems, and not all of them are willing to peaceably share those blessings. Even if they continue to receive exactly the same things they did previously, they perceive sharing it as a slight against them.
Billionaires who continue to see their wealth grow at astronomical paces are receiving blessings. I assure you that they see it as a blessing, or they would not have maneuvered their way into having such wealth in the first place. That amassing of wealth has horrible effects on most other humans. For us, it is definitely not a blessing for them to continue to hoard wealth. A blessing spell to redistribute wealth is a blessing for the majority of people, but it is definitely not a blessing for billionaires.
As I said above, even blessings are not 100% beneficial to everyone and everything, but you can focus your blessing intent on the tremendous benefits to individuals or groups of people. This is especially true when the people who oppose the changes will see little or no tangible decrease in what they have. A billionaire is not going to suffer in the slightest if they have a couple billion less dollars in an offshore bank account. I am not going to lose sleep over racists and bigots losing the ability to discriminate without consequences.
Blessing the Enemy
Blessing magic can provide a back door to encouraging positive changes in people who you are at odds with. It can also potentially provide an avenue for making peace with past bad deeds or trauma, whether or not the problematic person continues to be a part of your life.
This technique can be used if the intent of the blessing would tangibly improve that person’s life, even if they would not consciously choose that change, and might even fight against it. They have free will and can choose not to accept the blessing, but it can be worthwhile to put it out there, just in case they accept it, especially if you are uncomfortable with baneful magic.
In a lot of cases it will boil down to blessing the subject with compassion and empathy for all humans. This is because most habitual bad actions would never be deliberately undertaken by someone who felt compassion and had empathy for all people. This is true for bullies, racists, bigots, con artists, abusers, blatantly selfish people, etc.
A lot of bad behavior also stems from a lack of awareness, or results from unaddressed personal issues. In these cases it can be reasonable to bless them with greater awareness of the impact of their actions, or to bless them with successful shadow work. Shadow work may be painful and difficult, but it is always of long-term benefit.
If you are having problems with a particular individual, take some time to consider what positive qualities they are lacking. What positive qualities would both improve their life, and prevent them from engaging in the problematic behavior? Then, bless them with an awakening of that quality. Hopefully they will take the opportunity to grow and learn and become a better person.
How to Construct a Blessing
Blessings range from very simple to incredibly complex. Exactly what form they will take depends upon the situation, your intent, and your practice. What follows are some questions to ask yourself, which will help you to craft the right blessing spell for you.
Who or What do you Want to Bless?
What is the subject of the blessing? All forms of magic have intent, but not all have a crystal clear specific subject. Blessing spells need a specific subject to be the recipient of the boon. If a clear subject does not exist, approaching your magic as a blessing spell may not be the most effective way to accomplish your goals.
Yes, the subject can be yourself. If your intentions are good, rather than selfish or self-indulgent, it can be very helpful and positive. If you have any doubts about your motivations, or worry you are being selfish or greedy, do some shadow work to thoroughly investigate those fears. Are you worried about it because you would never want to be selfish and are hyper-conscious of that possibility, or are you worried about it because you are dealing with actual selfish tendencies? Would the things you want to bless yourself with help you to be a better person and better able to do positive things in the world, or would it only benefit yourself? If it would only benefit yourself, would it cause any harm to anyone else, or would it just be a positive change?
If the ultimate outcome of the blessing would be positive, even if you are the only recipient of that positivity, then it is still a valid blessing. If you feel guilty for wanting good things for yourself, it might be a good time to do shadow work around that guilt, so that you can find a place where you feel you deserve good things. There is a happy medium between unhappy austerity and egotistically demanding to have everything.
What Boon do You Intend for Them to Receive?
This is essentially the intent for the blessing magic. It can be extremely specific. It can also be a vague declaration of “blessing”, with the details to be determined by the energies of the spell, The Fates, or other spirits or deities if such beings are involved.
If you are uncertain of what specifics would work the best for the subject, then it is better to err on the side of vagueness. However, if you can include specifics, it makes the spell more focused and usually more powerful. If you leave it very vague, be sure to focus the blessing on being the best possible benefit for the subject, whatever that means.
How Much Effort do you Wish to Expend?
What is your personal investment going to be? How much effort is appropriate for your intended boon and intended subject? Is this a feel-good minor blessing, to be given with a short incantation or a hand gesture or sigil? Is this a major endeavor you are emotionally invested in, warranting an extended ritual structure and multiple days or months of spellwork at your altar? Is it something in between the two extremes?
Is There any Real-World Action You can also Take?
Be mindful if there are any mundane actions which will support or create the boon you wish to bestow, and follow through with them as much as possible. Real-world action will always be your most effective path, and magic is fantastic for supporting those actions.
Some mundane actions are particularly effective at conveying or bestowing blessings. These are things like giving gifts (even virtual gifts), making things (arts and crafts especially), sharing food or drink, surprising someone with something happy, and anything else sociable and friendly. This tends to be especially effective when the magical emphasis is on the sharing or the giving, rather than the object itself.
Do you Want to Involve Anyone Else in the Spell?
If you regularly work with ancestors, guides, spirits, or deities, it might make sense to ask them to help with the blessing.
If the person who is the subject of the spell regularly works with ancestors, guides, spirits, or deities, it might make sense to ask them for help with the blessing. You do not need to regularly work with them yourself, since their connection to the subject is the important part, and you are working on that person’s behalf. This can be especially beneficial if you are bestowing a vague blessing, as those beings are likely to know exactly what specifics will be needed. Including them can be as simple as silently acknowledging their influence and asking generally for help in making the blessing effective.
It can also be worthwhile to bring in coven mates or other friends, especially if your intent is big or intimidating. They do not necessarily need to be practicing witches, occultists, or pagans. As long as they are not actively skeptical, other people can usually help with blessings. It is usually one of the least intimidating and most approachable forms of magic for lay people.
Make it Bright and Happy
Construct the actual spell in whatever way will support the positive, beneficial energies you are using for your focus. If a sing-song incantation does that, fantastic! You can also dance, sing, or meditate. You can craft a sigil. You can put the blessing into something you create, even something simple like a woven bracelet or a piece of origami. You can carefully wrap a gift, with intent. You can painstakingly prepare food or a special drink to share with the recipient(s). You can play music which fits the mood of the blessing. You can adorn the space with flowers, brightly colored fabrics, festive decorations, peaceful objects, or other items which compliment the blessing.
You can also just focus on the positive wishes you have, and for whom, and let it bring a smile to your face.