So much in modern Witchcraft and Paganism hangs on semantics. On one hand, charms, spells, and potions might seem like three distinct and different things. But on the other hand? Charms, spells, and potions are the same damn thing. What is it they all have in common? Magick.
The Art of Changing Consciousness
Magick, in my opinion (and in the words of Dion Fortune), is the art of changing consciousness at will. Using spells, potions, charms, amulets, or talismans are the vehicles that magick rides in. These words represent the specific actions that you might take to work your magick, but trust me, magick is what they all represent at the core. Which type of magick you do is totally based on your own personal preference and skill set.
But those of you curious about the official definition of these terms:
- Charms – A charm can either be a small worn ornament (like a bracelet or necklace) or a generic term for the practice of magick. It can be a tangible thing that can be worn, held, and seen AND/OR it can be spoken word spell. Other words for charm: spell, talisman, incantation, amulet
- Potions – A potion is a liquid that has magickal influence. You can’t hold a potion, but you can potentially drink it, put it on your skin, or use in for other types of magickal workings. Other words for potion: spell, elixir, brew
- Spells – A spell can be virtually anything that holds magickal influence. A candle, charm, talisman, incantation, or in-depth ritual working, all fall under the category of a spell. Other words for spell: incantation, ritual, charm, talisman, working, potion, amulet, glamour, hex, conjure
At the end of the day, semantics is the only thing that separates traditions, spiritual workings, and styles. The names and specific exercises or practices might be different or come from a different lineage, but the foundation of magick come from the same roots. Peel back the layers and the heart of it is the same. Most magick practices come from people who wanted to improve their lives when they have very little other resources to do it. It is a way of claiming power.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t honor traditions and lineage. The power of tradition is having a road map to follow that has already been proven to work. It is important to honor the traditions and the work of those who came before. But it’s also powerful to look below the surface and see how much we all have in common and how much of our practices are the same.