Besom, Stang, and Sword: The Mechanics of Magick

Besom, Stang, and Sword: The Mechanics of Magick December 14, 2018

Casting a spell is about aligning conscious with subconscious to carry out the intentions of individual witches. In turn, this is a restatement of the second rubric from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes: “That which is below corresponds to that which is above, and that which is above corresponds to that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of one thing.” To work magick, you must unite your being in as perfect a manner as possible to send forth your intent into the cosmos so it manifests properly. Before you can do this, however, you must first understand the various aspects that comprise magick itself. The six components discussed below represent a theoretical breakdown of the spell-casting process, which also relates to the process of manifestation and the manner by which a spell comes into being.

Photo by Tara-Love Maguire.


Knowledge is a key component when it comes to working magick, because magick is like any other task. To practice it successfully, you have to be properly informed about why and how it’s being performed, as well as its advantages and limitations. Magick is an art and must be internalized before it can be externalized. It must be personal enough to energize the intent and will of the witch or it will falter—much like
an ill-prepared rocket.

To start, you must first determine what your magickal intent is. Without a fully formed intent on which to base your magick, you lose sight of what you want and may run the risk of performing ill conceived magick.


If knowledge provides the vehicle with which to work magick, then Will fuels the vehicle as it travels forth. Will is the expression of desire—our need to be known in the world. It is our tendency to come forth and be counted among the many. Will is how we reach into creation and the cosmos to manifest our wishes. It powers the formation of the world in our alignment. Will is the drive behind demand. In it sits the deepest sense of knowing that your magick will work and an awareness of when and how it’s to be set into motion.

In the ritual presented in chapter 1, knowledge was exhibited by the planning and gathering of materials. Will drove that preparation, as well as the execution of the ritual itself. In every deed and uttered word, Will dwells beneath the surface, uniting the conscious with the subconscious, carrying out the rite itself. Will is also present in and applied through our intent, focus, and imagination—all of which go to serve the successful production of a magickal rite.


Witchcraft is an art of action and any willed action can be looked on as an act of magick. Every magickal endeavor requires an action component to be successful. Action continues the goal of union by aligning conscious motor functions with subconscious symbolic acts, and this alignment lies at the heart of all magickal workings. By acting— by applying Will based on our knowledge—we engage with the world in a direct and deliberate manner. We make our presence known by acting. We let the world know we are here—that we matter.

Magickal action may include gestures, evocations, walking, postures, dancing, drawing symbols, chanting, crafting or destroying items, or cutting things apart and binding them together, among many other things. In spell casting, the action is a symbolic physical execution of the practitioner’s Will, carried by knowledge.


The concept of transcendence in magick and ritual pertains to achieving and applying a trance state during a spell, which most often results from the primary method used. Trance states help to further unite the experience of drawing the body, mind, and spirit together. What once was a bodily pursuit (knowledge, will, and action) enters a mental phase (transcendence), enabling the magickal act itself to pierce the cosmos, to plant a seed into its etheric womb to grow and manifest. Trance states assist in accomplishing this feat.

Photo by Tara-Love Maguire


As a trance state develops and we sense that piercing of the cosmos, it is time to release our magick and embed its influence into the ether so it may manifest in our lives. This release is a moment of perfect mind/body union with the cosmos. There will be no official buzzer that goes off when this occurs, however. This union can only be sensed, and that sensing can only be recognized through personal practice.

This moment of union can also be referred to as a magickal climax or trigger point. It can be as dramatic as the apex of prolonged chanting, as minimal as a loud clap followed by perfect silence, or as slow as the guttering flame in a burning cauldron. When release has occurred, it is important to feel—and thus know—that the working was successful. Do not doubt its potential for overall effectiveness. The work is done. Reality will unfold as it should. So mote it be!


After release comes manifestation. Magick works in conjunction with the natural world; it will manifest itself only in a manner akin to the properties of the situation at hand and via the path of least resistance. In magick, there are no coincidences, just syncretic occurrences.

To follow up any working, you have to cultivate the desired results through appropriate action. For example, a spell performed to acquire employment must be followed by submitting a proper application, cover letter, and resume for open positions. The desire for a healthy romantic relationship must exist alongside a robust social life. Follow-up actions after a magickal working lay the groundwork and opportunity for the desired outcome to occur. As in gardening, seeds will sprout only in well-tended soil.

Adapted, and reprinted with permission from Weiser Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, Besom, Stang & Sword by Christopher Orapello and Tara-Love Maguire is available wherever books and ebooks are sold or directly from the publisher at or 800-423-7087.


Christopher Orapello is an artist, witch, and animist with a background in Western occultism, ceremonial magick, and Freemasonry and has been on his journey for over 20 years. He cohosts the podcast “Down at the Crossroads” with his partner, Tara Maguire, and is a signature artist with Sacred Source, a leading producer and distributor of ancient deity images in North America. After a growing desire for a more locally based form of witchcraft, he and Tara founded the Blacktree Coven in 2014 and set out to forge a modern approach to traditional witchcraft for a new era of praxis.

Tara-Love Maguire has been a practicing witch for over 30 years. Her path has been crookedly influenced by Isobel Gowdie, Marie Laveau, and William S. Burroughs (among others). Growing up in and around the New Jersey Pine Barrens, she found witchcraft within the tales and shadows of that folkloric landscape. She cohosts the podcast “Down at the Crossroads” with Christopher Orapello and is one of the founders of the Blacktree Coven, which exists in the heart of southern New Jersey.

Photo by Jenn Lane

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