When learning Witchcraft, it’s important to understand just what spells are. Simply put, spells are procedures. The use of a spell is meant to 1) change the ‘inner landscape’ to prepare you for going after your intent and 2) to direct the conducive energy that will draw your intent to you, or ‘clear the path’ for you to reach it.
The way one designs and executes a spell can vary greatly, but the underlying principles are the same. I like to think of it like buildings—all over the world there are buildings with completely different designs. No matter what they look like outwardly—tall or short, brick or steel, ornate or simple—they all have to adhere to basic engineering principles for a sturdy frame and foundation to hold them up. Likewise, a much about the way one designs and executes a spell can vary. A lot depends on the Witch’s methods, religion, philosophies, preferred tools and components, etc. but underneath there is a common framework and foundation that is what actually makes it hold up. There are essentially five essential parts to casting spells.
How to Cast Spells
Spell Casting Part 1: Preparation
Preparing for a spell is pretty much all the pre-spell work that you’ll be doing. This begins with defining your intent, which involves identifying your need and determining the ultimate goal of the spell. I have found the best intents are:
Personal (the spell is cast on you, or someone close to you with your permission, rather than others who aren’t actively cooperating).
Specific (no “wish” spells or “just make life better” spells—think about your actual needs. This is no time to be ambiguous).
Focused (if you can’t say what you want in a few words, you’re not focused enough).
Positive (always strive for positive goals—never use negative language like not, won’t or can’t. For example, instead of a spell to not be lonely, cast a spell to find a friend or romantic interest).
Broken down into small goals when your overall goal is complex (just think about how many steps or how many changes it would take to achieve your intent; do a specific spell for each one of those rather than one big spell to try to change everything at once).
Find, or write, a spell. Review it, tweak it and familiarize yourself with it well. You don’t have to memorize it (you can if you want), but you should really be familiar with the steps and what you have to say so it flows naturally. Even if using notes, you should not be stumbling over them because you barely glanced at them.
Determine timing if you wish to work with magical timing.
Gather materials and supplies. Make a list; check it twice.
Prepare your space. Clean the area, cleanse and purify it if you feel the need. Set up your tools and supplies. Send the kids to grandmas, walk the dog, feed the cats, turn off the phone, put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door if you think it’ll help.
Prepare yourself. On the day leading up to the spell you may want to eat light or fast, meditate and center yourself, take a cleansing bath or purify yourself in some way.
Spell Casting Part 2: State of Mind
Your state of mind needs to be conducive to your goal from the earliest preparation stages, through the spell and until your intent is manifest. State of mind is everything, which is why it’s so important to have mental discipline (a regular meditation regime helps).
In the weeks/days leading up to the spell, keep positive thoughts. The worst thing you can do is walk around worrying, “Will it work? I hope I don’t screw this up! I’m scared of what might happen!”
During the spell, you want to achieve the ALPHA state, the most conducive for magic and energy work. Alpha is a meditative state of relaxed awareness. It opens the way to the subconscious while you still maintain consciousness. You know the feeling—it’s when you run on ‘autopilot’ and are so focused on the moment. You don’t notice the time passing. You’re not thinking about what you need to do in the future, or what you could have done differently in the past. You’re not worrying about your chores or whether you feel cold or hungry; you are completely and fully absorbed in the activity. You’re in the zone.
After the spell, you need to keep your thoughts positive. Thinking negative thoughts or letting doubt creep in just sabotages the results. It’s best to not think about it at all, but if you do think about it you must think about it in a positive way. You need to banish doubt and worries, and know you not only can achieve your goal, but—on some level—you have achieved it.
Spell Casting Part 3: Linking to Your Intent
During the spell, when you’re in the ALPHA state, you need to establish both a psychological and metaphysical link between you and your intent. There are multiple ways to do this, and you can actually throw several into the mix:
State your intent. By saying and hearing it, you make it part of your reality and thus begin to forge a connection between yourself and the intent.
Sensory stimulation. Pick image, scents, sounds, tastes and objects with the feel that reminds you of your goal. For example, if satin sheets remind you of wealth, use a satin altar cloth for a money spell. On the flip side, a lot of healing spells utilize blue. If blue just reminds you of depression and having ‘the blues’, then it’s not a good option for you and you should pick a different color.
Creative Visualization: the more detailed you can envision your intent already manifested, the better.
Symbols and imagery have a powerful effect on the subconscious. Use something that makes sense to you. For example, if you work with runes, you might see FEHU as symbolizing material wealth and career success. That’s great—use it. If you don’t work with runes, then don’t use FEHU just because someone else says so. Perhaps a dollar sign, or the amount you want written out on a fake check.
Objects. In sympathetic magic, you might use a poppet, or in candle magic you might use one candle to represent yourself and one to represent your intent. Personal items are a great way to infuse personal power and link it with your intent. This is why you find so many spells that call for using nail clippings, hair, blood or personal belongings.
Spell Casting Part 4: Raising, Directing, and Releasing Energy
Once you are focused on your intent and have connected yourself to it, it’s time to begin raising energy. Part of this energy comes from internal sources—your emotional state, your thoughts and desires. This is why it is so important to keep your mind exactly where you want it: on the intent. The rest of this energy is drawn from external sources—your tools, correspondences, components, the Elements, other participants (if any), deities you might invoke, the Earth, Moon, Sun or other planets. Basically, everything in existence has energy, and you can draw from one or more sources when casting your spell.
Energy should build up slowly but surely by your chosen method(s) for raising it. Work on raising energy for as long as you can, until you feel it’s reached a crescendo.
How long does it take? Some people feel they can do it for as little as 5 or 10 minutes; others will spend hours. This will take time for you to experiment to see how you personally are able to build a sufficient amount.
At that point, you direct and release. To direct it, simply keep focused on the intent. There are a number of ways to release energy. Some people might stomp and shout. In sex magic, achieving orgasm is the release. Burning or breaking something is a great way to release energy. If you’re using an infusion or potion, you’d drink it. “Seal” the spell with a final thought or gesture to formally signify it’s done. This might be saying something, such as, “So mote it be!” It might alternatively be a gesture, such as throwing up your hands or making the sign of a pentagram with your finger or blade.
Make sure to ground as well, once you’re finished, as a final step of working with energy. Just envision pouring out any last bit of excess into the earth, a tree or a tool.
Ways of Raising Energy
Spell Casting Part 5: Creating Channels
I go much more into depth about channels is in my article here, but essentially a channel is creating ways for that energy to flow freely between you and your ultimate intent. For example, if I cast a love spell to meet a compatible mate, I then create ways for the spell to take effect—I join a dating service online, I start going out by myself to coffee shops or museums, I take classes at a community center or volunteer at a charity, putting myself in the position in which the energy can help manifest my desire.
Thus, you put yourself in the perfect position for your spell to manifest.