Spell Casting: A General Procedure
Most everyone has an idea of what a magic spell is, and has read and seen some examples of spell casting in popular media. Most anyone who finds their way to this site, and to this specific page has read spells in books and on webpages, and has tried some out. Some such spells are as simple as two lines of doggerel. Some are rich in symbolism and involve a log list of artifacts and incantations. What follows was derived from the tradition of teaching orders and covens through the 20th Century, including the Golden Dawn and its offshoots, and various Wiccan groups that worked in relative secret or offered classes and initiation in some cases through occult supplies shops through the 1980’s and 90’s. From those quarters, spell casting forms followed the same formulas as much of the general training within the overall system. The general procedure offered here follows familiar patterns from those traditions, but is stripped down to bare essentials, free of order-specific, coven-specific assumptions and symbolism.
The General Procedure with Commentary
Regardless of the purpose of the working, whether a practical goal or personal development, the following sequence of events apply:
- Creating magical space/time
- Raising magical energy
- Setting the Intention
- Releasing/transferring the intention
- A moment of gratitude
- Returning to normal space/time
Step 1: Creating magical space
While the descriptive title of step 1 suggests that the focus is on the workspace, in truth, it’s aimed at the worker. By taking steps that set the mood in the workspace, the initial steps of a working signal that something special, something extra-ordinary is taking place. The opening acts of a magic working should initiate a transition from one’s normal mode of thought, feeling, and behavior toward a state that is more conducive to making magic. What constitutes a desirable magical state is somewhat unique to each worker, and therefore cannot be fully explained or described. One simply needs to try to develop a useful state and figure it out eventually.
The process of creating magical space can take the form of an elaborate opening ceremony, richly imbued with in esoteric symbolism, but may be as simple as lighting a special candle that isn’t used for any other purpose. While learning how to create magical space for yourself, most seasoned workers agree that keeping it simple is advisable in the early going. Complexity may be added later, only if or when a change makes sense to the worker. With that in mind, the following is offered as a useful starting point.
- In a private place, clear a work surface (on a table, nightstand, dresser, etc.) of any potentially-distracting clutter.
- Place a new white candle, a candle holder, some oil, and some matches (or a lighter), a tea towel, and a small bell or gong on the work surface. If other material objects will be used for the working, those items should be placed on the work surface at this time as well.
- Anoint the candle (rub oil all over it with a finger) and place it in the holder (use the tea towel to wipe residual oil from your hands).
- Light the candle and focus attention on the flame for a few deliberate breath cycles. Breath deeply and consciously. Relax with each exhale.
- Ring the bell (or bang the gong) three times. If you don’t want to use a bell, you can stamp the floor, knock on the work surface, or something similar.
Something to note in devising one’s own opening ritual is that the sequence of events above is highly specific and is not something one would otherwise do in the normal course of their daily life. Something else to consider is that even though the sequence should be unique in that way, the individual acts of the sequence should feel relatively natural to perform. At the least the acts should not make you feel uncomfortable or silly for doing them.
After trying the above procedure a few times, feel free to develop your own procedure with inspiration as your guide. So long as you honor the spirit of the above steps, your own procedure will be at least as good; perhaps even better.
Step 2: Raising magical energy
The opening ritual is but the beginning of the transition from one’s work-a-day state toward a useful magical state of being. Step 2 continues the process, and for most, is where the real transition is completed. If you’ve completed the Basic Energy Work Level 1 module, you can use what you learned there at this step. Otherwise the following is provided, but be advised that it takes a significant amount of practice for most people to reach the presumed skill level. Also be advised that you’re not expected to imagine anything during this exercise. If you’re really doing it you’ll really feel it, and if you don’t really feel it you’re not really doing it.
- Tuck your elbows into your sides so that you can comfortably extend your hands away from your body at a perpendicular angle. Turn your palms to face one another.
- Take a few deep breaths and relax. Then focus your attention on both palms at the same time. Many people develop subtle sensations in their palms within a few seconds. The sensations are usually quite subtle, to the degree that, if sensed under normal circumstances may not be noticed at all, or might simply dismissed as unimportant. The purpose here, however, is to intently focus attention on those sensations no matter how faint. For most people, the sensations naturally become more intense with the added attentional focus.
- When sensations in both palms are present, include the space between your hands as the space you’re focusing on.
- When the energy feels stable enough, keep your palms facing each other but move them to manipulate the energy into a ball about 6 inches in diameter.
- Keep your attention on fully focused on the spare where the ball is. Be ever mindful of how it feels.
Energy Circulation and Ramping Up
This next phase along with Step 3 are the two most vital stages of the procedure. Again, you’re not expected to imagine the following; you’re expected to feel it as physical sensations. The sensations will be more subtle and less precise than being touched by another persona or a physical, object, but the sensations will be real if done correctly.
- Gradually let your arms relax and hang once again at your sides, while simultaneously driving the energy that was between/in your hand down the front of your body toward your feet. Wherever you focus your attention, there will the energy go.
- By a simple act of will and attentional control, drive the energy down to just beneath your feet then up the backside of your body, up over your head, then back down your front side again.
- Repeat the circulation of energy down your front and up your back several times. Pace the circulation with your breathing rhythm, up your backside as you inhale, and down your frontside as you exhale. Let the energy intensify with each revolution.
- When you feel you’ve raised the energy level to a high pitch, drive the energy about your body outward from you in all directions by act of will, to form a sphere of concentrated magical energy, enclosing your entire area within. Once accomplished you can assume that the space you’ve charged with magical energy will remain so charged until you consciously dissipate it.
- When the energy sphere is well-established, take a few deep breaths and relax your body.
Notes. A key to success with the above instructions is to carry out the steps with enough focal attention/intention to keep the energy moving. It stands to reason that stray thoughts coming to mind may interfere with that process. Breaches in focus are common while learning the procedure. You can expect to rehearse it many times before it becomes a real performance. The focal meditation module is excellent training for the single-minded focus that’s needed here. You can also have confidence that the more second nature the procedure comes, the better your focus will be, naturally.
Step 3: Setting the Intention
Spells and workings are best when there’s a very specific aim. While it is possible to do magic for the sheer pleasure of it (step 2 can be like that), these instructions are about magic aimed at specific outcomes, like getting a bank loan, a promotion at work, resolving a dispute with a contentious neighbor, etc. While learning, however, let the purpose be your own personal development, but make it specific. Work on being a better writer, being a more eloquent speaker, being more attractive, or ideally, being more magically powerful.
Whatever the specific purpose of the working, step 3 is about establishing that intention, and flavoring the magical energy raised in step 2 with that intention. The main skill needed here is developed with the focal meditation exercises. When the intention has thoroughly infused the space, the atmosphere will change significantly. The process of transferring that intention to the magical energy in your sphere is similar to the way that the magical energy was dispersed form your body outward to form a sphere about the workspace (step 2). The only meaningful instruction is to consume yourself with that intention completely, then push it out into the space. From there, one simply tries to do it and gets better at it with continued practice.
Let the intention diffuse outward in all directions to fill up the magical space. The idea here is that the generic magical energy raised in step 2 now becomes the specific magical energy that will do the work intended. Like the energy processes previously defined, this process is not to be imagined either; it’s to be felt. And just like magical energy, if you don’t really feel it, you’re not really doing. If you don’t feel it at first, stay with it. By and large, feeling magical energy, generic or specific, is mostly a matter of perceptual expertise. That takes time and effort. Simple try and keep trying, day by day till you learn how to feel it.
Step 4: Releasing the intention
At the very moment when one feels that the gathered magical energy has reached its full potential for taking the intention, by an act of will, force the energy outward in all directions, like an explosion emanating from your core being. This act will create an immediate energy vacuum that will fairly quickly be filled with mundane thoughts and concerns, and perhaps doubts and second thoughts, etc. The previous steps temporarily set those things aside, but they’re still right there and ready to occupy your mind if you allow it. Before that can happen, engage in step 5.
Step 5: A moment of gratitude
Immediately fill the void left by the evacuated charged magical energy with feelings of gratitude. Importantly, the gratitude felt in that moment is to be the exact gratitude one will feel when the intention of the working becomes reality (once again, the focal mediation module trains this skill). In a real sense, the idea is to place yourself in the future moment when your intention is realized, and to let yourself feel how you will feel in that moment. While the previous statement is an accurate description of what is to be done, when done well, you will in fact feel the gratitude of the realized intention in the present moment, rather than as a future expectation. That may be a subtle distinction, but when it happens, the goal has indeed already been achieved; it’s the world around you that will take time to catch up to it. As is true with the other steps of this procedure, one learns to do this simply by trying to do it, and then developing the skill to its full potential with continued practice.
Step 6: Returning to Normal Space/Time
Steps 1 through 5 take one out of normal space and time and into a magical space that stands outside of the linear time that dominates typical experience. Once the energy has been released and the resulting vacuum filled with the gratitude of fulfillment, the operation is complete, save a necessary formal closing. To put the final stamp on the procedure, take a few deep, cleansing breaths, ring the bell three times, and extinguish the candle (or generally, reverse the actions of the procedure used at step 1). The work surface can then be cleared. If the candle is spent the remains can be discarded without care (nothing say’s “I’m done with that” better than tossing it into a trash can). If the candle is to be used again it should be used for the exact same purpose and none other. The other items used can be stowed away, or displayed in a place as a permeant altar, as is your habit.
Finally, it’s common for people to feel somewhat detached for some time after being outside of normal space/time. The surest remedy for that is to have a little something to eat. Nothing brings you back down to earth like a little nosh.
Spell Casting Variations
Transferring the Intention: Talismans and amulets
Instead of sending the charged intention out into the world as described in step 4, you can concentrate the charged intent into an object, to serve as something of a talisman or amulet that can be carried or worn. One good reason for taking this approach as opposed to the intention release previous described, is that goal of the working represents a change in the worker, more than a change in the world at large. For example, if the aim of the working is to increase intuitive faculties, or magical power, the worn or carried talisman approach is ideal, and the object can be worn or carried at all times.
Such an item can also be charged multiple times for long term goals, or while learning the procedure. Or if the goal has something to with the worker’s direct, daily interactions (i.e. workplace magic), again, a talisman can be worn or carried but perhaps only when one is at work. If the aim of a working is to have prophetic dreams, an object can be placed under the worker’s pillow while they sleep.
Common images of talismans and amulets depict objects that are inscribed with symbols of either/and the objective of the working or of external powers called upon to carry out the work. As you have no doubt recognized, the simple magic described here does not call upon any externalized powers, but rather draws upon your own innate power to raise and direct magical energy. In keeping, it’s recommended here that the objects you charge with magical intention not be inscribed with anything not of your own making. The Sigils and Seals module details two sound methods for creating magical symbols of your own, perfect for this application.
Alternative Step 4: Transferring the intention
You will need to have placed the object to be charged on the workspace during step 1.
At the very moment when you feel that the gathered magical energy has reached its full potential, by an act of will, initiate an implosion centered on the object, compacting all the energy from the charged space around the area into the object. This act will create an immediate energy vacuum that will fairly quickly be filled with one’s mundane thoughts and concerns that the previous steps temporarily set aside so that the magic could be accomplished. Before that can happen, engage in step 5 as previously described.
Routine Development Work
The hallmark of good spellwork is that it takes the operator(s) out of their normal space/time perception, but the transition into the alternate perceptual mode tends to be relatively subtle and seamless, perhaps owing to the focused attention on the processes underway. By contrast, the transition back into normal space/time perception tends to be relatively abrupt and therefore more obvious. It’s not uncommon, though for early-stage practitioners to report that they don’t experience any perceptual shift during the working or after; the magic can and often does work as intended none the less, but the experience of many is that efficacy in magic advances by degrees as the perceptual shifts to and from magical space/time become more and more pronounced, and that is largely a function of experience. In other words, practice, practice, practice.
The entire procedure can be performed routinely (a couple of times a week, or even daily for awhile) as a developmental exercise, by using the following alternatives to steps 3 and 4.
Step 3 alternatives: Setting the Intention for Routine Development
3a. When setting the intention at step 3, let the intention be, to be evermore effective, without specifying effective at what. While specific goals benefit from a clear intention, here, casting a wider net is preferred. What usually happens with workings of this nature is that whatever issues are most important at the time, related skills around that are enhanced. What gets enhanced most likely changes over time, but whatever does change as a result can only be helpful to the operator. However, note that because this is being done routinely, one is naturally getting better at doing magic as something of a side effect.
3b. Create a talisman to be worn or carried, to enhance your own magical powers with the procedures previously described. Thereafter, routinely recharge it. Here the focus is specific, enhancing magical power, and importantly, the operator is practicing magic and getting better at it as part of the very same process. It really doesn’t get better than that.