SM Ch Spellcasting 10 Steps
1. Conception and Planning

Every spell begins with an idea. You have a need, a desire, you decide to cast a spell to increase your chances of success. The first step is to decide exactly what you want your magick to achieve. Then you can decide what your spell will look like and plan it out start to finish before you begin. This step is most important to the new magic-user, as planning spellwork is a training exercise in itself.

Begin by brainstorming your goal. What is it really that you need or want? Be specific. If you need money, how much? If you’re looking for a new job, exactly what qualities are you looking for in the job? If you are having trouble drilling down your exact need, feel free to browse through spells that approximate what you’re thinking of online or in whatever books you have on hand.

Do some journaling, as yourself what do I really need to accomplish this goal? Are there incremental steps that might be better addressed by a series of spells, rather than just one? What mundane actions do you need to take to reach that goal and what sort of magick can support those?

For example, if you’re looking to buy a house, you might start by looking at real estate sites online to get an idea of the price range you’re looking at for a house that meets your requirements in the area you want to settle. Next, you might a mortgage specialist at your bank and discuss your options for financing. What sort of down payment do you need for a mortgage payment you can afford and a term you can live with? What does your credit score look like? Do you need to lower it in order to get a decent rate?

What sort of spell work is going to help you get this house? Perhaps you need to focus on increasing your income on a permanent basis in order to pay your expected mortgage and other projected housing costs (You should plan for at least twice the cost. Home ownership is full of unexpected expenses). A spell to support your request for a raise or promotion might be in order. Or even one to support a new job hunt. Or maybe you’re happy with your income, but could do with a cash boost to plump up your down payment. A one-time money drawing spell might help with this- how much do you need? If that’s handled, then, perhaps a honey jar to sweeten the deal when you’re ready to request the actual loan. Then, to help with the house hunt, you might do a petition, or even use a pendulum to help you find just the right place. And then maybe another sweetening spell to help the sales negotiations go smoothly. That’s a lot of spells. You’re going to take it one step at a time.

Brainstorm your specific need in a journal and meditate on how the Universe can be just slightly altered to make your mundane efforts toward that goal more likely to succeed. Don’t think about the how and why, trust the Universe to sort it out, all you have to figure out is the what exactly. Once you have that, write it out at the top of a piece of paper as a Statement of Intent. This is a positive statement of your desire. That is, a statement of exactly how you want things to be. Take care not to put words like “I want” and “I wish” in this statement, unless it is your intention to want and wish for things. You can say things like “It is my Will that”, etc.

A good Statement of Intent looks something like this “(It is my Will that) my employer values my work enough to offer me a significant raise.” You can get more specific, enter the name of the employer, state what sort of work you do and say how much of a raise you need- and put the words “at least” in front of it- be open to getting more than the minimum.

It is possible that in order for your Will to come to pass, something else might have to happen that you don’t necessarily want to happen. A relative might have to die to will you the money you are asking for. A co-worker might have to get fired for the promotion you are angling for to become available. The person who lives in the house you’ve had your eye on might have to go to a nursing home for you to have the opportunity to buy the house. All of might be devastating to the person who has lost the resource you’ve gained, or it might not be . It could be that the your relative has been suffering for some time, or they might be felled by a sudden accident. Your co-worker could have been miserable in her job, as reflected in her performance and now, fired, she has the opportunity to collect unemployment while looking for a job that doesn’t suck, or she loved that job and will now descend into a terrible feeling of worthlessness and depression from which she has a hard time recovering. The person who lives in that house might be really overdue for the nursing home and your spell pushed someone to finally look in on him to see if he’s okay, or he might have been a vital person who suffered a freak accident that left him permanently and catastrophically disabled. The point is, you don’t know.

You can’t spend all of your time worrying about ways a spell could go bad and cause harm to someone else or you will never do magick. However, the safest way to do magick to avoid harming others is to restrict your magick to changing yourself and those things immediately around you that you are responsible for, rather than other people. You can enhance other peoples’ perception of you by making yourself appear more attractive, by enhancing your own courage, likability and work ethic. You can cast spells to make certain things more noticeable in general. But even then, you have to realize, that whatever you gain, someone else has lost. This isn’t just a rule of magick, it’s just economics. However, there really is enough to go around if everyone just takes enough for their comfort and well-being. It is hoarding resources that causes hardship. You have as much right as anybody else to live in comfort and security, and if you do so in a spirit of gratitude and generosity, you will only benefit your community while continuing to draw blessings onto you yourself.

That being said, many people like to add a sort of escape clause to their statement of Intent to protect themselves and others from unintended consequences. Something like “While bringing harm to none” or “To the benefit of all involved” or “In the spirit of peace and love.” and you are welcome to do this if you feel it is appropriate.

Now, that you know what you’re doing, you can decide what sort of spell you can use. You can take your Statement of Intent and turn it into a petition or a sigil. You could use a poppet or create a container spell. You can draw and charge a picture. You could create an oil or powder that you rub on your hands before shaking hands with your boss, or put under his seat to make him think well of you, or to dominate his Will. The possibilities are endless. Feel free to browse various spells until you find the one that appeals to you best. You might wish to create your own spell (see Chapter Creating Your Own Magick).

When you’ve decided on a spell, take a moment to copy it down in your journal. Make sure you have all of your ingredients on hand. If you are missing something, make a plan to acquire it or see if you have something on hand that you can use instead (See Choosing and Substituting Magickal Ingredients). Make sure to note any changes you make to the original in your journal.

Next, it’s time to schedule your spell. I don’t want you to get hung up on doing every spell at the exact right time, but many believe their spellwork is more effective if the moon and stars are in the right place. There are quite a few ways to look at spell timing and you’ll have to choose what works best for you. (See Timing Your Magick) If the only time you have for spellwork is on Wednesday afternoons while the kids are at soccer practice, then by all means, cast your spell, whatever it is, on Wednesday afternoon while the kids are at soccer practice.

Once you’ve got your spell written out, have your materials, or at least know where they are and know when you’re going to do it, the planning phase is complete and you are ready to begin casting your spell.

A note for experienced magick-users We tend to fall into a formula and the planning phase is glossed over in favor of the well tread path, especially with spells we cast often. Even so, once in awhile a new situation arises that we haven’t dealt with before or we discover a new technique we want to try out and the planning step returns once more to the process. I am one with a tendency to “wing-it” magically, and I am not sure it’s good for me. The truth is, magick begins at conception and putting some effort into the planning of a spell, writing it down and going over it can only make the magick more effective. It also keeps a record of what I’ve done, how I’ve done it and how it worked out, assuming, of course, that I’ve made notes afterward. And, if I cast the same spell again, I can make notes each time, refining the process as I go. This sort of exercise can only make for more effective spellwork.

2. Setting up

This part of spellcasting isn’t so much about setting up space as it is about creating a magical environment in whatever space you are in. Half of magic is believing and setting up a magical space, flickering with mysterious light and resplendent with exotic smells goes a long way toward convincing the cynical part of you that magic really is happening. If you have a “setting up” ritual, that is, if you do it the same way each time, then the very act will start to lull your busy mind to sleep and awaken your creative, magical side. Your subconscious, magical mind loves ritual and symbolic action. It’s like a bell to Pavlov’s dogs.

Start first by doing what you need to do to yourself to feel magical. You may want to take a really luxurious bath and dab on some fragrance oil, maybe wear a special item. You may wish to smudge yourself. Or just wash yourself with water that you’ve blessed in some way. Or perhaps you will just spend several minutes in prayer or meditation. Whatever works for you, is the right thing. See (Preparing Yourself for Magick).

Begin by gathering all your tools, materials and, of course, your journal with all your notes and bring them to your work space. Think about items you are going to use to decorate. What physical surface are you working on? It’s okay to work on the floor if you like sitting on the floor- you might like to lay out a special cloth to work on. Otherwise bring in a table to serve as your working altar. If you’ve got sore feet and an aching back, bring in a chair too. Magic is not about suffering, besides, pain is distracting. You can might have specific items that you use just for magick, or you might be using a TV tray or a milk crate. We work with what we have and know that the magic is in us not stuff.

The very first thing you want to do is remove any physical clutter. Energy does not flow in a cluttered environment and clutter is both a trip hazard and a fire hazard. Know exactly what space is your work space and what isn’t. You don’t need to physically mark it out but imagine an invisible circle around you.

You may wish to use one of the methods described in “Your Magickal Space” to clear any “psychic clutter” in your work space.

If you have ancestors, deities, angels, spirit guides, familiars or other spirit helpers, you may wish to call them in to help you with your work.

To keep unwanted energies out and to keep the energies you are raising for your magick in, you may wish to cast a circle or otherwise “seal” the boundaries of your workspace.

Decorate your work space with items that feel magical and also represent the sort of work you’re about to do. Candles can be selected by color (or not). Crystals that relate to your goal might be placed around the boarders of your work space or on your working altar. Or not. You can bring in a vase of flowers that correspond to your goal if you like. Or not. Make it beautiful. Or not.

While decorating, think about senses other than sight. Scent is an important one and many like to burn incense or wear scented oils while doing magic. Some switch it up based on the sort of spell they are doing and others use the same scent every single time so that it becomes associated with magic in their subconscious.

Now that you and your space is ready, it’s time to move on.

3. Centering, Focus and Visualization

Take several deep breaths and settle into a comfortable position, standing or sitting as suits you. You may wish to raise your arms up as you breath to help fill your lungs completely. Use whatever method suits you to get as relaxed as you possibly can. If you wish to say a prayer at this time, if you find it soothing to do so, then go ahead. You may wish to do a grounding and centering exercise.

Once you have achieved a fully relaxed and open state. You have your notes in front of you, speak your intention out loud so that you, your subconscious and the Universe can hear it. If you can, speak boldly. If you have to be discrete, you can whisper.

Now, still in a very relaxed state, visualize your goal. See it happening in your mind’s eye. Focus on the goal itself, not the benefit you hope to get from it, just the goal. Don’t think about all the stuff you’ll do with the money, think about getting the money, having it in your hand.

4. Symbolic Action or Object Creation

If you are performing a symbolic action and/or creating a spell object, (See Symbolic Actions in Spellwork) it is now time to begin working through it while still holding your visualization in your mind as best you can.

5. Activation/Raising Energy

If you have created an item as part of your work you may activate it by placing a candle over it and lighting it or anointing it with oil or breathing on it. While doing so, you should also be raising energy. (See Raising Energy)

6. Release

Now, release the energy you have raised into the object or out into the Universe. You may also visualize it infusing your body or zooming out like a laser beam to some other person or place to do its work. (See Raising Energy)

Release your energy with a triumphant cry. You can repeat your statement of intent, or say “Amen” or “As I Will so Mote it Be” or whatever suits you. And, of course, if you need to be discrete, you can whisper.

7. Return to Reality

Dismantling sacred space is usually done in the opposite ritual order of setting it up. This allows us to sort of wind back down again, returning our magical space to mundanity and bringing our minds back to the here and now by performing simple tasks, like snuffing candles and putting away tools.

8. Grounding

When you are finished, you may wish to do a grounding and centering meditation, even if you already did at the start. You were turning on before, now you need to turn off so you can function in the “real” world. Eating a bit of something will help too.

9. Reflection

Once your spellwork is done, take some time to journal about it. What went well? What felt awkward? Maybe do a little divination about it (See Divination and Spellwork)

10. Move On

Once you’ve completed your spell, forget about it. Take whatever mundane actions need to be done to complete your goal and leave the rest to the Universe. Fussing, fretting and talking about it is just going to agitate the energy you so carefully cultivated and released. Let the Universe do its thing, and you do your thing. It may take some time to see results. Or it might happen right away.

A container spell is a spell that involves placing specially selected and charged items into a container which then acts as the spell object. The container/spell object can then act as a self contained magical eco-system where the objects it contains interact with each other to bring about a magical result. Jars, bottles and bags are often used. You will find container spells in other resources listed as Jar spells, bottle spells, mojo bags and sachets.

A container spell is not a container holding a single magical item. That is just the place where that magical item resides, for safe-keeping or easy transportation. The items within a container spell are specifically chosen to compliment each other to create an active magical environment.

There are three main types of container spells.

The sympathetic container contains sympathetic objects that represent the target as well as other symbolic objects designed to create the magical environment that you wish to create around the target. For example, if you wish to protect someone, you may place an object or two in a jar that represents the target along with a few items that represent protection or defense. You can also decorate the outside of the container to represent your intention for the spellwork, such as wrapping it with barbed wire to symbolize a protective barrier or painting a symbol of protection around it. You may also place the container in a place symbolic of its purpose. For example, a binding jar can be placed in the freezer to “freeze” the situation.

Examples of Sympathetic Container Spells

The Witches Bottle

The Sugar Jar

The Vinegar Jar

Binding Jar

Banishing Jar

Another type of container spell is a drawing container. This is a ritually created object designed to be placed in an area or carried by the user to draw certain energies. Items placed inside the container are those that align with the energies you wish to draw to the vicinity of the container. The container can also be decorated accordingly if you like; paint it a corresponding color, and/or draw symbols on it.

The Money Jar

A Witch’s Ball

SM Ch Connecting with other Magick-users

Asking for help

If you find yourself in a quandary it is perfectly acceptable to turn to the larger magical community for help. However, it is important that you ask for exactly what you need.

Be Specific - Specificity of intent is an important magical goal, not just for spellwork, but also for communication. When you are asking for help it is very important to let people know exactly what you are looking for. When you force people to ask a lot of questions to drill down to your actual need, you are taking them beyond the realm of generosity into hand-holding.

If you ask something like “Help me, my husband left me!”, you’re likely to get a dozen irrelevant answers to every useful one. Do you need help letting him go? Are you looking for a good lawyer familiar with a magickal lifestyle? Are you looking for a new husband? Or are you looking to get him back? - If so, what exactly is the issue that has caused the rift? Every question we have to ask you is time and energy wasted.

Avoid “spell-begging” Many people pop into magical forums and say things like “Anybody know any good love spells?” This happens so often and is so irritating that we’ve got a name for it. Spell-begging. The answer to this question is “yes”. Regardless of whatever type of spell you are looking for, the answer is “yes”. The long answer is, the “Then internet is full of them, and there are thousands of books on the subject.”

There are several problems with this question that make it difficult to answer. First off, it’s a vague and violates the “Be Specific” rule. “Love spell” is a very broad category. But it also fails to take into account the truth that spellcasting is very personal and often specific to tradition. We also have no idea what your skill level is, but based on the question, we’re going to assume it’s low. Thus, providing you with a spell will probably require at least a little bit of explanation about how to do it and an online forum is not the appropriate place to do that.

It’s not that we don’t want to help, it’s just that, well, where do you begin with a question like that?

If you are genuinely trying to put together a spell and looking to the community for help, put forth some effort to flesh it out before you come to the forum asking for help. Do a little research, put some ideas to paper and then come to the forum to help you put the pieces together. For example, a question like “I am doing a petition spell to attract a new lover and I see I’m supposed to dress it with oil and I’m not really clear about how to do that. Can someone explain “dressing” to me?” Now there is a question we can sink our teeth into.