You would think that the answer to this question was a given but in truth it is a big fat… maybe…
This question can’t be as definitely answered as one might expect because of the diversity found within paganism and the difference between Spells and Ritual. Whilst it is safe to make the statement that all Witches engage in some form of ritual it is not possible to say the same about spellwork.
Difference between Ritual and Spell
First off, what is a ritual? It is a process which encourages a mind space conducive to communicating with higher and/or other “powers” regardless of how you may define them (deity, entity, daemon ad infinitum). The purpose of the ritual is to facilitate contact with and understanding of these ‘powers’. Occasionally this may incude requesting or even compelling them to act on your behalf or reveal certain things but the process it ritualistic and formalised.
So how is that different to spell work? Spells are used to achieve change in our lives and/or the world around us. The elements and actions of the spell are chosen to reinforce the purpose of the spell and the emphasis is on the power of the practitioner and not necessarily involving a power in the form of deity.
What spells are
Hard Work – ever heard of the phrase “nothing worthwhile is ever easy”? Well what’s true in life is true in magic. With any spell you get out what you put in. A lazy wave of your wand will result in very little if you don’t put focus or purpose behind it.
For Change – whether you wish to bring about personal change, inner change or change in the world around spells are a way in which you can achieve this.
About Personal Power – whilst deity can form part of a spells structure what lies at the centre is the power of the practitioner to effect change in their lives. The will, drive and focus of the practitioner is what manifests the desired change to occur.
What spells are not
The Quick Fix – you can’t just wave your magic wand and expect to win the lottery with out actually buying a ticket on a regular basis. To engage in Witchcraft rather than wishcraft you need to put in the time and effort.
The Only Way – no spell will successfully manifest itself into reality unless the practitioner looks beyondthe realm of the magical and into the mundane. Magical action should always be complemented by real world action.
Worship – whilst spells can incorporate petition to deity they are not a form of devotion. The statement that to be aligned with Deity one must perform spells is flawed and misunderstands the functions of both rituals and spells.
Do All Witches Cast Spells?
This is a better variation of the original question because it does not assume it is an all or nothing answer.
No, not all Witches cast spells. Some do not feel the need to perform spells to achieve change in their lives, preferring to focus on mundane efforts rather than relying on magic. That doesn’t mean they can’t perform spells as we all hold the ability to act magically should should we wish to. Simply put; some Witches choose not to use spells.
Some don’t feel comfortable with or confidential in their ability as a magical practitioner. Others get caught up in moralistic debates over the rights and wrongs of magical practice and choose to exclude themselves. The majority of practitioners who do not engage in spell craft do so because they choose to focus on their relationship with the Divine, in which case no spell work is required, and seek to achieve change through their own mundane efforts with the aid of their deity.
Personally I do engage in spell craft, though not all that often. Often I concentrate upon the mundane aspect of enacting change, using spells to affirm my commitment and reinforce my efforts. In fact I’ve already blogged on a variety of spell related topics such as
One thing I’ve not really mentioned is the five points which I consider necessary for spell work. These are;
Do It Yourself
I personally feel that you should always do spells yourself. Whether or not you buy a kit, use a book or write a spell from scratch you should always be the person casting or a deep involvement in the process. There are people who offer spell casting services, some even in a traditional manner or at a reasonable price (fyi, getting into the upper double or triple figures does not immediately say ‘reasonable’ to me), but you always should have some level of involvement, ideally joint casting. This is because the effectiveness of any spell depends on the level of personal attachment to the desired outcome.
Emotional attachment and investment in the desired outcome is essential and the reason that doing castings for yourself is advice that bears repeating over and over again. Having that level of investment in the outcome means that you are able to visualise and focus upon what it is you want to achieve with far more clarity then anyone else ever could. Focus is essential to effective spell casting, focusing intent and will upon a given outcome or subject will increase the likelihood of the desired effect manifesting, particularly when the twin beasts of focus and belief are harnessed together.
Did you ever watched Disneys Peter Pan as a child? Did you clap along to make sure that Tinkerbell didn’t die and so everyone eould know you believed in fairies? Belief is a powerful force in the world, possibly *the* most powerful in fact. We are often told that we can achieve anything if we believe in ourselves (god, fate etc) and the same is true in magic. As Roald Dahl wrote in the The Minpins, “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” (In fact it is interesting to learn that this is in fact the last line of the last book Dahl ever published before his death.) In spell casting belief in magic, the self and the ability to effect change is central to everything that occurs both in the magical and mundane world.
Most of our lives focus on living in the mundane world of work, family and life in general and most magical spells are aimed at making changes either within this sphere or within ourselves to improve our lives both magical and mundane. Actions taken in both spheres of experience reinforce each other in a positive feedback loop which further ensuring that the desired outcome is achieved. Don’t fall into the falicy that spells aimed at improving magical ability (let’s use psychic abilities as an example) require no mundane actions. There are any number of practical steps you can take to improve this innate ability, both in terms of personal behaviour and environment, practice is always a good place to start. Focusing on the mundane actions which will manifest your desire into reality also helps you move away from focusing on the spell itself.
Let It Go
No I’m not breaking out in Frozen fever, though if you want to burst in song don’t let me stop you. Watching over a spell is similar to watching the kettle boil with all the excitement of watching paint dry. Its going to appear like nothing is happening and the net result will be frustration and the inability to move on. Let it go! Bury it, hide it, clear your space and prepare to move on. Focus instead on the mundane actions which were mentioned before and leave the wyrd to do its work.
Spells and Hexes