This post is in response to a post of the continuing 'The Witch's Circle' discussions over at Aine's blog, The Deepest Well. To view her and the commenter's thoughts on spells, click here. To read about The Witch's Circle and add your ideas for discussion, click the dancing witches image below.
Wingardium Leviosa! A spell from the Harry Potter stories and honestly one of the ones I wish I could use in real life. The only one I wish for more? Riddickulous! Who doesn't want to turn their biggest fear into something inane and, well, ridiculous?
Spell work is a very real part of my path and I by no means intend to make a mockery of this practice with my references to Harry Potter. Quite the contrary. I loved the approach to spell work in the books and movies because they demonstrate the very basis of what I believe spell work to be: Intention. You have to want and believe in the outcome of your work or all of the wand waving, chanting and herbal concoctions will be useless. More spells are killed off before they've even begun by witches who don't have the confidence or belief needed to bring them to fruition.
If all one needed to do to work with the energies of the spirits, elements and universe was point a wand and say 'I want x,y or z!' and it came to fruition everyone and their dog would be wearing a pointy hat, carrying sticks and the world would go mad. Luckily, for all of our sanity, it's not that simple. That being said however, it is not a terribly difficult feat either for one who truly wishes to learn and to practice.
A spell, in its simplest form, is a petition to whatever energies you work with. I think of prayer, in its way, as a form of spell work. A spell can be as simple as lighting a candle or setting up an offering, inviting the spirits to sit and hear you out and speaking plainly, all the while keeping your intent strong and true. It can be as elaborate as setting and casting a full circle on a specific day of the week, during a particular planetary time and having specific herbs, incenses and candles to burn while reciting a chant or poem. The important thing is to follow your intuition. If you plan an elaborate spell (or a simple one) and you feel an overwhelming desire to change plans? Go with your gut. Again, it's not always in the how, but in the why. Of course, if you are disrespectful to the spirits or using magic for solely selfish purposes the amount of faith or conviction you have in the spell work may not make a difference and it will die off.
Are there other rules that govern spell work? I believe that depends on each Witch's individual path and tradition. I'm sure we've all heard of and know the Three-fold law and The Wiccan Rede, "And ye harm none, do what ye will." I am not a wiccan and do not follow the rede. To me binding , banishing or blocking something or someone on the magical plain is no different than getting a security system, a retraining order or other means of protection here on the physical one. And while typically I try to live a life in which I don't needlessly harm others if a time comes when someone or something threatens myself or my loved ones I will not hesitate to do what is necessary to protect us. The reality is that sometimes life gets dirty and ugly and one needs to fight back by whatever means they have; in my case I will not hesitate to turn to spell work.
Does this make me or others who feel similarly 'evil'? I don't believe so. No more evil than a mother bear protecting her young. I do not act recklessly or without forethought, I have never performed spells in a blind rage - although I have been sorely tempted. It all comes back to that one word, intent. For intent does not just apply to what you wish to do, but also to your state of mind when you act.