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What’s a Spell?

Written and compiled by George Knowles.

A spell is a spoken or written formula that when used in an act of magick is intended to cause or influence a particular course of events.  Belief in and the use of spells are universal and have been an integral part of religious practices since ancient times.  Methods vary according to culture but all spell work is based on ritual. 

Spells are closely related to Prayers, which are rituals consisting of a petition to the Gods or deities (whatever the religion or faith) for a desired outcome.  It involves the visualization of a goal, a statement of desire for the goal, and ritualized movements of body positions (e.g., the bowing of the head, the clasping of the hands, the closing of the eyes etc).  In magick, spells are closely related to various methods of mind power such as:  creative visualization, positive thinking, and positive imaging (see “What is Magick”).  All of which emphasize our mental images of the goal and our identification with it, repetition of our intent to achieve this goal, projection of our will, and a petition to the spirits, deities, or the divine force for their aid.

These types of spells are commonly used on a daily bases, the simple lighting of a candle starting the ritual process.  Such daily spells constitute minor magick's such as:  blessings, self-help, positive thoughts and the sending of helpful healing energies to others.  Used on a daily bases it is not therefore necessary to undertake the cumbersome task of a full circle casting ritual

Spells can be beneficial or harmful and can be worked on people, animals, and nature.  Their purposes are limitless and include:  healing, love, money, success, fertility, longevity, and protection from disaster, ill fortune, and evil.  They can also be used to exorcise ghosts and spirits, for victory in battle, truth in divination, weather control, and the accomplishment of supernatural feats.  When directed against enemies, spells can be used to cause illness, destruction, loss of love, impotence, barrenness, failure and even death.  Spells can be cast to affect the self, or directed to affect another person. 

A positive spell is often called a blessing, although such archaic terms as bewitchment and enchantment are still sometimes used.  Negative spells are generally known as hexes or curses.  A binding spell is one intended to prevent harm, avoid danger, or to stop someone from performing particular acts (e.g., halting a murder, preventing a rape, or even stopping the spread of gossip). 

In most cultures, Witches, Sorcerers, Witch doctors, Magicians, and other magically empowered peoples, cast both beneficial and harmful spells as the need dictates.  However in contemporary Paganism and Witchcraft, a set of ethics exists that prohibits the use of curses and negative spells against another (see the “Wiccan Rede” and the “Three Fold Law”).  The acceptability of binding spells is divided, and is widely debated throughout the community. 

How it works 

A major act of magick requires a ritual and a spell performed inside a properly constructed circle.  The spell consists of words or incantations (sometimes called a charm or rune); the ritual is a set of actions performed while the words are being spoken.  The ancient Egyptians believed words were so powerful that speaking them would bring about the desired goal.  Words and names of power were vital to Egyptian magick and had to be pronounced correctly and with the proper intonation.  In Western magick the ultimate name of power is the Tetragrammaton, YHWH (Yah-weh), the sacred name of God. 

A spell-casting ritual raises power and energy through a combination of visualization, meditation, identification, body movement and projection of will.  The success of a spell rests on the energy and will power raised, together with the skill in which they are focused and projected.  Words, chants, songs, and movements, objects such as ritual tools, effigies, poppets, cords, and candles, as well as materials such as parchment, herbs, oils and others, all facilitate spell casting. 

In contemporary Witchcraft spell casting is performed within a magick circle (see Circle Casting).  Many covens work spells as part of their regular meetings, though each coven may use differing techniques.  To start, the goal of a spell is stated and some Witches write it down.  The act of writing down the goal emphasizes the positive thinking techniques and helps to bolster the will power to achieve the goal.  Any preparations for the ritual are made such as lighting coloured candles or mixing herbs and oils.  Each action generating energy and increasing will power concentration toward the goal.   

In healing or love spell rituals, an herb filled poppet or cloth doll might be used to identify the likeness of the object of the spell.  To aid the likeness, the doll may be marked with the persons name or astrological sign, or even stuffed with personal hair or nail clipping taken from the object of the spell.  A photograph of the person might also be used.  If a doll or poppet is not being used, then a mental image or thought form is created.  If the spell is being work by a group, all must agree on the image and hold it firmly in their minds.  Power and energy is then raised by various means, including:  chanting, dancing, tying knots in cords or clapping hands.  Drums, rattles, and the playing of music may also be used to raise power.  

Witches invite higher forces to work with them in implementing a spell.  This is usually some aspect of the Goddess or God together with the forces of the elements.  Other deities may be called upon whose aspects best suit the nature of the spell.  For instance, a money making spell might be addressed to “Math” the God of wealth and increase, similarly for a love binding spell “Aphrodite” might be called (see Gods and Deities). 

While performing the ritual the Witch focuses intense concentration and will power into achieving the goal, and when the psychic power and energy being raised is at its peak, it is then released and directed towards the goal while visualizing and seeing the results being accomplished.  Once the spell has been completed the ritual ends with a psychic cleanup to banish and ground any remnants of psychic energy.  This is normally done with the “cakes and wine” ritual, after which the deities and elements are thanked and the circle banished.

Sources

Much of the above writing was sourced from:

  The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft  - by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Best wishes and Blessed Be

 

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About me:

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Wicca & Witchcraft

 

Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is Wicca What is Magick

 

Traditional Writings:

 

The Wiccan Rede Charge of the Goddess Charge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches Chant The Witches Creed Descent of the Goddess Drawing Down the Moon The Great Rite Invocation Invocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of Chivalry A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality

 

Correspondence Tables:

 

IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals

 

Traditions:

 

Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /

 

Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /

 

Other things of interest:

 

Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 /

 

Sabbats and Festivals:

 

The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

 

Rituals contributed by Crone:

 

Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon

 

Tools:

 

Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing

 

Animals:

 

Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat

 

Trees:

 

In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder

 

Sacred Sites:

 

Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /

 

Rocks and Stones:

 

Stones - History, Myths and Lore

 

Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:

 

Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom and Inspiration:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)

 

Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)

 

Abramelin the Mage /  Agrippa Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /  Amber KAnna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman Spare /  Biddy Early /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristina Oakley Harrington Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Isaac Bonewits Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” /  Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJoseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen /  Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceMargaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /   Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillPaddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsus /  Patricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip HeseltonRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Robert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  

 

 

Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)

 

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