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What's important when it comes to spell casting?

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One of the more difficult areas of spell casting is how so many beginners get so concerned with the image of magic. They get so focused on the trappings of it all that they lose focus on what is important about magic. Don’t get me wrong, the trappings are as much of a tool and are important in their own right. They can help a person get into the proper mindset. An altar with “all the fixin’s” can help one pull their mind out of the purely mundane world and bring it to the metaphysical one.
So what is the most important thing about magic? That most of the power comes from you and your relationship with whatever powers you have faith in.

The Elements aren’t going to give you extra credit for speaking your spell in iambic pentameter. The God and Goddess aren’t going to give you detention for forgetting your cauldron. The “powers that be” aren’t going to call your parents in for a conference because you stuttered during the incantation. It’s your power that does most of the work, bolstered and assisted by whichever greater power you have a relationship with.

While the trappings of a fully set up altar and ritual space are wonderful and are an important aid to spell casting, without that which is important to spell casting it is all for naught.

So what is important to a spell? Belief,  Definition, Visualization, Will, and Acceptance.

Belief – I’m not talking about a belief in a higher being or even a belief in magic. You wouldn’t be trying to cast spells if you didn’t have at least some belief in the two. I’m talking about a belief in yourself and in your ability to cause a change. This is often the hardest to master.

Many people have been told that they are worthless, that they are powerless. Sometimes it is a deliberate wounding of a person emotionally, other times it’s simply careless words from someone else who has given up. How often have you heard “It’s not worth trying, nothing ever changes.” from someone who had had one too many bad things happen to them? Hear that often enough and it can drag you down.

And let’s not forget that the reason that many people seek the pagan religions is that they are tired of being told that they are flawed people that have no hope unless they give themselves completely in the hands of the church who will then intercede on their behalf with their deity…if and when they get around to it. In some cases, many women in certain religious groups are told that they have no power whatsoever and that they need to put their fate in the hands of a good religious man and obey him, the church and the deity (in that ascending order of importance) if they want to have even a whelk’s chance in a supernova of a happy life.

So they have a hard time believing in themselves and their own ability to change the world around them. Once you overcome that, you’ve cleared a major hurdle.

Definition – When you cast a spell you need to spell out what you want to happen. You have to really think about what you want or unintentional results can come about. Asking for money may mean that you’ll get money from a random source. I’m not saying that a beloved grandmother will die and leave you money or something like that, but you could find yourself with a banking error that puts more money in your bank that you’re entitled to and if/when you spend it…you’ll eventually have to pay it back.

So you need to think about the problem in detail. Analyze the problem and try and think of the root causes to that problem. And don’t think of the easy answers. For example you have too many bills and not enough money to pay for them all, don’t just say that “The problem is that I’m stinking broke” or “My boss is a tightwad who won’t pay me better”. That’s not going to get you far. You need to think of real causes of the problem.

Once the cause is identified, think of good ways to solve them that don’t harm anyone else.  Let’s go ahead and use the example of having too many bills hit all at once all demanding that you pay them. The cause of the problem is timing. Normally you have the money to pay all of your bills, but they all came in at the worst possible moment. Maybe you’ve had an emergency car repair, maybe you had to hire a plumber to replace a dead hot-water heater, or due to the calendar, just all rotated in all at once.

What’s a good solution to that problem? Well let’s cut out the bad ones. Obviously not paying the bills is a big one. You need to eat so you can’t scrimp there. If you rely on a vehicle, then you can’t skimp on that week’s fuel. So what can you do? You can call and ask some of the less critical bills if they can allow you to pay late, split a payment, or make some other arrangement.

Visualization – This is more important than all the poetry and prose we could ever come up with. This is where we need to see within our minds what we wish to occur. If we can see this in our mind, then it is easier to explain to the magic what we want to happen. This is an easy part. Most of us at some point day-dream about things we want. We see a really awesome car and we can envision ourselves driving it down the highway. We see a really nice house and we can dream about all the ways we’d furnish it differently to suit our needs. This is a skill that we’ve had since children. What can be hard about it is doing it at crunch time. While we all day-dream at some point, sometimes we don’t even know that we’re doing it.

So this is a skill that is always a good idea to work on. And it’s a fun one. After all, what other skill practice requires you to envision fun things and try to make them as real as possible in our mind’s eye? Grab the wheel of that Mustang! Think of where you’d put in the garden! Dream of the perfect job! Whatever floats your boat, just work on seeing it in your mind.

Will – This is the part where you need to be able to will what you want to happen, to happen for real. You know the problem and the solution. You can see them in your mind and you can see yourself solving it. You believe in yourself and your power to make a change for the better. Now you have to cast the spell and let the magic know what you need to have happen. Once you have the previous three down, this is actually pretty easy.

Acceptance – This is the part after the spell is cast and one of the most important. Here, you have to accept the consequences of your actions. For everything that you do in life be they magical or mundane, there are always consequences. For positive things, these consequences are likely to be positive as well. A spell on you to help bolster your confidence may do just that. And as a result of that, you may find yourself with the consequence of people noticing that new found confidence and be more positive towards you. This is a consequence that you have to accept and you get to enjoy it. Others like the spell to pull you out of a bind may have less pleasant ones.

Take the spell for money example. You may have done the spell with clear thought and have done your level best to ensure the least amount of harm, but there are still things that have to be done. In this example you may have delayed payment, but payment still needs to be made. This is the lesser harm that you accepted to avoid the greater harm. Not so fun, but it’s the deal you made and you do have to keep up your end.

Also you have to accept that you may have made a mistake and something unexpected came out of your spell. That consequence means that you may have to help clear up a problem that your spell caused. At the very least you are going to have to admit to yourself that you made the mistake and that you need to try harder next time. Mistakes happen to all of us. Its part of the learning process we’ve been dealing with since day one.

Putting it all together – I use the money spell since it is one of the two defining spells in my life. It is the second one that I cast that I saw real results for that I could not have imagined to have happened any other way.

I was out sick for a couple of days and so was docked the pay for the hours I didn’t work (we didn’t have paid sick days). A lot of bills came in and came in at the worst possible time. I also had the last payment on a much needed sewing machine that I had on Layaway. And given the popularity, the store couldn’t keep them on the shelves.

If I didn't pick it up on time, they would put it back onto the shelves and sell it to the general public and I'd have to order it again. Something the store is likely do since they’re pretty harsh if a payment isn't made on time. But the final result was that if I paid all that was owed, eating would be not so fun. You may have heard of “Macaroni and Cheese broke”? I wish. Try thirty-three cent bricks of Ramen Noodle broke.

So here was a clearly defined problem. The logical solution was going to the local offices of my utility companies to see if payment arrangements could be made to allow me to still eat that week. But I worked second shift and so couldn’t get the check cashed until the next day which was Saturday when most of the offices were closed.  So I decided that I was going to cast a spell to see if I could get some help.

I cast the circle and did my usual rituals. After all of that I visualized a line of people wearing the uniforms of the various places that I needed to give money to. I then visualized myself pulling out my wallet and given each of them some of the money that was in it. I followed that up with images of the people leaving with a smile on their face to represent them being happy with the arrangements as well as me putting a much thinner wallet that still had some money peeking out. With those images going through my mind, I stated out loud that I needed to somehow be able to find a way to make this happen. I then closed the circle per my normal rituals and went to bed.

The next morning I cashed my check and went to pick up the sewing machine. Walmart has a policy of when a layaway item goes on sale while it’s being held for layaway, they reduce the price by that amount. It is easier for them to do that than it is for everyone to come in, cancel their layaways and then take the money and re-layaway it under the new price.

The machine had gone on sale at one point during the layaway and so I was given a reduced final payment on it. They knocked off $40 dollars! Right off the bat there was more money than I expected to have!

Walking back to the car I saw the sign that a grocery store that I had never used before was announcing that they were starting a loyalty card program and anyone with a card got certain items on some really nice discounts. I went in and found out that getting one of these cards was as easy as filling out your name and address on a form. Some of the food items were discounted at ten for $10. So I quickly called my wife and we look another look at the grocery list. By switching out a few meals to be heavy on the discounted items, we were able to knock off $30 off the food budget.

This was looking better and better. Now we could pay off all of our bills, gas the car for a week and still be able to eat. Granted we’d not have two dimes to rub together, but it would all be paid and we’d eat reasonably well.

So my wife went shopping for the food and I went to pay our bills by dropping the checks through the payment drop slots. The Cable Company that we had Internet service with was the real kicker. The moment where realized that there are coincidences and then there are things that stretch coincidence to the limit.

There was a sign on the door saying that the office would be closed for a week to repair the leak in the roof that a recent snow storm had caused several days ago. The sign also stated that they were not accepting payment at this location until next week when the roof was repaired and the water damage cleaned up. The drop slot was boarded up and the sign said that mailed-in checks were being held at the office. It also said that any payments that come in late as a result of the shutdown were not going to be considered late and that no one would suffer service outages as a result.

The layaway? Yeah…could be coincidence. The Grocery Store? Yeah, that could have been a result of me thinking of savings and seeing certain keywords in the store’s advertising in the corner of my eye. But both of them AND the Cable Company? Coincidence? Personally I don’t think so.

So now we saved $40 on the sewing machine, groceries were $30 cheaper, and I had $50 that I actually couldn’t pay to the company until next week. And seeing that we wouldn’t have to pay any more bills until next month, it wouldn’t hurt to spend the money this week and enjoy it, then pay the cable bill next paycheck. We took that $50 and got some takeout and a movie that just hit the shelves on DVD and had ourselves an in-home-date-night.

* So I had the belief that I could make a difference and take control of the situation so I could manage to stay afloat for the week.
* I had clearly defined the problem and what was needed to resolve it.
* I was able to visualize the problem and create a mental picture that clearly held the concepts of the situation and the solution.
* I was able to take all of that and I willed it to happen.
* And finally I accepted the consequences of the spell and the fact that I would miss out on a favorite meal that we could not afford that week and that I’d have to pay that $50 to the cable company out of our next week’s paychecks.  
I can think of worse consequences.

But that’s what spell casting is all about at the heart. You can shroud it in prose, you can time it with the alignments of the stars and the moon for some extra oomph, you can have the most formal of rituals. But at the core are the five elements that I’ve talked about. Without them, all the trappings of ritualized spell casting are all for naught.

So now you’re wondering, “So what’s the point of it all? Why have an altar? Why have all the tools if they’re not important?”

They are important. The trappings are a tool, an aid to what I discussed above. Have you ever hear a Wiccan say that they feel “particularly witchy” when they’re at their altar or in the circle? There’s a good reason for that.

While it is possible to cast an effective spell without the trappings, having the trappings around them puts them in the right frame of mind. When you put on your work clothes and step into your job site, you’re in professional mode. You start thinking in terms of being a professional and doing your job well. Then when you get home you throw on your lounging clothes and your mindset changes to “Relaxation Mode”. Someone calls you up and says “Let’s go to the club” and so you get into your clubbing clothes and your mindset changes again. You’re in “Party Mode”.

The trappings help make the mindset. You can get into the mindset without all the trappings but for a number of people, this is not as easy as when they approach the altar. Having the altar, casting the circle, communing with the tools on the altar and feeling the energy really helps you get in the zone.

And let’s not forget that beyond the mindset there are the connections. The wand that you made from a fallen branch in the woods helps strengthen the bond between you and the spirits of nature. The chunk of crystal you found when you were hiking a nearby mountain path is a link to Earth. The charcoal and incense you light are your symbols of your bond with Fire and Air. The candles you light for the God and the Goddess are your symbol of your connection to them.

They are very important.

But don’t get too concerned if you have to hold a ritual and/or cast a spell and you haven’t found that special something that your altar is missing. You’re not going to be called to the principal’s office and get detention because you didn’t come to class without it.

Awesome essay- thanks, Mongo!!! The real-life example really help illustrate your points and make it very helpful.

Eternal Seeker:

Truly excellent! This deserves to be pinned as a must read!


Crystal Dragon:

--- Quote from: Eternal Seeker on July 23, 2014, 05:42:21 PM ---
Truly excellent! This deserves to be pinned as a must read!


--- End quote ---

Done!  :)

Great writeup Mongo ... thanks!  :warmfuzz:

Truly a fantastic piece, Mongo. :cheer:


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