The Witch's Spellbook

A spellbook for eclectic witches and other practitioners of the Craft.

How to Cast a Spell

Below is an example of ritual format. There are of course plenty of other processes; depending on your practice and preferences, you might perform your spells much differently.

1. Purification of self
It’s important for the practitioner to be in the right state of body and mind before performing a spell. Bathe, dress appropriately, and take some time to meditate or breathe deeply. You may also wish to make other preparations, such as anointing yourself with an appropriate oil.

2. Purification of space
Outdoor ritual spaces rarely have to be purified, but when working indoors this can be an important step. First, you should make sure you won’t be distracted. Close curtains, lock the door, take the phone off the hook, tell others in the house that you do not want to be disturbed, or anything else to ensure that you will not be interrupted. Then, clean your space physically. Tidy up and vacuum or sweep the floor (with a regular broom) if needed. You may wish to make these preparations as the first step in your ritual. Next, purify the space spiritually. You can use a besom (ritual broom), incense, salt water, a musical instrument, or anything else you find fitting. While you purify your space, visualize the negative or distracting energies being dispersed, swept away, or otherwise expelled.

3. Creating sacred space
This may consist of arranging an altar or ritual setup and casting a circle. Go here for more information on ritual circles.

4. Invocation
If you wish, you may call on the divine or or certain energies to watch over and bless your rite. Invocations usually consist of a spoken prayer or verse, but it may also include music, dance, gestures, and song.

5. Energy raising or magical work
This is the process of casting the spell, the actions that you perform to create change. Generally, this is the part of spell casting that is described in this blog. Magical work often involves reciting an incantation or prayer. Often these incantations rhyme, because it aids memorization and separates incantation from normal speaking, but rhyming is not required. In fact, impromptu words from the heart can work just as well. It is important to visualize clearly and effectively. Push your intentions into your actions and visualize the energies or power at work. Imagine the energies that you are working with and the effects of your spell. The more you can feel it, the more real it will be. A circle can contain the energy of your spell until you are ready to release it. Energy can be released through several ritual forms, such as burning papers or herbs, visualization, or gestures. With intention and power, send the energy toward its goal.

6. Grounding the power
Often there will be residual energies after casting a spell. In practical terms, this means feeling energetic after the magical work is done. Grounding returns you to a normal level of energy, similar to a cooling-down activity after exercising. An easy way to ground is through visualization: focus on the feeling of your weight and how your body presses into the ground and imagine excess energy moving into the Earth. You can also hold up a ritual tool, such as an athame (ritual knife), and visualize energy flowing into it. Another very common way to ground yourself is to have a small bit of food and drink. Eating is a very physical, grounding process that allows you to gently ease yourself from your ritual state. Before eating, you may wish to make a small offering to the divine.

7. Giving thanks
If you chose to invite a deity or power into your circle, now is the time to give thanks and say farewell. This can be done with chants, gestures, offerings, and music, but often all that is necessary is a sincere expression of gratitude. Thank them for their attention and ask that they come again. If you did not invoke the divine, you can still express general gratitude.

8. Closing the circle
Do this by visualizing the energy of the circle returning from where it came, usually yourself. If you called the quarters, give thanks and say farewell. Walk around your circle again, perhaps in the opposite direction from how you cast it, and imagine the energy returning through your hand, wand, or athame and going back into you. If you used anything to mark the circle, gather it up. Gather your ritual tools and put them away. If you used a special altar setup, you can dismantle it if you like, or you may choose to leave it up for awhile. Once your circle is closed and your ritual space returned to its normal state, your rite has ended.

Important things to consider when casting a spell:

Timing. The moon phase, time of day, day of the week, season, astrological position, weather, etc., can all be symbolic and significant in spellcasting. For example, if you were to do a spell to help you succeed in a new endeavor, you might like to cast it on the day of the new moon, as this moon phase represents new beginnings. Then the moon growing full can symbolize your success increasing. Do some research to see what different times and occurrences mean, if you want to incorporate their significance.

Symbolism. Magic relies heavily on symbolism. Everything used in spellcraft — herbs, tools, colors, actions, etc. — symbolize something. By being aware of what certain things mean and using them in accordance with your intentions, you can add meaning and significance to everything you do, which can aid your mentality and make your spells more effective. Be sure to use symbols that you find meaningful and that make sense to you.

Effort and intention. Spells are fundamentally based on feeling, desire, and will. You could perform a spell exactly as it’s written, with no mistakes or fumbles, but it still won’t be effective if you don’t push your energy and intention into your work. It’s not the tools you use, the words you say, or the actions you perform that make magic work — it’s what you put into the spell that’s important. You can use visualization, energy raising, and other techniques to put energy into your spells. Do everything you do in your spells purposefully and with intention. It’s my opinion that, when using magic to make an effect happen, the most important thing is to want it intensely and to will it to happen.

Your experience and level of knowledge. It’s easy to understand that a beginner will be less adept at magic than an experienced practitioner. As you learn and practice, you’ll grow to be better at the skills used in magic, such as meditation or visualization. You’ll also learn what works best for you.

Your state of being. If you are mentally, physically, or emotionally tired, distracted, distressed, or otherwise not in an optimal state for spellwork, spells tend to be less effective. Many people like to do some sort of pre-ritual to get themselves in the right state of mind. In general, be sure that you get enough sleep, eat well, manage stress effectively, and otherwise keep yourself healthy.