It’s true there are a lot of these kinds of guides on the internet. They all seem to have their own slant though, so I feel as though it can’t hurt to add my own perspective on this. While I’m going to attempt to make this as comprehensive as I can, I’m still working only from my own experiences and limited research, so there will be plenty more information out there. So even if you find this is a good starting point, if you feel like something is missing, look around the internet or in bookstores and libraries, and you’ll probably find it. Or you could also ask for clarification in the comments section if you like as well.
What Is Magic?
First off, if you travel in paranormal circles, you might notice I don’t use a “k” at the end of magic like some people do. I don’t think the differentiation is needed between stage magic and real magic because, like many words, context tells the story. The most common definition you’ll find for magic will be something along the lines of “causing change to occur in conformity to will.” Basically, if you want something to happen, you can make it happen. Obviously, this assumes some sort of mystical component, and not just wanting a sandwich, then getting up and making one.
That said, magic is subtle. You don’t wave your hands, chant, and get a big ball of fire to throw at someone. This is real life, and the laws of physics don’t just break with the wave of your hand and some visualization. To use an idea I’ve heard before, magic is basically active prayer. I’ll slightly contradict this point later, but it makes the point now that you can expect results from magic that are similar to what you might expect from praying. You figure out what you want, you cast a spell to make it happen, then you move on with your life, working towards your goal, and if you were successful, your spell will help you out and help bring you what you wanted in time. It’s spiritual reinforcement for your goals. It doesn’t just make what you want appear, it just helps you out a bit. Certainly, one can dispute whether magic or prayer actually does anything to help, but many people do believe in the power of prayer, magic, or both, and it does seem to help in some cases.
As I alluded to earlier, I do make a distinction between magic and prayer. To me, calling upon a higher power, such as God, other spirits, angels, and other entities such as these is prayer. Using subtle energies, such as the classical elements, psi, or the energy of celestial bodies and setting your intention into it before letting it do the work is magic. Also, while some who use magic will advocate commanding entities to do things for you, I highly disagree with this approach, since at best you’re being rude and at worst you’re forcing them to work for you against their will. Surely you can simply offer a prayer and ask for what you want if you want the help of other entities. Seems the kinder thing to do if you ask me.
How Does Magic Work?
We don’t know. Simply put, this is the only answer I have. However, there are a few different possible ideas people have on this, and I’m going to share a few.
God Does It
The idea here is that God, or one of many gods, or spirits, or some other non-physical entity always has to intercede to make magic work. If this is the case, then casting the spell isn’t at all what makes something happen, but rather the interceding entity does all the work. He or she notices that you’re trying to make something happen, and decides to help you out. Alternatively, if you call on any of these entities, then they decide to help you out when they hear your plea.
This is the idea that you attract whatever you think about. By thinking about something, you draw it to you. If this is the case, it’s the act of thinking about what you want that brings it to you, and casting a spell is just a mechanism that makes you think about it in a focused manner that communicates what you want to the universe. How you cast the spell doesn’t matter at all in this case, so long as you focus on what you want.
This is how I think magic works, and it’s actually pretty similar to intention manifestation in some ways. The idea here is that through focused intent, you can imprint your desires on the subtle energy permeating the universe, both on the physical plane and the subtle planes that coexist alongside the physical plane. From there, the change in the mental planes permeates through all the other planes until reaching the physical plane and causing a change here. The most important thing to realize is that thoughts become reality on subtle planes far removed from the physical plane, and in order to have them come through, they have to have enough “density” and energy to them to travel through all the intervening space. So, with enough focus, you build up the energy and strength of what you want on a mental plane so it can travel to you on the physical plane, and if it reaches you, you get what you were aiming for. Of course, working toward your goal also reinforces the spell, since thinking about it will provide more energy and “heft” to it and rejuvenate it if it’s almost ready to dissipate. Plus, you should be working toward your goal anyway, because magic won’t generally solve your problems for you without you taking some kind of action.
How Do You Cast a Spell?
If you’re anything like me, this is the part you’ve just skipped to without reading anything above. If so, that’s cool with me, just realize that what I said above provides some context for what I’ll say here. Most importantly, the way I think magic works and the ethics of dealing with other spiritual entities will definitely color my descriptions of the different ways you can cast spells.
Moving on though, you should know there is no one method to casting a spell, and many people experiment quite a bit before finding one they like. You can usually mix and match a few of these together to form a spell that’s right for you. The most important part is making sure you build up enough energy and get your intent out there, so it can make it back to you and bring you what you want.
I don’t generally consider praying to be casting a spell, as prayer is asking someone else to do the job for you. However, many people do see prayer as magic, and I feel as though it’s appropriate to give this method a mention. Choose a powerful, benevolent being you believe in, and ask for help and guidance. Generally speaking, I feel most comfortable with prayer when it’s to help someone else out, or when it’s for something I really need for myself. I’d rather not ask for things I don’t really need, because it feels like God must have better things to do than grant every wish someone might have. Naturally, there are other viewpoints on this, it’s just my own take on the matter. I like to reserve prayer for things that are really important.
Directly Imprint Subtle Energy
This is the method I use most often. The idea is to draw in ambient energy from around you, imprint it with thoughts of what you would like to happen, then send it off to do it’s work. It’s a difficult process to describe, so the best I can do is give you guideposts. Basically, you want to try to mentally reach out and feel the energy around you. When you have a feel for it, mentally draw it towards you. From here, you can either allow it to hover close around you, or you can compress it into a little ball of energy between your hands, commonly known as a psi ball. Either way, once you have a substantial amount of energy gathered, think about what it is you want, and imagine the energy you’ve gathered holding this thought with you. This imprints your desire into the energy. From there, release the energy back into the universe, where the imprinted thoughts will work to bring what you want to you. Also, when working with energy, don’t try to force it. It tends to work much better if you guide it and let it flow after that.
An alternative to this is to gather elemental energies, which already have certain thoughts associated with them. For instance, water is widely regarded as soothing and healing, while earth is regarded as strong and protecting. Fire can be passionate, sustaining, or destructive, and air could be about communication and mental acuity. Of course, there are far more associations than just these, but they’re a start. The idea behind using elemental energies is that they already carry imprinted ideas, so using the right element will help reinforce the ideas you imprint, or you can not imprint anything at all if you’re just looking to improve the general traits that element posseses.
Find or Create a Ritual
It’s widely agreed that creating a ritual is more powerful than using one that has been created by someone else. However, you may want to search the internet for some premade rituals just to get an idea of what you might want to put into a ritual.
You can have a chant of some kind, which usually takes the form of poetry about what you would like to happen. If used in conjunction with prayer, you may also invoke a higher power and ask for his or her help in your chant as well. Naturally, this doesn’t have to be a poem, however, many people feel the cadence and possible rhyming poetry has helps set the mood of the spell.
You also may have certain materials on hand. Crystals are a very popular item, and if you look around online, you’ll find different associations with different crystals, or you can just choose the ones that feel right for creating the situation you hope to create. Salt is also a commonly used item if you feel creating a protective circle is important. The circle is generally used to protect against negative energies and entities getting involved in your spell. I’ve never found this to be necessary, but many people think it’s important, so certainly cast a circle first if you feel it’s necessary.
You may also wish to use correspondences such as the moon phases. In general, a waxing moon is a good time to cast spells to bring something into your life, such as new friends, a new lover, or monetary prosperity. A waning moon is a good time to cast spells meant to drop something from your life, such as that smoking habit you’d like to kick. Since I’ve brought it up though, I feel I should issue a word of caution on spells for love and friendship. You shouldn’t cast spells to make specific people become your friends or lover, because if it were successful, it would subvert their free will to choose. Rather, the ethical way to do this is to cast a spell to bring people to you who would like to be your friend or lover, so you can find each other in the first place. Yes, this is off topic, but it’s a point that ought to be made since it’s come up.
Back to the topic of ritual magic now, I want to describe a little bit about how I think it works. Basically, the idea is that going through the ritual will draw the energy you need to you without you consciously pulling it in yourself. I recommend building energy on your own as well, as I described in the previous section, but it’s up to you whether that’s the right approach for you. Since your ritual will be designed to have symbols of what you want, it will have you thinking about that already, which should imprint whatever energy you draw in with your desire. Finally, completing the ritual disperses that energy. Naturally, if you’re praying as part of the ritual, then a higher power may also be granting you what you want or helping out as well.
Really, there are many ways you can add to a ritual spell to make it your own, and what I’ve mentioned above are only a few. Ritual magic isn’t really my thing. So, if you’re interested in casting spells in this way, use these ideas as a stepping stone, and come up with other things that work for you. Also, you can find a lot more about ritual magic plastered all over the internet, so certainly feel free to take ideas from other sites as well.
Hopefully, this guide has given you some ideas of how to cast your own spells to improve your life. Just remember, casting spells isn’t a substitute for taking action, it’s to supplement the actions you’ll take to improve yourself. If you’d like any help, feel free to ask in the comments or drop me an email, and I’ll try to help you when I can as long as I have some ideas, or you can check out forums about this kind of thing elsewhere. The Astral Society forum may be a good place to start. In any case, good luck with your first spells, or in making positive changes in your current spellcasting habits. I hope that either way, you found something that may help you out here.
Additional Online Resources:
Casting a Circle – Describes one method of casting a circle in detail while touching on a couple of others.
Elemental Correspondences Chart – Provides a very large list of correspondences between the elements and aspects of life they govern in a handy chart.
Wejee’s Wiccan Magick Correspondences – A list of correspondences that goes into less detail on elemental correspondences, but includes correspondences for moon phases, celestial bodies, star signs, and a few others you may be interested in. Although it’s aimed at Wiccans, the correspondences could be useful to anyone looking to make their own ritual spell.
Remember, the above links describe one way to perform a given task or one interpretation of the meaning of various symbols. If you feel the meanings don’t seem to fit or the processes aren’t quite right, there are other interpretations to find out there, or you can work out your own. Magic seems to be very flexible in how it works, so don’t hesitate to experiment a bit to find out what works for you.