[Ivy's Pentacles]


Casting a spell becomes simpler after you've done it many times and have become very comfortable with certain parts of it, but no spell is ever the same as another one (or it shouldn't be; who wants stagnant magick?). Here I'll spell out, in an expanded version, twenty steps to casting a spell. If twenty sounds intimdating, or you read over this and it seems too complex for you, try my "Quick Cast" page, a more concise and simplified explanation to the art of spellcrafting. If you feel you need more information, come back to this page, or check out examples of my spells at my Herbal Spells page. Moving on!

1. Understand the need


2. Research appropriate spell aids


3. Choose words or sentiments


4. Choose "who" you will address


5. Decide on spell's end result and what you will picture


6. Research when and where would be best


7. Acquire all materials and purify them


8. Set up in the appointed place at the appointed time


9. Cast the circle


10. Invoke desired presence(s)


11. Visualize the goal


12. Empower/define objects


13. Say words/think of sentiments with raising energy


14. Concentrate on building energy


15. Send out the energy


16. "So mote it be"


17. Visualization of goal having come to pass


18. Thanking & departing


19. Earthing


20. Documenting


(This list was created through what I have learned in my reading and how I understand spellwork. It is not a set order--mostly--and it is important that you take this into consideration when creating your own spells.)

Explanation of all steps

PRE-SPELL CONSIDERATIONS. When you decide you want to do a spell, make sure you know why you're doing it. Consider whether you should: Are you following the Wiccan Rede? Are you remembering the Threefold Law? Good. So if you're not going to hurt anyone and you wouldn't mind if the karma from this hit you threefold, you still need to decide whether you should do this. Ask yourself whether the person would be opposed. Generally you're not supposed to try to use magick against someone's will . . . sometimes you will be tempted to think it is for a person's own good. You might try shying away from that. For instance, if you think a friend is entering a relationship that will destroy him, instead of trying to "make" them break up with a spell, try casting your spell hoping that the relationship not impede his happiness. Perhaps your influence can brighten the relationship so it is not destructive or empower him to see what is wrong with the relationship before it does destroy him. Always try to find positive ways to cast the spell instead of destroying things; the only thing you should routinely banish is negative influences.


1. UNDERSTAND THE NEED. When you're sure of the fact that you want to perform a spell to bring a result, you need to CLEARLY understand it. What needs to happen? Why are you doing it? Define it very clearly.


2. RESEARCH APPROPRIATE SPELL AIDS. This means you look in your Book of Shadows, on the Internet, in your books, or just in your head to find out what you need to help you with this spell. This research is very important if you want to use tools; you need to know why you're using each one. In addition to the usual tools that you perform magick with (such as the athame, the wand, the cauldron, or whatever else you like to use), you'll need something particular to the spell. In simple candle magick, this might involve choosing an appropriate color for your candle. Some common spell aids are special types of rocks, certain oils, candle colors, personal items, incense scents, runes to inscribe or meditate on, special symbols, and spices or herbs, sometimes even food. In some of my other sections in the spells part of this page, I talk about how you can use these other resources; for now just understand that when you cast a spell, you decide which, if any, of these you will use, and what they will be symbols of in your spell. This is also the time when you decide what sort of magick you will be doing . . . will you be lighting a candle and burning a paper with a habit you want to get rid of? Will you be warding off negative influences by ceremoniously drawing a picture of yourself in a protective bubble? Will you be weaving a string to lasso an object symbolic of something you want to control? How do you want to symbolize your desired result taking place? You can get lots of ideas for this on the Internet or from talking with other magick users, or just reading or *thinking*. (I just now thought up the last two suggestions myself.)


3. CHOOSE WORDS OR SENTIMENTS. You've probably heard of Witches chanting and saying ceremonial poems, et cetera. It is not necessary, necessarily, to speak out loud while casting a spell, but it is advised to do so if it helps you clarify your thoughts. What will you say? And to whom, though that is the next question? Many Wiccan words of power are rhyming pieces, but this is not necessary either. Rhyming and strict unmoving rituals are the parts of Wicca that I do not subscribe to, but if it seems natural to you, go for it. You can just decide beforehand that at such and such a point you will say out loud what a symbol means to you, such as putting a dash of sage in the bottom of the cauldron and propping a red candle in it, then saying, "I plant this flower of love in a garden of wisdom, that I might make wise choices in love." Or you can simply ponder the meaning of a rune as you inscribe it on a candle or wax doll. Saying things out loud seems to affirm them in your mind.


4. CHOOSE "WHO" YOU WILL ADDRESS. Most spellworkers ask for the presence of the God and Goddess during their work. Some might prefer in certain cases to only call on one of the aspects of deity, or to ask for both of Their presence but the actual assistance of only one, or to call on a specific Greek, Egyptian, Celtic (et cetera et cetera) God or Goddess that they identify with. Also, elements might be addressed. It is best to have some sort of token to represent any presence that is requested, whether it is a candle of an appropriate color or just a mental image. Think about who you will address and what sort of thing you are asking of that presence. Do not necessarily "rehearse" this and the previous step; just have some idea so you are not left in the middle of a circle having run out of things to say, especially if you are not working alone.


5. DECIDE ON THE SPELL'S END RESULT AND WHAT YOU WILL PICTURE. You should know what is going to happen, at least in a vague sense, after you've cast your spell. Now if you're casting a spell to find a job, you don't have to decide that you're going to go to a particular store and get a particular job on a particular date. You will simply decide on what the overall final result will be: You will soon have a job that fulfills your needs and is pleasant. You might envision what sort of job it will be and the types of people you will be working with. You do NOT need to "name names." It is actually best if you don't name names. This can interfere with the effectiveness of your spell if you are too specific and it isn't meant to be; that will prevent your positive energy from being redirected somewhere it *does* fit. It is also important to know what you will visualize before the fact; visualization is a VERY IMPORTANT, ESSENTIAL part of casting a spell! At this point, just know what you will picture.


6. RESEARCH WHERE AND WHEN WOULD BE BEST. By this, I mean decide if you're going to do this outside, in your bedroom, in your living room, facing which way, et cetera. WHEN is important too. Consider the time of day; is this a spell that should latch onto the energies of the day or the night? And what about the time of the month? Pay attention to the Moon; is it waxing or waning, full or new? You may want to wait if you're planning to try to cast a spell to attract new friends and the Moon is waning. Remember, casting a spell takes advantage of cycles; it doesn't go against them! Make sure that the time and place you have chosen will allow you to do your spell uninterrupted and that you will have the space to do whatever you need to do.


7. ACQUIRE ALL MATERIALS AND PURIFY. The acquiring is self-explanatory; the purifying is not. You should gather all your tools and supplies before the fact. If you are using any tools that might have influences that have either accumulated from disuse (or someone else's use!) or simply don't have your "print" on them yet, you might consider purifying them, either through salt and water, burial in the earth, or passing the object through all four elements and through your own spirit, with the blessings of the God and Goddess. Purifying is something of an individual process and sometimes requires a separate ceremony of sorts. You might "dedicate" certain tools to magickal purposes. If these consecrations are to take a long time, have them out of the way before the appointed time. You can check out my tool consecration page to see about different dedications and suggestions for consecrations. In any case, candles are often used and have a special "dressing" preparation that you can do quickly and easily . . . usually that involves rubbing oil on the candle and passing it through the four elements, and accepting it as a tool of magick. Whatever feels "pure" for you is plenty, though. Remember to purify the actual space, too; you might use a broom to sweep away negative energies. Speaking of purifying, you should remember at this stage that if you want to purify YOURSELF, this is the time to do it. Taking a ritual bath, doing a meditation for soul-cleansing, or using oils or fragrances are all ways to purify yourself for spellwork. Elaborate rituals before casting a spell are not common, though; they are more often used before large celebration rituals.


8. SET UP IN THE APPOINTED PLACE AT THE APPOINTED TIME. This is self-explanatory. Put down whatever marks the space for your circle, set up the things on your altar or in the circle for your use, make sure everything's in place and that you are ready. It is good to have a checklist for this to make sure you don't leave anything out; as an example, here's a version of mine: Sweep. Lay out cord. Position altar with cloth. Position God and Goddess candles. Position other God and Goddess representations. Position initial main focus items on altar. Add Earth bowl and salt at north. Add incense burner and incense at east. Add candleholder and candle at south. Add goblet and water at west. Put pentacle at north. Put wand at east. Put athame at south. Put chalice at west. Add bolline to south. Add matches to south. Add match holder to north. Add wet napkins to west. Add bell to west. Add libation bowl to north. Add food and other materials as appropriate. You get the idea . . . most of the tools have a direction they're associated with, and other items "go" with certain directions as well--you position everything and get it all set up.


9. CAST THE CIRCLE. I have a whole section on circle-casting elsewhere that goes into detail, but here I will just say that it is the casting of sacred space. At this stage, you lay down the boundary of your sacred space and thus remove yourself from the outside world. Sometimes the actual casting of the circle blends with the next step (inviting and invoking) because these presences actually help make up the circle. It is a good idea, after your circle is cast, to sit inside it and relax for a moment and "ground" yourself. There is more about this in the circles section. Just know that relaxation is very important; you should feel relaxed and not tense and not rushed, then you should center yourself and begin.


10. INVOKE DESIRED PRESENCES. This can be the God and the Goddess, the elements, or any spiritual or mythical guides you see fit. You can invoke them using your wand (like it talks about in the tools section) and greet them with words if you desire. Always do this with respect! Don't hurry and don't "expect" that you will feel whatever presence right away. Sometimes you actually won't be able to feel that they have arrived (you shouldn't start until they HAVE, if they're integral to your spell) . . . and sometimes this is a subconscious indication that the powers that be do not agree with your goal. Pay attention to this.


11. VISUALIZE THE GOAL. This is very important. After you feel that the Universe is receptive to your actions and thoughts, show it what you want. You may speak out loud using words you have decided upon; this is sort of an introduction of the Universe to your need. You are showing the deities or whatever you have invoked what needs to be done, and furthermore you are seeing it happen. You don't have to decide exactly how it will come to be--that is up to circumstances falling as they will and whoever's hands this task is in--but you should visualize it. This doesn't mean just seeing a picture; it feels real to you, it is more than an image in your mind. Whatever it is is happening, and you can use all your senses to notice it happening. You are feeling it very strongly, so much that you feel you could impress it onto reality once you raise your energy. But that comes later. Concentration is necessary. Once you visualize your goal, it should stay in the forefront of your mind until you have completed your spell; you can't just visualize it for a moment and then say "okay, that's done" and manipulate objects (the next step) just as an afterthought.


12. EMPOWER/DEFINE OBJECTS. This is where you use your magickal tools and your symbolic objects. If using a candle, this would be where you would inscribe a rune on it for peace, making it a peace candle; or if you are drawing a picture, this is where you will see certain symbols as the real-life objects, situations, events, and people that they represent. As you do something to your object (such as rubbing oil into it, creating it, changing it), you are sending your energy into it from your tools, your hands, or whatever else. The objects "become" what they stand for, and your energy makes it so.


13. SAY WORDS/THINK OF SENTIMENTS WITH RAISING ENERGY. Say you are casting a spell to keep an event from happening. In step 12, you might have drawn your symbol of the event, making it real in your mind and seeing the event when you looked at your symbol. At this point, you would speak words, sort of "explaining" what you are doing; you might put a box around the event to control it or put an X over it to stop it from happening. You need to visualize strongly and feel a tangible energy building in yourself somewhere. This is somewhat exciting so try not to let it go or lose your focus.


14. CONCENTRATE ON BUILDING ENERGY. For just a moment you should concentrate solely on your energy, with your goal in mind, and just build it up and focus it as it comes in from your objects of power, your chosen presence(s), the Earth itself, and your own spirit.


15. SEND OUT THE ENERGY. Your result is taking hold at this moment. You release your energy through your hand, through a tool, just in your mind, whatever. This is the point at which you might use a candle to set a paper on fire, then have the energy you put into it be "released" through the burning. This energy is coming from you, and it is being used to make your goal come to be. You have to learn to project it; this becomes easier (and you get a better idea of how to do it) with practice. There is not a lot of literature to help you with this, it is all pretty much intuitive. It might help at first to visualize it as light if you can't feel a way to direct energy. As it leaves your body you should feel differently. You should really know that the energy is there, not just imagine it. It has to be real.


16. "SO MOTE IT BE." This is a term used by many magick users, synonymous with "It is done" or even a sort of "Amen." You can say these words (or words like them) or visualize a finishing of sorts, such as the tying of a knot or the stamping of some sort of seal. Some people ring a bell. This "it is done" concept is a bit difficult to explain, but magick is worked with the idea that once the spell is complete, the result has already happened. Honestly, it is not as if you really think that you will wake up the morning after doing a spell to acquire more friends and suddenly people you don't know will call you and invite you to lunch, or that everyone will flock to you. What is already "done" is that the forces are set in motion; that this has already begun to happen. That at the moment after a friendship spell if someone saw you, you would seem more appealing (if this person was a desirable friend for you and would enjoy friendship with you).


17. VISUALIZATION OF GOAL HAVING COME TO PASS. Here, you meditate on your spell's effect. It helps you feel closure of sorts, and sends the rest of your residual energy to the right goal, much the way a candle does when left to burn up the energy you put into it.


18. THANKING AND DEPARTING. You should be respectful to those who helped you during your spell. If you were inspired by a relative's photograph, take the time to appreciate and send a bit of gratitute to him or her. If you invoked the God and/or the Goddess, thank Them for whatever role They had and for listening. Another phrase used in Wicca and Witchcraft often is "Merry Meet and Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again!" This is used between people of the Craft, sure, but also applies when dealing with other presences; it gives you the feeling that you have worked together on a common goal (they would not lend their influence if they disapproved of your goal) and that you are parting on good terms, to meet again happily someday to work in harmony. My circle-casting document has more on how exactly you might express that the deities or present parties are welcome to depart. If you're using candles anywhere in the spell and you're putting them out at this time, use your fingers or a snuffer instead of your breath, because when you blow out a candle, you're using Air to quench Fire, and that's supposed to be an insult to the Fire.


19. EARTHING. This is simply pulling back the power that is left over. Some energy was used to cast the circle; it must be reclaimed. (Some say that if you don't do this it might irritate you or make you unable to sleep, or do other undesirable things.) Some people prefer to give the extra energy back to the Earth; others prefer to absorb some of it back into themselves or into the handle of their athames, or whatever. This is sort of "coming back to reality"; when you break the circle you are back in time again. You may wish to stay in your sacred space and meditate for a while before you actually pull back or earth all the energy. There is more about this in the circle-casting bit. This is a good time to eat ceremonial or special food, because it helps "earth" you as well as send energy back to the Earth. It sort of "brings you down" from whatever planes you've been floating on and relaxes you a bit. It replaces your energy somewhat--and you probably *should* feel at least a little tired or depleted if you sent energy out--and the food also functions as a reward for yourself and keeps it all in a positive light, leaving you with a good impression.


20. DOCUMENTING. Take note of things that happened. Did you have trouble? Did you feel especially successful? Record in your Book of Shadows or your journal (whatever) any feelings or things that you want to remember for next time. When you hear about or experience the results of your spell, you might want to write those down too, so that you can figure out what works and what doesn't, and see if you're improving with practice.


POST-SPELL CONSIDERATIONS: Keep in mind that spells aren't going to solve all your problems. You can't cast a spell hoping for the perfect mate and then sit back and wait for them to knock on your door. You will still have to go out and meet people. Why cast a spell if you still have to work toward your goal? Well, why don't you cast a spell sometime and see how it works? If nothing else it might make you more confident that the powers that be are on your side; at best it could start things turning in good directions for you. But *you* do the magick itself, and *you* have to continue to try to make its goal happen in every way you can. Some people, upon hearing this, tend to laugh and say, "if you're working toward a goal in non-magickal ways as well as magickal, how do you know your magick is doing anything at all?" I got news for you: Magick is part of life. It *is* indistinguishable from regular-life events many times. Sometimes some amazing coincidence will occur after you've done a spell and you'll believe the spell has worked; other times there will be nothing special about the way your need comes to pass at all. Perhaps when you need money you suddenly win a lottery or collect an inheritance; perhaps when you need money you simply end up working a little bit of overtime and have what you need, or something happens so that you don't need the money anymore. You are forewarned, though: The universe, whatever you call it, has a sense of humor, and your experiences will sometimes be very funny.


If you have questions, comments, or complaints on this "spell tutor" thingamajig, e-mail me anytime. If you'd like to look at some spells and charms I've come up with, try Herbal Spells Page. If you'd like to see a site with some example spells by others (ONLY FOR EXAMPLE PURPOSES, don't copy!), go here.

Go back to Ivy's Pentacles