A Pagan Primer - 20

Spells

 

In this episode of A Pagan Primer, we’ll take a look at what spells are and give you enough material to try a simple spell on your own. This isn’t a strict recipe … it’s not meant to be exacting directions to cast a spell, but more of an idea or outline.

 

In many Pagan paths, especially Wicca, spells are the meat and potatoes. It’s with spells that we let our intentions be known and try to effect some change in our lives and in our world.

 

Crowley described magic in his book “Magick” as “The science and art of causing changes to occur in conformity with will”. This is a very short sentence but it encompasses a great many ideas. Let’s take a look at what it’s saying.

 

First, it describes magic as both a science and an art. When it speaks of magic as a science it indicates that there is more to magic than mere wishcraft. Magic is more than fortuitous coincidence; it’s testable and repeatable. If we’re able to perform it correctly, the results will be predictable.

 

When we describe magic as an art, we start to recognize that there are many ways to perform magic. To religious people, this results in the wonderful variety of religions that exist on our planet.

 

Every religion has its magic; from the spells that Pagans use to the prayers offered up by other religions, we all have some way to express our desires and hopes and worries to deity and the universe. This variety is the art of magic.

 

The last word of Crowley’s definition of magic is of supreme importance to Pagans. The will is the driving force behind magic. Many people misinterpret “will” as desire but these are two quite different things, at least when we are discussing magic.

 

I can desire a candy bar or a bicycle, and some people might say that it is my “will” to have these things,  That though, is a different use of the word than that we use in magick.  Will, in Paganism is closely analogous to “faith” in Christianity. Christians will often speak of faith as expressing their needs to God, and knowing that God will fulfill them … it is a desire that is in accord with the will of God.

 

In Paganism, we don’t ask deity to place an imprimatur on our will. Rather, when we’ve closely examined our desires, our life’s path, our needs, and determined what we need to continue that path, we know what it is that we will … our will becomes that which enables us to live our purpose. Where we have some control over our purpose, our will can change over time, but it is still something more than mere desire.

 

So, we’ve discovered our will, the things that facilitate our lives … how then, do we do “magic” to cause these things to come about?

 

Believe it or not, the process of discernment, the definition of our “will” is the first part of that magic. The first part is in determining what, exactly, is truly important to us because that is a process of focussing on what we need and desire and want and will.

 

The next part is the part that “looks” like magic. It’s a plan that enables us to focus our intent on achieving that will, and, more importantly, in expressing that will to deity and the universe.

 

For those of us who have children, we’ve often heard our children asking for something, but doing so with a thumb in their mouth, or mumbling. Usually when they are asking for something this way, it’s a want … something that if they are distracted a bit, that they might even forget about. When they truly want something, they are likely more clear.

 

As parents, when our children speak to us unclearly, we’ll tell them to speak more clearly, to take their fingers out of their mouth, not to speak with food in their mouth … we’re telling them to clear up the channel of communication.

 

That’s what a spell is … it’s an opening of a clear channel of communication between us and deity or the universe.

 

What do we do to clear up that communication?

 

The human mind is an incredible machine. It speaks in the language of symbols. We use symbols every day, and they have great meaning to us. Smells, shapes, colors, patterns, even letters on a page. We’ve all had the experience of seeing a pattern in the midst of visual noise. That’s one way that programmers have of determining whether a user is a computer or another computer. We see those characters in a box that a computer asks us to enter when registering for a service or email account or that sort of thing. Humans are exceptional in seeing the actual letters that are obfuscated behind visual noise.

 

In magic, or a spell, we use symbols to help us focus our intent and our will. We surround ourselves with colors, scents, words and symbols that will let us focus every part of our intent, will and thought on achieving a particular outcome.

 

So, when we’re talking about spells, we’re talking about the language of symbols. Let’s consider that our spell is for our financial will … we’re looking for a finances that will permit us to live a life allows us to fulfill our life’s purpose. What would the symbols be that we’re looking for?

 

Part of our finances involves our work, so symbols of that work might be a part of our spell. If we’re carpenters, that could be nails or tools or wood. If we’re writers, we could use symbols such as a pen or ink. We’re looking for a way to represent our labor, our seeds.

 

We can also represent that income with colors. Green is a common color for increase. It can represent the green leaves of plants; the fruit of the labor of the farmer. Today, at least in the United States, it’s also the color of money.

 

Words and rhythm are also useful tools They help keep us focussed.

Many people practicing magic use incense. Frankincense and Myrrh have, for ages represented prosperity.

 

So, let’s take a look at a simple spell that might be used to encourage prosperity. We’ll work with color, sound, smell, rhythm, rhyme and sound.

 

When I’m working on deep meditation, I like to have some music playing, or sounds of nature. There are lots of CD’s available which can help you get in a meditative mood. If I’m going to be using a verbal meditation, I prefer something instrumental … I don’t want other words to compete with my thoughts, but you can use what works for you. It just needs to be something that doesn’t overwhelm your thoughts, but allows you to travel freely with them.

 

As this spell will be for financial purposes, we’ll focus on the color green. A green candle, a pen with green ink, perhaps some leaves might be around … maybe you can have a green altar cloth, maybe you could set up your altar in a growing fertile garden.

 

The rhythm and rhyme are the parts of spells that have been romanticized. From the old “bubble, bubble, boil and trouble” to the pseudo-Latin spells in the Harry Potter books, these are the words that we use to focus our intent. We can use them to call upon the special qualities of a particular deity as well. We’ll use the Goddess Brighid in this example. Brighid is a goddess of healing of smiths (craftsmen) and light. We’ll be calling upon her to help us find employment in our particular field … say, as a carpenter. Let’s come up with a simple rhyme that might help us focus that intent. It might go something like

 

Brighid, goddess of light,

Brighid, Goddess of healing,

Brighid, Goddess of the skilled.

 

Be with me on this night,

Be with me in this working,

Be with me in this spell fulfilled.

 

My will is set this night,

I see my career proceeding,

My life’s purpose is to be fulfilled.

 

We have three sections … we can use the first section while we’re setting up our altar. The second section can be while we’re lighting our incense and our candle and beginning to focus our intent. The third section is for use while we’re actively meditating and visualizing our ultimate outcome. The number three is important in many magical systems, and the three groups of three is considered powerful and not uncommon.

 

So, let’s start … we’ve got our incense, perhaps a green candle (you can get candles that will burn for 30 minutes or so), maybe a green cloth on which to work our spell. You might have a small cauldron or bowl that’s fireproof as well. We might have a paper on which to write our intentions. We’ve got our music and a CD player. We’ve chosen a time when we won’t be interrupted (and that’s one reason why many spells are done at night).

Put on the music, and use the first part of the meditation as you set up your symbols. Know who Brighid is, and know that she’s with you. Spend some time with her.

 

Then light th candle and incense. Using the second part of the meditation, spend more time with Brighid; know that she is with you and listening. Take some time and write your intentions, your will on your paper. Focus on what it is that you intend to have happen. See it clearly. Watch the candle burn and know that your intention, your will is being offered up to the universe.

 

Moving into the third section of the meditation as the candle is burning down. If you’ve written your intention on paper, you can light it on the candle and see it being consumed and taken up by the universe. Watch it being consumed, and deposit it in the cauldron before your fingers are burned. Know that your will and your purpose are being brought to fruition by the universe.

 

When your paper has been consumed, the candle consumed, the incense consumed, you can take the ashes and remains and remand them as well to the universe. You can place them in the ground or in a stream, knowing that what you have done will not be ineffective.

 

Many people will think that this is the end of the spell. Actually, it’s the beginning. What you’ve done here is to start something rolling … you’ve put the key in the ignition and started the engine, but someone needs to drive the car.

 

From this point, you need to keep your eyes open for opportunity … you’ll possibly hear of jobs in your field, but you still need to fill out applications and show up for interviews. You need to let people know what you’re looking for.

 

The spell that you worked is like charging a battery … it provides energy for the system. The universe takes that energy and provides opportunities, but you still need to be ready to take those opportunities and complete the circuit.

 

Most Pagans find that after they’ve done ritual or spell-work, that it’s best if they perform some sort of grounding activity. Often this will be in the form of eating something, such as bread and ale … something which helps re-connect them to the physical world, and release whatever residual energy there might be. Some report physical disturbances if they don’t do this, as in feeling “not quite right”, so you might wish to take this precaution as well.

 

© 2008, Deirdre Hebert