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What is Witchcraft Series: Spells and Magick Ritual

Updated on January 10, 2015
Some of the items from my altar that I use in my magickal workings.
Some of the items from my altar that I use in my magickal workings. | Source

In my last hub, I attempted to define witchcraft, which, as we saw, is almost impossible. In this hub, I will define witchcraft by what it means to me in an effort to make the meaning of witchcraft and magick more personal. Sometimes it is easier to understand something we may fear by explaining it from a personal perspective.

My Book of Shadows
My Book of Shadows | Source

Why Did I Choose Witchcraft?

My own definition of witchcraft is this: Witchcraft is an earth-based spirituality, not a religion (although the neo-pagan movement has created a religious version of witchcraft, and this is different from Wicca).

Balance among all things is central to the craft, as is knowledge and wisdom. Witchcraft includes magick and spell casting, along with healing, midwifery, shamanism, herbalism, mediumship and so on.

As a person who practices witchcraft, I believe there is no white or black magick. Magick is inherently pure. The practitioner’s intent is what determines the type of magick. I am also not afraid to practice what most would call “dark” magick.

If I decide to cast a spell against someone for whatever reason, I know there will be consequences, and I accept them. However, I make every effort to resolve the situation without harming anyone. This is witchcraft. Because balance is of the utmost importance, the light and dark sides of magick are practiced.

We, as humans, naturally have a shadow self and this side of us should not be ignored, it should be embraced. If we ignore our dark or chaotic side, we are not whole. This is why I chose witchcraft. I believe in order to become whole and one with nature; we must embrace and understand our dark/chaos side as well as the light.

My favorite incense for spellwork, although unfortunately the company went out of business.
My favorite incense for spellwork, although unfortunately the company went out of business. | Source

What is Magick?

You might notice throughout most of my hubs on witchcraft, anytime I mention magick, I always spell it with a “k” on the end, instead of magic. This is to separate the illusion magic from spiritual magic.

Spiritual magic, or magick, is the use of natural energy and/or power to effect change in the universe. This can be for personal gain, or the benefit of another. It can also be used against someone. There are consequences to this use however, again, witchcraft believes in balance.

Any energy that is put forth into the world comes back to the witch three-fold. Some people, like myself, believe it’s ten-fold. Because I believe in reincarnation, I believe this is Karma’s way of keeping order in the universe. So, any magick performed, good or bad, has it’s consequences.

Magick is typically the product of spells or spell casting. Spell casting is similar to prayer; in fact, many pagans consider it actually prayer. Both consist of focused, intense thought on a specific intention.

Technically, they are right. Personally, I like to separate prayer and spells or magick simply because it helps to remove the Old Catholic mindset I’ve tried so hard to banish. Anyone who has converted from a Christian dogma to Paganism understands how hard it is to break the bonds of the old beliefs. It’s a lifelong process.

Source

Types of Magick

There are many different types of magick; however, all of these types fall into two broad categories: Ceremonial magick, or natural magick. There is also magick that can use both categories in combination.

Many eclectic witches use techniques from both ceremonial and natural magick when casting a spell. I have used both types of magick, but I have found that for me, personally, I prefer natural magick.

Ceremonial magick, also known as “High magick,” is very structured and uses many different rituals and ritualistic tools in it’s performance. This is the magick most commonly associated with the Golden Dawn, and its practitioners Aliester Crowley, and Dion Fortune among others.

Without going into extensive detail, which would be off topic and beyond the scope of this hub, the Golden Dawn was developed to protect the Western Esoteric Tradition, a system of Ceremonial or High magick based on the Qabalah. Much of what we know about magick comes from the Qabalistic texts written by medieval Jews. But, this is yet, another hub.

My athame (ritual knife) and pentacle altar tile.
My athame (ritual knife) and pentacle altar tile. | Source
My wand along with my pentacle altar tile.
My wand along with my pentacle altar tile. | Source

Natural Magick, also known as “low magick” or “kitchen witchery,” is essentially the opposite. To perform Natural magick, the only thing needed is one’s mind. Where Ceremonial magick uses tools, and specific rituals to manipulate the psychic energy needed to effect change, Natural magick uses only the mind.

Animism is central to natural magick, the belief that everything has a spirit. Rocks, mountains, rivers, trees, and so forth, all have an innate spirit and therefore can communicate at will. Everything is alive in animism. Therefore, everything can communicate. To a witch practicing natural magick, her tools are everything.

Both Ceremonial and Natural magick do have some things in common. The most important commonality is magickal intent. As I said earlier, magick is inherently pure. The practitioner’s intent is what may be perceived as “white” or “black” in nature, and in all types of magick there are consequences to the workings.

Magick can be used for just about any purpose. Healing, prosperity, love (although spells cannot be used to make someone fall in love with you without severe consequences), and creativity are just a few of the reasons to cast a spell, but spells can be cast for any reason.

After my break-up with my first husband, I cast a spell to banish the negativity surrounding me from the aftermath and to welcome new love into my life. Three months later, I met my soul mate, and I wasn’t even looking for a relationship!

Some of my favorite spell candles.
Some of my favorite spell candles. | Source
More of my favorite candles. Both sets of candles are reiki charged with intent.
More of my favorite candles. Both sets of candles are reiki charged with intent. | Source

Ritual Tools

Ceremonial and natural magick both use ritual tools, although in Natural magick, ritual tools are not a necessity. Both types of magick use specific tools such as:

  • Athame or ritual knife
  • Chalice
  • Wand
  • Pentacle
  • Book of Shadows

Other tools can include a cauldron, a boline or utility knife, incense, mortar and pestle, candles, and herbs.

Each tool has a corresponding element and direction:

  • Athame: corresponds to the element of Fire, and it’s direction is South.
  • Chalice: represents Water, it’s direction is West.
  • Wand: Air element and the direction East.
  • Pentacle: represents the Earth element and North.

These tools are usually placed in their respective positions on an altar, along with anything else the witch intends to use in the magickal working.

The Book of Shadows is the journal or diary in which all spells, magickal workings, meditations and dreams may be written. It is very private and should not be touched by anyone other than the witch herself or someone she deems worthy.

Altars should also be respected as well as any ritual tools on the altar. When used in magick, ritual tools become imbued with the witch’s own magickal energy and being touched by someone other than the owner can degrade that energy and may even imbue negative energy unintentionally.

Many witches work spells outside in nature skyclad (nude) or in ritual robes, or inside a specific room of their home they have cleansed for that purpose only. Sometimes a witch has to get creative and find other areas to work magick. If no tools or altars are used magick becomes quite portable. Witchcraft and magick is a very flexible spirituality.

A statue of Maat I keep on my altar
A statue of Maat I keep on my altar | Source

Casting a Spell

Casting a spell can involve an elaborate ritual including a circle casting for protection, a single candle on an altar imbued with a specific intent, or a simple visualization in the mind’s eye.

What really matters when casting a spell is stating your intention precisely and building energy to send that intention into the universe.

Magick is very personal. The practitioner can use whatever methods work for them. Personally, I use visualization most of the time, along with candles and incense. I have cast a circle, but I find it too elaborate for my taste. It’s all up to the individual.

Magick, either ceremonial or natural, should always be practiced responsibly and with the knowledge that there will be consequences to any spell casting.

Witchcraft is not just about magick and spells, however. The next hub in this series will discuss the other aspects of witchcraft such as herbalism and mediumship.

© Copyright 2012 - 2015 by Melissa Flagg (Daughter of Maat) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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    • ananceleste profile image

      Anan Celeste 5 years ago from California

      Very interesting and informative. Well written and quite informative. Most people outside of the path, don't know the difference between holywood witchcraft and an a well rounded practitioner. Great hub!!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
      Author

      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      This is so true! There is such a huge difference between the two, like "The Craft." A great movie, but real magick doesn't include levitation or lightning bolts shooting out of the sky!

    • profile image

      markbennis 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge on witchcraft it is intriguing to read, great hub.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I am not sure if I would put Dion Fortune in the same sentence with Aliester Crowley lol ...

      I dislike the word magic with a "k". It's like people calling football soccer. No, football came first and it is what it means: a game played with the foot. And so how can a second thing steal the name of the first? Not nice. Magic is magic. Stage illusionists are entertainers, performers and they will remain as such - magic is not for them. Magic is of the Ancients and it should be respected in my opinion.

      I encourage You to cast the circle of protection if You decide to use negative magic or dark magic as You call it, for it can come back. The reason it can come back a lot stronger is when the receiver is protected or perhaps expecting it. And You already mentioned karma ...

      I am curious why You said magic does not include levitation? Or even lightning? Weather control ... does that say anything?

      Thanks for the write. I enjoyed your perspective. Cheers!

      May Wakan Tanka walk with You. : )

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Another question from this curious wolf: did You attune to the Elements? Do You work with Elementals at all or Elements?

      All the best!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi, this was really interesting, from on pagan to another your photos looked just like my stuff too! nice to meet you, and I got here from Kitty's hub, she mentions you! lol!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
      Author

      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Oh thank you Nell!! I'll haved to go check her hubs, I just got back online tonight, with the storm we had everything shut off lol. Thank you for letting me know, and of course for reading and commenting!

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 4 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      I always learn new and interesting things from your Hubs. Another one voted-up.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
      Author

      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Wow, thank you Jlava. That's probably the nicest complement you could give me. The goal of most of my hubs is to at least teach one person something new, so thank you so very much! :D

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