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What is Witchcraft Series: Spells and Magick Ritual
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
- 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.
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.
Books on Witchcraft
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