These 25 tips for rituals and spells might be insultingly obvious to anyone who has practiced magic for more than five minutes but I know you’ll find something useful if you’re new to Witchcraft/Wicca or you’re at one of those many transition points, stepping into new levels of your magical practice.
As a blogger I’m supposed to want my post to come up first in a search on Google. For example as a snippet, which is a definition, list or video they lift out of your post. But I actually took this list OUT of a longer blog post so Google wouldn’t “snip” it.
Why? Because these tips might be so stupid-obvious that they make people laugh and point and post snarky comments. But, here’s a list that I learned the hard way so you don’t have to!
25 tips for conducting safe and effective rituals and spells that work.
1. You can’t do ritual “wrong” even when you foul it up, (and you will.) Goddess knows nobody’s perfect. (What a relief! Now we can stop trying so hard.) Just be clear on your intention. For example, with protection magic, focus on how you want to feel: safe, warm and… protected.
2. Don’t leave candles burning unattended. (Duh but have to say it.)*
*The best ritual tip I can give you is: get yourself some small spell candles, aka chime candles. They take just over an hour to burn down and ideally when doing spells or rituals you don’t want to extinguish the candles, but let them burn out on their own.
You can get little holders that these candles fit into perfectly. However, they get hot. So…if you’re doing banishing magic (for example) and you are going to be moving the candles farther apart from each other as the ritual progresses, just be careful when you touch them.
3. Some people say only light your candles with matches. (That goes along with the idea of only using elements from nature. I’m not such a purist about this. My cute little red lighter is okay.)
4. Gather your materials before you start. That sounds obvious but I am guilty of breaking the ritual circle in order to run for something I forgot.
5. If you’re going to want to recite a chant, spell or intention, write it out beforehand and bring it to the altar. It’s not cheating if you don’t memorize it and “ARGH I forgot what I wanted to say,” isn’t very magical.
Writing IS powerful and can be used IN many spells and not just as reminder notes. It laser-focuses your personal forces, lets you channel information from Spirit/spirits, and to allow you to hear your own inner wisdom. Writing is a technology of magic! Which leads me to this one:
6. Always have a journal, grimoire or notebook for insights that come up. (They will!)
Take notes, record every spell and every association. Write down your results and resonances. Days will go by and your ritual will be long past and you won’t remember the learnings. Record your magical practice as it develops so you know where you need to focus. Create your own list of ritual tips and lessons. Maybe one day you’ll pass them on too.
7. Don’t avoid writing in the grimoire. How long did it take me to write in my first, hand-tooled-leather grimoire? Over a year. I had to get up the nerve.
Don’t think you need to write in calligraphy or save your Book of Shadows for rituals that are perfected, tried and true. (Maybe you even do this with nice notebooks and journals. You have a stack of them and resist writing in them because you don’t want to ruin them. Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect not.)
8. Plan your ritual ahead. I waited two weeks for Shatavari last month and since I prefer instant gratification, it was frustrating to put off what I thought was urgent spell work. (Turns out, the urgency passed and the herb is sitting unopened in my broom closet.)
9. Use organic, know your sources. Watch that your products are ethically sourced.
10. Use the traditions of others with care and respect (or not at all). No culturally co-opted magic. Try to find practices, herbs, gems, and holidays that correspond to your own background, lineage, ethnic past and geography. Do the research. My personal connections are Celtic, Baltic, and the dirt.
What’s your background, culture, geography, and inclination? Focus there.
11. Don’t step out of the ritual circle once you cast it, even if the dog is peeing on the floor in the other room. What a lesson in letting go, right?! Using salt to cast your circle is a great reminder, a physical representation, which you don’t NEED but salt is protective and visual so it’s a good idea.
12. Respect your altar. Don’t pile stuff on it. Keep it dusted. Change it with the moon phases, the seasons, the needs of you, your family or the world. Keep it alive with flowers, fresh water and fresh intentions. If you pull cards you can keep your most recent, meaningful card on the altar for the day and see what you notice as you pass by.
Actually, you can make an altar anywhere and take it down when you’re done. So, you don’t have to make something permanent. But if you’re doing “pop up” altars, close them when finished and don’t let the elements you use become part of the debris on the kitchen counter.
(Of course you’re neater than me and that would never happen!)
13. Since your words are your most powerful magical tool be careful what you say when you are doing ordinary things like scrubbing the black mold off your teenager’s shower grout or feeling some “strong energy” when you get cut off driving on the expressway. You’re always creating your own climate, remember.
14. Memory devices are okay. Label the walls with the four directions so you know where to face and what elements, colors, crystals, and emotions correspond with what directions.
Add your own associations based on your training and practice, history and experience.
For example, where I live, New York City is west. It’s miles away but still that energy exudes power. The element of west is water so I associate with the amazing well of emotion and FEELINGS of the millions of people and varied history of that place. Figure out your own associations with the four directions and where you’re situated.
15. Don’t buy all the witchy tools unless you really need them. It’s fun to get the trappings but stay in the energy of the witch, not in the capitalism of the witch-trend.
(It’s nice Amazon (or Etsy) carry almost everything you need, but it’s also sort of sad to see Witchcraft/Wicca/Paganism turned into a marketing thing and a TV trope. Oh well. We’re gonna be here long after all the press dies down, right?)
16. This one relates to the last one: your mind and body are all you really need to conduct magic. Use your finger to point as a wand, use your imagination to see circles cast and cones of power rise. Use your words to focus your intentions even if you have nothing very magical to put on your altar.
17. Aside from yourself, the most magical and powerful tools are natural ones. Use a stick as a wand, go outside and make the earth your altar. Do some grounding and call up the ancient powers of the Mother to enchant your magical workings. Make things of your own, let the creativity focus your ritual.
Once someone assigned me the task of making paper for my very own handmade grimoire. It felt as though the teacher also meant it as a sort of initiation. I failed the test because after a short while of much frustration I called her and said, “Yeah, I’m not making paper.”
Aggravation solved! Knowing when to quit is definitely magical, not a failure at all.
Then, surprise! She gifted me with a lovely, hand-made grimoire out of some other witch’s homemade paper.
The List (cont.)
18. “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Glinda asks Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. What are you? A Witch or Wiccan? Or Pagan? Druid? Labels, all. It’s popular to be an earth witch or urban witch. Kitchen witch is the old stand-by. I see Christian witch, Pagan and Druid coming in strong.
Some of us invent names for ourselves like I did with Belly Witch, which ties together the Craft I practice and the beliefs I have about our bodies (our bellies, specifically) and the magic of intuition.
But, you don’t need to define what you do or who you are. Embody the magic and let the power that comes through make you luminous, nameless, beyond-needing a handle at all.
Look, I love it when people say, “you’re a powerful witch.” But spiritual and magical power doesn’t come from us, it comes through us. Yes, you will gain wisdom and experience and personal power. But be humble. You’re not the source, regardless of how well trained or experienced you are. After a while it comes easier because you become a more “ready and willing” channel.
(Maybe not always so willing…I guess it depends on the circumstances.)
Don’t claim to be the source of the Power you channel in your craft. Be the vessel.
Also: You don’t have to be a spiritual name-dropper or ever mention your training or lineage. “I’m a third degree this and that, plucked from my lowly manger by Hermes Trismegistus and fed only pure duck’s milk until my holy feathers came in so I could inherit my place as a child of the Archangel Valerian.” Oy vey, seriously. Why would any of that stuff come up in polite conversation?
Be proud, sure. But, I remember the Christian story of the birth of Jesus. Here are some pretty powerful, mythic characters yet the story is all about humility. In that story, Mother Mary gives birth to the Savior-to-Be in a barn. The tale goes that the baby is visited by Magi from the east who bear gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What did Mary do with all this glory, halo-augmented awesomeness? “She kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Go, and do likewise.
19. Use your power for good. “Do as thou wilt but harm none,” says part of the Witch’s Rede. Hexing, cursing, praying against others is a sign of insecurity, fear and a deep, abiding feeling of powerlessness, even wounding and trauma. Have mercy. First for yourself then on those you seek to cast spells against. Wish yourself well. Work magic to make it better for everyone.
A few years ago I commented to a witch-sister about how many people were looking for spells to hurt people, get revenge or punish others. She said, “Don’t worry. If they’re asking on Facebook, they’re not powerful enough to use the spell anyway.”
What a relief!
20. If you’re irregular in your practice or just getting started and don’t know where to begin, follow the moon phases. She will hook you up. Do simple rituals on nights of the full moon for a few months. (You can go a day before or after, it’s ok if it’s not right at the crack of moon.) I love Sarah Faith Gottesdiener for anything Moon. Find her at https://www.moon-studio.co.
Start to pay attention to how you feel during the lunation cycle. After a while you might shift your ritual to the new moon phase, or schedule spell work for somewhere in between.
Just start. When a devout follower asked his teacher, “Rabbi, there are 613 laws in the Torah. Where do I begin? ” The Rabbi answered, “Pick one.” (For a list of the 613 check out: www.jewfaq.org.)
21. Begin within. Grow your intuition. I scooped this blog post out of my long-form post about intuition where I asked whether you can be a powerful witch without developing your intuition. The answer is yes, but how magical will your practice be?
The well of the Cosmos is within you – in the cauldron that is your belly. (Lots of popular faith traditions say it like this: “The realm of God is within.”) Intuition is the vehicle of the Source. Everybody has access – that potential is a part of all of us.
So don’t just think of “women’s intuition” as something that fades as a mother’s child grows out of her crib or something only crones do from their creepy cottages out past the hedgerows.
The world brushes intuition off as superstition or witchy nonsense. But we’re witches so that should be a selling-feature!
22. How to dispose of herbs, flower petals, salt water, ashes or other elements you’ve used in your rituals matters. I like to make sure I respectfully offer them back to the earth if they are biodegradable, and I hope most of your elements are. If you used paper to write intentions, you can burn them in a fire pit or fire-safe cauldron or cast iron pot. Wait until you’ve seen some results before you burn them unless those pages contain something you want to release or banish, then burn them immediately.
You can also pour water, salt, or other biodegradeables at a crossroads. Think about whether that is logical for the spell you cast. If you were making a decision or intending to follow a new path, then it makes sense. Look both ways before you cross the street 🙂
23. Magic is a practice. Powerful witchery doesn’t happen overnight. Not all spells will work for you. Some rituals will be damn irritating and not soothing or help you focus. Forgive and move on.
24. Don’t work spells to influence somebody else. Love spells, for example, should work on YOU: to make you more attractive to your love interest or bring you clarity around what you want in a mate, how you will BE in a relationship. It’s YOUR energy that is your focus. Have boundaries around your magic so you don’t bend anyone to your will.
25. Dedicate your magical utensils for ritual and spell work only. For example, don’t reuse the salt on the dinner table because you don’t want to “waste it.”
I am sure I bumbled along is a hundred other ways but I hope this list helps if you’re just starting out or at one of those transition periods when you’re going deeper into your Craft. Remember, it’s YOUR unique practice. Prioritize or at least factor in your own associations, deeply held values and personal leanings. And of course, do as ye wilt, but harm none.
Sharing Love and Blessed be,
P.S. I’d love to release my new Wicca/Witchcraft book by Beltaine but that feels ambitious, so definitely by Litha! It had a weird vibe originally. Sort of like one of my bad marriages!
I let it stew for a long time. Now it’s energetically aligned with what we as women need to claim, do, and be in this crazy changing world. It’s about courage and raising your vibration. And stepping out in your own voice and power. It’s about being yourself and embracing your past, your mistakes and your regrets. (I know people say, “I have no regrets.” I don’t buy it. I also don’t agree with it. I’ve learned from my regrets and try never to make the same ones twice!!)
The book will help you connect with your own unique brand of magic and creativity. I hope it’ll move you toward autonomy and wisdom and maybe even bravery. The power of the feminine element (which is in all genders) is needed now. It’s the formerly-squashed, stepped over and burned energy of the belly, the cauldron, the spiral, the Goddess, the daughters of elemental water, fire, air and earth.
It’s our time. Are you ready for the next step?