One of the most beautiful things about witchcraft is how versatile it is. A witch is many things to many people and the definition of one is often difficult to settle upon. For me, I like to associate the term witch with how one uses and approaches energy, whether that is spiritual, mental, emotional, psychic, or physical energy. I once saw a program on television where someone made themself a mermaid suit and swam around in the pool throughout the day as if it was as common as having breakfast. They said, "it's a lifestyle." Being a witch is also very much—a lifestyle, one that looks different to everyone and functions differently within each person's life.
Spells, rituals and other magical practices can be, essentially, whatever you want them to be. A spell can be complicated and involve several tools or have many steps and be cast at specific times of the year, day or season; or it can be simple and involve only words, or even simpler still—just an intention. However you decide to create and build a spell of your own, be sure to remember that no matter what you do, never let someone tell you that you are doing it wrong. I have seen so many mystic practitioners that insist on things being done a certain way because it's "traditional" or "supposed" to be done that way. But there is more than one way to make chocolate chip cookies. Of course, there are some guidelines to follow, but nothing is set in stone, no matter what the recipe is for. Witchcraft is very similar to cooking, which is just another form of alchemy.
Some believe that there is an element of respect that revolve around certain practices, methods, tools, or ingredients, however, I am of the opinion that one should always be respectful and honor the origin, culture, and purpose of something. This is how we live and learn, we learn and borrow. It's when it's not done in a respectful way that it becomes a problem. This of course brings up the element of cultural appropriation, a term that seems to be trending more and more these days with the strong presence of social media perpetuating it. Cultural appropriation is when a person or group from one culture or background is accused of stealing, taking, borrowing, or adapting styles, trends, practices, habits, lifestyles, or anything else that is relevant to another culture, most often a minority, underrepresented, marginalized or oppressed culture, and claiming it as their own. A common example of this is yoga or using sage. Sometimes it can be difficult to define whether or not something is appropriated or not, and other times it's a little more obvious, and almost always there will be various perspectives on it. There are yoga practices that are designed "for men" that have eviscerated the spiritual and meditative element so that only the physical component is left. Is that what yoga is? Is that disrespectful to its people and cultural origins? Smudging with sage is another form that gets a lot of backlash, and rightfully so, as it is traditionally an indigenous practice used in a specific way for specific purposes; it's not meant to be an air freshener or a prop, especially when the culture of its origins had their lives, land, and resources savagely stolen and claimed by someone else as their own. However, there is a difference between sharing and interchanging cultural elements respectfully, and claiming something without respect or regard for the people of the culture it originated with.
Appropriation is often paired with either ignorance, apathy or privilege, or all three. Cultural appropriation doesn't quite work the same way when the situation is reversed. Marginalized groups are often forced to assimilate to the societal norms around them because it is necessary in order for them to exist, live and be. When minority cultures are mocked, criticized or demonized for doing, wearing or practicing the very same thing that a member of a majority culture borrowed from them, that is an example of harmful and ignorant cultural appropriation. There needs to be a level of understanding, rather than an assertion that someone must see your perspective of it being "okay" because it's your perspective.
I personally believe that the best way to move forward, in magic and in life, is to build on the beauty of cultural exchange, not ignorantly profess that something is now yours simply because you want it to be. Throughout my journey, I have found the best way to avoid appropriation is to approach practices, tools, techniques that are unique to a specific culture from an educated perspective and utilize them in a way that is more ubiquitous in nature. This way, it is easier to develop an understanding of the element and its cultural origin, which in turn allows one to respect, appreciate and use the element.
With all that in mind, let's shift towards crafting spells. As I said earlier, there are a lot of things one can take into consideration when doing magic. Not all of them are necessary, but they will work in your favor in the final result. Instead of rattling off a list of instructions on what you should do and how to do it, I will tell you how I personally go about crafting spells.
I always begin by having a clear idea of what I want to achieve. Having a clear goal in mind focuses your intention and strengthens the magic behind it. I've found that if I'm not fully certain of what the end result is or what it should look like, it tends to not be as specific when it manifests.
I consider when I should do the spell and if I want to include the power of magical timing in my work. I usually function within two, moon phases and seasons. I have a pretty strong connection with the moon and with seasons, so for me, those hold the strongest amount of power. If it is something a little more casual, or something that I cast or chant on a regular basis, like a manifestation mantra for example, I will usually disregard the aspect of magical timing seeing as it is something that I connect with on a regular basis. Having said that, I still may choose to do a stronger ritual on a specific moon to amplify my efforts.
Next, I start thinking about supplies and whether or not I need some, if any at all. I make a list of all the things that I want to include and do the necessary research before I begin. If I want to do a spell about something specific and I don't know about what correlates with it as far as ingredients, I will reference books and sources I trust about what is commonly associated with the intention I have. Keep in mind that you don't need to know everything about everything. I feel that a lot of people. including myself when I was first starting out, feel that people need to know everything there is about magic, witchcraft, spellwork, rootwork, etc. You don't. It's completely okay to admit that you don't know something. There are lots of things I don't know or arent comfortable with. For example, my knowledge of astrology is very, very limited. I don't know much about houses, or nodes or how they affect a chart. It's just something that didn't really stick for me. So, if there is something I want to include from astrology for whatever reason, I research what I need to know, or I ask someone who I trust that knows more than me so that I can apply it in the best possible way, or decide that I don't need it at all. Keep in mind that you don't need to follow every single guideline either. They are just that, guidelines. If something doesn't resonate with you or you don't want to use it for some reason, don't, use something else. It will be more effective if you are connected to the ingredient or tool than if you don't trust or believe in its power. I get into a meditative state, the alpha state, the level of consciousness that is best suited for magical working. Once I am in that state, I begin charging all of my tools or ingredients with the intention that I am focused on.
Color holds a lot of power, so when choosing ingredients or candles, I always try to consider if the color will be helpful to me as an extra layer of power.
I always try to make sure that I am in the correct mindset for magic. I don't perform anything when I am anxious, or in some other kind of state that isn't conducive to successful magic. If I am in a healthy state, I am able to focus, think, believe and project my intention and manifest my goal into the present reality.
I personally don't work with deities, but I know many witches who do. Don't feel that you have to have one to work with, you don't. If you are interested in working with that kind of power, by all means do so, but make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons and not for something that isn't just "because." Do the research, vibe it out, see if it's right for you. For me personally, in my meditations, I always connect to my angels, ancestors and guides, and that is where I turn to for guidance. I thank them at the beginning of every spell, ritual and mediation and I thank them at the end.
Spells can be anything. It can be lighting a candle, reciting a mantra or making a powder that you sprinkle around the house. I often use rhyming in my spells and rituals. It helps me remember what I want to express and also it's a creative way to fuse energy into your spell. Again, don't feel like you have to do this, do it if it feels right for you. I usually write my own, but on occasion, I will look up spells or use one that was given to me. Sometimes I leave them, and sometimes I will tweak them. I almost always try them first as they are presented and see if it works for me. I do this with recipes too. If there is something that I want to try, i usually try the recipe as it is written and then decide if it needs some adjustment.
I always make sure that I put in the effort after the spell is cast. There is a lot of wishful thinking when it comes to spellwork and many people think magic is just supposed to work like some kind of magic bullet. But you still need to do the work in order for your manifestation to come to fruition. Think of it like this...you have read three books on the basics of watercolor painting, you've watched seventeen videos on youtube about techniques, and you even made a list of things that you wanted to try out and tips and tricks to remember while you paint...but you never pick up the paintbrush. You're not going to be able to produce anything just because you have a bunch of notes and watched a bunch of videos, you still need to apply it, practice it, live it. It requires action. There is no result without action and movement. The vibrations of magic and manifestation happens on all levels, not just a mental or spiritual level. There is a physical element as well. Another example, let's say that you want to write a book; you've always wanted to write a book, you read everything you can to help you study on writing the next great novel, but you never actually take the steps towards writing the book. All the magic in the world won't make that happen. All events that lead up to it help that come to fruition. Nothing happens overnight. You're never going to meet that dream partner that you spend night after night visualizing in your meditations if all you do is try to avoid people and spend all your time alone. Magic and manifestation doesn't work without you.
I always try to cleanse myself and my space before I begin. This can be done through any number of means, smoke, incense, bells, music, visualization, water or baths. Whatever method works for you. It helps you prepare mentally for the task ahead and it also signals your brain that it is time to perform magic.
The more you practice the more comfortable you will be with what kind of magic and spellwork you want to work with and how to craft your own spells. It's like any muscle in the body, the more you use it and work it out, the stronger it will be. Overall, just make sure that you are doing what feels best for you, after all...it's your magic.