Monday, April 19, 2021

What Is A Spell?

spellcrafting, spell writing, spell casting, spell, magick, magic, witchcraft, witch, hedgewitch, ritual, witchy, occult

Casting spells is an integral part of any witch's practice. Whether these spells come from an ancient text, a modern spellbook, or they are written yourself, it's important to understand the basics of how spells work, how they are written, and how to craft your own spells. The art of spellcrafting is the process of designing and using spells, whether it be from scratch or tweaking an existing spell. Time and time again it has been shown that the spells you write or modify tend to be more effective, but it should be noted that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using spells you find exactly as they are. I do so all the time. Sometimes it's just easier, especially when I am in a pinch. However, when in doubt try to go with at least a modification.

To fully understand the art of spellcrafting, one must first understand the basics of a spell. What is a spell? How do they work? Why would you use them? What are the major components? Does it have to involve a divine being? In this first post of the Spellcrafting series, I will cover these basics and more, before introducing you to the art of spellcrafting itself.

What Is A Spell?

A spell, in its most basic form, is the intent to enact change through the use of energy. This can manifest in a variety of ways, from chanting and dancing, to elaborate rituals requiring multiple people over several days. It's important to note that not all rituals contain spells; sometimes rituals are purely spiritual, used to celebrate a holiday or honor a deity. Sometimes the spells contain physical ingredients and other times they require nothing but the energy you raise. However, all spells contain the same basic components, no matter how elaborate they may be, which I will discuss below.

Despite the commonality of spells, they are not inherently religious and do not belong to one practice. Contrary to popular belief, most religions around the world use spells, including Christians; think the act of prayer. When praying, a person sets an intent, raises energy, and releases it into the Universe, often calling on a deity of some sort to aid in the manifestation of the prayer. Usually, it is expected that the deity will do most of the leg work for you, making it less active overall on your part. This sets prayer apart from other active forms of spell work, but it's a simple spell all the same which is often combined with other more active forms of spell casting. And while prayer is generally a religious act, spell work, in general, is typically secular, making it available to anyone, despite their religious beliefs. This is why it's possible to be a practicing witch and believe in the Christian God and Jesus. I know some witches may disagree, but whether you like it or not, there are a large number of Christian witches and magic workers; they just don't all use the term "witch."

How Do Spells Work?

So a spell is the raising of energy with intention to enact change, but how does that actually work? To answer this, we need to look into a little bit of science. Everything on Earth vibrates with energy, from the clothing you are wearing to your favorite crystal. Whether something is alive or not, it vibrates with energy. Depending on different factors, like the state of matter and temperature, the atoms within an object vibrate at different speeds and frequencies. For example, the chair I am sitting on is solid and rather cool outside of where I am touching. The atoms in my chair are vibrating slowly, so slow that they are barely moving. However, where I am sitting is slightly warmer than the surrounding areas and because it is slightly warmer, this has heated up the atoms, infusing them with energy and allowing them to vibrate slightly faster than the atoms in the cooler areas. This has resulted in the faux leather stretching, ever so slightly expanding due to the atoms vibrating just slightly faster. This explains how and why you can infuse an object with your own intention; it's simply a transference of energy. The water I am drinking vibrates faster than my solid chair, and the air I am breathing even faster than the water, properties of which we have associated with various correspondences. But here's the thing, the energy signature differs from object to object, even two solids, depending on the chemical composition. This is why different crystals feel different energetically. Clear quartz and rose quartz are almost identical chemically, but rose quartz contains trace ions of titanium, iron, or magnesium which gives it its pink hue and changes its energy signature.

The energy within an object, especially the energy within you, can be directed through spellwork. Each unique energy signature can be used in different ways, infusing the spell with different intentions while strengthening the energy of the overall spell. While you don't need anything but yourself to cast a spell, there is something to be said for using herbs, crystals, and other objects. As I said, they strengthen the energy of the spell while also changing the overall energy signature. Once the energy is raised, it can be directed with your intention and pushed out into the Universe. This is why spell casting is often so tiring; you are raising and using a ton of energy in the process. 

I know, I know. I still haven't explained exactly how they work. So let's look at some science again. The Laws of Thermodynamics and Newton's Laws of Motion can help explain exactly how spells work, even though we cannot scientifically test the efficacy of spells. First, energy is neither created nor destroyed, it simply changes form. This is the foundation of a spell. We are taking one form of energy and turning it into another depending on how we cast the spell. Second, a system naturally moves from order to disorder. This explains how once that energy is directed in an orderly fashion out into the Universe, it spreads chaotically until it finds something to act upon. Third, an object in motion will remain in motion unless something acts upon it. While technically a spell is energy, it eventually slows down and dissipates, but is not destroyed, due to external forces acting against it. This explains why spells for big changes require constant upkeep, sometimes being cast every day for an entire moon cycle. Finally, for every action, there is an equal, yet opposite reaction. Spells cost you something; always. Sometimes that cost is the energy expenditure from you. Sometimes it's your windshield breaking after casting a particularly powerful curse on your ex-husband. Yeah, that would be me. There is a payment for the energy you are raising and without this payment, the spell will not work. 

In its simplest of forms, spells work through the redirection of energy with intent, but like all things, must follow the rules of physics. This is why you can't light a candle by blowing on it, bring back the dead, or fly. When the energy is sent out, it interacts with other energies, tweaking and adjusting them to bring about your desire, acting as a ripple through the Universe. 

Why Would You Cast A Spell?

Really, for any reason you want. Spells are specifically designed to change things in your life, whether that change be a new job, more money, a fertile garden, healing, or the removal of an annoying coworker or ex-lover. I've used spells in a variety of ways throughout my time as a witch, some of which are documented here on this blog. I've cast spells to reaffirm my goals, banish depression, increase self-love, cleanse my house, increase my prosperity, say no more often, and connect with my ancestors. You can also cast spells to heal yourself and others and do general good works. Not all spells are cast for selfish reasons, but you should be mindful of consent when casting spells for someone else.

What Are The Major Component Of A Spell?

All spells have the same basic components, which I will dive into more detail later when we start talking about writing our own spells. These components include:
  • an intention or desire
  • spell composition and ingredients
  • a shift in consciousness and/or the preparation of sacred space
  • raising, directing, and releasing energy
  • creating channels and manifesting
Combined, you have everything to need to cast a successful spell. I've broken down these basic components into multiple articles so I can spend time going into each in-depth while providing exercises for you to complete to enhance your spellcrafting and spellcasting ability.

You may notice that the inclusion of a deity is left off this list of basic components. This is because it is not necessary to ask for the assistance of a deity in order for a spell to work. I do not personally call upon deities in my spells, although I sometimes include them in a spell for other witches to use. As mentioned in the beginning of the article, spells are secular and therefore can be done without any divine intervention.


Hopefully, this has cleared up any confusion you may have about what a spell is and how it works, and if you are a seasoned witch, I hope I have provided some insight into the workings of spells that you can add to your repertoire of knowledge. For skeptical and scientific-minded witches such as myself, even if we cannot scientifically measure the success of spells, there is research to suggest that we can potentially manipulate energy. We also know that spells act as a way to focus our own intentions and the belief in the spell, as well as the outside work we do once the spell, is cast has been proven effective. 

In the next article, I'll discuss the ethics associated with creating and casting spells. This will likely be a touchy subject, considering everyone has a different view of right and wrong, but setting your own ethical code for spellcrafting is incredibly important to the success of your spells and your mental wellbeing. 

If you liked this post and would like to support future content, please consider leaving a small tip in the jar. 


  1. Stellar post, Willow. I am often asked about this very topic and while I'm more than happy to give folks my own answers, I will also be directing them to your insightful, helpful post from now.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

  2. Thank you Willow for information that's very well presented and I love the way science is added to the mix as we have been waiting a long time for science and language to catch up with magical practice for thousands of years. You have described all this beautifully and hopefully these posts will stay so I can keep referring back to them regularly as not much stays in my head these days.

    1. Of course! I have no intention of removing my blog so they should be here for a long time yet!

  3. I found this article to be incredibly well written and exceedingly helpful to my practice. I found a few things in the science section to be a bit distracting. I am an engineer that has always had an affinity for the craft, and am hoping you find this constructive.

    My biggest issue is with, "Newton's Laws of Thermodynamics and Motion." Newton had nothing to do with the first or second laws of thermo dynamics. I love Newton, huge fan girl, but the first law of them was discovered over a century after Newton's death.

    I love how you tied spell work to Newton's Laws of motion. I love how you described the universe's propensity towards chaos, I love how you tied in thermo.

    1. I rephrased for clarification. My degree is in evolutionary biology and paleontology, not physics. Haha! I have a feeling I wrote part of the passage and came back later to add more to it and placed "of Thermodynamics and" in between "Netwon's Laws" and "of Motion." Wouldn't be the first time I did something like that. Thanks for catching it!


This witch loves to hear from her readers, so please share your thoughts below!