Thursday, December 1, 2022

Why Didn't My Spell Work and How to Fix It

spell failure, spell didn't work, spellcrafting, spells, rituals, witchcraft, pagan, neopagan, wicca, wiccan, witchcraft, spell writing, magick, magic

We have made it to the end of the Spellcrafting series! It took me a bit of time to finish this series (2 years...I know), but hopefully, it's been helpful nonetheless. Sometimes we do everything 'right,' but the spell fails. The reason a spell fails often falls into one of two categories: internal and external. An internal cause is something we did before, during, or after the spell that resulted in it failing while an external cause is something that happens outside of our control. Internal causes can usually be avoided through good spell etiquette, while external causes will require a complete reworking of the magic to be successful. 

Before we jump into the internal and external causes of spell failure, let's discuss how to know whether or not your spell failed. Sometimes we think a spell failed, but it manifested in a way we did not expect. First, did you give enough time for the spell to manifest? Did you ask for the spell to manifest in a specific time frame? Some spells can take several weeks or even months to work depending on how much you are trying to manifest. Small amounts of money tend to manifest quickly, while a good-paying job may take a couple weeks to show up. Friendship tends to manifest quickly while meaningful romantic partnerships take much longer. Make sure you have given your spell enough time to manifest before you go around saying it failed because this can harm the spell's outcome if it's still working. Second, are you sure the spell didn't manifest in a way you didn't intend? If you were asking for love but weren't specific in the type of love, you might find yourself being showered with love by your friends and family. If you asked for money, you may have found a quarter on the ground at the grocery store. In this case, try the spell again with a more specific intention.

If you're positive you have given the spell enough time to work and it didn't manifest in an unintended way, then the spell likely failed for one of the reasons below. Let's dive into the internal and external causes of spell failure and how to fix them.

Internal Causes

Internal causes are usually the reason a spell fails. This is often due to poor planning, lack of belief, the use of wrong or conflicting spell ingredients, or even lack of effort. Spells require us to raise a considerable amount of energy without our emotions getting in the way. They also require us to put in mundane effort in order for them to manifest. Below are some of the most common internal causes of spell failure.

1. Your spell intention was too specific or too vague.

An unclear or vague intention is the number one reason a spell will fail. Your intention should be specific enough that the Universe knows what you want, but vague enough to allow the Universe to work in mysterious ways. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to ask for something specific and end with the phrase "or better." This allows you to be specific in your intention but open enough to accept what is best for you. However, your intention should be attainable. Asking to win the lottery is likely not going to work as you are asking for 'too much.' The odds are not in your favor with this one, even with consistent energy raising and work. Magic very rarely brings sudden, great change. Instead, it's more subtle, nudging you in a positive direction. To read more about setting a magical intention that will work, check out How to Set Intentions, Raise Energy, and Manifest Your Desires.

How to fix: Create a specific intention and add "or better" to the end.

2. You didn't put in any mundane effort to manifest the spell.

The second largest reason a spell will fail is a lack of mundane effort. Unfortunately, magic does not behave like it does in the movies or books where we wave a wand and our heart's desire appears. If you want a new job, you have to put in applications, go to interviews, and build your resume. If you want to find a life partner, you need to get out and meet people. By putting in the mundane effort, we continue to raise energy in support of the spell, increasing the chances it will manifest. When you do nothing, you tell the Universe you don't really want whatever you are asking for, so you're less likely to receive it.

How to fix: Meet the Universe halfway by putting in the mundane work to manifest your dreams.

3. You didn't actually want it or didn't believe the spell would work.

The energy you raise, or fail to raise, has consequences on the success of the spell. The Universe knows when you really want something and when you don't. If you don't really want whatever it is you are asking for, or don't believe the spell will work, you are projecting that energy into the spell, increasing the chances that it won't work by sending the Universe mixed messages. It's like saying yes while shaking your head no. It's best not to cast a spell at all if you have conflicting energies. 

How to fix: If you don't really want something, don't ask for it. If you have doubts, rewrite your doubts as positive mantras that can be used to fuel the energy of the spell. 

4. You didn't raise enough energy.

The energy you raise for a spell is the driving force behind it. Without energy, the spell will fizzle quickly and fail to manifest as you intended. Maybe you were tired, your heart wasn't in the work, or you had other things on your mind during the spell. Maybe you did attempt to raise energy but it wasn't enough for the spell you were casting. The amount of energy you raise should be proportionate to how much you are asking for. How do you know when you have raised enough? This is a difficult question to answer. I tend to rely on my intuition to let me know when enough energy has been raised. Sometimes you just feel it deep within you. If you are unsure in the moment, raise your energy for a little bit longer and then release it. You'd rather have more energy behind a spell than less anyway.

How to fix: Don't cast spells if you are tired, anxious, or overwhelmed. When in doubt, raise more energy than you think you need, or don't do it at all.

5. You used unsuitable substitutions or conflicting ingredients.

I am a huge advocate for writing your own correspondences and making substitutions as needed, but not all substitutions are the same. While clear quartz and rosemary, the two most often cited substitutions out there, work great in most spells, they don't work in every spell. Clear quartz is particularly gifted at amplifying your magic and intention, but if you are looking to go unnoticed, clear quartz isn't the crystal for you. Rosemary, on the other hand, is associated with remembrance and therefore won't do you much good in a spell to forget. Not only could your substitutions go against your intention, but they can also work against each other. For example, mixing rue and rose quartz will often cancel each other out as their energy conflicts. One is for banishing and cursing, while the other is for drawing love and friendship. It's possible to use both in a spell, but they would have to be at separate times. I wouldn't put them both in the same spell bottle or sachet, however. To read more about writing your own correspondences and finding suitable substitutions check out How to Write Your Own Correspondences to Enhance Your Spellcrafting.

How to fix: Always double-check and cross-reference the energy and correspondences of your ingredients before using them. If they conflict with each other or your intention, rework the ingredients to better match the magic you are creating. When in doubt, less is more. If you have made this mistake, you should redo your spell.

External Causes

External causes are things that happen outside of our direct control after we have released the spell into the Universe. These causes require you to completely rework the spell with an open mind and are much harder to fix than internal issues. Oftentimes, you won't be able to pinpoint one of these reasons as the cause of your spell's failure, but they are reasons nonetheless.

1. Someone else's intention got in the way.

You aren't the only witch out there casting spells and even the intentions of non-witches can get in the way of your magic. As witches, we know that we are capable of enacting great change so its only logical that others can do the same. This can occur in a multitude of ways. 

First, another witch could also be working a spell for the same 'prize.' That other witch may be in a position to tug hard and take the win, leaving you in the dust. Second, you could be going against another person's will or intentions. This is especially true of love spells. If you are trying to get someone to love you and they feel the exact opposite, your spell isn't likely going to work the way you intend. Finally, maybe you told someone about the spell and they intentionally or unintentionally sabotage your work. If you tell someone you worked some prosperity magic, they may express jealousy over your potential success, which can disrupt your spell. 

This type of spell failure is tricky to fix as it is dependent on the feelings, thoughts, and actions of others that you may or may not be aware of. Meditate, reach out to your guides, or do some divination work to try and figure out why the spell failed. Once you have a grasp on why the spell failed, you can begin troubleshooting potential solutions.

How to fix: Try the spell again. When in doubt, keep your spells a secret until after they manifest.

2. The Universe had other plans for you/it was not meant to be.

Sometimes we do everything right, but the Universe has other plans for us. This can be difficult, especially if we really, really, really want something. You may really want a specific job. Everything about its perfect; better pay, close to home, and good benefits. You cast a perfect spell to get the job and put in all the mundane work and you are still rejected. Don't despair. There is likely a job that is a better fit for you out there. Maybe the bosses weren't great or the company is about to go under. We don't know these things, but the Universe often does. We also have to recognize that we are here to learn lessons and sometimes those lessons hurt. 

How to fix: Trust the process and be open to what the Universe has in store for you and rework the spell to be more open to what the Universe has to bring you.


Troubleshooting your spells as best you can is the mark of a good witch. Witchcraft, as with life, is full of lessons and growth. You are constantly learning, adjusting, and changing as time goes on. Furthermore, a spell that worked once, might not work again, so repeating the same process over and over again isn't always an option. At the end of the day, it's important to reflect upon both the successes and failures of a spell. Keep a note in your Book of Shadows or Grimoire about the outcome of the spells you cast. If they failed, be sure to include your best guess as to why so that you can learn from your mistakes. Remember, even if a spell fails, it's not the end of the world. Witchcraft requires constant work and practice to master and you don't learn anything if you never fail.

So now that we have finished the series, what are you waiting for?! Get out there and cast some spells! 

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