How to Write a Spell

by Aislynn

Where Do I Begin When Writing a Spell?

An Example

“I’m looking for a spell to _____.”  This is a statement you will have seen countless times on Pagan websites.  Begging for spells is one of the most common pet peeves I’ve encountered on web boards.  Why is it so common?  I’d imagine a large portion of it is laziness.  Another large contributor is probably the media.  The Halliwell sisters from Charmed had a big old Book of Shadows with every spell they ever needed, The Craft is similar with the books coming from the occult shop, Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed the simplicity of reading spells from an occult library aloud, and Sweep is another example of media witches uses only pre-written spells.  You’ll notice, however, that even the Halliwells started writing their own spells after a while; that’s often a lesson that didn’t sink in, I guess.

Some of it, hopefully, has to do with newer witches not knowing where to turn for good resources on spellwork and believing they need to use pre-written spells or thinking that pre-written spells will help ease them into the practice of witchcraft.  We cover writing a lot in our article on Writing Ritual, so please check there for more information on why it is important, how to know you’re ready to write your own rituals/spells, and information on how to begin and sustain the writing process.

There is more to consider when writing a spell, however, because it is so specific.  In our article on Writing Ritual, we covered a wider topic and, thus, kept our advice more general.  Writing spells, though still impressively wide, is also more specific.  One needs to consider what type of magic they will be working with (information is in the next section:  Styles of Magic), what symbolism they wish to work with, and various other factors.

We have some tables of correspondences for reference in these matters (and more will be coming in the future), but you can begin with your intent.  What symbols do you associate with it?  What colors?  What other aids (stones, herbs, oils, objects, etc.)?  Compile a list and see what you can work with to enhance the feel of your spell and increase its focus and, therefore, effectiveness.  Do you want your spell to rhyme (for more information, please see our preference articles on language and verse).  How will you raise energy (note that the manner in which you raise energy can further enhance your spell; for example, if you’re doing a spell to help you become more in tune with your own sexuality, an act of sex magic would be appropriate to raise energy and begin acting in accord right away)?  Are there any personal touches you wish to add?

Because so much hinges on personal preference and path as well as magical style for spellwork, it is difficult to really cover every single element of writing a spell.  Therefore, we have provided an example of how I went through the process of writing a spell recently:

A few weeks ago, I noticed my job search had hit a wall.  Due to my visual impairment, I was unable to get around to many places, and the places I was qualified to work and could get to easily weren’t hiring or I wouldn’t be able to work enough hours due to the limited public transportation hours in my area.  So, I decided to do a spell.  After much personal introspection, I found that my real issue wasn’t necessarily a lack of opportunity (though that was part of the problem), it was a fear of taking that step to find a full-time job.  I feared rejection, I feared growing up, and I feared failing most of all.  All of that combined was really hindering my taking advantage of the few prospects I had available to me.  So, I decided a spell was what was needed to help me get over those issues and to draw job openings to me so I’d be more aware of what I could do.  I considered the possible outcomes of this spell heavily, and then I decided to go ahead with it.

I put off writing this spell for a while, mainly because I didn’t have inspiration to write it and because I let those issues become even more of a hinderance to me, but I finally got inspiration to write it after a week or so.  I woke up and found that I had about ten good ideas for the ritual.  I needed a firm foundation with this job and a firm foundation to find this job, if you understand.  I need to be firm within myself and to find a place that I could build on in the future and feel stable enough to trust that I could take care of myself as a real adult.  So, I knew I’d be working with symbols related to that foundation in my work.  I also knew that, though this ritual was about finding employment, that it was really about money in the long run.  Yes, I’d grow in the process, but I could have found ways to grow without employment.  I needed enough money to feel secure unlike I was at the time, living government issued paycheck to government issued paycheck.  I felt like a loser, and money from that job would help me feel more successful.  

So, first I worked out which symbols I would use.  The colors were easy.  Green is a fairly obvious symbol for money in the United States because our money is green.  Gold is internationally recognizable for wealth.  Brown always meant stability to me because of its associations with earth.  It is something you can build on, upon which you can feel steady.  Some of my associations with the color brown are also a bit old-fashioned; I guess I see it as the result of a hard day’s work because of its associations with dirt.  So, it does symbolize work ethic to me as well.  It is also very grounding, which was something I needed at that time to ease my fear, guilt, and self-esteem issues.  With colors figured out, I moved onto what images I associated with success.  That was easy for me in this situation—dollar signs.  That’s what a lot of this was about.  

I moved onto researching astrological correspondences to figure out when and how to do this ritual.  I was writing as Mercury was in retrograde.  Because Mercury rules areas like communication and mental activity, I felt that these would be off when it was in retrograde.  Communication is essential in securing employment, so I knew it would be best to wait until it went direct again to perform my spell and begin acting in accord.  Luckily, that happened on a Monday when the moon also started waxing again.  This is lucky because, traditionally, magic to draw something to you is done when the moon is waxing.  Though I could have done a ritual to banish the issues plaguing me if the moon had been waning or dark, I preferred the idea of a waxing moon for this particular spell.  

Since my roommate is off work on Mondays, I knew he’d be home that day, limiting my ritual opportunities since we usually run errands on his day off.  So, I looked up Tuesday, which is ruled by Mars.  Mars rules areas related to action, courage, physical energy, money, etc. which all related well to my goal.  After determining my day, I had to choose a time.  I chose to also work at a time ruled by Mercury to further increase its effects on my spell (this left me with a few options:  1pm, 8pm, or 3am.  I chose 8pm because it was the most convenient for me that day.  Lastly, I looked up the time of year, and Virgo was also favorable for my work because it is associated with self-improvement, organization, service, problem-solving, dependability, practicality, judgement, employment, responsibility, etc.

I could have looked up far more correspondences but because I wanted to complete this spell fairly quickly and there were so many favorable associations at that time, I felt it wasn’t that important.  I’ve also never put a whole lot of stock in astrology and tend to only use major astrological correspondences in my workings (retrogrades, the moon’s mansions and phase, etc.)

Next was looking up herbal correspondences.  There were several that would help me, so I ended up using several of the ones I had on hand as you’ll see in the example.  Basil is associated with fidelity, luck, prosperity, and success; patchouli is associated with money, success, employment, and healing; benzoin is associated with prosperity, focus, success, and concentration; cinnamon is associated with success, money, and healing; cedar is associated with money; pine is associated with healing and money; sea salt is associated with the earth (which, in turn, is associated with prosperity and stability) and purification; blackberries are associated with money; ginger is associated with power, success, and money; oranges are associated with luck and money; bergamot is associated with money; and grapefruits are associated with business, happiness, and success.  I chose to use grapefruit and bergamot (diluted) essential oils in an anointing oil because I enjoy the scent and they work together well for this purpose.  I chose patchouli chips, cedar chips, and pine resin for the incense because they create a pleasant, earthy scent that helped focus my intent, and many of the other herbs wouldn’t have mixed well to create an incense.  The rest were used for loading the candle during the spell to lend their energies to the working that way.

Then I proceeded to look up examples to build upon the inspiration that had come to me.  I found my favorite in about a minute–Joelle’s Sacred Grove.  I used a large chunk of her pre-written spell with minor changes to fit my work with stability and foundation.  For example, she had repetitions of three in her work while I upped it to four to go with the foundation idea.  Four is a very solid number; tables and chairs have four legs to keep them sturdy, for example.  It’s even and balanced.  It also had elemental ties, which I liked for this spell since it then called upon the elements to further get them involved in the actual energy of the spell.  

As I said, I made further changes including charging all the aids I used in my spell (she only charged the oil, herbs, and stone before putting them to use).  I added a charging to the candle because I didn’t see why it wouldn’t be dedicated to its purpose when all the other aids were.  I felt the dedication came first then the raising and channeling of energy into the final product created by the combination of the herbs, oil, stone, symbols, pennies, hair, dollar, band, and candle.  I also chose a lodestone where no specific stone was mentioned in her example because lodestones are magnetic and draw things to you because of that.  They also, specifically, drawn money and success when using a green lodestone.  

I chose to add my own essence to the candle to tie it to me more closely than just by adding my own energy into the mix by channeling the raised energy into it.  The first idea I had was to tie my hair around the candle, but I imagined it might get set ablaze accidentally and the horrors that might cause.  Then, I decided tucking my hair under the candle might be the safest bet.  In addition, I almost always anoint the candle with my saliva/blood/other bodily fluid to connect it to me, breathe on it, feel it, etc. to align it with my own elemental energies; this seemed particularly fitting because of the heavy use of the elements in this particular spell.  I, then, decided a dollar might further help seal it to its goal as well in addition to a diamond (another use of the number four in my ritual) of pennies to further contribute their power (copper, which is still a large part of the makeup of pennies and it is associated with focusing energy, communication, and wealth).  

I had also decided that candle magic was, indeed, the best style to use because candle magic is faster because your anchor dissolves faster, I’m well-versed in performing it, and I viewed the candle as being elementally balanced (wick and wax=earth, smoke=air, melted wax=water, and flame=fire).  Since I was seeking a new balance in my life, I felt that was important.

Next, I had to determine how I would raise energy to put the spell into motion.  Though I’d charged and dedicated each component with my own energy to tie them to me and their goal as well as to enhance their own inherent associations with my working, I obviously had to raise further energy to be put to use in my working.  Generally, I raise energy through music (singing or playing an instrument), dancing, or chanting.  I liked the idea of using a chant for this spell, particularly since the woman who lives downstairs would be home and might be disturbed by music or dancing.  Plus, I had the opportunity to write a chant that went with my intent.  So, that’s what I did after looking up a few chants online for inspiration.

Because this is an article on spellwork, I won’t go into how I cast the circle differently, called the quarters differently, my Deity invocations, etc. so we can focus more on the actual spell work, though it should be noted that all those contributed greatly to the feel of the spell.

That left only the “small” decisions like which direction to anoint the candle with the ginger oil.  I knew that the direction in which one anoints a candle affects how their energy flows in their working.  For example, if someone is wishing to bring something from the universe into themselves, they might anoint the candle with a downward motion.  If they were trying to send energy into the universe, they might anoint the candle upwards.  If they were hoping to release their energy a little later on, they might anoint the candle toward the middle.  Others might always anoint the candle outwards from the center, and still others might not care which way they anoint a candle.  Personally, I’m one of the people that will care how I anoint a candle in certain situations.  Because I was hoping to draw something to me, I anointed the candle from the top down after carving four dollar signs because I can easily connect those symbols with money in my mind.  Though I could have used other symbols (like runes, Ogham, Theban script, etc.) my knowledge of those things isn’t cemented enough in my mind to easily recognize their meaning at first glance.  Symbolism in spells is only useful when you can make the associations. I placed the dollar signs in a diamond shape to illustrate the foundation and the flow of energy in this spell.

Now, let’s take a look at the finished product:

(While grinding and mixing the basil, patchouli, sea salt, benzoin, and cinnamon) I charge these herbs with the powers of prosperity, growth, luck, and success.  As they have risen from the earth, so let abundance rise in my life.  (Repeat 4 times to utilize the stable powers of the number four so that the job you seek will provide a foundation upon which to build prosperity.)

(While holding the lodestone)  I charge this stone with the powers of prosperity, growth, luck, and success.  As this stone is firm and strong, let these things be steadfast in my life.  (4x)

(While holding the ginger oil)  I charge this oil with the powers of prosperity, growth, luck, and success.  As the oil is clear and fluid, so let these things flow into my life. (4x)

(While holding the green and/or brown candle)  I charge this candle with the powers of prosperity, growth, luck, and success.  As the candle is balanced by earth, air, fire, and water, let these things so balance my life. (4x)

(Draw four dollar signs on the candle in a diamond.  Feel the candle with your hands, anoint it with blood/saliva, breathe on it, anoint it with the oil, roll it in the herbs, and tie your hair around the dollar bill and put them under the candle to tie it to you and its goal.  Place it in the center of a diamond made of pennies on the altar in close proximity to the lodestone.  You may wish to add a braided band of gold, silver, copper, and green/brown around the candle as well.)

(Turning to the East and channeling energy from that quarter into the candle on the altar with the athame) Powers of Earth, I ask that you aid me in this spell.  Lend me your gifts of abundance and stability to manifest prosperity and success in my life.

(Turning to the South and repeating) Powers of Fire, I ask that you aid me in this spell.  Lend me your gifts of action and courage to manifest prosperity and success in my life.

(Turning to the West and repeating) Powers of Water, I ask that you aid me in this spell.  Lend me your gifts of intuition and influence to manifest prosperity and success in my life.

(Turning to the North and repeating) Powers of Air, I ask that you aid me in this spell.  Lend me your gifts of imagination and communication to manifest prosperity and success in my life.

(Project specific ideas of prosperity, luck, and success into the candle.  See yourself paying bills, moving, acing an interview, being offered a job, working at said job, etc.)

(This is the call I used, but it will change depending on the astrological timing of your own ritual.)  Mercury, I call to you.  Aid me with your direct influence.  Bring to this endeavor your powers of communication and wisdom.  Mars, I call to you on this Tuesday to bring to this endeavor your powers of success and courage.  I call to the moon to bring your power of growth.  As you grow in the sky, so too allow these things to grow in my life.  I call too to the powers of Virgo.  Bring to this endeavor your powers of self-improvement and problem-solving.

(Chanting)  Opportunity,
Work, rewards I see.
Wealth, wealth, come to me.
I desire prosperity.  (Repeat until sufficient power has been raised to be channeled into the candle.) 

As I will, so mote it be.

As this flame is lit, let my light go out into the universe.  Let my will be done.  (Light the candle and allow it to burn completely or snuff it after a few moments and relight it every time you apply for a job.)

Then what?  Over the next three days, I sent out at least nine applications to various jobs I thought I could easily get to (even if it meant relying on a few friends to get me home if I had to work after the buses stopped running).  The third day, I was asked to do several interviews the following week.  About a month later, I was extended a job offer.

This was a complex spell because of the various components (my insecurities; allowing for the opportunity for a job; the various forms of symbolism I used like the stones, herbs, numbers, colors, etc.) that could have gotten out of hand if I did too much, but I limited it to what I knew I really needed to work on.  It might not really seem like that to an outsider, and I recognize that.  However, I didn’t focus on completing my driver’s training to obtain a license to make it easier to get to a job or finding a different way to obtain money like winning the lottery or something.  I focused on finding a job alone and many of the emotional issues that went along with that for me.  I also worked on realizing why I needed a job by determining that while I’d like “free” money, I know nothing comes free, and I needed to work to get what I wanted.  I also didn’t fall for the idea that I needed to do absolutely everything.  This is a common issue for newer practitioners (and some older ones too); they think that they must use every single magical aid available to them to strengthen their work.  While I did use many aids (herbs, oils, a stone, and a candle), it didn’t get out of hand and was still focused.

The best example of how this can get out of hand is one I found on Youtube a year or so ago.  A girl posted a video of a love spell she had done where she first took a bath with an assortment of oils and flower petals without focusing on what they were really bringing to her spell.  Then, she moved to her altar where she worked with various herbs, making a powder.  After that, she pulled out a red candle and lit it.  Then, she put a few stones around the candle.  She then wrote on a piece of paper what she wanted and burned it in her cauldron.  She picked up a crystal necklace and said a bit about how it would help her see her own beauty whenever she wore it.  Then, she pulled out a braided ribbon and tied a few knots in it.  Finally, she started sewing a poppet.  By this point, I was flabbergasted!  She’d just done poppet, candle, talisman, glamour, paper, and cord magic for one spell!  Not only that, none of it had been connected in the slightest!  She didn’t add to her intent as she went (perhaps using the bath to focus herself and consecrate her body, use the candle she’d put energy into to charge a talisman or burn her paper, etc.), they were all separate workings for the same goal.  Oh, and did I mention she never raised any bit of energy?  What was the point other than to waste a lot of money, time, and effort?  So, I always keep this in mind when writing and teaching spellwork.  If you use several elements, make sure they fit together and complement the working.  Don’t just use them to be cool, and, obviously, don’t forget the basics of spell structure.


Next:  Styles of Magic