Magic spells and witches’ brews have been part of humanity since the dawn of time. There’s a reason women throughout the ages continue to cast spells, brew potions, and practice their craft even in the face of horrendous persecution: it works.
But how do spells work? Is there real power in words and incantation? Or is something else going on?
The truth is a fascinating mix of science and faith!
How Do Spells Work?
Different spells work differently. Some are based primarily on faith, while others are firmly grounded in science. Although the science may not always be modern, it was often the best understanding nomadic peoples had of how the world worked or tried and true methods passed down from generation to generation.
So although the word “science” may be generous, many spells work through knowledge of the natural world.
Potions and Brews
The most glaring example of magic spells that work through natural science is brews and potions. Throughout history, healers developed concoctions using natural herbs and ingredients to cure ailments and help the sick. In the Middle Ages, these healing women were often persecuted as witches.
Perhaps they were, in our modern view of the craft. Modern witches embrace natural healing, using herbs and home remedies as a first resort to cure headaches, coughs, and even chronic illnesses. They concoct healing potions, calming teas, and soothing ointments. Many medieval witches were persecuted for doing the same thing. They weren’t evil sorceresses sacrificing children to demons. They were ordinary women using the power of nature to help those around them. Their work often led to the development of modern medicine.
Potions and brews are the easiest way to showcase how spells work. Though incantations and secret ingredients may be components, most potions work through their natural ingredients. Ginger really does soothe a sore throat. Turmeric can really help with inflammation.
It’s not witchcraft; it’s science.
Many spells feature a verse, saying, or repeated words. In the witch’s realm, these words are called “incantation.”
Incantation is closely related to activities from other religions, such as prayer and chanting. Prayer works because we believe it will work. When we speak to a deity, we believe they are listening and will guide us toward the answer we seek. We believe those watching over us help us in our time of need.
Incantation is similar, but rather than focusing on a deity to guide us, it focuses on the power inherent within ourselves. When witches cast magic spells using an incantation, they channel the energy of their minds to focus on their goals.
Whether spells and prayer actually work is up for debate in the scientific realm. Dr. Ketan Parmar, MD, psychiatrist and mental health expert at ClinicSpots, explains that there is no clear scientific consensus on the effectiveness of spells or prayer, but offers intriguing theories suggesting they may work.
Dr. Parmer says that some scientists believe spells could work by changing our brain function and improving our focus. Other researchers believe that confirmation bias plays a role in how we perceive the results of spells and prayer.
The scientific community needs to perform more research to determine whether spells can genuinely influence our lives, but Dr. Palmer believes there is no harm in trying these things if they make a difference for you.
Words Have Power
Witches understand the power of words. Affirmations and intentions are common with new-age witches because they know how powerful the human brain is and how susceptible it is to suggestion.
Telling yourself you have worth can help you build confidence. The opposite is also true. If you constantly tell yourself you can’t do something, you’re likely to fail. Words have the power to inspire, motivate, and support but also to tear down, destroy, and suck someone into a cycle of despair.
The power of words is why it’s critical to surround yourself with supportive people. A friend group that supports and encourages you will help you succeed, whereas a toxic group will tear you down and prevent you from accomplishing your dreams.
Witches embrace chanting to focus their words into a powerful message, helping them achieve the outcome of the spell they are casting.
The Law of Attraction
Incantation also works through The Law of Attraction, a natural law often associated with new-age magic and witchcraft. Though there are seven parts, the basic idea is that if you ask the universe for something, you will get it.
It’s not quite as easy as that – no one gets everything they want simply by asking for it. The law stresses that you need to want this thing deep in your soul and that everything you do in life must align with getting the object of your desire.
The law of attraction works because it focuses our minds on obtaining that one goal. We ask the universe for it, but at the same time, we put all our thoughts and energy into it. Asking puts our goals into words, but we must take action to achieve them.
Incantation is related to the Law of Attraction. When witches recite their verses, they put their goals into the universe. At the same time, they are focusing their minds on accomplishing the task at hand.
A Mixture of Faith
Witches have faith that the higher powers watching over us know best. If a spell fails, they consider it a sign from above that it wasn’t meant to be.
Witches also know that successful spells may not always turn out as intended. A witch may see evidence of successful magic in the beauty of a sunrise, the fresh growth of a flower, or a coincidental encounter.
This faith highlights the truth about witchcraft: it’s not a science but a spiritual practice similar to a religion. Some witches even consider themselves Wiccan, a federally recognized religion, while others embrace spirituality outside the confines of organized religion. However they practice their craft, all witches understand that there’s an element of faith behind every magic spell they cast.
Magic Spells in Pop Culture
Pop culture abounds with ridiculous portrayals of magic spells and witchcraft. The familiar trope of the obsessive, nerdy teenager casting a love spell on a popular target with ensuing chaos is as entertaining as it is ridiculous.
The other trope featuring a small coven seeking revenge against their bullies by cursing them with ever-escalating horrors culminating in an epic battle between the “good” witch and the “evil” one makes for riveting television, but it is far from the realities of modern witchcraft.
Witches in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Mythical mages, wizards, and spell casters abound in fantasy games, literature, and movies. The earliest fictional witches, found in poetry and plays from Ancient Greece, tend to revolve around evil sorceresses using their enchanting wiles to lead men to their doom.
Although many of the witches in stories surviving from the Middle Ages follow the same pattern, such as the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, some Medieval legends included wizards as powerful allies. For example, Merlin helped King Arthur defeat his foes and ascend to his throne.
Modern science fiction and fantasy portrayals of witches include both good and evil. Witches can be formidable adversaries controlling the elements or mighty allies striking back against hordes of evil. The dichotomy produces masterful battle scenes and heart-pounding action perfect for the big screen.
Magic Spells in Real Life
In real life, spells don’t work the way they do in pop culture. No witches are concocting love spells, secretly poisoning their unrequited love, and learning valuable lessons about consent. Witches can’t control lightning, throw fire, or hex unsuspecting men.
Most real witches don’t seek to harm with their magic but to heal, help, and support.
Dark Magic vs. White Magic
Although most witches aren’t practitioners, dark magic does exist. Creating a harmful potion or setting your mind to harming someone you feel deserves it is possible. Anything that can cause someone harm is considered dark magic.
Most witches avoid dark magic. A common rule in witchcraft, the rule of three, states that whatever energies a person puts out into the world will be returned to them threefold. Witches know that if they attempt to hex, the negative energy surrounding those hexes will return to them three times over.
Dark magic is never worth the cost.
Witches typically use white magic, which invokes positive energies, thoughts, and feelings.
How To Cast a Spell
The best way to discover how spells work is to cast a spell for yourself. However, if you don’t believe in magic spells or witchcraft, your spell will be doomed to fail from the start. Believing in the power of your actions and words is a crucial ingredient to spell casting.
If you are ready to try and have faith in magic, here’s what you need to cast your first spell.
It’s essential to designate a specific space for your practice. Many witches create a ritual circle, a sacred space within their homes used to create spells. Creating and using this sacred space will help you get into the correct mindset for casting your spell.
Many witches use a variety of tools to help with their craft. Candles, crystals, amulets, herbs, stones, and a ceremonial dagger are all items that might help with your spell. These items are generally placed upon an altar and used to channel energies for the magic. The altar can be at the center of your ritual circle or placed near the edge allowing you to take the center space.
The most important tool every witch needs is their book of shadows. A book of shadows is a spell book that includes ingredients, incantations, and notes for properly casting each spell. Although you can start with charms created by other witches, the best and most powerful spells are the ones you make yourself.
Each spell has a specific set of ingredients, which will differ widely depending on the type of magic you are practicing and the spell’s intent. Candle magic requires specific types and colored candles, while potions focus more on herbs.
Many spell ingredients are specific to your stated desire. For example, if you’re casting a prosperity spell, you will use elements related to wealth, riches, and prosperity. Every ingredient used should relate to prosperity in one way or another.
Your candles and threads should be green, the color of money. Choose crystals long considered to have wealth-obtaining attributes, like pyrite or jade. Job’s tears and four-leaf clovers have been associated with wealth and luck for ages.
When starting, you may not know which herbs, stones, or oils you need. A store dedicated to the craft, like the fantastic Eye of the Cat in Long Beach, Ca, can help beginners get just the right ingredients. They also offer spell kits for those who aren’t sure how to put their own spell together. The store is rebuilding after a devastating fire two years ago. It currently only offers online ordering via email, but as a leader in the industry, they often provide books, ideas, and ingredients that are hard to come by.
The final requirement for casting a spell is your incantation. An incantation is a verse you recite related to your desired outcome. In your money spell above, your incantation may include words about prosperity, abundance, wealth, or riches.
It’s important to truly believe the words as you recite them. Play with them on your tongue, feel them in your soul, and offer them to the universe as a valid declaration of what you deserve.
You may want to borrow a chant from a spell kit or another witch’s book of shadows for your first spell. However, changing the words around is okay to make the magic work for you.
Add the new spell to your own grimoire!
Casting Your Spell
The final step is casting your spell. Follow the steps in your book of shadows for lighting the candle and putting the ingredients together. Breathe deeply and focus on your results. Recite incantation, and blow out the candle.
Michele Lefler, Shamanic Energy Alchemist at Living Moon Meditation, offers advice on the steps she takes to cast a spell. Lefler believes magic comes from herself, and every step she takes in crafting a spell revolves around this belief.
Here are Lefler’s five easy steps to casting a spell:
1. Get Specific
Understand exactly what you want to do or create with your spell. While attuning to your goal, exploring what your subconscious truly desires is essential. Your conscious and subconscious must be completely aligned to achieve your desired outcome.
You must be in the proper mindset for performing a spell. Ingrained ideas and negativity may cause unintended effects. You must banish these old energies and patterns from your life for a spell to work successfully.
3. Spiritual Assistance
Call in help from your guiding deities. Many witches use ancestral magic or spiritual guides to assist them with rituals. Now is the time to call on them. New witches may be unsure of their guiding entities, but you can find traces and signs of them both in dreams and in waking life.
To understand how spells work, you need to understand the true nature of magic. Study the craft. Learn how the phases of the moon and other outside energies may affect your casting. Use this information to plan your spell.
Cast with love and grace. Forgive yourself for imagined shortcomings, forgive others in your life, and forgive the universe for spells that may not have worked as intended. Send love, empathy, and acceptance to yourself and the universe.
Did the Spell Work?
The outcome of a magic spell is never immediate, and it might not be exactly what you expect. Perhaps your prosperity spell led to a raise at work, a winning lottery ticket, or a surprise bonus. Those outcomes would be significant proof that your craftl worked as intended.
However, spells are tricky things. They may take months to come to fruition or create unexpected results. You may lose a job but find a new opportunity that better fits your mental health. You may discover a new hobby that brings you far more joy and satisfaction than any job.
The inner workings of magic spells are never black and white, so consider how your magic might guide you toward what you’re meant for, whether you know it or not.
Learning How Spells Work Helps us Uncover the Magic All Around Us
Spells don’t have to be scary, malevolent curses regaled to the shadows. Mystical energies and magic surround us. Spells work by helping us unlock those energies and use them to benefit ourselves and those around us.
Allow yourself to explore the metaphysical and learn how spells work. You may discover that the magic was inside you all along.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.