Elements of Magic Spells

The Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells - Judika Illes 2009

Elements of Magic Spells

How do you cast a magic spell? Do you shout abracadabra, turn around three times on one foot and shoot sparks from your wand? Or do you stand within a circle of lit candles, magic sword at the ready, attempting to read unknown, unpronounceable words from a dusty grimoire? Will you tuck one single crumb of bread, one single grain of salt, and some burned-out charcoal into a scrap of red fabric, and then make knots in the cloth as if your very life depended upon it? Perhaps you will stand at the crossroads and just … stand?

Magic spells come in virtually unlimited form, some dramatic, some shocking, and some perhaps surprisingly mundane. Definitions of exactly what constitutes a magic spell depend a lot upon one’s personal history and experience, the stories you were or weren’t told as a child, and cultural expectations. What separates a magic spell from just any random series of actions is you, your intent, goals and desires.

A magic spell is a conscious formalized attempt to manipulate magic power and energy (heka) in order to achieve your own personal goal.

There are many styles of spells, featuring all sorts of ingredients. If one style of spell doesn’t suit you, there are others. Afraid of fire? Cast your spell by creating enchanted baths. Don’t have a tub? Brew potions or tie magical knots. If one ingredient is unobtainable, there are substitutes. If you can’t afford precious gems and resins, there are plenty of powerful magical materials masquerading as common kitchen ingredients. Magical energy is irrepressible; magic spells are the controlled conduit for directing this magical energy. There is only one component of every magic spell that you cast that cannot be replaced and that is YOU. Yours is the unique binding energy that provides the spark of life which transforms actions, words and thoughts into magic spells.

Everyone’s secret desire, of course, is to possess enchanted words or objects that achieve our goals for us without even our slightest effort. Just say “hocus pocus!” and poof! Your boring date is instantly transformed into Mr. Right. There is a grain of truth in this fantasy: the most magically charged objects will perform a lot of the work for us, although magic spells are never completely effortless. Some naturally occurring items inherently possess this type of magic power (iron, menstrual blood, salt, certain botanical plants); in other cases, some extremely intensive spell-casting is required in order to craft a tool of requisite intense magical power (a magic wand, sword, or mirror).

Magic spells take many forms, avail themselves of many powers, and depend upon various elements, tools, and components. Some of these elements, tools and components occur naturally on Earth, whilst others are crafted by people. Sometimes these elements and components can be categorized neatly into categories and sometimes, magic being the unruly, disobedient force that it is, they overlap and merge in a surreal dream-like manner.

Some spells are object-driven; others are dependent upon the power of words. Some require dozens of unusual plants and minerals, while other spells, which rank among the most difficult to cast because you must do all the energy transformation independently, require nothing more than the force of your personal will. Some spells walk a razor’s edge between religion and magic on the one hand, and traditional healing and magic on the other. Partly this is because of magic’s tendency to appropriate any object, system or method that demonstrates potential for power, and partly this is because, once upon a time, distinctions between various arts and sciences weren’t drawn as rigidly as they are today. Awareness of magic power and the desire to use it for one’s own benefit is the primordial human art and science. Religion, traditional medicine, astrology, alchemy, aromatherapy, perfumery, music, dance, visual art, and more are all rooted in magic and shamanism.

Before any spell is cast, the initial requirement is that you have a personal goal. What do you want to achieve? What do you wish to prevent? What are your secret desires, your deepest fears? Magic spells are always cast for a purpose, even if it’s a generic one like “personal happiness,” the proverbial “peace on Earth,” or obtaining vague “good fortune.” The more specific your desire, the more clearly articulated your vision, the deeper your passion, the more likely it is that your spell will work. There is not one type of spell that is inherently more powerful than another; there are only spells and styles of spell-casting that are more effective for a specific individual. Part of the fun and challenge of spell-casting is finding the spells that best suit you.

In this section we will examine various styles of spell-casting, the various elements of magic, and the tools and ingredients required to cast spells.