True or false: you need to follow a spell exactly to achieve results.
When you’re first starting out, confidence in your abilities can be shaky. There are a lot of different sources saying different things, and even the more reliable sources seem to vary in their convictions at times. Some things come up again and again, and you can start to build a foundation for yourself.
With spells, things become even murkier. There are ingredients listed that you have either never heard of or can’t find easily. In the beginning, when more spells fail than work, you become obsessed with getting gear to try and help your spells along. This can really boost confidence — look at all these bottles and oils! Real witch stuff! — and eventually, your success rate with spells improves. But was it the new herbs and candles and crystals that made the difference? Or just your confidence that they would?
When I write a spell, I write it in my style. I like structure, so my spells have a beginning, middle, and end. I like correspondences and research, so every part of the spell is deeply symbolic. And I like making a big effort, so there are hard to find ingredients and small details that sometimes happen over the course of several days. All these things come together to help me feel focused and confident. But guess what? You may not work like that!
Some witches are water or earth witches and feel strongest when they incorporate these elements — or better yet, perform spells near these elements outside. Other witches are much more freeform and need only their intention and movement or quiet reflection. So does that mean they have to search high and low for spells that cater to their exact needs?
A simpler solution is to customize spells so they cater to your needs. Spells are blueprints, and you are the architect of your own magic.
Did you know that when you create a sigil you are connected to it subconsciously and that makes it more powerful? Many witches online create sigils, then send them off into the world for others to use. But how effective are they for you, since most of the magic is focused on the creation process? Not very. The same can be true for spells. So, how do you take another’s work and make it work for you? How do you customize spells?
Figure out what really works for you in your magic. Witches are curious and experimental by nature and new witches especially tend to try a lot of different forms of magic as they delve deeper into this fascinating world. As you learn more, specific branches of magic start resonating with you, your magic becomes more successful, and you begin to specialize. Trust your intuition. If you feel drawn to divination more than spellwork, explore that. If you’ve always loved crystals, follow that path first and see where it leads.
Journal your results. Keep track of whatever you did, and keep your eye out for any manifestations of this magic — most importantly, write it down! Become your own reliable source. This is how you learn who you are as a witch. Experiment. If you only follow another witch’s ethos, you could be missing out on all the wonderful things you as an individual have to offer.
Learn to customize. Look, not everyone likes writing spells but thankfully, witches don’t mind sharing (bless them). There are countless spells out there available for you, but most are written by a witch with their own style of magic in mind. If you take another’s magic and make it your own, you connect to the spell on a deeper level. It’s no longer someone else’s spell — you can own it! Once you have a better understanding of your witchy self and what you need to succeed, you can begin to streamline others’ spells so they work for you.
Say you’re a kitchen witch and you need a spell for money. A quick search pulls up hundreds of spells, and you find one you like — a jar spell. It requires all the usual suspects: Green candles, pyrite, money powder, honey. So how do you customize this spell? Play to your strengths. Light the green candles and set the pyrite around, then bake the rest of the ingredients in a small loaf of bread. Let the bread dry out, then make crumbs and add them to a jar with the pyrite, or save for use in another spell. Before you eat anything, do your research and make sure it’s safe, but that’s an option, too. Do you have a lucky herb or a secret ingredient? Add it!
I know a witch who works exclusively with water so whenever I write spells for her, she just adds it to a bath. Another witchy friend uses visualization by lighting some incense, putting on some music, then walking through the whole spell in her head — detail by detail, over and over — until she feels it “click”. There is no right or wrong way, the important thing is getting the result you want and finding the best way to do that.
The difference between writing your own spells and using spells found in books or on blogs is like the difference between using a recipe from a cookbook and coming up with your own recipes. If you’re not experienced enough in the kitchen, it can be difficult to know how flavors will combine, what you really like in a recipe, and whether the techniques and chemistry behind what you’re doing will actually create the results you hoped for. With experience, however, most home cooks begin to create their own recipes without even thinking about it. It’s just a natural extension of learning what you like and feeling more confident with your skills in the kitchen.
The same is true of witchcraft. Writing your own spells can feel like becoming a beginner again. Suddenly the training wheels are off and it’s very easy to make mistakes that can lead to spell failure or unexpected outcomes, but the benefits for those who persevere are huge.
If you’re not content with simply customizing other people’s spells, A Primer In Spell Writing is the perfect way to start learning the subtle skills required for crafting your own spells. The course takes you through the entire process from start to finish as we build a spell together from scratch. I’m really passionate about giving witches the freedom and autonomy that comes with being able to write and customize spells to fit YOU so this is easily one of my most in-depth courses. A Primer In Spell Writing is not to be missed!
Another way to customize a spell is to just make it easier to use. While I always stress going the extra mile and making a big effort to get big results, I am also a childless adult with a knack for luck and money spells, who has no issue impulsively blowing paychecks on herbs, oils, and stones. However, I realize not everyone is as carelessly excessive as I, so I want to offer you a list of easy alternatives you can use in any spell as a substitute for more exotic ingredients, as well as offer some tips on correspondences.
If you’ve done your research, you’ll have noticed that herbs, stones, colors, Tarot cards, etc. will have multiple correspondences. Not only do they serve many purposes, but they are usually associated with an element, planet, and have a lot of symbolic attachments. Salt, for example. Salt comes from the sea, and it is therefore connected to water. However, salt is also associated with the earth, purification, and protection. Today you can find it anywhere, but salt was once a commodity so valuable that even spilling a little was bad luck and to ward against this, you had to throw some over your shoulder. So, because of all its symbolic connections, salt can be a substitute for ingredients you don’t have in protection, purification, blessing, grounding, and spells involving water or earth elements.
Find this information and commit it to memory. That way, when you want to perform magic that, say, requires a candle but you either don’t have one or can’t use it, you’ll know that amber, citrine, and topaz (which represent fire) can be used instead and easily worn on a piece of jewelry for convenience. Simply using a certain color can replace a hard-to-find ingredient. Lavender is used for harmony but can be pretty expensive. If you don’t want to make an herb run or wait for it to ship, just use something blue instead, which also represents harmony and peace. Below I’ve listed common household herbs that can be used replace others in a pinch!
Cinnamon and nutmeg: Success, luck, money. Cheap and easy to find. If you come across an abundance spell that requires something out of reach, go for these herbs instead. Works like a charm.
Basil: Associated with love. Basil’s power is legendary, and can be used as a substitute for ingredients in love spells, or just added to them for extra luck.
Thyme, mustard seeds, and oregano: These herbs are harmless when eaten, and by doing so you take on their powers! Great replacements in strength and courage spells.
Peppermint and parsley: Substitute ingredients in peace and calm spells.
Rosemary: Purification, love, and health! It even smells medicinal. Rosemary can be burned as a replacement for sage, added to altars and poppets, and is a great all-purpose herb for healing spells.
Pepper and onion: Banishing and warding. Pepper is a repellent and can be used in any spell as a substitute when you’re trying to get rid of something nasty. Onion has an added protective component.
Paprika or cayenne: Adds power to spells. If you lack something on the ingredient list, just add cayenne or paprika instead to let the magic know you mean business. That’s what counts.
Bay leaves: A fantastic all-around herb. Bay leaves are great for health, good luck, psychic powers, wish manifestation, protection, purification, and dream magic. They make great additions to any altar, can be used on their own, or added to spells focused on any of the above. Best of all, you can buy them at almost any grocery store. They smell great and are completely non-toxic!
Non-herb bonus alternative: Clear quartz. I’ve written about clear quartz before and for spells requiring more expensive stones, clear quartz can be “programmed” and used instead. This stone is an amplifier for whatever energy it absorbs and if you’re ever without a certain element, put this pretty little stone to work instead.
I hope this helped and you start experimenting with others’ magic to find your own. The thing to remember is that the magic is already in you, and all you have to do is figure out the best conduit for it. The more you research, journal, and make spells your own, the quicker you access your true power.