Spellwork Basics: Spell Writing. The Anatomy of a Basic Spell

Previously: What is Cleansing? 

Spell writing is as fun as it is challenging. When you write a spell for yourself, you can tailor it to your needs, to what you have, to what you can get your hands on. You can share it with others, of course–I sure do!–but you can also make them deeply personal, and specific to your situation.

There are general, accepted meanings of herbs, colors, etc., but personal meanings and associations are just as important, if not more important on some occasions. That’s something a spell in a book just can’t give to you. But for spell writing, you have to know the components of spells in general and how they work together to create an outcome. That’s what we’re going to discuss here today. Please keep in mind that this is just how I think of spells, and my tips on spell writing in general. Other people will have other opinions, and that’s perfectly okay!

There are three main components to a spells and spell writing. The ingredients, the vessel or method of delivery, and the energy work/intent involved to make it happen. You could almost definitely break these down further, and sometimes they might overlap, but this gives you a simple visualization of what you need.

There are of course spells that are mostly verbal affirmations, or mostly energy work, which are equally powerful in their own right! Honestly, even those could be broken down into these three components. But, for the most part, I’m going to be talking about spells that have physical attributes. This won’t only be kitchen spells either! This goes for all kinds of spells, just in slightly different ways.

Spell Writing: Ingredients

Ingredients are the most basic components of your spell! These could be herbs, taglocks, graveyard dirt, moon water, honey, rose water, flowers, plants, roots, essential oils and/or whatever else our spell calls for! Ingredients often have magical properties associated with them, and many have homeopathic uses as well. On their own and separate from spellwork, these ingredients are mundane. When used with purpose, however, they become something more.

For example, let’s say you’re creating a poppet for luck. You’d need a taglock, like some of your hair or nail clippings. You’d also want to include things like four leaf clovers, herbs for luck, etc. You might add some sugar to sweeten life in your favor, or maybe chamomile or rosemary. When you gather these things with the intent of doing a spell for a specific purpose, you’re already imbuing them with more power and meaning than they would have had before!

Do some research about your ingredients. The internet is a good place to start, but books are usually best. Think about the purpose and intent of your spell. Try and keep things as simple as you can. Consider what has meaning to you, as well! Are there flowers that hold a specific memory and emotion for you? Use them! Is there a specific scent, fruit, herb that holds significance to you? Does yellow, maybe, make you think of love more than red or pink? That’s good!

Emotional ties to things are just as if not more important than widely accepted correspondences. Personalizing your spells to yourself, or whoever you’re performing the spell for, can increase its chances of working, and of producing the outcome you desire. (New witches will soon find out that “the spell worked” and “the spell worked but not the way I anticipated” are two very different things).

That’s not to say that historical correspondences aren’t important. Read up on the ingredients you want to use, especially if you’re putting them in or on your body. Safety is important, as is respecting your ingredients and their purposes. Use your common sense.

Spell Writing: Vessel/Delivery

The vessel is the method via which your spell is brought to completion. It can also be the product of combining your ingredients, such as a powder or something edible. Oftentimes it’s the literal container for your ingredients! Your vessel might be soup or other food or drink for a kitchen spell. For the aforementioned poppet, your vessel would be the material you create the poppet from, whether that be cloth, or paper, or otherwise.

Spell jars and bottles are another common vessel. If you bury your spell, or dispose of it in a body of water, that counts as a vessel too. If you’re anointing and burning a candle, the candle is your vessel. When running a bath, or creating a floorwash, the water is your vessel.

Your vessel, like your ingredients, is mundane until you imbue it with meaning and intent. This can be done by adding the ingredients to your vessel, or by turning the ingredients into something new. The vessel, you see, is a method of delivery. It’s how your spell gets from being a bunch of loose components and objects to being an actual spell with meaning and purpose.

For vessels that are actual, physical things like jars, poppets, candles, etc., there are other ways to imbue meaning and purpose. Choose a color that corresponds to the purpose of your spell, like green for luck, red for love, black or white for cleansing. Draw sigils on your jars. Pour colored wax over bottle spells. Use patterned fabric for poppets and other spells requiring cloth to imbue extra meaning!

Even for kitchen witchcraft where your vessel is edible, what you serve it in (and where) can imbue power and meaning too! Drink your self-love tea out of your favorite cup! Eat soup for prosperity out of your most expensive china, however little that may be. For powders and infusions, put them in jars and bottles or even baggies with sigils or affirmations written on them! There are many ways to create meaning in your spells, so don’t hesitate to experiment with your rituals!

Spell Writing: Energy Work

So you’ve gathered your ingredients and combined them in some way. Your spell is done right? Not exactly. You’re just about there and, without knowing it, you’ve already been doing some energy work as you assembled your spell. Energy work is the act of giving power to your spell with your intent, desires and purpose. Some of this will be all you, some of it can come from outside sources.

Gathering together your ingredients, all of which have specific purposes and often meanings associated with them, is the first step of this. You’re already intending to do a certain type of spell with a certain goal by gathering and assembling these things for your spell. With powerful ingredients already imbued with magic, like moon water or graveyard dirt, you’ve gone a step further. The same goes for ingredients you might add to your kitchen witchcraft spells, as talked about in my post on layering. But there’s still a few more steps involved.

Grounding is an important and common method to starting your energy work. In the simplest terms, grounding is centering yourself and drawing on your power and that of Mother Earth and then pushing that power into your spell. This can be complicated and absolutely takes some practice. It can also tire you out if it’s something you don’t do often, or for a particularly powerful spell. It is important to learn, however, and is component of many of the other kinds of energy work you can use to imbue a spell with power.

Affirmations, chants and prayers are often combined with grounding. Petitioning a god or goddess for help is very common in spellwork, just be sure to give an offering and know they aren’t obligated to help you. Telling the spell what you want it to do as you piece it together is imbuing intent into the spell. Saying your intent and visualizing the outcome as you light a candle, or sew a poppet, or stir a pot of soup, is another example. Channeling your desires into your spellwork is what makes, well, the spell work.

As mentioned before, outside energy is often brought in to help with a spell as well. Burying a spell jar or bottle, burning something, leaving it to charge in the sun or the moon or with candles, petitioning a god or goddess and using crystals are all examples of this. This isn’t necessary for all spells, but it can definitely an option depending on you and your practice. You use your energy and intent as you assemble the spell, and then pass it off into hands other than yours.

Think of it this way: none of the components of your spell really have meaning until you give them meaning. Your intent is what makes a spell a spell. It’s you telling the universe and what/whoever else what you want the spell to do–you can’t expect anything to happen if you don’t spell it out. Make sure you’re clear in what you want, and be sure to focus. You might be a bit tired afterwards, but it’s more than worth it. Results are rarely immediate, and they aren’t always what you expect either. But keep watching and observing what happens. You’ll often be pleasantly surprised.

All Done!

Your spell is complete! You’ve gathered your ingredients, assembled them and powered them up! Now it’s time to clean up and rest. It’s a good idea to cleanse your space, your tools and yourself. What do you think of these three components? Is this similar to how you think of spells? Does this help you visualize how to start your own spell writing process? Would you break this down further? Let me know in the comments! I’m always looking to bounce ideas off other witches. 🙂