It’s a New Moon, so a good moment to introduce something to get you started a bit. Now that I’ve briefly explained witchcraft in one of my previous posts, I thought to start off with an explanation on magic, spells and rituals. These are key elements of the craft and knowing what’s what and where the distinctions are is a first step to working with it.
First I wanna explain what we call magic, then continue with the difference and similarities of spells and rituals.
Magic or Magick?
There is a little spelling thing going on nowadays to make a certain distinction. Magic is often used to describe magic tricks, like the ones you see on fairs with playing cards, pulling rabbits from hats, and magick is often used to describe the following: “the manipulation of energy according to a certain intent.”. In some cases, this distinction is necessary to be made, but in this blog, I will refer to it only as magic.
There are hundreds of ways to manipulate energy according to intent, with hundreds of different names throughout different cultures. This is where we often fall back on the labelling of magic. For example, kitchen magic would be energy manipulation through the use of foods, brews, herbs etc. while candle magic does so through the use of candles, colours, fire etc. This does however not mean you are limited to one type, and you can perfectly combine most types. Like candles and sigils, herbs and brews, crystals and healing, journeying and divination. There are endless possibilities and uses.
The intent, how not everything is black and white
The intent behind this manipulation of energy can be equally different. It can be for healing, prosperity, attraction, banishing, harming etc. It is the purpose of said manipulation determined by the user, and the what, how and why is tweaked according to that. This is also where people often jump in with terms such as White and Black magic. I personally don’t believe White or Black magic exists. Everything is “grey” because what seems like white or good from your perspective, can seem like black or bad from another. Nothing is entirely good or bad, it always depends on the context.
I’ll give an example. Someone casts a spell for a friend to get a job they applied for. This friend gets the job. The caster of the spell sees this as white magic because they helped their friend. Another person applied for this job, despite maybe being equal in skill or even better. They didn’t get the job. If they knew about the spell, they could see it as black magic as it was to prevent them from getting the job, indirectly hurting them.
Another example. A spell is cast to rid the Earth of human life. For humanity, this would appear as Black magic, due to eradicating them. For the Earth this could be seen as White magic, given how much humanity exhausts and damages the Earth in order to thrive.
This is why I consider magic to be Grey. It’s a balance. Good cannot exist without bad, and vice versa. This balance can even be found in nature. If you want something, you may need to make a sacrifice. If you want something to end, it may cause pain. Morals and ethics are all relative to the user, magic doesn’t know either, it just does the job. So what one considers to be good, can be considered bad by another. Now I do want to say, yes, of course, having the intent to hurt someone probably is more on the dark side, and healing someone more on the light side, but it’s never truly one or the other. Seeing that balance is necessary for working with magic, you’re responsible for your actions.
Spell or Ritual
So I can 100% say spells utilize magic. Rituals, that entirely depends on the purpose of it and your personal opinion. As I mentioned, the line between the two isn’t always as clear as you might think.
Spells are considered the active manipulation of energy to manifest things into one’s life. How you do that and why depends on what I stated before with types of magic and intent. A ritual CAN be a big part of a spell but doesn’t necessarily have to be a part of it.
Rituals are often considered a mindful action with a specific intent that does work with energy but doesn’t necessarily manifest things into one’s life. Another explanation for ritual is something you do on a regular basis to support you (or your craft). A ritual can be as simple as picking tea in the morning to give you a boost of energy or doing a grounding meditation to create more balance and stability as you start your day. Energy cleansing is considered a ritual, not a spell.
I think plainly put the biggest distinction is that a spell is an active manipulation to create something and a ritual being an often passive manipulation, but can also be active, to support something.
So a ritual can support you or a spell by creating a certain mindset, to prepare for certain work while the spell will utilize whatever is there to go out and do what it is meant to do.
Now I personally don’t cast circles for spells which I know is a common thing to do, but that can be considered a spell, as you are actively creating a barrier to safely be within doing your work, but I would consider it a ritual, being a more active form of manipulation to support the spellwork you’re about to do. It helps you get into a certain mindset and closing it helps you finish it by getting out the mindset.
Does the distinction matter? Most of the time it won’t matter much, but it can be useful when you’re looking for a specific thing and understanding its place in the craft. Knowing the difference in terminology can also be useful when talking about it with other people.
I’m gonna go ahead and tell you I’m not teaching you how to cast a circle. I know there are hundreds of sources online explaining it and since I don’t use it myself I’m not teaching you something I don’t do. If you do think it is important to do then, by all means, go ahead. I’ve decided not after experiencing both with and without. I have different methods to start and end my spells and rituals that suit me and my practice better.
There are several categories simply put when it comes to spells and rituals, like cursing, healing, attracting, banishing, protecting etc. and there are plenty of books written on spells and rituals.
Now I don’t really recommend copying spells and rituals from a book. In my opinion spells and rituals need to mean to you personally. When someone else creates the spell or ritual it may not mean anything to you and thus be less likely to work as desired.
Why would you look at pre-made spells then? The way a spell or ritual is built up is probably the first thing you should look into. See the different ways people do it and which elements are always present. Often times, the time, duration and intent of the spell/ritual are important to include. Another thing could be different methods like making potions, incense, sigils, you name it. And lastly, it can inform or inspire you on ingredients. Certain colours or herbs for certain intent or maybe day of the week. There are SO many different ways to build a spell or ritual, so looking why each element is present in pre-written can teach you a lot to write your own.
I hope you found this post informative and good luck with any research!