The elements are as powerful as the person wielding them. Beyond the limitations of our mind, they can help us achieve great things in our magical practice. So how do we use the elements in our spells?
What makes a good spell?
How long or short should a spell be in order to work?
Should a spell rhyme?
How many candles do you need for any particular spell? Which other materials should you use?
Do you need altar tools to cast a spell?
How do you write a spell that works?
As we get to know the elements more closely, we're more capable of using them to answer these questions.
A spell can be as simple or as elaborate as you need it to be. This guide works for new and experienced witches.
The essence of an elemental spell
We can assign anything to an element: a situation, an emotion, an obstacle, our wishes and goals, symbols and ingredients. The ingredients we decide to use in a spell are like an offering that boosts the element and our goal within that element. Each element we use can reach into the essence of the problem we're trying to solve. This is why elemental spells often contain a pre-goal, a road opener for the actual spell. By strengthening the element to which our main obstacle belongs, we're removing that obstacle. We're consciously accepting that we have an issue with certain emotions or behaviours and we're actively working on them by redefining our standpoint.
If we look at the cycles of the elements and how each element supports or controls the other, we can easily see why it's important to also include our issue into our solution.
What goes into a spell
The books and the internet are full of spells that people share with the world, but what happens if no spell fits your needs?
You write your own.
Advanced spell writing requires a lot of reading and understanding of how both energies and the human mind work. It is by no means an easy task. For people who are new to magick there is also the issue of not knowing where to begin, even if they want to take the time to read. Or maybe we just think that we're not good with words and that someone else always does it better. Whatever the cause might be for you to not write your own spells, the solution is easy: to start small.
Spells do not need to be long, adorned with epithets or to rhyme. What counts is what the words you're using mean to you. Which symbols, colors, offerings speak to you. It is much more effective to have a three sentence spell that speaks to you through every word, than to recite a poem that is amazingly well written but has little to do with what you want to achieve.
We first need to decide what is important for the spell, depending on our path and beliefs.
Moon phases and time of the day
Some paths do not need a specific time to cast the spells and some do. If you're following the moon phases, you might want to include them into your spell.
Full moon helps us to achieve maximum power for a spell. If you need to cast a spell over several days, it's beneficial to choose the days prior to and just after the full moon.
Waning moon is a good choice when we need to draw something away from ourselves, to get rid of people, to banish, cut and remove. Everything that should end can be done during this phase of the moon. The closer to the new moon it is, the stronger the impact.
New moon and a couple days before are great for the new beginnings, for something that should grow and get better.
Waxing moon is best to draw stuff toward ourselves, to attract people, a job, money, knowledge etc.
If we are to stay true to the elements, we can choose to cast the spell during the time of the day when an element is the strongest.
water element: 3pm - 7pm
tree element: 11pm - 3am
fire element: 11am - 3pm & 7pm - 11pm
earth element: 7am - 11am
metal element: 3am - 7am
The tools for the spell
You can choose to use your tools or not use any at all. Some spells might require a tool. For example a spell where you cut something from yourself can use an athame or a pointy stone, but you can also do this in the astral and not use a tool at all. A spell for conception or abundance usually includes a chalice or a bowl. This is fully up to you and your tradition. Crystals and stones are often used alongside tools since they are generally not for one time use. You can choose a stone according to its metaphysical meaning, according to the color or to a feeling, to match the elements you'll be working with in the spell.
The tools we choose for a spell should have a purpose and should not be used just because we're used to having them on our altar.
The materials for the spells
The materials we choose for a spell include different colored candles, poppets, herbs, incense, oils, paper, bones and offerings. Materials are all those spell ingredients which we use, burn or bury.
We can match the color of the candle or choose the herbs, incense and oils according to the element we'll be working on. Every ingredient should have a purpose, just like our tools and other items on our altar. It is easier to make a simple spell work than a complicated one.
After we've chosen the time and what we will be working with, it's time to write our spell. Usually we'd write all of this down into our grimoire, to document how and when to perform our spell.
Anatomy of a spell
How will you raise the energy? You can cast a circle, step into an astral space, call a deity or do anything else your tradition requires. Some people do not cast circles but use a staff as their sacred space, some choose to start a spell with a meditation or by calling to their ancestors.
It is beneficial to write down your choice as it is an important part of the spell.
Then choose who you'll address. Are you talking to yourself, someone else, a deity, ancestors, the universe? Maybe you'll start with a tiny verse that is addressing the energy or the element you want to work with.
Define your pre-goal. What is the source of our problem? Is it ourselves, is it others? What emotions are keeping us from succeeding with this matter? Be true to yourself, and when you've found out, assign it to an element. Depending on what the situation is about, which emotions are included, which symptoms or behaviours are present, this is easy to achieve. This will be our second element, the one that we'll boost in order to remove the obstacle.
Define your primary goal. What is the image of your future self once the goal is reached? What part of life is it connected to, which emotions, who all is involved, what are you attracting? This will help us determine our primary element for the spell.
Words of power
These are the magic words that activate the spell. It's the proverbial Alakazam of our wishes. Most often we use "so mote it be" as a conclusion to the spell. Some people channel their own chants or words, some plead to a deity or their ancestors to make it happen. Whichever you choose, these concluding words should mean a great deal to you. You can speak them once with immense power or repeat them as a chant, depending on what suits you best.
Something to take along - the symbols of the spell
We can choose to make a symbol, a sigil or a talisman before, during or after the spell. This step is optional but very beneficial. If we choose to make a symbol that we will use during the spell or an every day reminder, we can do so while doing elemental magick. The symbols or sigils work the same way no matter which path we're following or which kind of magick we're practicing. We can create the classical sigils or channel our own symbols that represent our goal. During a trance state with the elements, people often draw symbols that the mind sees, these are often connected to the element we're working with. Any outcome is acceptable.
How to properly word a spell
Spell casting is an intricate game of words, energies and intentions. A spell needs to be worded correctly in order to work. The correct writing depends on human psychology. We partially know now how our minds work and what triggers certain responses. Our mind will create images that take just a millisecond for us to understand them. It is a very economic way to store information. If our brain used words, we'd need minutes to remember something just because we'd need to think of every single word in a memory. When we talk or see things, we store this as an image that we can recall. The more simple an image is, the more clear it is to us and we tend to remember it longer. Over time we might lose details on very complex images. When we are writing a spell, we want our instructions for the image to be as clear and uncluttered as possible.
I'll break this down for you -
Let's make an example by defining a wish or a goal for our spell.
"I don't want to be secretive or lie to my partner."
If we would write it down like this, our mind would get confused. As said, our minds work in images. In order to decide what not to do, it first has to see what we're talking about.
"secretive and lie to my partner".
This is the image our mind is going to create first. And after that it attaches to it the word "no".
However, every time we want to access this information in our wish, our mind first sees
"secretive and lie to my partner" and then it remembers there's a "no".
Images are stronger than words. This is a principle recognized by psychologist and has been used in psychology for ages. So we'll have to rephrase this wish.
Instead of using a negative definition, we can turn goal oriented and say something like
"I want to be more honest and open with my partner."
After we've defined our actual goal, we need to clean up.
"I want to" puts our wish somewhere in the undefined future.
It might happen tomorrow or in a year or in ten. This won't work for our spell. Our mind can't think in abstract terms, such as future, along with a very defined goal that we're trying to reach now. This psychological barrier makes the spell not powerful as we're not able to focus our power into such an imprecise direction. This is why we're placing it in the present or even the past. As if it already happened. It signals our mind that we're already in this, we're already solving it.
"I'm more honest and open with my partner".
We are almost there. There is a distraction in that sentence. I'm MORE honest.. more than what? Than they are to us? Than we were to our previous partner? This does not matter and it distracts us from focusing. Those tiny words are not needed, so we'll remove them, leaving the clear and straightforward form of our thought.
"I'm honest and open with my partner".
That is it, this creates a very clear image without distractions and it is easy for our mind to imagine it in the present. So instead of saying what we don't want (which our mind would see first over and over), we want to create a clearly defined command, that will make our spell powerful.
Personal spells are the most powerful
Using spells that people have used for years might work because the words have been spoken many times before. Yet once you've started writing your own spells, you'll start feeling like you've been missing out. No spell written by another will be as powerful as the spell we wrote ourselves. Our own spells are very personal, they reach deep into our emotions and match the images we have in our head. They speak to the very core of our wishes and to the problems that we're trying to resolve.
Elemental magick makes us work on ourselves and this is also visible in the way a spell is written, so it includes our obstacle. We're only as powerful as we have control over our own elements.