I do not claim to be an expert on the subject (far from it) but I feel the following outline may be helpful:
Focus and Clarity
I’ve talked about the need for focus and clarity before, but in terms of clearing one’s mind of distractions. This should also include very rather clear and to the point in what you want a spell to do, without beating around the bush or making allusions. So “I want $200” is the sort where you may at least get $200 but not in the way you’d prefer, or you could say, “I would like to sell this painting I did for $200” or “this lot of items from my garage for $200” or “for some one to give me, without obligation, $200” or so and so forth, if you’re very worried about unforseen catastrophe on the part of a vague spell. But if you only say, “I want more money” this could be satisfied with finding a penny on the ground (it is money and that means you have found more money– a whole penny richer!) or not at all because of course you may also have been more focused on a myriad of things you want to do with that money as opposed to a material amount of money. So which did you want, the money or that other stuff? Be specific.
Time and Intent
Obviously the phrasing above wouldn’t be as good unless you changed the tense so it’s present or past tense (This painting sold for $200, I am earning/have found/been given $200 from… and so on) because future tense allows for it to simply never happen, just that it could happen but not necessarily. Don’t be peevish. It is preferable to take a more demanding tone.
Be Specific: Targeting
If you’re targeting someone or something, you need to be pretty specific here, too. If, say, you want to put a spell (of any sort) on a person, what do you need to make sure the correct person receives the spell? Well…
- Their name– FULL name, the name most associated with them. Remember that you should include their parents names as well, their mother’s preferably (because her name is less well known and therefore a more personal link. So “Luke Skywalker, son of Padme Amidala Naberrie” etc. And naturally you’ll have somewhat of a stronger connection to someone in whose body you gestated).
- Material from that person, the more personal the better. For example, bits of hair, toe clippings, underwear (or a piece cut from it), etc. Blood of course or saliva, as well as semen, vaginal secretions, etc. are highly specific but naturally hard to come by.
- Lacking that, you may try including more specific information — yeah, home address, astrological chart*, that sort of thing. Bits of soil from their childhood home’s yard, or current home, and so on.
- Of course if you’re planning on placing the spell on their person or in their home, then the names should be sufficient. If being done from a safe distance, then you will need to include more material or information. Do recall that there is precedent for pointing things towards the target, e.g. nithings, but beneficent items too (e.g. Mecca).
- As far as things (like institutions) go, I’m not entirely sure what is most efficient or effective. Logos are usually suggested as the identifier and I imagine the inclusion of at least the official date that it was founded helps too, as well as the names of the founders. Using the soil from the original (or current, if just one) location in lieu of birthplace or home, or placing spells upon signs for the thing as well. If the thing is fairly abstract (say, Atlanta Traffic) then you need to go back to the drawing board and figure something more specific (perhaps something for you to navigate and avoid traffic more easily, or to be able to use the transit system more often, etc?).
Assess Chances of Success
Make sure you understand, too, what you’re working against– be it a disease, shitty neighbor’s attitude, trying to find a house and so on, because some targets are obviously more easily gotten to than others. If you realize that the opposition is strong, make your spell strong and make sure your allies are strong (see below). If there’s many different factors involved, make sure you either deal with each in their turn (don’t try to kill so many birds with one stone) or focus only on the most important. Don’t take on battles you can’t possibly win. This is a time when it’s good to use your favorite form of divination and check unflinchingly for whether or not you’ve put things together correctly and can actually succeed. Do not shy from the truth: if you can’t do it, you can’t do it. Don’t waste your effort, seek something else. I know we all want to believe we can effect grandiose changes but there’s nothing shameful in small ones. (I can’t do anything against the current administration with a spell, but I can protect myself. It might also behoove local practitioners in groups to focus on protecting Atlanta, for example)
Construct the Spell, Cast It
Now is when we worry about specific traditions and various methods. I won’t tell you anything specific, but I will say that the basics should be covered– Clearing and protecting your area; petitioning other powers for help or assistance/invoke entities; raising power; putting that power and direction into the spell, however it is assembled; finishing up and putting the spell to work. I do feel that it is very important to have working relationships with other entities. Gods, Ancestors, spirits and the like all seem to enjoy helping humans and one is rather foolish if they think they alone contain all the power they could ever use. No, no one is able to do much on their own, but together (for example, institutionalized racism wouldn’t be as strong as it is if only one person did it, right? It’s foolish to characterize evil as coming from any single source and fail to fight back properly, to act as if only “good” people and institutions worked together)… Now, of course that does mean you’ve been keeping an altar and making prayer and offerings and getting to know these entities and Deities and the like, right? No? Well, do get on that. It’s OK if you’re clumsy to start. Who isn’t these days?
Also, make sure you’ve done all of this in secret, or known only to those with whom you’ve worked (for those who do group workings). Do not publicize spells you may or may not do all over the internet in an attempt to figure out if it’s a good idea, or to make believe you’re doing an effective group working with people you’re not actually coordinating with, or otherwise make sure all the focus and power is completely drained and fizzled out as well as letting enemies know (especially if this is a working against someone or for someone in the public eye) what you’re doing, when and how so they can easily counteract it. Don’t be a fucking idiot and actually believe that all magick workers want the same things and support the same ideas, people, politics, etc. For fuck’s sake. Of course, the ridicule and harassment that comes with articles about things like spells will also do its own work to dismantle the spell before it can be done. I know we are taught to share every nuance of our lives online, but please don’t when it comes to magick. I know it may make it look like you do fuck all, but you’ll be effective, and that’s what matters. It’s more important to have the power and know others have no idea– can’t stop you so easily. Personal validation and self esteem do not, should not rely upon the opinions of others. Hopefully anyone reading this already realizes that!
This is, for now, essentially how I view the very basics of spell craft. The specifics when it comes to whatever spell you want to do, when you want to do it, are entirely up to you– if you follow a specific tradition, if you prefer to check against a specific ancient culture, or whatever it is you happen to know and have on hand. You can easily see new ways of handling “given” information. You might receive new methods and instructions. I really don’t care so long as you give it some thought and tinker around.
Things like irritating posts and articles going the rounds online as well as friends who are very new to and curious about Paganism and Magick have me thinking, naturally, as to how I would explain any of it. Especially as someone who finds articulating such things very difficult! Hopefully someone finds this helpful. I’m sure I’ll make a new write up some day in the future. Granted, I will make no effort to school people in the methods I use because I believe people need more… basic outlines which can be fitted to or improved by specific traditions, practices, what have you. There’s enough telling people what to do and how to do it more specifically and that seems to be very helpful for most. I do still encourage people to study widely, however, in order to have a better understanding of “how things work” as it were. Maybe I’ll discuss my specific practices at a later date.
*This link is a database of astrological information as well as the rating of accuracy of such for various public figures. It is quite extensive. Very good for studying astrology, for which the site is intended.