What is Spell Craft?

“At some point I want you to do a post for me about spell crafting. What it is, what it does, how you do the process. I saw a Lisa and Peggy video on “to love a witch” and the partner had to answer questions about them and I realized this is an area I’m completely blank on.” – Gideon

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Okay, well I should first explain that until recently?  I found spell crafting and spell casting to be synonymous.  But then, I discovered that people actually USE pre-written spells in books and off the internet that are designed by others… sort of like using a recipe when cooking. Not as a foundation to build from and adjust, but literally as-is letter for letter.

Because of the way I was raised, and how I was taught, this actually surprised me quite a bit.  This is because, in my family, you craft your spells either by yourself of with others.  They are then written down for posterity and to be reused and improved on in the future.  BUT, these spells are yours.  They are, by the very nature of having created them yourself, tailored to you and your energies and your particular affinities and abilities.

Until this recent discovery mentioned above, I couldn’t imagine anyone taking one of my spells and using it, letter for letter, to do their own spell casting.  It would be like someone deciding they wanted to wear my decade old, worn and still hanging in there pair of underwear, and  not just wearing them, but trying to make them fit their body in the way they have over time stretched and molded to fit mine.

Spells get passed down, of course, but they are not used letter for letter.  They are altered and adjusted, rewritten and reworked to fit the person using them. Because without personalization, how is it supposed to mesh with your energy and intentions?

So with that said… lets do a little bit of defining of terms.  Keep in mind these are my definitions of these terms.  This is not a general consensus, nor are my views on this spelled out anywhere that I’m aware of where there’s some kind of adopted agreement where others are concerned.  It’s just me and my definitions.

Spell (as a noun) – The gathering of your intention, your will, and energy (yours, ambient energy around you, and/or the blend of energies belong to the tools and supplies you use), and pushing them into a ritual, item, or magickal action of some sort that then projects them toward the goal behind that intention.  You are the microphone, the spell is the speakers.

Spell Craft (as a noun) – Working with spells, including any creation or designing of magickal workings, whether that be ritual spells, free form spells, etc. Spell craft is an “umbrella term” (much like the word “witchcraft”) that is used to encompass the process of creation through to casting of spells, and the practice of magickal workings as a whole.

Ritual Spells (as a noun) – This type of spell is much like a recipe when cooking.  You have an ingredient list (supply list) and a set out series of steps involved, usually with a pre-planned incantation.  They are often planned well in advance to be done on certain powerful days that align with the spell’s intention (such as a full moon ritual).

Free Form Spells (as a noun) – Returning to the analogy of cooking… this is when you “wing it”.  It’s still a spell, as you are directing will, intention, and energy into a magickal working… but it is not as rigid and regimented as ritual spells.

Spell Casting (as a verb) – Very literally, the casting of a spell. Spell casting concentrates and directs energy, and it does not necessarily require tools or supplies (although they can definitely help).  It is, at its core, a projection of intention and energy.   Tools and supplies are simply used to hone, wield, and better direct that energy.

Spell Crafting (as a verb) – This is the literal act of crafting of spells. The work. The research. Spell crafting involves not just the collecting of items wanted or needed to better direct the intention behind a spell and energies involved, but can include anything from writing incantations to creating incense or oils. Making your own supplies for magical workings is also spell crafting, which can involve the designing or making of supplies such as poppets, sachets, teas or food, candles, etc.

In my case, spell crafting and spell casting can often go hand in hand as one, as I do a lot of free-form spell work. When I am using supplies I am familiar with and that I know are safe, there are many times that I will craft as I go, and cast in the moment.  In other words, I might bring together ingredients to create a brand new spell, make the supplies I need in the moment (such as a poppet out of a piece of paper… also spell craft), and cast immediately.

Other times, especially if working with plant parts that I’m not fully familiar with, or trying something a little outside my familiarity, I will do a lot of research first.  Take notes.  Plan and do more research.  Sometimes spells are complicated and you need to craft different things for them first (again, such as poppets, sachets, oils, sprays, etc), and/or you want to get the wording of your intentions just right and may need to spend time crafting just the right words for the task.   All of this is spell crafting… some of it may also be spell casting if you are instilling your intention into the items as you make them.

I feel like I talked myself in circles here.   But…. maybe it made sense?

I’m sure you have lots of questions after this post, and I’m happy to do a subsequent post on this if there’s anything you’d like for me to go into more detail about, or any curiosities you have.   Just let me know.

 

Where My Perspectives Have Changed

So, last month on  YouTube, MIRTHandREVERENCE did a video answering a subscriber’s question about how her practices and perspectives have changed over the 40+ years she’s been on her path.    I really like this question, and decided I wanted to share my own experiences concerning the differences between how I was raised, and what I practice now.

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I think that the biggest difference is the use of deity.   In my parent’s home, we had the God and Goddess of the Pagan’s wheel of the year.  We also had Buddha, Sanshin, and Quan Yin.   My father had a shrine, my mother had an altar, and there were small statues set out in reverence to these deities throughout the house.

I never really felt comfortable worshiping deities, and once I had left my parents home soon after I turned sixteen, I stopped.  That isn’t to say that I stopped my faith, only that my faith changed.  I did not personify my faith, but rather reach beyond the faces and “deities” to the elements and the energy of creation, evolution, and balance itself.   This is where my focus lies in my devotionals, petitions, and invocations.

Along that same line is the difference in how much worship and prayer is involved as a whole.   I spend less time on my knees in front of a shrine or altar, and more time within nature, bonding and appreciating it all.  I also do a good deal of my worship standing or active within nature.

Group gatherings.  Meh.

Growing up, my parents attended many group gatherings with like-minded folks.  They had circles and they had munches.   They sought out a pagan parenting mentor (who you know as Z) to assist them in guiding my sister and I along a similar path.

Other than with my sister?  I don’t worship with others.  I have no interest in sitting in a coffee shop talking about deity and ritual.  I don’t need others energies and intentions and motivations screwing with my spellcraft.  Just… not for me, I guess.  I suppose you could say that I just don’t “play well with others” in that way.

There is much that has remained the same in the separation of those fifteen-ish years, but above are the most notable differences that have developed over time to transition my faith from that of my parents into something that works for me alone.

 

Making “Florida Water” at Home

Right, so my mother did not call this “florida water”, but I’ve looked at a LOT of Florida Water recipes, and it’s essentially the same thing with a few tweaks.  This version is my mother’s recipe for what she has always called her “Energy Cleanser” or “Energy Spray”.

I thought you might be interested, since you’d asked about spell craft.  This is an example of spell craft, although I will be doing a separate post to go into a better explanation of what that is and how it works later on.

As my mother’s name suggests, this is used for cleansing energy of an area or thing.  It can be used to wipe down furniture or items, to wash your hands, to spray in the air or on items, etc.  My mother uses it on EVERYTHING.   My sister and I are not usually so liberal with it, though, and so we only make enough to fill a 2 liter jar at a time.

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What You Need:

Orange Peel, Rose Hips, Cedar Shavings, Rosemary, Garden Sage, Cinnamon, Lavender, Cloves, Sweet Grass, Star Anise, Ylang Ylang essential oil, and an air-tight jar.  Mason jars work, as will any other type of glass bottle or jar as long as it can create an air-tight seal even when turned upside down or shaken.  Many of these items can be substituted for their essential oils if you don’t want to forage and/or grow what you need.  I simply prefer the growing and foraging method.

You will also need a CLEAR alcohol of at least 80-proof.  I have used rubbing alcohol, everclear, and vodka in the past.   This batch is made with vodka, as it’s what I had on hand at the moment.

You’ll notice in my ingredients pictured above, I’m missing Star Anise.  That is because they were OUT where I normally source the magickal herbs that I’m not either ethically sourcing through nature or growing myself.  Thus, I will be adding it to the jar a bit later.

Once you have all that you need, clean your jar well  inside and out, then dry thoroughly.  Once dry, add all of the ingredients to the jar except the alcohol. I usually add the loose smaller ingredients first, but you can do this in any order that works for you.   As you add them to the jar, introduce them to your intention in using them and, while doing so, set your intentions energetically with each ingredient.

Each of my ingredients are introduced with the following intentions….

  • Lavender – energy purification, peace, and protection
  • Clove – repel negative influences, psychic protection, raising positive energy, and silencing gossip
  • Sweet Grass – energy purification, healing, attracting positive energy, and good fortune
  • Garden Sage – energy purification, wish fulfillment, and creating sacred space
  • Rosemary – energy purification, and warding off negative energy
  • Cedar Chips – banishing and warding of negative energy, creating sacred space
  • Cinnamon – grounding, protection, and success
  • Rosehips – attracting good health, attracting abundance, and promoting peace and harmony
  • Orange Peel – fostering positive energy, protection, hex breaking, and abundance
  • Star Anise (to come) – good luck, protection, calming energies, and increasing intuition
  • Ylang Ylang – clearing of and protection from negative energy, inviting in soothing energies, and nurturing the inner spirit

As you can see from the list above, each of the ingredients has its own purposes, but also works together with others in the jar to create a blend of primarily protective and cleansing properties.

Florida WaterOnce everything has been added to the jar, the alcohol you’ve chosen to use is then added and the container is filled up to its rim then sealed.   After sealing, this is a good time to give it a good vigorous shake to make sure your jar is air tight, as well as to get everything inside the jar mixed together.

Place the jar in a cool, dark place to set for three months.  It is usually a good idea to use a sharpie marker and write on the jar when the mixture was made and how long it needs to sit for, that way you do not forget. I prefer to do this making during the full moon as a part of my full moon ritual, so that I can include that burst of energy into the making.  I have made this mixture during this last full moon so that it will be ready to be opened for the new year, which is a tradition in our family.

It needs to be stored in a cool, dark place in order to protect the contents from degrading due to light.  But, be sure to pull it out each month at the full moon to set out in the moonlight after dark, but also be sure that you put it back in a cool, dark place before daylight.

Once opened, you want to strain the liquid inside through a fine mesh (or cotton cloth) to remove all the little bits of debris inside.  You can then tie up the contents in a biodegradable bit of cheesecloth and bury them to return them to degrade in the earth.   Strain the liquid a second time to ensure it is well cleaned, then transfer to a clean jar.

For use, you add 1 part mixture to (at least) 4 parts distilled water.   DO NOT use this mixture without diluting it by at least a 1:4 ratio or more.  It is very strong and needs dilution to be safe for your skin, pets, etc.   I personally use a 1:10 ratio just to be sure it is safe for Miss Luna to be around.  In my case, I fill a glass spray bottle with the diluted mixture and use it to clean surfaces before spell crafting, as well as to spray on my hands prior to tarot readings.

The remaining undiluted mixture can be stored in a cool, dark place until it’s needed.  As long as it is undiluted and sealed in an air-tight glass container, it will have an indefinite shelf life.

Resourcing Supplies

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is a three-in-one, all of which deal with how you resource the supplies you use in your faith and/or craft.

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From Jay Jackson:

I was wondering about the group’s different takes on using Items that are now mass-produced or that are not naturally occurring for use in their Craftwork or Rituals. For instance you can go down to one of the large camping stores and buy a cauldron or acquire one from one of the various “witchy” stores. Back in the day people usually repurposed a family heirlooms or acquired an old one from an antique store. Some Items that were made by hand are now available off the shelf.

I really don’t have an issue with this.  For some people, they are limited (sometimes severely so) in their ability to access natural resources, hand-me-down items, antiques and vintage pieces, and other such methods that were once common place.   Sometimes they are financially strapped and mass market is the only way to afford something they feel they want or need.

As long as all paths and venues are represented and none are causing the death of any of the others?  Then I say do what feels right for you.

In my own personal choices, I get a lot of what I need from my hikes in nature, as well as from second hand stores, yard sales, garage sales, etc…. and occasionally thrift stores and dollar stores.   There is also eBay and Etsy, although I usually avoid ordering spellcraft items online whenever possible (especially crystals), as I find I need to touch them in order to make sure the energies they emit are going to blend well with my own or my purpose.

Keep in mind when ordering online that if you are sensitive to energy emissions, you might not be happy with what you receive regardless of how many pictures you see of the item first.  Cleansing can only do so much.  Sometimes?  It’s just not enough.

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(Cont.) From Jay Jackson:

Also due to modern technology, Laboratory grown Crystals are available. Last year I saw a really beautiful Crystal that was Opalite, I really felt it was ‘calling’ to me, my hopes for the stone were dashed when someone pointed out Opalite is man-made in Labs. I recently acquired one anyway to use as a focal point for a similar item found in Druid Practice but it is unknown what its historic nature was. (A Serpents Egg or Dragon Egg)

I’m okay with using non-crystal “crystals” in magical practice.  If the item suits your needs and/or you feel it has the energy and qualities you’re looking for to enhance your practice or crafting?  Go for it.  Crystals aren’t the only things in the world that carry energy, so why not?

I do have a HUGE issue with misrepresentation on the side of crystal suppliers.  Whether this is because they don’t know any better, or because they are intentionally being deceptive?  Not okay.

First?  They should know their shit, and if they don’t they shouldn’t be selling crystals.  So that they don’t know what they’re actually selling is NOT an excuse.

Second? Whether it is “accepted in the industry” or not.  Whether it is something “everyone is doing” or not.  Whether it is legal or not.  I don’t give a fuck.  Deceptive practices are still deceptive practices, regardless of the reasons and/or excuses used to justify their use.   And…. IMO?  Not okay.   This includes baking amethyst to then ‘pass it off’ as citrine.  This includes claiming opalite is a stone (it’s glass).  This includes claiming dyed stones are naturally that color.  All of that is deceptive.  Commonly done, but deceptive.

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From Lea McAlister:

I’m curious what everyone’s thoughts might be in the Sephora Beginner Witch Kits that they [were going to] be selling. It seems like a pretty hot topic with divided opinions everywhere. I would love to know what everyone here thinks. :)”

Cultural Appropriation

noun
  1. the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society

I’m pretty sure that says it all where my opinion is concerned.

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From Shadow_sun:

Favorite budget ideas for spells such as supplies, herbs, or just in general.

I already mentioned a number of them above.  One of my favorite sources is when I go hiking in nature or take a trip to the beach.  You have to be careful that you are sourcing sustainably, though.  Don’t just take whatever you want, as much as you want, and think it’s okay because it’s “free”.  Be certain that you are not harming the environment or those that live within it by what you decide to take away with you.

Second hand stores, yard sales, garage sales, thrift stores, dollar stores, etc.  All of these are really good for things like supplies and in general.  Estate sales can also be a good place to look for things such as crystals and supplies at a steep discount, although that’s not always the case.

For herbs, my biggest suggestion is to learn how to grow what you need.  This is what I do for sage, lavender, rosemary, and a few other herbs.  I grow them, bundle them (when appropriate), and dry them myself (or freeze them if needed).  You’d be amazed at how much you can get out of a single plant.

Other venues for herbs would be the local grocery store, ethnic markets (ie: Chinatown), bulk food stores, etc.

Craft stores often also are a good place.  They will often have coupons online that you can use to get some pretty steep discounts (such as 20% off an entire order, or 40% off a single item, for example).

You’ll notice I don’t mention metaphysical shops.  This is because I’ve found unless they’re having a spectacular sale or liquidating to close down?  They don’t really have good deals for saving money.  Since this question is all about how to SAVE money, I did not include them.

Nor do I mention Amazon, eBay, or Etsy on this question.   I have found that although you can occasionally find some really good deals from online sites, the results of what you get when your order arrives is a “mixed bag” when it comes to getting what you -expect- to receive. For this reason, I prefer to shop for my spellcrafting supplies in person whenever possible.

 

Spellcrafting vs Spell Casting

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This post was inspired by a video by the HearthWitch on YouTube.  I was watching this video when, somewhere near the beginning, she mentioned that a lot of people cast spells by using spells from books and following them to the letter.

This was a really new concept to me.  And… odd concept to me.   But then I started thinking about it.

L and I were taught spellcraft by our mother from a very young age, and a part of that was creating our own spells.  This was further encouraged when Z came into our lives, as she also does this kind of spellcraft.

And that got me to thinking.   Perhaps that’s why it was always called “spellcraft”.  My mother calls it spellcraft.  Z calls it spellcraft.  In our house, it was never “spell casting”, it was (and is) spellcraft.

I had always thought that the terms “spell casting” and “spellcraft” were interchangeable… but maybe they aren’t.

Maybe (and I think that for me this is more than a maybe, but realization of the truth of something) spellcrafting is crafting a spell.  Whether that is taking a pre-existing spell and crafting it into something that fits you and your needs, or making spells from scratch.

Whereas spell casting would be more of an umbrella term that includes spellcraft, but also includes ANY kind of casting spells.  Whether there is personal crafting involved in the spell or not.

I guess it’s kind of like cooking. Some people use a recipe and follow it strictly. Some use a recipe, but customize it how they wish. And others just go from scratch and make up their recipes on their own, whether that be before they get started, or on the go.

Just some musings, I guess, as I wrap my mind around this new realization.