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Spellwork: The Myths Behind the Magic

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

When you first think of spellwork, what comes to mind? Maybe it's a bubbling cauldron exuding a thick green smoke or even a group of women dancing around a bonfire under the moonlight. As much as I wish witchcraft looked like a scene out of Harry Potter, the real deal is much less mysterious.

From left to right: a brass cauldron doling a pine smudge bundle, a glass jar of dried red rose petals, a jar of dried yellow sunshine mix, a jar of dried pink crepe myrtle from the park, a jar of dried white baby's-breath, a jar of dried purple crepe myrtle from a cemetery, a jar of dried white clover flower, a jar of dried purple daisies, and a white marble pestle and mortar. Three bundles of different smudging tools in front starting with sage, wild grasses, and a pine bundle wrapped with a clear quartz.
Spellwork ingredients from my personal collection

Just like any choice you make is an action that alters the physical world, spells are actions that alter the spiritual world. Each of us is constantly co-creating this reality we experience here on Earth which includes both the physical & metaphysical. At its core, magic is simply asking the Universe to align with your vibration. Of course the spells you use have to be within reason (just like any physical action), but your suggestions are always taken into account.

Think of spellwork as a prayer with special effects. The ingredients you use each have a cultural and spiritual meaning that add energy to the prayer - much like holy water or incense. The ritual aspect is there to help raise your vibration and get you in the zone of connection. To me, modern witchcraft looks and feels more like a church service than what you read about in books.


Common Spellwork Ingredients:

  • Candles

  • Incense

  • Pen & Paper

  • String

  • Herbs & Flowers

  • Shells

  • Crystals

  • Fossils

  • Glitter

  • Sand

  • Money

  • Food & Beverage

  • Salt

  • Moon Water

No matter what you use, understand that the most vital spellwork ingredient is your intention. If your intent is not clear and confident, it is most likely that your spell will not work the way you wanted it to. After you have cast your spell, release it to the Universe and go about your business. Try not to worry so much about immediate results. You will see the necessary change for your Highest Good in divine timing.

An example of client spellwork. A red tea candle sits in the center of an ornate silver tray. Surrounding the candle are various ocean tumbled crystals and flowers including red roses, red clover, and gumballs from an American sweetgum tree.
Late Night Workings

Q & A:

How often should I cast a spell?

I typically perform 2-3 spell workings for myself a month at the most. If you catch yourself casting on a daily basis, ask yourself if there is any way to consolidate things. Certain workings (such as home protection jars) really only need to be done once a year. Others can be done monthly with the Full or New Moons.

Take a deep look at what is truly going on and be sure that your actions are aligning with your Higher Self. I know it's easy to get swept away in the excitement of the moment, but always cast with a clear head & heart. Minor inconveniences should be given to the Universe to work out naturally. Sometimes stepping out of the way is the best thing to do.

Do I need to buy a lot of official tools for my practice?

Not at all! Some of the best spiritual tools you will have are the ones you find out in nature. You may even have some objects already in or around your home that you can use. If you do choose to purchase your items, be mindful about supporting local & small businesses instead of the large chain stores. You can also check out your local thrift or second-hand shops to find great items at a fraction of the price. Just be sure to clean & cleanse them first!

Can I use bird feathers in my practice?

I know it's tempting, but collecting bird feathers for your practice not only runs the risk of giving you a serious zoonotic disease and but it could land you in some legal trouble as well. The U.S & Canada Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 states that the capture, possession, or selling of any native migratory bird, nest, feathers, and/or body parts is illegal under federal law and punishable by a hefty fine of up to $15,000 or even 6 months of jail time. There are some loopholes to this law including this updated list of nonnative/invasive birds which have been excluded from the MBTA. Unless you are a master bird identifier, it's best to steer clear of the guessing games just to be safe. Chicken, duck, peacock, and other edible foul feathers are a good alternative.

Note: indigenous American peoples have sacred rite to own certain bird feathers. Always be respectful of people's traditions and heritage. The USA has certain laws that allow this act.

What about using bones?

If you ever find deer antlers or bones in the woods, feel free to take them home & clean them up for use as long as you haven't found them in a National Park or protected area. Certain species of animals are protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and others require a permit to possess, so make sure to check your state & local laws to be very clear about what is and isn't allowed.

It is currently allowed in 49 out of 50 states to legally obtain human remains, though at varying degrees. While Louisiana is the only state which has prohibited the owning and selling of human remains completely, certain states such as Georgia, New York, & Tennessee only allow internal buying, selling, and trading. You also cannot legally obtain your human remains by grave digging or keeping murder/war trophies (sorry guys, I know, huge bummer).

Even if your bones are "legally" obtained, many human remains on the market come from sketchy sources and do not require any paperwork or permits. If you are someone who is particularly interested in maintaining an ethical practice, purchasing human remains is probably off the table. Chicken bones from your local grocery store might be a better alternative.

It is important to note that the possession or disturbance of Indigenous Peoples' remains is entirely illegal in all 50 states under the Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act of 1990. If you happen to come across human remains in nature or on your property, do not disturb them and alert officials immediately.

Is it okay for me to smoke cleanse with Sage or Palo Santo?

Though they have been increasingly popular in recent years, smoke cleansing practices such as these are considered a sacred and closed practice, reserved for Indigenous Peoples and certain African cultures. Up until The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, Indigenous Peoples were not legally permitted to practice their own faiths. Native people who chose to practice their faith would be imprisoned, physically harmed, sent away from home, and even killed. This act of political, psychological, and religious warfare on Native American populations painfully left generations without critical knowledge of their own culture. Even though this law has been lifted, Native people are still experiencing racism & religious discrimination to this day.

If you have been gifted your bundle by a member of the culture it belongs to, be sure to always use it in a respectful manner and store it properly. The same goes for Dream Catchers or any other tools from closed practices. If you are intent on using these tools in your practice, be sure to support the culture from which it came in the process.

Am I allowed to practice Voodoo/Voudon/Houdou?

Similar to the above question, the answer depends on your cultural background. If you are not of Afro-Caribbean or African American descent, or have not been personally initiated by a member of the practice, it is disrespectful to do so. Understand that these scared practices have been upheld by the ancestors of African enslaved peoples who were forced to keep their religions secret. African individuals who tried to practice their religion openly were severely injured and killed for doing so. Today, these spiritual practices are still highly demonized by mainstream culture due to racism and religious discrimination. It is morally wrong to attempt to appropriate these cultures and their beliefs for the sake of aesthetic.

Additionally, there have been cases of people experiencing trauma, bad luck, and even death after attempting to contact certain Loas without proper training & knowledge.

For your own safety, leave the conjuring to the professionals within that culture.

Someone is telling me I have been cursed, what do I do?

Don't panic. Oftentimes scammers will tell you this to coerce you into buying their remedy, spell, or services. If the information is not coming from someone you know and trust, or a reputable professional, it is probably not true. If you suspect someone has put a curse on you, or you know they have for a fact, feel free to reach out and we can talk about it. Oftentimes, bouts of bad luck or a consistent low vibration in the home are due to paranormal activity which has to be addressed in an entirely different way. In both cases, I can offer you free & no-stress ways to handle it.

If I cast a spell, will there be repercussions?

Again, this is a situation where it depends. All spellwork will take some energy from you, but of course, this energy can be replenished with a quick snack or drink. Spells that attempt to override the free will of another will almost always come back around in some way. The same goes for hexing/cursing someone who did not deserve it. When performing any type of spell aimed at receiving justice for a situation, I recommend asking the working to give what is deserved to restore the balance instead of asking for a specific 'punishment.' It is also common practice to avoid casting spells for anyone unknowingly, even if it is coming from a good place. Always ask before performing any spells on another person, especially another practitioner who may have defenses set up for this type of activity. If you are working with certain deities or ancestors, you may need to give an offering before and after as a sort of 'payment' for their help.

If you are serious about casting an ethical spell, make sure that you have figured out all of the possible loopholes and are very clear with your intentions. Are you really prepared to receive what you asked for? Because you just might get it.

With love,

Ashlyn Aquarius

© 2020 Ashlyn Aquarius. All rights reserved.

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