How Do You Know A Magical Working “Took”?
Author: Bronwen Forbes
I ran across this question on a Pagan forum the other day, and it got me thinking back to when I was new at all this ritual and magic and witchcraft stuff – was that really half a lifetime ago? – and so unsure of my ability to do even a basic working. Fortunately for me, the Gods I chose to invoke were kind, patient, and tolerant of my novice fumbling, as were my teachers and fellow students.
There are actually several ways to know whether or not a ritual or a magical working “worked” or “took.” Some are immediate; some are long-term. In general, sabbat observances and celebrations don’t have the success bar set very high. If you feel like you’ve “done” Litha, or Mabon, then that’s good enough — whether you’ve participated in a three-hour ritual or simply prepared a satisfying barbecue in the back yard for your friends and family.
The first (and sometimes only) indication you have that your spell or ritual was a success is to ask yourself: How do I feel? Do you feel better than you did before the ritual started, or do you feel worse? If you feel better, i.e. less worried, less frightened, more confident, more energetic, calmer, happier or whatever then, at least on some level, the magical working was a success (I’m assuming no one is stupid enough to actually do a working to increase worry, fear, low self-esteem, lethargy, nerves, or sadness) .
Paganism and Witchcraft do have one thing in common with all other religions, and that is to offer comfort and a life raft to the practitioner in times of troubled waters. So if you’re done with your spell or ritual and you feel better, that should that tell you something.
Also, sometimes you just know. There’s almost an audible “click” that means, “Message received. Action forthcoming.” In fact, it sounds a lot like the “click” you hear when you meet someone for the first time and then say to an old friend, “I don’t know, we just clicked!” That click.
If you aren’t already, you should start keeping an informal log or journal of what magic and rituals you do when, and what result (s) you hope to achieve. For one thing, it’s a good idea to keep track of what happens. Say you do a magical working for an easing of financial difficulties. You write it down in your log and forget about it.
Three months later you look back and realize that, since you did that working, you’ve gotten a small raise at work, a nice tax refund from the federal government, and all of your Pagan 101 books that you posted for sale on amazon.com have actually sold! Does that sound like your spell was successful? It does to me!
Another good reason to keep a log or journal of the specifics of your workings is that, if the rite is a good one, and it works — two or three months down the road — you can re-create the working years in the future, if you find yourself in the same situation. Even better, you can share the basics with a friend who might, say, be in a dire financial situation just like you were and isn’t sure what to do, magically speaking, to fix it.
Sometimes, though, with big workings on big issues like, “I want to move to another part of the country, ” or “I want a child, ” one ritual or one spellcasting just isn’t going to have enough “oomph” to help you accomplish what you want. You may need to wait a few weeks (one lunar cycle is good) and do another one. And another one on the next major holiday. And another one on the next holiday after that…
For a big working, I suggest you vary the details slightly in order to cover all the different aspects of the issue. For example, if you want to move across the country, try doing one working to choose your new location wisely and help you get yourself and your stuff there safely, another working to get a job that will take you there (or be waiting for you when you get there) , and still another working to help you find good friends and a congenial community once you arrive. They are all rituals to help you move across the country, but each one focuses on a different aspect of the moving process.
How do you know whether or not you need to repeat the working more than once? Same way you get to perform on stage at Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.
Unfortunately, when you’re talking about magic and ritual, there is no box you can check like there is on your email to indicate message received and read. And it really doesn’t matter how carefully you prepare and how well you execute your working. Some things just aren’t to be – at least right now. Does this mean that your time and effort and energy were for nothing? No. It just means that energy has been “banked” somewhere, and is waiting for more favorable conditions to act.
Patience is more than a virtue, here. It’s a necessity.
Let me give you an example: ten years ago, I was doing regular intense workings in order to find love, or for love to find me. But no matter how many losers I hopefully dated, the time was not yet right. But the day I woke up (and I don’t mean in the morning) and realized that one of my oldest friends was Mr. Right, all that energy that I’d sent out and the Gods had stored for me fueled one heck of an intense courtship!
Within 3 months I packed up and moved to where he was currently living. A year later we were married. As of this writing, we’ve been happily wed for over eight years.
When the time is right for the working to “take” – be assured, it will!