The Five Stages of Spellcasting: Stage One
Stage 1: Formally defining the purpose of the spell.
Take your symbol that should be made of natural material, natural fabric, crystal, beeswax, dough, clay, flowers, herbs, twigs or metals.
Set the symbol in a dish or flat plate in the center of the altar (you can use a pentacle dish is you wish).
Raising the symbol dish in the center of the altar as you face north, name the purpose of the spell and the time scale, for example, “by the time the leaves are on the trees,” “by the next full moon or “within seven days.”
At the same time, define the person for whom you are casting the spell – this could be yourself.
If you wish, you can now, while you are speaking, pass the symbol on its dish slowly in turn over all four elemental substances, beginning in the north or east.
You may now speaking slowly and confidently, ask for any god or goddess or maybe an angelic power that could be helpful.
Put the symbol back in the center. Touch the symbol with your wand or with a crystal point or the outstretching tip of your index finger to make the connection between the symbol and the energies to be raised. Say:
Be filled with powers and blessings that _________(name) may be/ have/ do__________.
In a ritual you would announce the purpose of the gathering and draw everyone together in a initial chant or action during this first stage.
The timing of spells and rituals is crucial. You can draw on the prevailing energies of the moon, the sun and the seasons and also factors like weather to amplify the power of your spells. To flow with the energies of the natural world is like walking or cycling with the wind or swimming with the tide as opposed to against it.
Much of the information on the moon, sun, seasons, the sea tides and weather is contained within different books. However, successful timing are ultimately about trusting your innate instincts. A number of experienced practitioners can feel if the moon is right or sense a rising tide even before they reach the shore.
This is not so easy initially for city dwellers or for people who like me grew up in the center of towns. The more time we spend close to nature, the more this instinctive awareness returns, for we all carry it in our genes from our distant ancestors, though it may be deeply buried.
You can help to reinstate this awareness by rising and sleeping according to natural light patterns. This is easiest done on holidays or weekends especially on natural camping grounds where there is no electric light. Watching the moon in the sky without light pollution is a good way of connecting with natural rhythms and timing especially if you note down your feelings as the moon changes each night. You may find a particular moon day evokes the same emotions each month.
I still have a tendency to think I should switch on the heater on a grey day even if it is muggy but I am getting better at listening to my body and not my logical mind.
Again, successful circle casting is less a matter of accurate measurement and knowledge of correct procedure than a feeling the pulse of the land you are working with and allowing your instincts to help you create an empowered and protective area for magick.
Magick, is, in essence, the use of energy for a variety of purposes. Energy is neutral. What isn’t neutral, however, is the intent of the person casting the spell, and this is where the misunderstanding of calling magick “black” or “white” arises. Generally, if the spellcaster seeks to cause damage or perform a malicious act, then it’s referred to as “black magick.” If the spellcaster seeks to do good work and benefit themselves or others, this is seen as “white magick.” In reality, it’s a lot more complex than this simple dichotomy, good versus bad and the importance of employing an ethical system in conjunction with spellcasting. The point is that magick is neutral. A common illustration is the use of a tool such as a knife. The knife itself is a neutral object. However, it may be used to cut someone’s throat, to cut up vegetables to feed a family, or to slice through the bonds holding someone prisoner. The knife isn’t good or bad: what you choose to do with it determines its value within the content of a situation.
As a rule, the energy you will use in spellcraft is neutral. It is true, however, that if it has at some time been programmed with a strong intent, energy can sometimes retain the echo of that original purpose. People visiting various monuments or historical sites often comment on a certain feeling that seems to be perpetuated or generated by the location itself. Energy in the form of strong emotion has soaked into that area, creating a permanent echo of the of the original event. Take, for example, the islands used as quarantine containment areas off the coast of Australia. As each ship of settlers arrived, a doctor inspected the passsengers, and if anyone was deemed a health threat, then the entire load of passengers was exported to one of these islands. Close quarters ensured that whoever wasn’t sick would become ill through contact with those who were, resulting in a pervasive feeling of dread and despondency throughout the quarantined community. Visitors to these islands today remark on the feelings of despair, fear, and resignation that the islands possess, even though their original purpose of isolating immigrants has long passed.
These echoes of strong energy can remain for years, and sometimes give rise to the belief that a place or an object is “haunted.” However, the majority of energy that a spellcaster will encounter and work with throughout his or her practice is neutral, and safe to use in spells to improve one’s life.