On my beloved forums, this issue pops up now and again: people who describe their practice but can’t define whether or not it is spellwork. I think this is definitely worth defining and should be different from rituals of worship.

Spells

In Wicca and many other traditions, a  spell makes use of the practionners will to create change. Wiccans start the spell much as they would any other ritual – by creating a working area for containment (the circle), raising energy through various means such as story-telling, singing, dancing and/or chanting. When the power reaches its “height”, collected in the circle (called the cone of power) the practicionner then releases it to the Universe, directing it to her or his intention.

Other ways of building energy include calling on the elements and calling to specific deities. I am adamant in  my opinion that deities should NOT be called to fulfill the spell for you, they should only bear witness and support you if they choose to do so. You, the spell-caster, must propell the spell yourself and in doing so, take full responsibility for it.

You msut only do a spell when it is absolutely necessary, when you’ve done every possible practical thing to resolve the situation first – like really going job hunting before doing a spell to have work fall in your lap.

If you have to ask “Is this ethical” or if you’re feeling chicken about karmic payback, then don’t bother. In times of true necessity, you’ll be willing to sacrifice your personal comfort for what needs to be done. If you can’t tweak the wording and the intention of a spell enough to properly clarify the terms of your spell, then you’re not smart enough to be doing them.

Which is fine, really, because spells aren’t for everyone. I think it’s much easier to just ask the Lord or Lady to do it, but I happen to find that irresponsible. To be honest, the only two spells I have ever performed would be considered “unethical” by some. They were necessary, they were hard, I paid repercussions for them, and they came true in ways that I did not quite expect – but it was worth it.

Rituals

Rituals are much different and are something I think all practicionners. Rituals are acts of worship, ranging from prayers to full-blown ceremonial offerings, and are important for everyone to establish and maintain relationships with The Divine.

We cannot just ask of The Divine, we must also give of ourselves. Rituals of worship nurture the give-and-take that makes up every good relationship. Make offerings to your deity. Ask that they bless some food and wine, so you may take their blessing into your body. Ask for nothing else. Meditate before your altar.

Sabbats/Festival Days should be reserved for ritual and not spellwork.

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