A Witchcraft Primer: Magic and Spellcasting Basics

Spell Casting

A lot of people want to learn Witchcraft because they think it's going to be a quick and easy way to rewards. They think you follow instructions to light a candle, say a few words, and boom-- stuff happens.

It doesn't quite work that way-- spells are a little like recipes. You can try to follow along, but if you aren't familiar with the ingredients, if you don't understand the techniques, if you don't have a basic understanding of the methods or practice very much, it will be hit or miss.

In fact, the more you rely on the recipe, without really learning what makes them work, the more misses you'll have than hits.

When you get a recipe at that stage, you don't even know enough about cooking to know if it's any good, or if it's flawed. If you can't find the exact ingredients, or the right tool, you aren't really sure what to do or how it will affect the outcome of the dish. All you can do is cross your fingers and hope for the best. Even if it comes out good one time, you don't know why so you can't really repeat it.

You want to get beyond the stage of using other people's recipes-- you want to really learn how to cook. You want to learn to understand the ingredients, the tools, you want to hone those skills so that you don't have to stand there reading someone else's instructions-- you can achieve your own vision of a dish, because you have learned what to do.

Witchcraft, like any other skills, requires more than just following "recipes"-- or in this case, spells that other people write down. It's not enough to just trust it, follow instructions and hope for the best. It requires that you learn, it requires that you become familiar with the ingredients (components), the tools, the techniques.

Here, I'd like to provide you with a Witchcraft primer to give you an overview of the kinds of things involved.

Learn to Cast Spells

magic and witchcraft
magic and witchcraft | Source

Great Book on Magic

The Compleat Magical Path Magic Lessons
The Compleat Magical Path Magic Lessons

For beginners seeking to learn the basic principles, this modest little Kindle book is an excellent resource. Cross breaks it all down beautifully.


Theory in Witchcraft

Practicing Witchcraft is only enhanced by also studying theory. I know a lot of people aren't all that thrilled about studying or reading in-depth explanations for things, but it really pays off big time.

As mentioned before, putting the right ingredients together gives you hit or miss results. Understanding what you are doing, and why you are doing it, increases your success rate. It helps you understand what you're doing on many levels. It's easier to spot those spells that will work, and those that are flawed; it's easier to design your own for your specific purposes. It's easier to work with your tools and components, the more you learn.

So the reading really pays off. There are a lot of schools of thought when it comes to magic and how it works, which is also why it pays to read a lot of different books that don't just offer spells, but offer explanations, theory, philosophies.

So read up; get a notebook, and a highlighter (or a colored pencil, as I prefer) for underlining key concepts, and hit the books.

Learning Witchcraft: Strengthening the Mind

The most important tool for Witchcraft is not the cauldron, nor the candle, nor is it even the spell book. It's the mind.

The stronger you can make your mind, the better a Witch you will be. It's important to learn how to:

  • maintain focus for long periods
  • move at will from one state of consciousness to another
  • access untapped parts of the conscious and subconscious more easily
  • hone your sensory perceptions
  • manipulate energy (raising, holding, releasing, directing)

The way you strengthen your mind is the same way you would strengthen any other muscles-- you have to 'exercise' it.

Believe it or not, common brain teasers and puzzles are a good part of that. Reading is another really good part to strengthen your mind-- think of it as proper nourishment.

There are also psychic exercises* to help you improve your mental abilities. Many exercises teach you how to use all your senses, as well as your extra-senses. They also teach you how to sense and gain control over energy.

Probably the best way to strengthen the mind is the M-word; that's right-- meditation*. I know a lot of people don't like that word, and are not patient enough to master the process, but meditation for the mind is akin to weight training for the body.

Keep in mind, meditation is not all about sitting still, wiping the mind blank and being bored for an hour. There are many different focal points, many meditative techniques, and for those who don't like to sit still there is even moving meditations. If you're going to practice Witchcraft, you should consider at least giving it a try.

Magic Doesn't Come from Tools

Magic comes from knowledge
Magic comes from knowledge | Source

Tools of the Craft

Most people think of traditional Wiccan tools when it comes to tools of the Craft; and many of these tools were inherited from ceremonial magic. They do work well, however they're not all absolutely necessary.

Ideally, you should learn about your tools, experiment with them, and decide which ones best suit you and your needs. There is no point in getting a cauldron if you don't think you're ever going to need one; however, for some of us (and I raise my own hand here) the cauldron is an indispensable tool. It all comes down to personal style and preference.

Witchcraft can be very basic; for someone with an extremely well-disciplined mind, it can be practiced without tools at all. However, most Witches will find the need to use tools for focus, symbolism, energy manipulation or to draw and borrow energies. In fact, starting out, you may find yourself relying more on your tools, and then dropping that dependency as your mind grows stronger and stronger, and you find you don't need them as much anymore.

Early on, however, is definitely the time to read up on tools and experiment with those that pique your interest.

The Love Potion

making a love potion
making a love potion | Source

Witchcraft Ingredients and Components

If we go back to our cooking analogy, your tools of the Craft are like your kitchen tools-- your frying pot, your knife, your cutting board and whisk. Your components are your "ingredients" for your magical working.

Once again, this is a matter of preference. Some Witches prefer to work with herbs, some with crystals, some with symbols. It's fine at the beginning to follow your gut instinct; if one particularly attracts you, you will probably have better success with it than trying to work with something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Remember that you don't have to go grabbing a lot of wild, exotic ingredients-- in ancient times, people did not have or the local New Age shop. They used what they had available.

What's most important is that you learn and become accustomed to (through practice) the unique properties of the various components with which you choose to work. This also makes them much easier to substitute when they're not available.

Great Magic Resource

Llewellyn's 2017 Moon Sign Book: Conscious Living by the Cycles of the Moon (Llewellyn's Moon Sign Book)
Llewellyn's 2017 Moon Sign Book: Conscious Living by the Cycles of the Moon (Llewellyn's Moon Sign Book)

Llewellyn's guide not only gives some great articles, but a moon sign calendar so that you can perfectly time your magical workings throughout the year.



Last but not least, it's important to understand correspondences so that you can properly plan and time your workings.

Astrological correspondences-- the moon phases, moon signs, planetary hours, etc.-- are among the most important to learn. You don't actually have to learn to read someone's full Astrological natal chart, but you need to understand how to apply these different phases to your workings. They lend a tremendous amount of power, particularly for someone new. Trying to send energy for your intent during a time when opposing energies and influences are present can just result in clashing energies-- which disperse and are rendered ineffective. They can cancel each other out. Working with the proper timing lends your spell additional energies conducive to your intent.

Other correspondences you will want to familiarize yourself with include the elements, the directions, symbols, gender, deities, tools, and of course with whatever components with which you have chosen to work.

It's a good idea to begin keeping a chart of such things, either in your Book of Shadows, your spell book or whatever record-keeping system you may employ. Keeping track really helps you repeat your successes, and it also makes spell planning a lot easier because you'll have one convenient place to look up all the information.

Of course, just like a chef may run purely on intuition sometimes, grabbing ingredients and throwing them into a pan, you can, too-- you don't always have to stick to formula. But again, to do this successfully requires a certain amount of knowledge, familiarity with the process, tools and components, and skills that you've developed over time.

But keep in mind-- they don't call it the Craft of the Wise for nothing; To earn the title, and use the Craft to your greatest benefit, takes time, study and practice. We all make mistakes along the way (I outlined some common beginner mistakes here) but that's part of the learning process; don't let them discourage you. Little by little, you'll get there.

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Comments 47 comments

k12rswow profile image

k12rswow 3 years ago from New England

I have one for you. Pit witchcraft against scripture. No, really!!! See which is more powerful.

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

A very informative hub for anyone who wants to walk on the path of witchcraft. I too was one of those people who started off doing candle magick without really understanding the basics. But then as I started reading more, I realized that the most important ingredients of any type of witchcraft (from white magick to black magic and sorcery) are mind control, mental power and visualizations. And then other ingredients come into place.

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

on a side note, I would like to know whether using two forces cancel out each other.

I am right now practicing couple of spells (a Hindu spell) and an NLP based spell for the same purpose. The Hindu spell was given to me by my Guru (teacher) and I started the NLP spell on my own as it really didn't need any witchcraft spell casting techniques (but I got it from a NLP mental control techniques book). After reading your hub, I am wondering if any of their powers may get cancelled out. Wanted to know your view.

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

Karthikkash, thank you and thanks for your comments. Yes, I do believe that energy can get canceled out-- even if not in direct opposition to each other. Instead of being focused on a goal like a laser, it become scattered and therefore simply less effective.

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

K12 thank you for your comment and coming by to read my article. I have actually studied Christian scriptures in depth for many years. My conclusion: it is mythology. It has no power other than what your mind gives it, just like any other beliefs in any other religion. I have absolutely no faith in it, so it holds no power, or use for me.

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

interesting.. I have heard from a couple of witches that it is alright to cast parallel spells even if there has already been a spell cast. They say that it is alright since it is white magick as these spells are not malevolent powers. Is it true or is it applicable only in certain cases, or only strong magic such as black magic or sorcery?

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

Hi Kart; I'm sorry, I was unclear. I do believe you can cast parallel spells, even for the same intent. I also believe they can compete with each other and render each other ineffective if not careful. In my experience, they just have to be well thought-out so the goals are compatible. There are other times when two magical workings can complement each other as well, to work harmoniously together for extra "umph".

For example: lets say Joe needs a job. He cast a spell on himself to land that dream job he is interviewing for. A few days later, as a back up plan, he cast a spell on himself to land a job at the mall to get him through when he's going out to file applications. Two different sets of energies are now having a tug-of-war; one tries to direct his future toward the dream job, the other toward the mall. They are weakening each other to Joe's detriment. If he is successful in both they will cancel each other out most likely. But if Joe cast a spell on the dream job interviewer him to see him as a stand-out candidate, and then cast a spell on himself to come across as really desirable in interviews in general, he may get more than one offer-- the energies are not competing in this case. So it's all a matter of thinking it through.

I personally don't believe in the distinctions between white magic and black magic; I'm of the school of thought that sees magic as a neutral energy source in nature; indiscriminate. But that's another article entirely ;-)

Demetre Winfield profile image

Demetre Winfield 3 years ago from chicago

I really liked this hub. I shared it with the people im teaching and introducing to the craft.

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

ah!! I get the picture now.. That indeed solved the doubt I had.. So, from what you say, my understanding is that two spells that are complimentary can add extra oomph, whereas two competing forces for the same result may cancel out each other. Is that right?

So, right now what I am doing is casting a spell and casting another spell as a back up that may have the potential to cancel out each other. I better stop and it stick to my original plan for some time (actually I felt that the earthern lamp I am using kind of gave me a signal when I started my second spell... that is another detailed discussion) :)

And yeah, I too have stopped believing in the difference between white and black magic. It really depends on the intent of the person. It is just like calling money as white and black, when there is nothing like that :)

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

one final curiosity though (sorry, I am learning witchcraft, so better to ask questions to a witch ;) ).. What if I using two spells for the exact same result.. For example, i want to earn x amount of money in the next 3 months? Or, I want this girl to love me (both spells for the x amount of money or the same girl).. So, would those spells be considered complimentary or opposing. Or will the more potent spell win?

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

Thanks Demetre, that's a real complement.

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

Hi Kart; that money analogy is great, I might have to borrow that sometime. I've never actually tried casting 2 spells for the same thing; tell you the truth, I never really thought about it, I just always figured one is good enough. I'm guessing there is a point at which it's just overkill, like the cup won't hold any more wine no matter how much you pour. So if you try it let me know how it works out for you.

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

Sure :) Thanks for the response..

OldWitchcraft profile image

OldWitchcraft 3 years ago from The Atmosphere

Very good article!

For spells to be successful, it requires a lot of energy and a lot of practiced mental focus to properly direct it at the target. Everyone has a certain amount of innate ability, some more and some less, but the power of a witch is something that has to be constantly developed and honed. It's more work than a lot of people want to invest. Consistently casting successful spells requires skill and practice.


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

Thanks, OldWitchcraft. From reading your articles I can see you're very "old school" in your thinking on that, too. I think this generation a lot of young people look to Witchcraft for instant gratification, they find a much more intense and difficult art than they bargained for, give up and say 'it doesn't work'. Definitely though, some people are more talented than others but anyone who wants to learn can learn if they invest that effort. Much appreciated!

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

OldWitchcraft: I very much agree with you. The effectiveness of the spells depend on how strong the witch's energy is. And it definitely a lot of hard work and dedication to strengthen one's energy.

Radical Rog profile image

Radical Rog 3 years ago from Plymouth

Have you ever thought to compare a spell to a prayer said in any church.

There is an altar, altar implements, incense and candles, a form of words calling on 'god' to aid, assist or bring about the desired purpose, and concluded by saying 'Amen' the equivalent of, so may it be.

Great hub.

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

Radical Rog: Actually Peter, there are a few differences between a spell and a prayer, though most of it is similar. Prayers need not have specific instructions, whereas spells have definite instructions. Also, spell casting requires a lot more focus and concentration to direct the energies to the universe to a normal prayer. Moreover, prayers are usually requests. Spells are not requests, but instructions (more of a command). These are directions and commands to different forces of nature.

Radical Rog profile image

Radical Rog 3 years ago from Plymouth

It could be argued that most prayers don't seem to be answered because they are chanted by rote without giving the required focus and concentration, but I take your point. However, instruction - yes, command - no. I find making a request while giving precise instruction works fine. I wouldn't, for example, command my best friend to do something on my behalf, but I would ask while telling exactly what needed doing. I also do something most seem to forget, hold a simple ritual to say thank you. I find it cuts down a lot of concern over the need for protection.

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

Agreed at your point. I say "command" for a specific reason. Spells are cast in different cultures in different ways.. But certain spells in most cultures not only deal with gods or angels, but also other forces. Coming from a Hindu background, I have come across certain spells that do not request, but command these forces to do the job. This falls into a different category of spell-casting (actually, grey or partly black magic).

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

That's the key, isn't it. The study & mental discipline required to sense, raise and manipulate energy. That seems to be the part many people want to skip... but that's what separates the serious students from the people just looking for instant gratification. Thanks for commenting!

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

Karthikkash, I would agree. I would say the commanding other entities falls more in the realm of High Magic or Ceremonial Magic, as opposed to Witchcraft, which is Low Magic. I'm not sure if that would be how they look at it in Hinduism.

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

I think the key difference between spells & prayers are that prayers go through a "middle man" and ask for something to be given. The energy is sent to the Higher Power, and the Higher Power intervenes, or not, depending on the situation (Gods use their own judgement). Spells on the other hand is sending the energy directly toward your goal in order to bring it directly to yourself. I know it's over-simplistic, but to me prayers would be like giving your parents or your aunts & uncles a Christmas list; spells are like going to the mall to buy what you need yourself. Generally in Witchcraft, we don't command Gods or other entities (except maybe when we're trying to banish them). We control the energy to bring about the desired effect.

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

Actually, I am not too much aware about how witchcraft works in Hinduism, in terms of Low or High magic. But yes, spell casting is divided into two categories, one is requesting and another is commanding. Requesting spells pretty much work like white spells. The wordings are such that we request god to complete the task (however, it is not necessarily a prayer, it is a spell). In commanding spells, you pretty much use the words which are commanding an entity. Most times, this is used for commanding entities other than gods (you know who), though not restricted to these spirits. It could also be commanding gods.

My understanding about Hindu spells are simple. Different spells work on different frequencies (Hindu spells rely on the combination of words and chants) and attract entities that resonate at different frequencies. These may be spirits, angels or gods. Lower the frequency of the spirit, faster they get attracted and faster your results occur. However, these are temporary solutions. Higher the frequency of the spirit, slower the solution, but possibly long term solutions.

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

In Western magical systems, it's ceremonial magicians that tend to deal more with calling and commanding spirits (though Witchcraft in itself is such a broad category, some Witches do incorporate such practices as well). There's definitely some different details in the beliefs and practices of Eastern vs. Western magical studies, but I think at the core even though we have different terms and different styles, it all works on the same principles. Thanks for your comments, sorry it took so long, I've had to take a hiatus.

karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

I definitely agree with the bottom line that whatever ways witchcraft is done, the underlying principles are same :)

Radical Rog profile image

Radical Rog 3 years ago from Plymouth

The origin of the word witch, wicha/wiche masculine and feminine, relates to knowledge, specifically spiritual knowledge of the sort suppressed by the Church and religion. However you practice, it should be based on knowledge, but always check what you think you know.

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

Thanks so much for your insights!

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

True, power comes from both nature and knowledge. Learning is a never-ending process. Thank you so much for your comments.

Nicholas Fiorito profile image

Nicholas Fiorito 3 years ago from Northern NJ

Great Hub! Love the content, the pictures, the analogy of spell casting and cooking. Well done!

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago Author

Thank you, Nicholas, glad you enjoyed it!

Benjamin Chege 2 years ago

Hi WiccanSage. I didn't know witchcraft can be learned. I though it was hereditary or something. LOL. Interesting hub, voted up as well.

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 2 years ago Author

Hi Benjamin; there's a confusion by many between psychic abilities and Witchcraft. You don't necessarily have to be the most gifted psychic to learn the Craft; you do have to be willing to work on an hone some of those abilities. It's not hereditary, though-- throughout the ages it's always been a skill people learned. It's just that when it runs in your family/culture, you're raised with it and it comes more naturally to you because you begin learning principles about it from the time you're a child-- just like if you grew up in an artist's colony, you'd probably pick up a lot about art at a young age.

confused witch 18 months ago

How do you know if you really are a witch?

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 18 months ago Author

Witchcraft is a skill, hon. You're a Witch when you're studying and practicing Witchcraft.

Courtney 15 months ago

I have been thinking about studying witchcaft I did briefly when I was a teenager but was not patience enough and I thought it would be wise to wait till I was older. I do have a couple of worries when it comes to having enough focus to understand what im reading I learn better from watching things and listening due to my dyslexia are there any videos on YouTube that can help me better understand the teaching of Witchcraft.

I just want to make sure what I watch and use will be of proper teachings

Thank you

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 15 months ago Author

Hi Courtney, there are plenty of videos, most of them are not great; I do recommend is freakphil1309 on youtube, I came across him recently and think the couple of videos I watched were great but I'm not sure he put out enough for really proper instruction, more like supplemental. I don't know any free online full video-run class that I would recommend, I just don't watch a lot of videos and a lot of what I find on the internet kinda sucks, and I learned before the internet so I never really had to look for videos.

Kate 4 months ago

Does anyone know where I could find information relating to symbols and how they're used in Witchcraft? These articles have been a major help, but I'm not sure where to start and want to have as many different pages to use for reference as I can.

Please help me, and thank you in advance.

Bhargavi 3 months ago

Well this is a beautiful article.

I am so much interested in knowninh about the other world which is caster of witch world.

But I wanted to know ,is there any particular place to study about casters or witches or to become one??

And I badly wanted to know whether casters or witches exist?? Or they are jut found in stories ??

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 2 months ago Author

Kate thanks for the comment; there are a lot of different kinds of symbols used in different ways. You might want to look into sigil magic, or specific cultural symbols such as runes.

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 2 months ago Author

Bhargavi thank you; I publish a number of articles here to help guide one through the studies of Witchcraft, you might want to check out In most of my articles I recommend books and resources.

Librasapphire 8 weeks ago

Thoroughly enjoyed this artical, I started studying witchcraft myself a few years back after watching "Charmed" I became curious about what witches were so started studying anything to do with witches including witchcraft history the more i found out the more i wanted to know and that hunger has never left.

Kina 7 weeks ago

Hello, i loved your article and am such a newbie to witchcraft. Im not going to lie im very lazy with many things being young. So learning and studying this is rather hard for me. But i've found meditating is actully simple for me since im a Wolf Therian and meditate quite a lot. I know a few weeks ago i found a page about a witch talking about beginner witch craft. She started by talking about parking spaces. How she consontrated her mind to the point where she freed the parking spaces so that when she drove there the next day there were no cars there. iw as wondering how that works? I find it hard to understand more complicated witchcraft articles since i am very young and very new to this. - Shazz/Kina

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 7 weeks ago Author

Hi Shazz/Kina; thanks for your kind words. Witchcraft is more of a lifestyle than a race, so I wouldn't worry about quickly progressing at this point. Just keep on keeping on, and it's an ever-upward path.

I don't know much about therians or wolves or anything like that; I personally believe skills like Witchcraft and meditation abilities are earned through hard work rather than birthrights, so regardless of what gives you feel you've been born with that help you along, I'd advise studying and practicing, because they'll only enhance whatever comes easy to you.

Funny enough, yes. The parking space thing is fairly well known and it's something I myself do-- visualizing several spaces free/opening up in prime spots. My success rate is high enough my husband and a couple of other people I know ask me to help them with that when they know parking will be an issue. Whether it works, it really depends upon the skills of the person doing it (ability to visualize/raise/send energy). Things like that can be a great way to practice those skills as well.



Lauren 5 weeks ago

i have a kid that wants to be a witch. Do you have any tips for her to start?

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 4 weeks ago Author

Hi Lauren; a lot depends, how old is the child? If your child is young, there are a lot of fun things at pookapages dot com-- crafts, stories, holidays, activities, etc.

If your child is a teen, I'd say reading is where it all starts. Witchcrafting by Phyllis Curott, the Way of Four by Deborah Lipp, Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magick for Teens by Ellen Dugan, Spellcaster: Seven Ways to Effective Magic by Marty Duffy.

Also encourage her to start on a meditation regime and to start keeping a journal to write down experiences, questions, thoughts, interesting information from her research, etc.

Tell her also to beware a lot of the websites full of loads of spells. It's theory and mental discipline she has to learn first.

Dark DAH 24 hours ago from Utah

i am learning fast thanks to you i also read most of the comments to see what others think about the craft i mostly use healing magic and I've never had any complaints so thats good i think i find its easier for me to use symbols when using the craft

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    Mackenzie Sage Wright (WiccanSage)535 Followers
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    Sage has been a Witch for 25 years. As a teacher and writer, she enjoys writing informative articles to teach others the Craft of the Wise.

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