Witchcraft for Beginners: 7 More Mistakes Made by Beginning Witches
In my previous article, 5 Common Mistakes Made by Beginning Witches, I discussed mistaken concepts and ideas about the Craft overall that would trip you up before you even got started. In this article, I'd like to focus more on technical mistakes that a beginner is more likely to make.
It's understandable that everyone would make mistakes-- Witchcraft isn't an 'easy path' to anything; and everyone starts off stumbling when they first start it. There's a lot of information to take in at once, and without a one-on-one mentor or guide training you, it can be difficult to build your understanding. Some of these points here might save you from struggling, or help you realize why you have struggled with something.
Proceed with Caution!
Using Lists as Law
There's actually two schools of thought on the topic of correspondences/associations. The first is that magic is an exact science, and requires the exact combination of ingredients, words, gestures, symbols, astrological events, etc. in order to be effective.
The other school of thought is that correspondences and associations are guidelines-- starting points, and you should adjust them as necessary. The Witch combines her own energy with the energy of whatever tool/component/alignment being used to create the energy that is sent into the universe. The correspondences/associations must be meaningful to you or they are useless to you, because meaningless things can't help you raise the energy conducive to the working.
My opinion falls with the latter-- that your correspondences and associations need to be personalized. For example, many money spells call for green items; what if you come from a country in which money is red? In your mind, the energy of red is associated with wealth, not green. You need to borrow the necessary energy-- if you can't find it in green, then your spell is in trouble.
Never adopt long lists of correspondences and associations; always meditate on the specific meanings to you.
Recommended Witchcraft Book:
I'm not a fan of most of their work, but the Frosts do a pretty good job at presenting the basics of magic.
I NEED This Ingredient!
Nothing is irreplaceable. Nothing. Honestly, there is no all-powerful magical thing on the planet that is the only thing you can use. Think about people who used magic throughout the ages: before you could order things from the internet, before the onslaught of Llewellyn books, before there were new age shops selling dragon's blood and amethyst chunks, before they even had contact with other people using magic outside their culture and region. If palm fronds, obsidian and chicken bones were abundant, that's what they used. If mammoth tusks, iron and blueberries were the natural local resources, that's what they used.
A well stocked spice rack gives you about as much access to herbs as any ancient Shaman-- maybe not the same ones, but certainly a more than workable variety. Don't worry about finding and gathering what works; learn to make what you have available work for you.
Focus Like You Have Tunnel Vision
Reading Instructions While Spellcasting
Another dispute is reading vs. memorizing. You don't need to memorize an entire spell before casting it, but you should be familiar enough with it so you're not reading it step-by-step like a how-to article. A book or notes can be there for quick referral. There's nothing wrong with glancing at them occasionally. However, part of preparation for a magical working is to become familiar enough with the words and steps so that you are comfortable with it, and it flows rather effortlessly. Having to constantly stop, find your place, read, think, work it out, etc., will just prevent you from staying in the ideal state of mind for spellwork.
One of the most important things in spellcasting is to focus on a clear, concise goal. The more specific, the better. For example, a generic 'bring me happiness' spell is wasted energy. Throwing out general ideas breaks up and scatters the energy; there are probably hundreds of things that would make you happy. General goals take the energy raised, tear it into pieces, like confetti, and send it out into hundreds of different directions. Each little 'piece' of it is too small to make a dent.
A more specific goal focuses the energy like a laser. Consider one thing that would actually make you happy-- a raise at work, a new home, a different career, a new friend, less pain (be it emotional or physical)? Make that your goal. If you need more than one thing, that's what next month is for.
Negative Words and Images
Imagine you are doing a web search for work. You need to find information about red dresses, but not green or blue dresses. If you were to put in the search bar "red dresses but not green or blue dresses," guess what you're going to get? You're going to get hits about red dresses, blue dresses and green dresses. A better search term would be "red dress." You know that the computer just picks up keywords like "red" "blue" "green" and "dress", it doesn't distinguish between which are wanted and which aren't-- it simply gives whatever websites match up with the key words.
The energy you're raising and sending out, your primal mind, the universe-- these all operate a little like the internet. They work on very specific words and images keywords-- not lengthy messages explaining them.
If you do a spell to 'get out of poverty,' a qualifier or explanation 'get out of' doesn't even register. The energy sent out is in the form of a key word-- poverty. Likewise, if during your spell, you visualize yourself being miserable in debt and need, the energy doesn't sort out whether it's desired or not-- it's just the image itself that goes out. What you end up sending is the very thing you're trying to escape-- poverty, and you wallowing in it.
In the majority of cases, you're going to want to avoid using negative language or negative images. If you want to get out of poverty, your spell should focus on what you want, and how you want things to be; not on what you don't want and how you don't want things to be.
Keep your Emotions in Check
A major part of raising energy is raising emotional energy. Like with key words, it's important to raise and send the right ones, the ones conducive to your working. Being in an emotional place that's very different from what you desire is self-sabotage when casting spells. You can't cast a successful spell for something to make you happy when you're emotional state at the time is misery. You can't cast a spell to bring love into your life if at the time you're filled with hate and resentment. Your emotional state needs to match the goal-- and the emotional energy raised needs to be what you expect to feel when the goal is achieved.
If you cannot snap yourself out of an emotion that's not conducive to the working, it's best to postpone the working until you can.
When you cast a spell, you raise and direct energy. The bulk of it is done during the actual spell, but that energy actually begins building from the moment you start planning the spell and continues after the spell as you await the outcome.
Beginning to doubt yourself or magic is like throwing cold water on coals you just worked so hard to heat up-- you are neutralizing it. Your spell will be less effective because letting yourself fret with worry and doubt for the next two weeks can cancel the original energy and effort out; or at the very worst, it may neutralize it.
As you can see, when it comes to spell casting your state of mind is absolutely essential. You need to know what you're doing, know how to do it and have confidence you can do it. A few little mistakes can trip us up enough to render our efforts useless. Always think logically about what you're trying to achieve, and how your spell will bring you closer to that goal.