What’s in a Spell? Witchcraft, Ritual, and Spellwork

We tend to all know and love the words “energy” and “intention” and “manifestation” like they’re the back of our hands, even those who claim to be less of a spiritual devotee. When it comes to the word “witchcraft” though, suddenly everything can tend to feel a bit too ooky spooky.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003)

I’ll be the first to admit — I was among this crew that had to take not just several, but many glances at the word “witchcraft” before even considering in dabbling in what that word entailed. Even as someone who had readily embraced tarot at age 15, come into the world of astrology and the occult at an extremely young age, and grew up around family who were immensely accepting, if not practicing, similar crafts, there was something about the word “witch” or “witchcraft” that I didn’t quite connect with immediately. Like tarot, and arguably much more so, witchcraft is deeply associated with its depictions within pop culture, making the understanding of what that word means much more difficult.

Something that furthered my disconnect was my lack of connection to organized religions like Wicca or Paganism, which are still not practices I tend to identify myself with — not because of my lack of respect or admiration for those who practice the religion, but simply because I knew in my bones it wasn’t for me.

When I actually had gotten to conversing with those who identified themselves as witches, it became abundantly clear that I have been practicing witchcraft already — and you probably have too.

Intention as Witchcraft

The best example I can give of “everyday witchcraft” would be the equivalent of when a mother kisses her sick child on the forehead to show her love and healing intention. It’s a sign of kindness, compassion, and her desire for her child to physically get better, but also know that they’re loved and cared for. This is essentially, on a basic level, what witchcraft means to me. It’s our demonstration of intent, our giving of energy, our ability to heal and connect beyond time and space.

The power of the subconscious isn’t a new thing, nor is it an unpopular concept. If you’re a serious skeptic and are having a hard time wrapping your head around things like the law of attraction, consider the ways in which a placebo effect function — things become true because we believe them to be true. This is why manifestation works; we’re not pulling something from nothing, but rather pulling something from our own power and the elements available to us.

Secularism and Spirituality

The primary misconception about witchcraft, again, much like tarot or other divinatory practices, is that it’s innately connected to something spiritual or religious. You don’t have to believe in X thing or associate yourself with a higher power if that’s not something you connect with. Intention, energy, and intuition aren’t things that will ever be intrinsically bound to one practice or another, at least not from my view.

In other words — do you not believe in a higher power? Do you not subscribe to deity worship or connect with gods or goddesses? Do you feel detached from religion and are uninterested in subscribing to one? That’s okay, because secular witches very much exist, and their practices are still very real!

Spellwork & Ritual

For someone like me who is incredibly powered by routine and schedule, “rituals” are what help me stay focused, dedicated, and in tune with my practice. This means that I love following the lunar cycle, enjoy meditating at certain times in the day, and go through (sometimes overly-rigorous) instructions and routines when conducting spellwork. This is also usually what people picture when I say “witchcraft,” but it’s not something that will ever be required of you (spoiler alert: nothing is required of you, and you’re allowed to do whatever empowers you as long as it’s not harmful).

Spellwork is often the culmination of my energy, intention, and belief; it helps me channel those things into an item, typically speaking, and physically see the product of my work. Spell bottles are the easiest way for me to conduct this, because each item carries an intention and/or energy that I’m attempting to channel, and it all gets thrown into a lovely little physical item that I can hold onto and see frequently, as well as carry with me. When I pass a spell bottle onto someone else, my intention, labor, and positive goodwill for them is also passed onto them.

Final Thoughts

Full disclaimer: this all has obviously been about what witchcraft means to me. I am well aware that opinions, practices, and feelings about witchcraft vary across the spectrum, and all voices are valid and welcomed into this conversation (so long as they’re also willing to listen to another perspective too).

Feel free to tell me what witchcraft might mean to you, how you practice it, how it empowers you, or even share with me a story, spell, or anecdote regarding your craft.