Casting Spells For Others
I have been asked to cast. I use some for of Magic in my everyday life, little utterances of protection, serenity, and feel most of my power comes naturally. feeling that if i do try to channel outside forces, it almost always backfires. I never cast for someone else unless implicitly asked and, for a specific reason. I.E. protection, clarity, or if someone needs help getting through a darkness. I feel the strong calling to protect those around me, or far away, those that need little more help than usual. I give them what small tools I am able. It’s not always enough, but it usually helps calm the waters.
My problem lies in a friend, I have been called to help a woman who is after many years of trying, finally able to conceive. the family has asked me to cast circle of protection, on her and the unborn child, as its a high risk pregnancy. But I find myself frozen, frightened of the consequences should my casting backfire. This is the biggest thing I have ever been asked to preform, even if I use my own brand of magic, its the most taking, I feel the need to call in reinforcements even though I have always practiced solitary. Do you have any suggestions or words of wisdom?
Your concerned Witchful Believer
Dear Witchful Believer,
There is a lot going on here! A sign of a mature person is knowing when to ask for help, and I want to commend you for taking the time to consider the ethical and practical implications of your magical practice.
It is my belief, and feel free to disagree with me, that ethically speaking, we can only do magic (that is, make change) to ourselves. Practicing spellcraft is as much about changing our minds as it is about changing our fortunes. But we do impact everything we touch. Our attitudes, beliefs and actions ripple out and have consequences, most of which we cannot imagine, correlate or quantify. Magic gives us some control over those ripples.
The idea that we can control all the effects of all those ripples is, dare I say it, a little egotistical. The Greeks called in Hubris, and mortals who committed such were punished rather harshly. It means that we are reaching too far, beyond our limits. We all naturally have our own power, which is what you are calling on when you do your brand of magic. Working with others allows you to combine your power with theirs, but you do not take on their power, so it is not going beyond our personal limits. When we work with others, and the magic doesn’t work, the most likely cause is that you haven’t created sufficient group-mind. Perhaps they were thinking about something else, or the energy didn’t peak strongly, and the result was unfocused energy that fizzled before it could do any real change.
When friends ask us to do magic for them, it gets ethically sticky. Let’s say you do a protection spell for someone else. Since you can only change yourself, you will see them as being protected, which ripples when you tell them “Wow! You seem so safe! Spell must have worked!” which gives them a little confidence in themselves, which makes them feel safer. If it’s a run-on sentence, then it’s run-on magic. In order to make an effect on them, you have to work really hard on yourself, right? The more channels the energy has to go through to work, the less energy will be there at the end. Not only that, but when you do magic for someone else, you tie yourself to them and the resulting karma. Do you really want to be tied to this person? After all, you don’t have control over them. I would be fearful and frozen too.
There is such a thing as helping too much. Doing a spell for someone else is like doing someone else’s homework–they don’t learn the material! The best discussion of this concepts and how to work with it is probably Robin Wood’s book When, Why, If. Things happen in our lives to teach us lessons, but you can’t learn them for someone else. This is likely why your spells sometimes backfire–they aren’t meant to work!
My advice to you and to others with the same problem is to make it a habit to NOT do spells for other people. But you can certainly help them do it themselves. Not only will the spell work better for them, but they retain the consequences and you are not tied to it. In a practical way, they can’t blame you if the spell doesn’t work. There is more power in teaching someone else to find their inner strength than to try and carry them with yours. By all means, lend them your energy, create harmonious group mind, and even help design the spell. But the person who needs the magic, in this case, your pregnant friend, needs to get the ingredients, put it together and lead the energy raising. Assist and support them, but don’t do their homework for them.
If you still feel nervous about the whole thing and need more support, you can ask the Gods for help. Many Godforms are sympathetic to childbearing mothers. Artemis in particular helps with childbearing, and would understand the challenge of a high-risk pregnancy. A watery Earth mother like Danu would lend her energy to bring a healthy babe into the world. Pick someone with a known track record. I once read about a woman trying to conceive who prayed to the Crone aspect and the Venus of Willendorf. It’s no wonder it didn’t work, especially when we don’t know anything about the paleolithic Venus statues. So you could help your friend make an altar to one of these deities, and light a candle or say a prayer daily to assist with the pregnancy. It need not be a one-shot magical deal, since childbearing is a rather long-term situation.
Sometimes our spells just don’t work. If we are fearful of attempting them, then they will definitely not work. Magic manifests and magnifies, so don’t magnify that fear! Your fear is likely your intuition telling you that you haven’t found the right way to do this spell. Consider using a neutral party to decide about spellcasting. I have a bag of yes/no stones which give me a clear answer. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to accept the answer and not know the reasons why. Spells work or backfire to teach us lessons. Try recording your spellwork and the results to see if you can learn from your mistakes. Occasionally, after awhile, what looked like a failure actually turns out in your best interest. We can’t always get what we want, and that’s damn true of spellcraft too. Sometimes the lesson is just how to deal with failure.
I believe you can do this. Your friends asking for help is a big deal–it means they want your support and believe in you. Do them the same favor by believing in them and believing in a positive outcome that is best for everybody. Teach them how to protect themselves, and lend your energy if needed. Support them with the magic power of love–the truest and purest form of magic. That’s what they really need from you, no matter the outcome of the pregnancy. End each spell or blessing with “the best interests of all and harm to none.”