A spell is a spoken or written formula that when used in an act of magick is intended to cause or influence a particular course of events. Belief in and the use of spells are universal and have been an integral part of religious practices since ancient times. Methods vary according to culture but all spell work is based on ritual. Spells are closely related to Prayers, which are rituals consisting of a petition to the Gods or deities (whatever the religion or faith) for a desired outcome. It involves the visualization of a goal, a statement of desire for the goal, and ritualized movements of body positions (e.g., the bowing of the head, the clasping of the hands, the closing of the eyes etc). In magick, spells are closely related to various methods of mind power such as: creative visualization, positive thinking, and positive imaging (see “What is Magick”). All of which emphasize our mental images of the goal and our identification with it, repetition of our intent to achieve this goal, projection of our will, and a petition to the spirits, deities, or the divine force for their aid.These types of spells are commonly used on a daily bases, the simple lighting of a candle starting the ritual process. Such daily spells constitute minor magick's such as: blessings, self-help, positive thoughts and the sending of helpful healing energies to others. Used on a daily bases it is not therefore necessary to undertake the cumbersome task of a full circle casting ritualSpells can be beneficial or harmful and can be worked on people, animals, and nature. Their purposes are limitless and include: healing, love, money, success, fertility, longevity, and protection from disaster, ill fortune, and evil. They can also be used to exorcise ghosts and spirits, for victory in battle, truth in divination, weather control, and the accomplishment of supernatural feats. When directed against enemies, spells can be used to cause illness, destruction, loss of love, impotence, barrenness, failure and even death. Spells can be cast to affect the self, or directed to affect another person. A positive spell is often called a blessing, although such archaic terms as bewitchment and enchantment are still sometimes used. Negative spells are generally known as hexes or curses. A binding spell is one intended to prevent harm, avoid danger, or to stop someone from performing particular acts (e.g., halting a murder, preventing a rape, or even stopping the spread of gossip). In most cultures, Witches, Sorcerers, Witch doctors, Magicians, and other magically empowered peoples, cast both beneficial and harmful spells as the need dictates. However in contemporary Paganism and Witchcraft, a set of ethics exists that prohibits the use of curses and negative spells against another (see the “Wiccan Rede” and the “Three Fold Law”). The acceptability of binding spells is divided, and is widely debated throughout the community. How it works A major act of magick requires a ritual and a spell performed inside a properly constructed circle. The spell consists of words or incantations (sometimes called a charm or rune); the ritual is a set of actions performed while the words are being spoken. The ancient Egyptians believed words were so powerful that speaking them would bring about the desired goal. Words and names of power were vital to Egyptian magick and had to be pronounced correctly and with the proper intonation. In Western magick the ultimate name of power is the Tetragrammaton, YHWH (Yah-weh), the sacred name of God. A spell-casting ritual raises power and energy through a combination of visualization, meditation, identification, body movement and projection of will. The success of a spell rests on the energy and will power raised, together with the skill in which they are focused and projected. Words, chants, songs, and movements, objects such as ritual tools, effigies, poppets, cords, and candles, as well as materials such as parchment, herbs, oils and others, all facilitate spell casting. In contemporary Witchcraft spell casting is performed within a magick circle (see Circle Casting). Many covens work spells as part of their regular meetings, though each coven may use differing techniques. To start, the goal of a spell is stated and some Witches write it down. The act of writing down the goal emphasizes the positive thinking techniques and helps to bolster the will power to achieve the goal. Any preparations for the ritual are made such as lighting coloured candles or mixing herbs and oils. Each action generating energy and increasing will power concentration toward the goal. In healing or love spell rituals, an herb filled poppet or cloth doll might be used to identify the likeness of the object of the spell. To aid the likeness, the doll may be marked with the persons name or astrological sign, or even stuffed with personal hair or nail clipping taken from the object of the spell. A photograph of the person might also be used. If a doll or poppet is not being used, then a mental image or thought form is created. If the spell is being work by a group, all must agree on the image and hold it firmly in their minds. Power and energy is then raised by various means, including: chanting, dancing, tying knots in cords or clapping hands. Drums, rattles, and the playing of music may also be used to raise power. Witches invite higher forces to work with them in implementing a spell. This is usually some aspect of the Goddess or God together with the forces of the elements. Other deities may be called upon whose aspects best suit the nature of the spell. For instance, a money making spell might be addressed to “Math” the God of wealth and increase, similarly for a love binding spell “Aphrodite” might be called (see Gods and Deities). While performing the ritual the Witch focuses intense concentration and will power into achieving the goal, and when the psychic power and energy being raised is at its peak, it is then released and directed towards the goal while visualizing and seeing the results being accomplished. Once the spell has been completed the ritual ends with a psychic cleanup to banish and ground any remnants of psychic energy. This is normally done with the “cakes and wine” ritual, after which the deities and elements are thanked and the circle banished.