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Intention Isn’t Everything

Updated: Mar 29

You hear it on the spiritual side of the internet all the time. “Intention is everything.” Sure, witchcraft is about exerting your will onto the universe. Like a coder, the practitioner writes lines of instructions to create a situation of their own design. Intention is important, but it’s not everything. New Age spaces have diluted the concept to mean “all you need to do is wish really, really hard.”

Knowledge and Skill Witchcraft implies that there are craftsmen in the industry; people who have devoted their life to study. They know how to apply energy work, sigils, candles, herbs, dirt, incense, oils, fruits, vegetables, bodily fluids, and even insects to their workings. They know how to structure a ritual or spell, account for side effects, undo errors, and protect themselves from blowbacks. They know how to form and nurture relationships with all of their ingredients so that they work with you to fulfill your intention. No amount of wishing will substitute for knowledge. No matter how hard we try, we can’t put our hands over a book of herbs and absorb the knowledge through our skin. Intention won’t teach us how to roll incense from raw herbs, or which oils are safe to apply on the skin. All of this takes time and dedication.

Environment The energy of a space can impact the outcome of your working, so it’s important to choose a location that feels energetically aligned with your intentions. Graveyard dirt from your ancestor’s grave might offer a power boost and protection. Graveyard dirt from a stranger who, unbeknownst to you, was also a thief, might not be so helpful, no matter how pure your intention.

You may also want to consider the time of day, the season, or the moon phase, as each of these elements can impact the energy of your surroundings. I may have the intention jog along the beach, but if a hurricane is about to make landfall, I might have a problem.

Spirits and Traditions Another crucial aspect of witchcraft is the spirits that are available to you. These may include deity figures, spirit animals, or other entities that can aid in your magical workings. It’s important to approach these spirits with respect and to build a relationship with them before calling on their assistance.

In the diverse world of witchcraft, practitioners often draw from various cultural traditions to enrich their magical practice. However, this has sparked a debate on the use of ingredients and rituals from other cultures, such as smudging white sage. Some argue that as long as their intentions are pure, they can incorporate these practices into their own without negative consequences.

While intention is undoubtedly a significant aspect of witchcraft, it is not the only factor determining the efficacy of a magical working. Good intentions alone cannot justify the appropriation of practices from other cultures, especially if the practitioner lacks a genuine connection with the spirits and energies associated with those practices.

The spiritual practices of various cultures are deeply rooted in their history, beliefs, and connection to the land and ancestors. To truly honor and benefit from these practices, one must establish a genuine relationship with the spirits and energies involved. This involves understanding the cultural context, seeking guidance from knowledgeable practitioners, and genuinely appreciating the value and power of these rituals.

When practitioners appropriate rituals and ingredients from other cultures without fully understanding or respecting their origins, the result can be weak and empty magical workings. Without a deep connection to the spirits and energies associated with a particular practice, the practitioner may fail to harness the full potential of these powerful tools.

On top of producing weak results, cultural appropriation can cause harm to the communities from which these practices originate, perpetuating stereotypes and undermining the value and significance of their spiritual beliefs.

Context Your tone and the context of your working are also essential factors to consider. The way you express your desires and the specific wording you use can impact the success of your spell. The context of your working can affect the outcome. For example, casting a love spell during a time when you are feeling sad or desperate may not be as effective as casting it from a place of confidence and self-love.

The adage “intention is everything” can be misleading when it comes to the complex world of witchcraft. While intention is a vital component, it cannot stand alone as the sole determinant of success in magical workings. A well-rounded and effective practice requires knowledge, skill, environmental considerations, respect for spirits and traditions, and an understanding of context.


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