There seems to be a push in some witchcraft circles to only design your own spells and to never rely on the spells often shared online or published in modern witchcraft books. It’s understandable, even laudable, to demand that we witches formulate our own practice, breaking away from the standards of Llewellyn-based Wicca or the Western Christian hegemony in our culture. Yet if we demand other witches follow this stringent policy, we’re essentially shaming them by implying that doing otherwise is wrong. But premade or prewritten spells have their use and place in our community.
The Pros and Cons of Prewritten Spells
Premade spells are viewed as convenient because they ostensibly save time for the user. Very often, new witches will ask the community for spells without first writing their own (commonly called “spell begging” in witch circles). Many new witches lack the confidence to formulate their own rituals or spells, thinking other witches will have more knowledge about how to create a spell ‘correctly,’ whatever that means.
For many of us, life often gets in the way of practice—whether it’s the stresses of society or our own mental health. Designing the perfect spell with the right correspondences, incantations, or actions can take immense focus or research. And for some, it’s quite difficult to work up the motivation to undertake the actions we feel are necessary to keep the magic mind stirring. Prewritten spells can bridge the gap between desire and action, relieving part of the stress of steps that we take in the magical process. This concept may frustrate neurotypical people (“Just do it!”), but to many neurodivergent witches, motivation is a resource we desperately grasp for. Sometimes that means getting help or using alternative strategies.
Besides, premade spells can be useful to spark a witch’s imagination. Take the framework, tweak a word a little bit on this side, substitute a correspondence on that side, or simplify the whole damn thing. (Anyone in the occult who says correspondences have rigid meaning and you’re going to get dire, unintended results if you do such and such by adapting it to your own needs should perhaps have a lie down with a bit of lavender on a cool compress.)
On the other hand, leaning too heavily on someone else’s spells or the spells inside Llewellyn-esque books does ensure a type of restriction in formula, thinking that one must do ABC or XYZ to perform magic. The antidote is reading broadly and experimenting with different forms of magic, designed by others and yourself. Unfortunately, new witches are quite susceptible to thinking what they read is the only way to practice, and that witchcraft trends of an era are equal to orthopraxis (see moon water, crystal elixirs, smoke cleansing with sage, or circle casting).
Premade or prewritten spells are, of course, a product of the witch who designed them. They may contain aspects you disagree with—such as a correspondence you don’t sync with metaphysically. Or worse, the author unknowingly or knowingly appropriated ritualistic aspects of a spell from closed religions or cultures, now separated from their context.
¿Porque no los dos?
There is an argument for exclusively creating your own spells: you learn your magical style and the framework you’ll create is more personalized. But we must be careful not to shame witches, even implicitly, into believing it’s wrong or bad to utilize any spells written by others.
If it’s not clear already from your experiences, shaming other witches for their choice of spellwork is a self-destructive and counterproductive behavior. Spell shaming simply isolates witches from each other. If you only design your own spells, that’s a choice. If you gain inspiration from reading the spellcraft of others, that’s a valid choice, too.
A warning here is that either extreme can be limiting factors in magical practice. Some authors have intriguing ideas, and the newer generation of witches has expanded the previously understood shape of spells, with the Internet growing the availability of new ideas—both good and not so great. But only practicing spells written by others, and without any modification, can limit our ability to understand ourselves and our interaction with magic. Only you can say what feels right in your magic, but it’s worth expanding your horizons through both introspection and the exploration of fellow witches’ work.