By Ryea Wyndhorse -10/10/99
When one hears of witch or witchcraft, the first thing that comes to mind is spells. Unfortunately, the word spell has the connotation of evil or black magic. Especially in this country where I live, the word witch does not have a direct translation with a positive meaning. In the Philippines, the Tagalog (the country's main dialect) word for witch is mangkukulam. Kulam is the Tagalog word for spell. There is no positive connotation to the word kulam. And although it is not necessarily the truth, kulam is a very negative word in our vocabulary and it usually expressed to mean a spell cast upon a particular person.
What the common person does not discern is that a spell is nothing more than the Pagan equivalent to a Christian's prayer. As someone I heard (or read) somewhere puts it, a spell is simply prayer with props. The only difference is that the Christian prayer is connotated to be solely a positive thing and not really a call for a negative action. Well, at least that is what it is supposed to be if we forget for a while those moments when, in the heat of anger, we suddenly burst forth spontaneously with "Ipagdadasal kong madapa ka sana!" (I pray that you trip!) or something to that effect. Or it could be that the distinction lies in only in semanticsa spell is called a spell whether it is positively or negatively energized while the English language allows for the a separate word for a negative prayer. It is called a curse. As far as I am concerned, they are not any different.
With pagans or witches, doing spellcraft does not always involve negativity not is it always directed at a particular person. Although there are indeed sorcerers who would have no qualms in casting a negatively propelled whammy, this is not common practice. Most witches believe in The Threefold Law or they follow the Rede. Therefore, it is generally sustained that whatever you do comes back to you‹three times! Eastern religions commonly refer to this as karma. So unless, the witch is willing to risk the rebounding negativity magnified, they will not cast such self-destructive spells. Again, the issue of morality creeps up in this matterpeople are peopleand there are what may be called "bad" witches just as often as there are "bad" Christians.
The Elements in Spellcasting
All of that said, "good" witches (The general non-pagan populace commonly call them "white witches". However, some witches/pagans do not like nor believe in this label... there is no such thing as a white OR black witch. Click here for short explanation.) oftentimes cast mostly healing spells or wishing spells. It usually involves asking the universe or the gods for prosperity, whether spiritually or materially or perhaps help some friend needing healing or protection from harm. Spells, whether positive or negative are merely a manipulation of energies around us. Usually, the witch, due the nature of his/her religion, is in touch with his/her environment and the energies of the quarters (North, South, East and West) or the corresponding elements (Earth, Fire, Air and Water). In casting spells, the witch often involves any or all of the energies of these elements plus invocation of the Great Spirit or the God/desses they follow. They also often attune the timing of the spells to rhythms of the Moon and the cycles of the Sun. Sometimes, it involves elaborate rituals with some exotic tools, candles and chants. Sometimes, it involves nothing more than quiet visualizations or simply intense mental concentration.
There is nothing sinister to spells or spellcasting. The real issue is who is doing the casting and what is being cast. Casting a spell is no different than saying a prayer/curse. It all depends on who is doing the prayer (i.e. what moral values they subscribe to) and what is being prayed for.
Ryea Wyndhorse's Lair