Kicking Butt at Spellcasting

Here’s an excerpt from Jason Miller’s Magick Monday Newsletter:

If you want to get really kick ass at spell work there are three stages I recommended.


The first step I recommend is to simply grab a spell book or even a few spell-kits and have at it! Just find something that interests you and try it out. I recommend Judika Illes Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells. Why? Because it has 5000 Spells neatly arranged by topic and covers a wide swath of traditions.

When you take some of the spells out for a spin you are going to notice many things, but there are two things I want you to pay close attention to: The Doctrine of Signatures and the Law of Similarity.

The Doctrine of Signatures – That objects have a sign or signature that indicates their purpose. Sometimes this is a resemblance to body parts like Eyebright for seeing things because its flower looks like eyes or Sassafras for holding things because the leaves can look like mitts or claws. Other times it can be a chemical effect or taste– hot peppers used for heating things up, dumb cane used for silencing enemies.

As you go through these spells look at the plants, minerals, and animal parts used. The doctrine of signatures will tell you why these items are used in these spells.

The Law of Similarity – This is the idea that like produces like. When you take the items mentioned above and burn them, bind them, separate them, bury them, carry them, soak them, or whatever – it represents the action that you want the spell to take.

In short: Doctrine of Signature determines which items get used and Law of Similarity tells you what to do with them. If a spell was a sentence the doctrine of signatures would be your nouns, and the law of similarity would be your verbs.

There is more of course: for instance you can investigate the law of contagion, which says that things once connected stay connected in subtle ways. This is why links to targets or dirt from locations are important. In a way though, this is covered by the doctrine of signatures, which is why I want you to look at these two main principles at work.

When you understand these two concepts, the individual methods of each spell become easy to understand, modify, and adapt to present circumstances.

This is as far as most people get.


Put the spellbooks away for now. In fact, put all the occult books back on the shelf for a moment. Walk away from the “New Age/Magic/Witchcraft” section and take a step over to the section on local knowledge.

Start reading about the plants that are common in your area. Take walks through the woods. See if there is a park near you with signs identifying plants along the trail. Take a class in horticulture or herbalism and learn what grows around you. Examine what you have learned in light of the doctrine of signatures.

People that only know how to follow a recipe are stuck with the ingredients in that recipe. They need to mail-order that specific flower from Greece or that specific thorn from Ireland. If you know the local plants and can grasp the doctrine of signatures, then you can find something local that might do the job even better and is connected to the place you want the spell to take effect in.

What’s the most famous herb in Hoodoo? I would argue that it’s High John The Conqueror, a bulbous root that is named after an African American Fold Hero. Is the plant native to Africa? No. It’s native to Mexico and the Southern United States. But workers from the Congo knew how to look at the plants of the land that hey had been unwillingly brought to, and got straight to work with what they had.

Once you get the local flora and fauna under your belt start looking at animals. Start with birds. Learn to identify the birds in your area. What animals walk the paths near your home? I don’t care if you live in a city – life is everywhere! Using bones from animals that live in your area can be particularly powerful. Their spirits haunt the landscape as sure as any disturbed ghosts.

Now look at the landscape itself. What is around you? A beach? Rivers? Oceans? I have use the quartz rich sand and Iron rich water from the NJ Pine Barrens in countless spells.

Don’t neglect the man-made works that surround you either. Buildings with accessible rooftops. Graveyards with hidden nooks. Museums with ancient statues that still contain spirits  – sometimes even more hungry for attention now that they are thousands of miles removed from their home. When I lived in Philadelphia we used to set petitions alight in the eternal flame in Washington Square park and hide demonic sigils behind the Gates of Hell that adorn the Rodan Museum.

In stage one you grasped how spells work in a general way. In stage two you learn to innovate and find new elements that are linked to the time and place that they are intended to work in.

All Sorcery is Local.


After you fully grasp the methods and principals of spellcraft there is still another layer of mastery that can be developed; grasping what the spells actually do beyond the physical.

This is where meditation helps so that you can quiet the mind and feel your way past your ordinary perception. Energy exercises ranging from Yoga and Tai Chi, to Reiki, and even some fringe new age practices can help in feeling how magic flows energetically. Spirits too can not only do things for you, but teach how they do things, some of which you can also do since you too are a spirit- albeit one that inhabits a physical body.

In my Strategic Sorcery class I teach a practice called “Facets of the Flow” that helps the student feel ever narrowing probabilities collapse into the present moment and to feel ever multiplying probabilities emerging from the present into the future.

When I do a a simple candle spell or petition, I don’t just sense the physical materials I am working with. I can feel the presence of the powers that I have prayed to and invoked. I can feel my own spirit rise to meet that influence, and how the spell materials and actions are impacting the world around me. Etherically, astrally, symbolically, mentally, spiritually, and deeper levels still all are impacted by magic and ring back like a bell when Sorcery is done. When this happens you get real-time feedback on what is happening and how to adjust what you are doing for better results. Sometimes you feel the spell hitting a wall.

Some people are gifted and can feel some of these levels from birth, but even the gifted benefit from honing their gifts through training. Which training? Well, obviously its tempting to point people to my own courses and books, and I wouldn’t have created them if I didn’t think they were good, but there are loads of options out there and you don’t need to commit to just one source or approach. Indeed I have gained much from establishing core competency in several types of mental, energetic, and spiritual disciplines.

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Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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