Intent counts for a lot when doing a spell. Even if you speak the words of the spell and do everything right, if you don't feel what you want to do strongly, then the spell won't work well if at all. This is because the words and the items that you use in your spells are only a focus or vehicle for your will or intent. Magick can be influenced by many things including the attitude you take with you into the Circle. Part of the reason that Witches go through purifications before casting their Circle, is to calm themselves and give them the right mind set that is beneficial to their Craft.
As much as intent can shape a spell, it must be focused. The focusing of the intent can be aided by the use of candles, incense, cords or other props you use. These props can have properties in themselves that are Magickal but they don't power a spell. They can enhance the effects and your focus but the magick comes from your will.
The type of prop you use should help you keep in mind what you want to do. This is why lists of correspondences can be so popular. Just remember that a spell does not rely on them. A good idea to remember is that props and tools need to be significant to you. Don't use tools or props that you don't feel familiar with. To familiarize yourself, hold them and get used to how they feel in your hands. Also practice using something similar to them before using them in ritual.
In rituals or spells, words are often the most common way of keeping intent focused. If you use words in a spell or ritual, it's a good idea to be specific. Think about what your intent is and make sure your words state it clearly. Rhyming is a popular device seen in many spells. Like correspondences or props, it's not necessary to the success of a spell. It can, however, aid in the memorization of spells and aid focus.
If you choose to do a ritual without words, then keep what you want to accomplish in your mind. The God and Goddess will be able to read your heart and hear your silent prayers but this won't help if you have your mind on your favorite television program. Often it's simple to keep one idea in your mind but complex ritual forms can be more difficult.
Below are some simple steps that can aid the focus of intent.
Always do the best preparation
you can. Even if you only wash your hands, face and feet, it is better
than nothing. Burning incense or essential oils can also help.
When I have time, I soak in a warm bath with bath salts and then take a
cool shower to rid myself of any lingering negativity. In a rush,
I don't have time to linger and so have either a shower or just do my face,
hands and feet. Another way to focus yourself in to burn incense
and waft the incense over your face and then the rest of your body.
While you do so, picture the daily grind flowing out of you, leaving you
calm and focused.
Meditation can help you practice stilling
your mind. You can also meditate while keeping your mind focused
on something. Don't practice meditating before you go to bed unless
you want to fall asleep. If you're just starting out, find somewhere
that's quiet and somewhere you can be alone. Sit in a chair or the
floor and start relaxing. A good method is to start at your toes
and consciously relax every muscle as you move up. Once you are physically
relaxed, start calming your mind. Slowly stop your mind from thinking
about the hot date you have for this Friday and the washing you still have
to do. If you have trouble, try focusing on a candle flame or a mental
image. This is called visualization and can be an art in itself.
Take things slowly and don't be discouraged as it can take a while to perfect
meditating. Even if you don't use this for spells, meditating can
be a great way to relax.
The rehearsal of what
you want to do can be very useful. When you rehearse, practice what
you want to visualize or feel. Go through the motions of the ritual
and familiarize yourself with your tools and the area that you'll be using
to conduct your spells or ritual. For outdoor venues, it is very
important to feel comfortable in your new surroundings. It is also
good to know if you need bug repellent beforehand or if you need shelter
for your candles. Also plan what to do if it the weather should interfere.
Don't be caught out!
Where you do your spells
does matter. If the place where you wish to do doesn't have
the right 'feel' then it can throw you off. When you select a place
to do spells or rituals, make sure of a few simple things. First,
see that your setting is away from foot and motor traffic. Interruptions
halfway through won't do your spells any favors. After you're sure
you won't be interrupted, make sure the surfaces you wish to use will work.
For outdoor locations, look for general safety, making sure the ground
is free from poison ivy and thorns. Indoors, check there isn't a
rug to trip over or a dropped needle. Finally, make sure that this
is the place you want. Don't take second best. Make sure everything
feels right. Some places do well with certain types of spell or ritual
so experiment to find which are best.
Witches certainly have
worn just about everything to rituals or spells. It is perfectly
fine to wear whatever you like but think ahead. Will it be cold?
Will it rain? Will my robe catch fire? Planning what you wear
can be important when you go to a festival. Call the organizers ahead
of time to get as much information as possible. The clothes you wear
can enhance the effect you want in your spell. Wearing colors that
will help with your spell craft or keep you in a certain mindset is a great
Most of what I've just detailed is common sense. Every Witch has ways of doing things that best suit them so don't think that what I've just suggested is the 'right' way. Sometimes the best ritual or spell just comes to the Witch just as he/she stands up to do it. Don't feel like everything has to be organized ot the finest detail! Most of my rituals and spell craft aren't perfectly organized but these suggestions can help iron out some silly first time errors or nerves. Something else to keep in mind is that one of the biggest stumbling blocks that beginners face is learning to control their mind. Concentration can wander and your intent looses focus. Meditation and visualization exercises are essential in training your mind. Don't skimp on the practicing of these skills. Remember that intent is one of the most important aspects of spellcrafting.