Spellwork is the practice of bringing the possible into reality whether the spells are for better health, a new job, or tastier garden tomatoes. All of these goals, and most others, work on the principle that the worker uses their own will to shape reality, and because of this, the worker uses their own will to shape reality, and because of this, the worker must be able to form a clear picture of the intended outcome. You can’t create what you can’t imagine so the more clearly the goal is identified, the more likely the desired outcome. Engaging all of our senses in spellwork can help us define that goal and give it aspects that appeal to our need to interact with something to prove to ourselves it is real. Additionally, sometimes we need to define goals that aren’t concrete, but rather involve abstractions such as emotions and memories. Such goals can be hard to represent, but by using our other senses, we can find representation for them, and manifest even the most abstract goals into reality.
While visualization is a much praised and important part of spellwork, each of our four other senses has the potential to connect us to our spellwork in deeper and more intense ways. Human beings are primarily visual creatures, but that does not mean that the visual sense is the strongest for everyone. Nor does it mean that our other senses have less to offer. Many of us already use cues for our other senses in ritual; a drumbeat or music in the background, incense in the Air, cakes and ale. However, we don’t always bring these elements into the spellwork itself. We can use smells, tastes, sounds, and textures in spellcraft to create a deeper link with the magick as well as a more complete representation of the desired result.
For instance, smells provide a powerful trigger for memory and emotion. As an example, you can improve a spell to relieve insomnia by using the smell of fresh linen, applying the scent to a small sachet tucked into your pillow. The scent becomes another part of the spell whether it’s the use of baby powder in a sachet meant to aid in fertility or using a vial of oil as the focus for a calm flying spell.
We can also use scents to bring a spell to mind again after the casting, strengthening the magick or its effect on you. Additionally, spells that you can taste can have a huge impact on the body, and make a great vehicle for workings such as health spells or other purposes involving the body. The sense of touch plays a large role in our interaction with others, but is also the medium through which we interact with and manipulate the world. When we think of something as material, we think of being able to touch it; therefore, giving a texture and feel to the goals of our spellwork lends a quality of realism that brings them closer to manifestation.
Taste and smell are closely linked, but they do have different aspects. Smell is very portable, something you can wear to continually remind yourself of your spellwork. Spells for courage, confidence, and other emotion-linked outcomes can be kept close, and when something is worn on your skin, it becomes a part of you. A vial of oil used as the focus for a calming spell can be a great way to get through a long flight, and the scents we use in our home can be integrated into protection and cleansing spells for when the place needs a quick touch-up.
However, you can also use scents to evoke memory and, through that memory, the results you wish to attain. Drawing on memories of a loved ones, for example, can strengthen spells for that person, aid in contacting a loved one who has passed on, or help you access emotions tied to those memories. Emotions can be particularly hard to define in spellwork, but the way a result make us feel can be an important aspect of the working. In this way, finding the right scent to produce that emotion can make your goal more solid, bringing it just a little further into reality.
While made up largely of smell, taste has different useful properties— just ask any kitchen witch. For instance, it can provide a particularly useful vehicle for health spells, either through using food as a focus for your spell and then using that food to season others, or by ingesting edible oils or foods during the spell itself. We often speak of things so close we can almost taste them, and this literally allows us to give a taste to our desired results by linking them to something we can experience through our senses. For instance, a spell integrated into your favorite vinaigrette can turn your lunchtime salad into a working to help lower your blood pressure. The taste becomes associated with the spell itself, and each time you taste it, you refresh the spell’s influence.
Tastes can also conjure up feelings of home and comfort and family. After a bad day, some tastes have the power to comfort us, or pick up our mood. You can tap into this natural power with magic, or use it to strengthen your magic.
We readily acknowledge that our sense of hearing has power over us, but we often don’t realize how much. A drumbeat simulating an increasing heart rate can create feelings of tension and anxiety, while we all find certain music soothing or energizing. We can use this effect on our emotions in spellwork as a means of representing our goals, both concrete and abstract. A spell to calm anxiety, for example, may incorporate a drumbeat with an increasing cadence, which you then incrementally slow. Not only does it replicate the results that you’re looking to be able to reproduce, but it pulls them from potential into reality.
You can also play the sounds back later, helping to remind you of the spell and its intended effects. Moreover, linking the spell and the sound makes the sound a part of the spell . Every time you listen to the sound, it triggers the same process and the results are now something you can hear and with which you can interact.
Additionally, using sounds in rituals can take on many forms, from music that encompasses the emotional message you wish to create to simple sound effects that simulate your reaction to the desired result.
Despite being the one we most use to interact with the world, touch is perhaps the most underrated sense. In the material world, we use it to manipulate objects, to create desired results, much as spellworkers use their wills to create magical results. For this reason, touch can be a tremendous help to spellwork , though it may require stepping outside of our general perceptions in order to use it effectively. Having a book in one’s hands feels a certain way, and you would recognize a book in your hands even if you couldn’t see it . In the same way, we can use our sense of touch to give texture, depth, and solidity to our spells. Often, we judge more real that which we can touch. Giving texture to our workings, and the results for which we’re aiming, creates in us a sense of realism that establishes it firmly in our minds as real, material, touchable.
While you can use any texture, it is best to use as a focus or a material something that reminds you of the goal. You probably wouldn’t use rough burlap for a sleep sachet or fragile cotton to represent protective armor . It’s also important to be inventive when it comes to touch. Water has a feel all its own when you submerge your fingertips in it, and the feel of still water is completely different to that of moving water, but both lend reality to a working and create a certain feeling within us.
While I have been touting the use of other senses, visualization remains a very important part of spellwork. Being able to visualize a result brings it closer to reality, but augmenting that with information for your other senses completes the experience, making it more than just a picture. If you can represent the emotional content with sound or touch or smell, if you can create a complete an in-depth representation of your result, you are much closer to reaching that goal.
Even if you can’t create a perfect image in your mind, the other senses can help fill in the blanks left by visualization. Smells, sounds, and textures allow you to expand that picture, and the more real you make it, the more real it is.
When all five senses are engaged in our spellwork, we are taking steps toward bringing our goal a deeper sense of reality. While different senses may be more or less suited to different types of spells, all spells benefit from this added realism. When we can vividly imagine our results in detail, they are already closer to being manifest . Using each of our senses, and finding ways to combine them, can make our spellwork more powerful, add depth to the representations of our goals, and add power to our workings. Combining hearing, smell, taste, and touch with sight allows us to imagine it in greater detail and to put more power behind it.
by Marion Sipe
Llewellyn’s 2014 Magical Almanac: Practical Magic for Everyday Living (Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac)