spells work via the principal of sympathy, and we harness that effect through imitative action. roughly 5 kinds of imitative action can be discerned.


  • Imitation in though
  • Imitation in words written or spoken,
  • Imitation in image
  • imitation in Action
  • imitation through sympathetic connection. (talismans, charged objects, proxies, potions, mojo hands)

many spells combine several kinds of imitation into a single working. words and incantation seem a good start place as any, as the logic of simile, metaphor and analogy can help structure the rest of the spell.

What precisely your imitating can be broken down into three general categories.

  • the effect you wish to produce
  • the target of said effect
  • the forces you wish to bring to bare to cause said effect to said target.

if the spell uses any kind opf physical focus for the energy (such as with imitation through image or sympathetic substance) wat exactly you do with it can be an issue. generally you can:

  • place the spell near the person or area its intended to effect
  • hide the focus in a special place (crossroads, graveyard, naterual settings)
  • destroy the focus through an element to release its energy (burn, bury, dissolve and so on)
  • if the focus is in fact a mundane tool with an ordinary purpose, its energy can be expressed through using it for that task. such as using an enchanted knife to cut, ribbons to be tied, incense burned, jewelry worn…and so on.
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when most books talk about spells, they tend to be referring to the spoken/written portion of the working. to them, this is the base unit of a magical working. because description is an easy and simple way of using imitation, its a nice bases on which to build a more complex working.

start with an incantation that describes what you want to have happen.

for the next layer of complexity, add a gesture or motion to help emphasis your script. often you can use gesture to help indicate information your mouth is too busy chanting to include, such as direction and location.

the next layer adds physical items or substances to the working. and these tend to fall into one of two categories.

the first is that the item is a prop used to embellish and add nuance to your incantation. often interacting with the words through the logic of simile, analogy and metaphor. in this stage the item doesnt hold any magic itself, it simply serves to help emphasis the message of the incantation.

and then there’s the talismanic side. in this model the spell is point at the object/substance with the intention of embueing it with magical essence which can then be used through the item. in this instance the spell and its energy are directed into the objects, which then house the energy untill they are released, usually through deployment of the item in question. often, the condition for the magic to express itself is linked to the objects mundane use. for instance, an enchanted candle expresses its magic when lit, a knife when sed to cut, insense when burnt, and so on.



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a great deal of magical practice is predicated on the idea of sympathy. like effects or attracts like. becaue of this imitative actions form a bedrock of many magical workings. perhaps the simplest and most basic of these is the spoken word. simply put, to describe a thing is to imitate it. we can take this idea and expand upon it by saying that by describing an event or force we can evoke it, bring it into being via sympathy. this i believe to e the mos fundamental premise of incantation and words of power. by speaking a description of the desired result, you imitate that event and bring it into being. incantation can be used to manifest results directly, or as a means of directing energy into other aspects of spell-craft, such as into a talisman or other kind of working.

further, description and words of power can be used to imitate actions that a human being simply cannot do, even in token. such as “riding the lighting” or calling forth the concept of luck, healing and so forth.

it can be helpful wen composing such an incantation to remember the poetic logic of simile, analogy and metaphor, as well as to keep in mind the three subjects of what you want the spell to bring about, who or what you want it to bring about too, and the forces you wish to accomplish thus.


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more on incantation.

most incantation focuses on describing the desried result of a spell. often accompanied by various poetic flourishes such as metaphor, simile and analogy. if physical gestures, tools or items are used in the spell, they are often referenced as being the source of the desired results, or at least as facilitators thereof.

a style of incantation used in Egypt is the tribune. where the first sentence describes what is desired, then thesecond and third lines refrase the request using different descriptions and wordage.


“as i lay my hands upon theee, i give thee rest”

“feel my hands and know they give thee peace”

“with my touch thy strength restored and blessings i call upon you”


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spell construction, hoodoo style?

  • determine the purpose of the spell, statement of intention, and all that.
  • create a passive focus, a representation of the subject of the spell, either a physical person or location, or abstract thought or idea.
  • create an active focus which represents the forces you with to bring to bare on the subject, and/or the outcome of the spell. often takes the form of a “potion” which is a distillation of other more difficult to work with media into something usable.
  • perform an imitative act on the spell focus that represents the desired effect of the spell.
  • keep the spell focus as close as you can to the subject of the spell, if that isnt possible you can hide it in a place of spiritual power, destroy it through the elements, or place it in an area you want its influence to manifest.


can the imitative act also double as the charging of the spells energy?

can the active focus and the imitative act combine?

can the imitative act also be combined with the release of the spells energy through elemental destruction?

what additional forms can the active focus take? wold scribing runes or similar symbols count?

additional thoughts:

a “potion” could be any means by which the desired energies called on in the spell and/or the spells results are symbolically applied to the passive focus. some traditions would use a literal herbal decoction, but anything that carries the right meaning and symbolic resonance could be used in this way.

the imitative act and raising/charging process could be combined into  the same act. if this is the case acts that could be easily repeatable into an uninterrupted chain may be preferable. to better allow for the building of power over time.



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a lot of magical theory involves the power of sympathy and how to harness it with imitative action.


chanting magical incantation that describes what action you wish to evoke, or inscribing symbols with similar meaning, is an easy and readily accessible form in imitative action.

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all magic is manipulation of symbols.

Symbols bare a meaning, meaning is a kind of thought, thought is a kind of energy, energy follows energy and energy forms the foundation of the universe. therefore, symbols shape the universe via this process.

the variables between different magical traditions are what symbols are used, how those symbols are made, what those symbols are made of, and how those symbols are invested/activated.

a particular symbol system that is almost universal is the vice, words of power and incantation.

almost anything can be used as a symbol when made/performed with deliberate intention and forethought.

make a symbol while holding its meaning in your mind, as well as your intentions to cause magic with this symbol, and you have cast a spell.

all of the senses can be used to create a symbol and fill it with meaning. the most common being sight and sound.

to lift an object up and make it into a magical symbol capable of causing change, it must b imbued with intention and deliberate meaning (read: thought energy). visualization can be one way of doing this.

most spells stack several kinds of symbol into a single unit that is then activated for the desired effect.






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Symbol Riffing

general idea behind materia magic: construct a symbol of your intention, energize/consecrate/empower symbol, place symbol as near as you can to the place you want its effects felt.

other workings tend to focus less on a physical vessel for the spell, but still emphasizes the use of symbols in its castings. in these workings, the caster arranges symbols of the desired outcome in/around/on the recipient and empowers those symbols with spiritual energy. the variables of the ritual itself are what symbols to use (images, sigils, natural materials, colors, timing, herbs, stones, shapes, etc) how those symbols are constructed and placed around the target, and then how the whole display is energized to do its work.

when the target cannot be reached directly, a proxy can be used in its place. this proxy is just another kind of symbol at its most basic. an item that is covered with symbols to indicate the identity of the person/place/thing its ment to represent.

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the three intentions.

when casting, there are three things you need to hold in your mind durring the process.

1, your goal, desire and objective. the thing you want to have happen.

2, your intention to make that thing happen via magic.

3, your intention to set that magic in motion through whatever action or process you’ve chosen*.


* in keeping with other principles of magic, that process is generally some form of symbolic expression of the first intention (your goal) stated to the universe at large. such an act can involve vocalization and words, action and gesture, and items, object and substances all intended to deepen the symbolism.

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General design concepts.

general concepts when designing a spell can fall into three broad categories. though distinct, the lines between them are not absolute, many forms of spell can borrow ideas from 2 or even all three.


First: Meditations and visualizations: guided meditations and imagination exercises meant to help raise, shape and release energy for a given purpose. tend to be purely mental in nature with little or no outward action. also forms the basis of more complex spell casting using the other two methods.


Second: Intention Displays: in which an item, act or other such thing symbolizing the intentions and goals of the caster is crafted and charged with spiritual energy. tends to use a variety of symbolism to help communicate the intentions of the caster. can use the voice, action and gesture, and physical items to help deliver the symbolism. examples include: candles, knotwork, petition, sigils, chants, dance, talismans.


Third: Direct application: in which objects and substances are applied directly because of they’re inherent physical or spiritual properties. a mundane example is white willow bark. it has chemical properties that make it work as a pain reliever. in this instance, the bark is not a symbol of another thing, like with an intention display, but is being used for its literal, physical properties. slightly more abstract is when an object is used for more spiritual but still literal abilities, such as rose quarts attracting love. “useable talismans.”


Supporting ideas:

– Law of Contagion

– Law of signatures

– Law of Proxies: one thing taking the place of another.

– Law of Sympathy

– Metaphor, Simile, Analogy and comparison

– Charging objects

– energy movement through visualization

– Meditative and trance states

– Distillation: transferring the spiritual/physical abilities of a magical substance into a medium that’s easier to use. potions, oils, powders, and so on.

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