Some ruminations on spellcraft

specifically, what do you do with all the supplies that can be used in spellcasting?



the TL:DR version:

when a spell calls on the use of physical items as tool. 95% of the time that spell will utilize that item by turning it into a kind of free-form-talisman for the spells purpose. These talismans can take any form, depending on what they are made from. As almost anything can be used as a receptacle for magical energy.

To elaborate on that and give it some context:

i’ve always felt that the best magic you can use is the kind you created yourself. Pre-written mass market spells you can find in all those kitschy books just dont have the same emotional connections you really need to get a good charge going. So i’ve endeavored to learn the deeper methods of magic so I may write my own spells for whatever need may pop up. For the most part I think I understand the energy-play aspects of it. Using chants, meditation and other tools to raise, program and release power. But the one aspect that has continually stumped me was the incorporation of physical tools and items into the spell-casting process. Of all the tools you can use to help manifest the spell, just what do you -do- with all of it?

To find an answer to that question, I started to study a bunch of those mass-market spellbooks you can find at the bookstore. I would analyze how a spell was put together and look at how it utilized any physical objects it called for. After a while, I noticed the above pattern.

Going a little more in depth to that pattern, what I noticed was that most “item” type spells used that item as a receptacle for magical energy. The caster would craft an object/item/substance that symbolically (or sometimes literally) resembled the goal of the spell, and would then flow energy into it. Somewhere in this process the energy was programmed with the intent of the spell (either before or after the item is empowered, different writers did it at different times). That energy was then released (or perhaps “expressed” or “transmitted” would be a better word) through the hosting objects use. A kind of -trigger- mechanism for the energy that was usually linked to whatever mundane work the item normally performed. For instance, an empowered candle expressed its magic when lit, incense when burnt, a knife or scissors when used to cut, cords when tied, perfumes when worn, potions when drunk. And so forth. Some items got used up or destroyed in the process of release, like potions that got drunk, oils applied, incense burnt and blessed food eaten.

Some details differed, but in general that was the methods used to include items in a spell. What im looking for now I guess you could call the “peer review” stage of the theory. I’ve been pestering more experienced magic users around the internet what they through of this idea, and for the most part seem to agree with it. But im still unsure to stamp the “eureka” label on this and call it finished. What im left wondering is:

  • How accurate is the above idea? Am I on to something or just blowing smoke?

  • Are there any spells that call for items that don’t follow this pattern? If so, How do -they- use they’re supplies?

  • A multitude of writers on the subject give the admonition that there’s no power in the tools themselves, that it comes from the witch. Im a bit confused by this. If this is true, what is empowering an object? Would it be more accurate to say that a tools power is given to it by the witch via charging, but once bestowed it does indeed have an energy?

  • What is the benefit of using an item to house a spell as detailed above? Magic can be worked without tools, so why go to all the bother with the reagents and components and whatnot?

  • Are there any rules of thumb to help decide whether a given working should include physical tools, or stick to voice, meditation and gesture?

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