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Witchcraft Spells: 'Why Didn't My Spell Work?'

Sage has been a witch for 25 years. She enjoys writing informative articles to teach others the craft of the wise.

13 Reasons Why Your Spell Might Have Failed


“Why didn’t my spell work?”

"My spell didn't work!" This is something you might hear from a newbie Witch, or a dabbler in the magical arts, though on occasion you’ll also hear it from a long time magical practitioner who is tired of hit and miss results.

This is not an easy question to answer because there are a number of reasons a spell can go wrong. If anyone had it in their head that they just had to act out the script that tells them to light a candle or mutter a few words to make things go *poof*, then all I can tell the person is that they had it wrong.

You should know that even the most skilled Witches will occasionally not get the desired results—just like even the most skilled doctor will not save every patient, the most skilled athlete will not always win the game, and the most skilled chef will not always cook the roast beef a perfect medium rare. I mean, people talk to us Witches about being realistic, but then to go on and demand unrealistic results. Even we don’t claim to be 100% accurate all the time. No one’s perfect, so don't expect perfect results.

But if you’re casting spells and your results have been mediocre at best, poor at worst, then there is most likely a problem. Here is a checklist—you might bookmark this or print it out and go through it whenever your spells are not working.


1. Did It Not Work As You Expected?

The first thing you might have to consider is whether the spell actually failed. Did you give it enough time to manifest? Usually a spell can take up to a full moon cycle, and sometimes up to three moon cycles, to fully manifest. So maybe you are jumping the gun by second-guessing yourself.

Also you have to ask yourself if maybe it did work, but not in the way you wanted. Perhaps you did a money spell—did you find some pennies scattered on the street since then? Did you find a dollar in a coat pocket that you’d forgotten about? That might not have been the result you wanted, but that could very well have been the result (more on those kinds of problems below).

2. Have You Obtained a Base of Education?

To properly cast spells it’s important to understand what you’re doing. If you haven't studied basic theory, how do you know the spell you found or wrote is even a good one? How do you know it doesn’t contain fundamental mistakes?

I say again, just following a script won’t cut it. That’s like someone who doesn’t know how to cook just following their first recipes—results are going to be hit or miss. If the recipe says fold the batter or braise the meat, and you are unfamiliar with the techniques, then you are probably not going to get the desired results. Same with spells—if you don’t know what is really meant by raising or releasing energy, then you’re results will be iffy.

You may need to go back to square one before casting spells, and spend some time studying theory.

3. Have You Obtained the Mental Discipline?

The most important tool in spell work is the mind, and the more honed your tool is the better your results will be. A lot of people don’t like meditating. They say they can’t sit still, they can’t focus, etc.—well then, how do you expect to put the appropriate focus into a spell? How do you expect to alter your state of consciousness? How have mastered manipulating energy when you can’t even master your own mind?

Again, if this is your issue, it may be best to go back to square one with a good meditation regime. You can do it (don’t psyche yourself out by saying you can’t control your mind), and if you want to perform magic, it’s something you must become adept at doing.

Tell, Don't Ask


4. Are You Asking or Are You Telling?

I’ve seen some spells in which it sounds more like the person is asking permission rather than stating their intent. 'Oh, Great Universe, please make me happy and healthy!' Well, if you’re going to ask permission, don’t be surprised when the answer is ‘no’.

When you’re working with spells, you’re mainly working with energy. The energy you are working with doesn’t take things personally. It doesn’t care if you want stuff—it doesn’t think you’re greedy, just like your electric socket doesn’t think you’re greedy for plugging in your computer and phone charger yet again. It just doesn’t care. It's not judging you.

But magic—energy, just like water, etc. – takes the path of least resistance. So if you’re going to ask for something, and leave it up to the discretion of impersonal forces to bring it to you, well that’s a little like asking the water to flow directly into your cup for you. Don’t be surprised when it doesn’t happen.

5. If you Invoked Someone/Something for Help, Should You Expect Their Help?

Occasionally people like to mix prayers with spells, and like to invoke the assistance of a deity. Sometimes people might invoke spirits such as elementals or various beings to bring them something. Okay—if that’s how you want to work it, that’s fine. Again, though, if you’re going to ask for something rather than get it for yourself, don't be surprised that the answer might be ‘no’.

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This is especially true if you don’t even have a relationship with whomever or whatever you are invoking. Why are you invoking Aphrodite for a love spell if you’ve never worked before? Would you invite the Queen of England over to tea and then ask her for the crown jewels? That’s rude. You should have a relationship with any beings you are invoking and asking for assistance— one that goes beyond calling them to say gimmie gimmie gimmie. Saying ‘please’ isn’t enough; if you don’t have a relationship with a being, don’t bug that being for favors, and don’t be surprised when it turns you down.


6. Was Your Goal Realistic?

Just because magic is real doesn’t mean everything is within the realm of possibility. Everything real also has real limits. Magic is no exception. There is improbable, and then there is outright impossible. If you’re casting spells for the improbably, it’s going to take all that much more skill and effort. If you’re casting spells for the impossible, like changing your eye color or turning yourself into a mermaid, you are wasting your time.

And I don’t care how many teenyboppers on Youtube claim they’ve really changed their eyes like in the movie ‘The Craft’, or say they spent the night as a mermaid floating around. It didn’t happen, they are lying to you or they are extremely gullible with a way overactive imagination. It just doesn't happen.

7. Was Your Goal Specific Enough?

If you cast a spell for money to come to you, and you find a dollar on the ground, guess what? Your spell worked; maybe not as you intended, but it did work. Again, magic takes the path of least resistance. The easiest money that could get came to you.

Ever cast a ‘just make things better’ spell? Did anything happen? Most likely, no— at least, not to you. Someone else might have experienced something getting better courtesy of your spell. You did not specify yourself.

The worst possible mistake people make is to cast a ‘wish’ spell. You’re not dealing with a genie here; grant me a wish doesn't cut it. It’s like when you’re programming a computer—you have to be specific about what you want to happen.

8. Was Your Language Clear, Positive and Active?

Clear language falls right in with specific goals. If you were casting a candle healing spell on your brother with diabetes, you don’t want to say, “As I light this flame, John will feel better.” John’s ear might pop, releasing a bit of built-up sinus pressure. He feels better now, but that’s not what you had in mind.

Clearer wording would have worked better, such as, “As I light this flame, John’s blood sugar will decline to a healthy range,” or, “As this flame is lit, healthy blood flow will make way to John’s feet; his nerves will get the nutrients and oxygen they need.'

Language also needs to be positive and active. Notice I didn’t say, “I light this flame to lessen his John's pain.” Why? Energy isn’t a person, it doesn’t follow instructions to the letter. If you talk about pain, there’s a good chance the universe is just going to let the pain flow more freely. Even if you manage to get the pain to subside temporarily, you haven’t really done anything to resolve the problem (the poor blood circulation). John could have accomplished the same temporary relief by popping an aspirin.

When you’re casting spells, never use words like ‘can’t’ or ‘don’t’ or ‘won’t’. Try to phrase everything in the affirmative, using active, forceful language.

It's All Connected

You can't manipulate the web and not cause vibrations.

You can't manipulate the web and not cause vibrations.

9. Did You Add Disclaimers?

I read a Wiccan author once who said something about ending every spell with the phrase, ‘and for the good of all, with harm to none.’ By this person’s logic, by adding this little disclaimer to the end of every spell, it reduced the risk of accidental karmic backlash from unexpected results. And that it did—because it just neutralized the spell.

Think about this: ‘I cast this spell to heal Mary of cancer, yadda yadda (things about killing cancer cells and regenerating healthy cells), for the good of all and in harm none.” Umm… hello, you just told the energy you sent to kill the cancer cells not to hurt the cancer cells. Mary is so screwed.

What about if you were doing a spell to find the money to fix your hot water heater that just burst? By adding a disclaimer that you don’t want to inconvenience others (for the good of all), you just made your spell null and void. Sorry, but life doesn't work that way; very few things are for the 'good of all'. What if someone needs that money more than you? So someone else wins it; or someone else gets the overtime; you are spit out of luck because instead of trying to tend to your need you tried to please everyone.

If you're afraid to take responsibility for the outcome of your spells, you should probably not cast spells. To will something to happen requires focus on a result-- if you want that result to be 'everyone comes out even and all's well', then you're just not going to change much at all and might as well hang up your cauldron.

If you're afraid of a spell 'backfiring' by doing actual harm, when you set your goal and word your spell, just get specific— decide how you want that money to come to you? Extra work? Gambling winnings? Be specific.

Remember, you can't get away with keeping the playing field level. If you're going to work extra, someone is going to lose that overtime, or your boss is going to have to cough up more money. If you win gambling, someone will lose. But that is life, even if you don't use magic. If you take the last chocolate donut, someone else doesn't get it.

10. Did You Set Adequate Parameters?

It pays to set parameters for your spell rather than just floating things out there. For example, if you need protection from someone who is harassing you now, you don’t want to let the spell take a month or so to manifest. Specify that you want it now. You might make a gambling charm, specify you want it to win every time you go to the track. You have job interviews next week, so specify you want a new job offer by the next full moon.

Likewise, be specific about what you want: protection from harm and harassment by Michael; to win hundreds of dollars on dog races; to get a new job in the field you desire, for the salary and benefits you desire.

You won’t always get exactly what you want the way you want it all the time—again, magic always takes the path of least resistance. But you will get closer if you are specific rather than if you leave it up to chance. This is also the way you help resolve those karmic concerns about cheating other people out of something.

11. Did You Raise the Appropriate Energy Toward Your Goal?

Energy work plays a major role in spell casting, hence we need to go back to points 1 and 2: have you done your studies and disciplined your mind enough? Beyond that it requires that you learn to raise and release energy when casting a spell, which takes practice.

The appropriate energy for you to raise and release has to be at least equal to what you’re trying to accomplish: the bigger the goal, the more energy it will require. The energy you raise for spells is emotional energy. So, for example, if you were trying to raise energy to win the Mega-Millions lottery, it would be pretty difficult to work up that kind of emotional excitement equivalent to winning millions. Many people will work up some energy, which means the grand prize is already in the midst of a tug-of-war. But most people just can’t raise the emotional energy equivalent to winning millions.

However, most people know how it feels to get $100 or even $1,000 so that is much easier an accomplishment. This is why it can pay to set your sites on smaller multiple goals instead of only going for the major ones.

Finally, when you raise energy, were your emotion and visualizations focused on you having your goal (as in, you basking in the afterglow of getting what you desire), or did you put that energy into you being in need and wanting your goal (as in, you wishing for the thing you really want as you gaze at it longingly)? If it's the latter, you've made a huge mistake; you’re pretty much casting yourself into a perpetual state of wanting.

You have to raise energy as if you already have your goal accomplished (which, again, why the much bigger changes are harder to accomplish and require mental discipline).

12. Are You Creating Effective Channels?

I’ve already written an entire article on creating channels which you can find here. But basically, we’re back to the rule that magic takes the path of least resistance. If you want something to literally flow toward you, then creating channels helps direct it more efficiently.

Don't Destroy Your Work


13. Is Your Spell Sabotaged?

Sabotaged spells are actually quite common. A lot of people forget that magic is a lifestyle and always in effect-- it's not just something you turn on when you start casting a spell and turn off when you finish casting.

Perhaps when you were planning your spell or casting it, you maintained doubt. You send out conflicting energies they cancel each other out. You close yourself off to receiving something, and you create walls.

Perhaps you do not have the mental discipline enough to keep in a positive frame of mind— every day you’re sending out energy saying ‘I’m ugly, I’m worthless, I don’t deserve love.’ Then one day you cast a love spell. Next day you go back to the attitude that says, ‘I’m ugly, I’m worthless, I don’t deserve love.’ Do you think the amount of energy you raise during one spell can compare to the kind of energy you’re throwing out there every single day?

Another way to sabotage your spell is to obsess over it after it’s done. Have you ever re-cast a spell a week later just to be sure? Yeah, that is self-sabotage, as is obsessing over a spell by lying in bed at night thinking, did it work? Did it work? Did it work?

It's not always self-sabotage. You’re not the only one with the ability to send out energy with your thoughts. Let’s say your friend asks you to cast a spell on him to help him succeed—what if he has a deep rooted fear of success? Your spell will fail because your friend is not going to let it happen.

This is also why part of the Witch’s Pyramid is to be silent. When you tell other people about specific spell work and magic that you’re doing, when you brag or talk to non-believers, their negative thoughts, disbelief, ill wishes toward you, jealousy, etc. can nullify your working. That’s why it’s fine to talk spells and magic in general on message forums, but you should really avoid putting up “I cast this spell last night” type posts.

So if your spells are going awry, it's time to examine them, going down the checklist to evaluate if you've made any mistakes. This is why practice makes perfect-- so keep at it.

© 2015 Mackenzie Sage Wright


John Doe on September 17, 2020:

Because witchcraft isn’t real

Willow82 on September 26, 2018:

Hi Mackenzie, I have a question about a spell I cast that was effective, but had the complete opposite effect. A little background on myself, I'll be brief: I practiced witchcraft from a young child through my teen years, it just kinda came naturally to me. But then I went through some traumatic events and had several decades of believing in nothing and despair. A few months ago I had a near death experience and a vision which got me wanting to return to my spiritual roots. I am meditating everyday, twice a day, and reading and studying a lot. I needed to cast a spell to protect my husband from sickness. Not being 100% versed yet as I am still a beginner (one of the mistakes, I know), I decided to mostly do a spell based on my intent during the Harvest Moon with just a white candle and my rose quartz for guidance. I felt like my intent, will, and belief were in line with the spell, but maybe I used the wrong language, as I did use words like not, as in not get sick, cold, flu, or viruses. I thought I felt the will flow through me to him and I envisioned a gold shield starting at his crown and enclosing his whole being and it would protect him. Right after I cast the spell, however, he got really sick with what I was trying to prevent. Lots of chest and nasal congestion, fever, possible sinus infection. I also got sick in a different way, in my stomach and colon and I also got a fever and extreme fatigue. Any insight or guidance will be very appreciated! Blessed be.

laziza from brooklyn on June 05, 2018:

what do you do when you mess up on a spell like you mispronounce or miss a word. do you just start the spell over like nothing happened

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 25, 2017:

Hi Shadiamon; a base education is what I'm trying to give with all my articles, which includes things like training the mind, reprogramming the subconscious, understanding theory and techniques, etc. It's not something that can be squeezed into one.

Spells hold no inherent power in themselves... I can tell someone to light a candle and chant over it to draw love or money or health, etc., but if they're just going through the motions without knowing what to do with their mind-- how to go into the Alpha state, how to focus, how to raise & direct energy, etc.-- it's not going to work for them the way it'll work for me.

If your spells aren't working it could be you are lacking in a fundamental. You may still need to acquire mental discipline, or work on removing subconscious blocks, or to work with manipulating energy, or perhaps you need more insights into why you are doing the things a spell calls for-- Though without personally working with you I can only venture to guess right now.

I'd focus less on the spell, which can be fixed/tweaked/changed, and more on why you're not able to find that sweet spot.

Shadiamon on November 13, 2017:

Hey makenzie I have a question for you. For your second step you mentioned a base education. Have you provided an article for that? It's just that until now I've been relying on spells that I find here and there off the internet and they don't always work. It's either them or me. I choose to blame the spells. Also, Like I said the spells don't always work for me, I know this article is about improving consistency and it is for helping cases like mine and I read it all but I don't know what MY problem is. I have always wanted to be a witch (except for when I wanted to be a vampire) and it is very disheartening when my spells dont work. Its like sometimes I get a burst of magic and it only works for a couple of spells for one day. I don't know how to fix that do you have any ideas?

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on June 05, 2017:

HELLOOOO and thank you :o) I appreciate it.

They should keep their own but there's no reason they cannot inherit and keep yours as well. We have a family BOS, I also have a personal one, my kids will inherit both. Hopefully the family one they'll pass down and add to with new generations. That'd be cool.

Cassandra Rosero on June 05, 2017:


I just wanted to say how grateful I am for your articles. I read as many as I can and write down as much as I can of the information in my Book of Shadows that way I can always reference it. I have a quick question though. Would it be a good idea to pass down my Book of Shadows from generation to generation if one of my children is a witch or wants to be one, or should I let them create their own and have them do their own research?


Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on March 13, 2017:

Witchcraft is something I know nothing about, so this was very interesting to read. Thanks for writing such an interesting and intriguing article!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on August 13, 2016:

Hi Claudia; everyone is different. OCD can actually work in some people's favor, because the focus on an issue can be intense. Other times, not so much. Really depends on the person, the situation, how bad the disorder is. Issues like anxiety, OCD, depression, or other illnesses can certainly get in the way of our focus, which is why sometimes we need to take some extra time to kind of get those things under control and heal a bit before delving deeper into magical studies and practices.

I'm not a health professional so I can't give advice about those things, but I highly recommend working with one first. In the meantime, while you're getting treatment, perform simple cleansings and purifications, practice mindfulness and creative visualization and other such things can help.

Claudia on February 05, 2016:

What about people with OCD? how can they perform a spell?

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on July 10, 2015:

Thanks for commenting, Dr. Pran, I appreciate it and glad you can find some new information from my hubs.

Dr Pran Rangan from Kanpur (UP), India on July 10, 2015:

This is the first time I have read about Wiccan rituals. I find it interesting and will explore it more in your hubs. Thanks fro sharing.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on June 17, 2015:

It might have been a past life, Kevin, or just an early experience you don't remember that turned you off to the idea of being wealthy (maybe a rich person, who you saw representative of that group, was really cruel, or an adult you respected bad-mouth 'rich jerks' constantly). But absolutely, a past life issue could seep in and affect this life; sounds like it's time for some pathworking. Good luck in exploring that!

Kevin Kinkade from Manor, Texas just outside Austin on June 17, 2015:

When I was a child I declared that I wanted to be poor. Not sure where that came from. Maybe a past life? As a result, I've been broke my entire life regardless of the amount of work I've done. Success seems to always slip from my grasp. Abundance has been elusive. Thanks for giving me an idea of how to open up new channels and eliminate the self imposed boundaries that I must have vowed in a prior incarnation.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on June 16, 2015:

Absolutely; 'loose lips sink ships', as they say. Thanks so much Kevin for your comment.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on June 16, 2015:

Thanks MizBejabbers, yes it is based on many of the same principles. I have found like you that opening those channels lets things flow. Vows of poverty in past lives could definitely be a block that many would struggle with without knowing why; a lot of our limits are self-imposed. I agree, it's not about wealth & riches, but about abundance, which to me indicates a place of freedom, security and comfort, rather than excess. Thanks for your comment.

Kevin Kinkade from Manor, Texas just outside Austin on June 16, 2015:

This article is so right on the money, especially the part about being silent. Nothing can destroy the magick of a spell quicker than to open Pandora's box and tell others about it, especially non-believers. It dilutes the energy.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 16, 2015:

It’s interesting how the Wiccan way of casting spells is similar to the way we meditate toward goals in our brand of metaphysics. As you say, the “spells” don’t always work, and sometimes it is because your soul overrides your conscious desires. Case in point, I tried to sell a small home in which I finished raising my kids as a single parent. My present husband and I remodeled it and fixed it up very nice, only to see renters tear it up time after time. Maybe I could have taken the loss that the real estate agents said would be necessary but I refused. Five years ago my son came down with a debilitating illness, and today he lives in the house. I don’t know what we, and he, would have done if we had not had a place for him to live.

As you say, we need to open channels to what we need. I have opened a channel to abundance, and I have it. I specified “abundance” not “riches,” and in order to do this, I had to expel all vows of poverty that had served me in past lives.

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