Artists are creatures of ritual. Many choose workspaces that are intimate and comfortable, and they feather these nests with colorful bottles, well-used instruments of their crafts, and symbols and images of inspiration. They have trusted methods of creation; perhaps they only work in the morning when the light is best, or only at night when it is quiet. Time and time again, they return to rituals that produced favorable results.
Maybe certain music is a must, or paint, or candles, or incense. Being “in the zone” in a common term used by artists to describe the deep concentration and almost surreal euphoria that comes on when your hands and mind are working in perfect harmony to create.
For a witch, this should all sound terribly familiar. Just as an artist uses intent, deep focus, and ritual to create a work of art, a witch uses intent, deep focus, and ritual to work a spell. It is my intent to encourage witches to try artistic expression as a new way to effectively work their spells. I call it “artcraft.”
Bringing Magic Into Focus
For most spells, your full attention is required. Your intention must have energy behind it, and that requires a lot of focus. For me, this was a challenge. My mind wanders, my phone rings, my cat wants food. I think about bills and noisy neighbors and random online comments. I look away. As a result, my spells were like sputtering flames, quickly blowing out. Painting, however, easily consumes me for hours. Every inch of a canvas is essential and demands attention. Since I was young I’ve painted and known how absorbed I become, but it was only recently that I understood spells and painting could and should be combined. A revelation!
The Power of Design
Because I am a painter, that’s what I will be focusing on for this article. However, I don’t mean to exclude any art forms, especially if you find you are more comfortable with something else. Many different techniques can be used for artcraft, and finding the one that works best for you, especially if you are a new artist, can take a while. Think about what sounds like fun. Sculpture? Collage? Photography? It’s safe to say most artists are drawn instinctively to certain styles of art, so maybe something will come to mind right away. If not, no worries. It’s good to try new things!
So, why should you infuse your craft with art? The similarities in working styles between artists and witches have already been discussed, but what about their results? What do artists achieve with their art? They can inspire huge groups of people. Think of the “Hope” Obama poster or the simple design on a can of Campbell’s soup that inspired Andy Warhol, one of the most iconic artists of all time, to create a brand new genre! Great graphic design in ad campaigns can motivate people to spend hard-earned money on trinkets they don’t need. At its best, art can evoke deep emotion in total strangers, even hundreds of years after the artist created it. This makes art a powerful tool.
A lot of witches already use art in their spells in the form of sigils. The idea of the sigil, pure intent presented in a design, is the inspiration behind artcraft. If a sigil is a spell, visualized, then why can’t this same idea be applied to works of art? It can! And it can be powerful, too.
When I first began artcraft, the process was very similar to sigil-making. It seemed like the best starting point since I’ve always had success with sigils. I thought of my intent. I thought about what I wanted to the painting to do. This was a great way to guide my process, because “artist’s block” is no longer a factor if you know exactly what a piece needs to accomplish. Like a spell roadmap. My first painting spell was for good luck. That was a little broad, and since I was using sigil-making as a guide, I decided to get more specific. I thought of a sentence of intent. However, instead of using this as the backbone of my design by reshaping letters and layering them, I used it as a mantra while I was painting. Workspace is always important. Lay out your crystals, light a candle, burn some incense, play some music — anything that gets you into the right witchy mindset for working a spell. Then, finally, the fun can begin.
Don’t take yourself out of the moment by overthinking what the actual painting will look like. It’s not about aesthetics or proving anything. It’s all about your intent and what you want the painting spell to accomplish. I didn’t think about the colors or what final form my painting would take — I just repeated my mantra and went with my first choice for everything, thinking that the spell was choosing for me, watching delightedly as something interesting slowly began to reveal itself.
The Canvas As An Altar
Once you’ve finished, take a moment to congratulate yourself! Your completed painting is humming with magic and ready to work for you. If you wish, you can activate your piece like you would a sigil — though obviously not in a way that would destroy it. I find that all the energy that goes into creating it is enough to breathe life into the spell, but by all means, experiment! Leave it outside under the full moon for a night or in the sunlight during high noon. Anoint it with oil. But if you sense it’s complete, it’s time to display it.
These masterpiece spells should be displayed in your home in places of significance. I am a firm believer that there are no rules and each witch must find what works for them through experimentation, being mindful to journal their results. So while I wouldn’t say, “your love spell must be hung above the bed,” I will offer this suggestion: The more symbolism you can pack into your painting spell (location included), the better its energy is directed and the more you reinforce your intent. Think of it like giving your spell directions so it knows exactly where to drive. There are no rules about what these symbols can or should be — although there are plenty of resources online if you need some inspiration — I just strongly suggest making sure they are there and they are important to you. After all, you created this magic and you will know best.
Now, show your spell respect. Just as you would decorate your altar, so too can you add power to your painting spell by giving it offerings. I lay crystals and gris-gris bags on the tops of my canvases and I pin gold ribbons to the corners. I inscribe runes on the back of the canvas and set up little fairy lights around the edges. As I work, I repeat my mantra and let my eyes wander around the canvas, meditating on bringing forth what I want from this painting, and the positive effect it will have on my life. I create altars out of my painting spells and feed them weekly by lighting incense and candles.
If you don’t want to display your painting on your walls for whatever reason, go ahead and add it to your established space for spellwork — your altar. This can be a little bit more intimate for the protective witch who doesn’t want their craft on display for everyone who walks into their home. Remember to experiment! The word “painting” can imply a larger work of art, but it can be the size of a tarot card and kept in your wallet, allowing you to bring the spell’s power with you everywhere! This would be particularly useful for money spells or lucky little spells you want kept close. And they can still be added to altars for offerings and recharging when needed.
- I know I said there are no rules, but as a personal rule, I do not paint negative spells. It’s just not a good energy to bring into your home and let linger. I try and paint spells I’d like to sustain. Good luck. Good health. A safe family. A secure job. A happy cat. These are the energies I want to invite into my life, permanently. Of course, each witch is different and we use magic for different things. It’s just something I keep in mind.
- If you are making a collage or a multimedia piece and would like to incorporate natural elements, please do so respectfully.
- I strongly suggest journaling your results. Get a special notebook or grimoire and begin detailing how the new spell is making changes to your life. Typically, I see results after a few weeks of “feeding” the spell. Paintings often need to be wooed a little. You may see your spell working sooner, but it’s a good idea to think of your first one (and your second and third) as practice. By keeping track of your successes and misfires, you will have a better understanding of what really worked and what needs to be re-worked.
- For the most part, these paintings and works of art should take some effort. Every artist works differently and at different speeds, but don’t rush. Remember, it’s a rare thing that effort does not equal effect. The more you put into your piece, the more you’ll get out of it.
- Art supplies can be expensive. I can usually only stock up after I get my tax refund each year, then it’s basically a supply drought for the next nine months. Don’t break your bank buying 50 dollar tubes of paint. It won’t make a difference to your spell if you use bargain brands. Remember: intent, effort, and symbolism are what matter here, not materials.
Good luck and good intentions, witches! I hope you’ve been inspired to try something new. Now, go forth and create!