In any discussion about witchcraft, intention is bound to come up. It seems like people are always throwing that word around when they’re discussing spells and casting methods. It doesn’t matter what kind of magic you’re doing, whether it’s a candle spell or a potion, a sigil or astral traveling, intention is at the core of all of it.
That leads us to a little problem though, nobody ever seems to explain what intention is. Sure, you’ve heard the word a million times and maybe you’ve cobbled together an understanding of how to use it based on what you’ve read and trial and error but do you actually understand what intention is? Do you know why it works or how it makes such a big impact on your magic working? If you’re not quite sure, that’s okay. Most witches nowadays are in the same boat with you! Somehow, this majorly important concept has been left out of modern teachings on the craft.
It’s time to remedy that. If you’re going to be using magic, you need to understand it! How are you supposed to troubleshoot your spells, design your own rituals, or make informed decisions about your craft if you don’t actually understand the mechanisms behind it? It’s time to demystify intention and take a good look at what it is that makes it so indispensable to our spell crafting.
Intention Leads The Way
Intention is indispensable in the craft. You can’t do magic without it. Even in spells that don’t use the word intention, there’s still some variety of intention setting happening either through an incantation, a visualization, or some other means. Intention is the root from which every other part of the craft grows.
At the surface level, an intention is how you state what you want to happen because of your spell. It’s the compass leading you to the destination you’ve chosen. Every other element in your spell is a way of actualizing this intention. The herbs chosen for your spell? They’re lending qualities that support your intention. The symbols used in your ritual? They hold an energy that matches your intention. Any kind of repetition or trance used in your spell? It’s used to move your intention into deeper and deeper parts of your consciousness.
When you break it down, there is no magic without intention. Intention is everywhere in the craft, every action, every mechanism, every word, and movement, and meditation is about intention.
What Is Intention?
Intention is obviously super important. Some people claim that intention is the only thing you need but I don’t particularly agree. If all you needed was intention, we wouldn’t have all of these rituals and spells to get shit done, now would we? Regardless, it is undeniably a big part of magic which means that we need to understand what intention really is.
In the simplest terms, intention is desire.
Intention is the part of you that wants something and wants it hard. That desire, that drive for change, for improvement, is an incredibly powerful force. More so than your emotions, your actions, or your words, your desires shape your life. These desires infiltrate every part of your being, changing how you act, how you think, and how you perceive the world around you. By changing your intention, by adjusting your desire, you can change your entire life.
Desire Drives Magic
Desire is the engine that drives magic. Or, more accurately, desire is the engine that drives EVERYTHING. There is no change in the world that is not driven by desire. Whether that desire is for money, for love, for the end of personal pain, it doesn’t matter. Desire moves humans to act, to speak, and to change. Without desire, there is stagnation and apathy. If you want magic, then you must embrace your desires.
When you hold a desire as intention, it serves to focus the energy of your life on a particular change. The mechanism of change often comes in many forms, from changes we make in our lives consciously or unconsciously to changes in the energy that flows through our lives, bringing events, people, and situations into our lives that act as a catalyst for change.
Without desire, there is no change, whether or not you are using magic.
Have you ever wondered at people who say they want something but never seem to change their behaviors or lives to get that thing they want? It seems counterintuitive, right? In reality, they are lying, either to themselves or to you. This person may be completely unaware of it, but they do not want what they say they want. They might think they want it or that they should want it, but the reality is quite different.
For example, a person who says they want a better job and more income but never does anything about it does not want a better job or more money. They only think they do.
Hang on! That can’t be right, who doesn’t want more money and a better job?
I know, it seems counterintuitive, but it’s true! A person stuck in a situation like this would probably even call me crazy if I told them they didn’t really want those things. In reality though, they want something very different and that conflicting desire is keeping them in their bad job that makes bad money.
They might want to continue having a low level of responsibility, or they might want to be taken care of by the people in their lives, or they might want to escape their fear of failure. None of these desires are wrong. A person trying to escape responsibility feels overwhelmed. A person who wants to be taken care of feels neglected. These feelings and desires come out subconsciously, preventing any kind of change from happening and keeping this person in a situation they “don’t want”.
Until this person reconciles their desires and meets these desires without sabotaging their career prospects, no amount of magic will change their situation. This is why spells fail repeatedly. This is why no amount of intention setting seems to budge that one problem you’re constantly struggling with. You set intention after intention but the desire isn’t there. Your desires are pointing the energy in your life in a very different direction.
Taking Charge Of Your Desire
This lands us in a bit of a conundrum. If we have desires that we don’t know that we have, and these desires can prevent the things that we consciously know that we want from happening, then how do we manage to make magic work? The answer, it turns out, is accepting one simple fact of life.
You cannot change what you want.
You can’t not want the things that you want any more than you can stop yourself from getting hungry. If you want something, telling yourself not to want it will never, ever work. In fact, it will probably make the desire stronger, more voracious, and less conscious. Desire is an intrinsic part of being alive. Going back to our previous example, if you want the people in your life to take care of you then you need love, companionship, and a feeling of safety. In western society, we often label those desires as unacceptable, we’re supposed to be self-sufficient and independent. So you suppress the desire and tell yourself that you don’t want it, sometimes you suppress it so hard that you start to actually believe that you don’t want it.
But you do.
You can’t un-want that desire for care-taking. It’s rooted in need. We as humans need support from our social circle. And since a need must be met (that’s why it’s called a need), your subconscious finds sneaky ways to meet it. It keeps you stuck in a situation where you must be taken care of. Where you have no choice but to rely on those around you.
In order to change your life with magic, you must uncover these subconscious desires. You must build a deep understanding of your true desires and the needs that are at the root of each desire. When you do this, you can remove the conflict between your conscious and subconscious desires and ensure that both are met.
Notice I didn’t say that you can get rid of your subconscious desires. Remember that you can’t un-want something that you want. If you want something, the only solution is to meet that desire.
If you want to get unstuck from the dead-end job AND you want the people in your life to take care of you, you must meet both desires. Perhaps you ask the people in your life to do things that feel like being taken care of to you. Whether that’s cooking for you or listening to you or wrapping you up in blankets for a movie night. If you don’t have people in your life you can do that with, maybe you find another way to meet that need. Get yourself a massage. Go to talk therapy. Maybe even trade care-taking activities with someone if you can’t get over that feeling of guilt we associate with wanting to be taken care of.
Once this desire is being met, the subconscious mind no longer has a reason to keep you in your dead-end job so suddenly your money magic starts working.
So how can you identify these desires if they’re buried in your subconscious? The process below will help you start to shift these into your conscious awareness.
1. Begin by identifying your sticking points.
What areas of your life do you constantly seem to be struggling against? Is it your finances, your love life? Where do you experience the most spell failure? This is the area where your subconscious desires are sabotaging you.
2. List all the reasons why you want to be in this situation.
I know. You don’t want to be in this situation. But you need to identify the positive intention behind the situation. What are you gaining by being stuck here? What need does it meet? What is it that you really want that is keeping you here? If you’re always dating people who won’t commit, perhaps you want your freedom and are afraid that a relationship will take that from you. If you keep getting passed over for a promotion, perhaps you want to be able to spend time with your family and the increased workload would cut into that time. Make a list of all the reasons why you might want to be in this place in your life and the positive things it gives you.
3. Once you have your list, figure out how to meet these needs.
You will probably find that one or a few of these reasons ring most true for you. Focus on these first and find a way to meet these desires outside of the current situation. If you’re afraid of losing your freedom, maybe schedule days by yourself where you can go out and be alone and do whatever you want. Maybe go for a road trip. Maybe you address controlling patterns in your relationship. If you want to spend time with your family, make that a priority. Have dinner with them every night, schedule weekend activities, find ways to get all the time you want with them even when your work life is busy.
One final note, it’s important to keep in mind that what you want and the need behind it aren’t always the same thing. An alcoholic wants to drink but that doesn’t mean they should. The need behind their drinking is what needs to be met. Perhaps they drink to avoid feeling stuck in their life or out of control. To meet this need, they should find small ways to feel in control. Meeting these needs is often very difficult because a person has been avoiding it for so long that the issue has compounded itself.
Even small steps in the right direction can lead to positive change though. Tending a garden can feel like control, building something can feel like control, caring for a pet well can feel like control. In instances of destructive desires such as alcohol or drug abuse, impulsive behaviors, or risky sex, the desire is covering up a particularly painful need. Continuing to meet the destructive desire rather than the actual need will only make things worse. For these kinds of desires, you should seek out the help of a medical professional. Meeting the needs under your destructive desires can be very difficult and having support as you tackle this is important.
As you clear away the subconscious desires that are blocking you, your life and magic will change for the better. Those desires that you hold consciously as intentions in your spells will have real effects and bring about real change in your life. You simply have to make sure you’re aligning yourself with the things you really want!