Intention Alone Won't Cut It


The power of intention has become a rampant buzz topic within the magical community. In setting an intention, the idea is to formulate a word or statement, much like an affirmation, that represents a change that you want to make in your life. Perhaps you want to view yourself more positively and be less self-critical, or perhaps you want to finally conquer that spending problem and foster greater financial prosperity and wealth in your life. This intention is then held firm in the mind, activated by filling it with “positive energy”* which then causes your intention to attract that which you desire toward you because like attracts like.**

However, there is a lot about this entire process that is fundamentally at odds with the way that magic operates, as well as aspects of the world view that becomes common amongst witches regardless of religious prescription (or lack thereof.) Setting an intention, lighting a million glitter-crusted candles, and thinking happy thoughts throughout your waking hours is all well and good, but when it comes to witchcraft and working magic, setting an intention alone just doesn’t work. It’s only part of the equation. 

Effective magic is a process, let me restate this once more...EFFECTIVE MAGIC IS A PROCESS!

Why Setting and Intention Alone is Useless to the Witch

So much of the information currently presented on magic focuses on simple and quick ways to get what you want. Often times, these methods are being promoted by individuals who have literally made fortunes through their feel good spiritual messages that promise that you, too, can have anything you desire -and often solely through the power of your thoughts alone. No action required, just think your thoughts and good things will come your way.

There are many reasons why this short cut method is problematic.

When we set an intention, we prime our minds to see the things that relate to that intention. This does not mean that holding that intention brought those things to you, rather, it means that you tuned your mind to see that which was already there waiting for you to see in the first place. This is similar to how you cannot go looking for an omen and actually receive one -that’s not how omens work. You don’t find omens, omens find you. But if you go out looking for “a sign” that confirms you’re on the right path, that you’ve made the right changes, that what you’re planning is the right thing to do etc, you will often find it because you’ve primed your mind to find it.
But that doesn’t mean that creating an intention isn’t without its purpose. The true power of intention comes in that performs as a filter for energy that we direct as part of our magical workings. This tightens the energy, focusing it further upon the target, and increasing the efficacy. Your intention improves your aim.

But witchcraft is not for the meek nor the perpetually unmotivated. Getting the full value of intention requires action. There are no shortcuts. Setting an intention and then funneling your thoughts into it each day without taking direct action to get what you want does not work. This is not how magic works. The Universe will not reward you because your aura sparkles more than the glitter on your candles. Your Gods and spirits will not shift things in your favor because your namaste game is on point today. If you want a change in your life, you do the work to get it and then you enjoy the results. No action, no results.

Change Your Behavior:

Your Thoughts Will Follow and so Will the Energy

The latest clinical studies in the field of psychology, with supporting evidence reaching back to the 1970s, show us that taking action, and making changes in our behavior not our thoughts, is far more effective in making desired changes in our lives. This stands in direct opposition to the highly marketed new age idea that you can change your life by setting an intention (i.e. changing your thoughts) alone. The reasons for this are multifold.

First, in changing your behavior to comply with the results you want, every attainment of those results serves to reinforce your new behavior (i.e. actions) by presenting concrete proof that indirectly changes thoughts and emotions. In other words, successful actions provide proof to your mind that this is an effective way to get what you want, so you become more inclined to repeat those actions.

Second, in deliberately changing your behavior, you can shape your actions to be in better alignment with your values, whether they’re spiritual, religious, or just tied to a worldview you want to adopt. This impresses within your mind the importance of those values, enabling you to adopt them more thoroughly, more quickly, and more effectively (you start living those values right away instead of thinking about how great it would be if you could live like that.)

Third, in focusing on changing your actions rather than your thoughts, you automatically bypass adverse thoughts and unstable thought patterns (i.e. the thoughts you think that you know aren’t true or that gets in your way yet always creep up and hold you back.) These negative thoughts don’t have a chance to ruin your plans, to ignite your anxiety, or to make you doubt yourself because they’re not given a chance to do so in the first place.

This means in my opinion, you can change your worldview and perspective on a matter merely by acting in a way that is in agreement with the worldview and perspective you wish to adopt. Taking further action to support the changes in your behavior, such as making changes to your lifestyle and habits that make it easier for you to maintain these behavior changes, that support the mental/emotional changes you want to make, it will also increase not just the efficacy of your actions, but also how quickly you attain your overall goal.

From a more magically focused perspective, changing your behavior to correspond to that which you want to achieve (i.e. taking mundane action and practicing follow through on your spell work) will work to better solidify that intention within your mind, direct the energy in the appropriate directions, and help you achieve what you want not only more quickly, but in a more lasting way.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Getting out of your head and finding ways to support the magic you’re working (or want to be working) can be tricky at times. But, the more you do to accomplish your goals and the more energy you channel into (especially long-term) spells only serves to encourage stronger results. This is where remembering that magic is a spiritual process, much the way that running is a physical process, helps in finding ways to take action to create that change in your thoughts and then, in your circumstances.

This holds true regardless of the focus of the changes you want to create. Anchoring your intention setting, spell craft, energy work within concrete actions taken in your everyday life will not just increase the efficacy of your magic, but will also help you develop a stronger understanding of how magic works. This is because you will be more invested in the process of creating this change and more alert to any possible early manifestations, as well as being more alert to the subtle energy fluctuations set in place by your total efforts. That deeper understanding of what magic is, how it works, and how you can most effectively use it toward your goals will help you to become a more effective witch. And that’s when the real fun of witchcraft begins.


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