...drop a coin into a wishing well, or blow out the candles on your birthday cake, have you ever considered carefully what you are doing and what it means? These are sweet, superstitious practices for most, passed down from generation to generation and given an encouraging nudge by the film-makers at Disney: nothing more.
Sometimes there is genuine thought and desire behind a wish; often it is whimsical – a spur of the moment fancy. For me, it is the combination of thought and action (as with almost every aspect of life) which creates power. In practical terms, it is the intent with which something is done which provides its driving force. If you take besom to hearth and create a sweeping motion, without intent to remove the dust, you will simply swirl it around the room; if you make a wish without clear intentions about the forthcoming outcome, it is unlikely you will recognise whether it has been achieved – or know that it is what you truly want.
In simple terms, a ‘spell’ is a form of wish: a desire for a particular outcome or change. What is beautiful and, paradoxically, often frightening about the concept is that what we desire is achievable simply by aligning our thoughts with our actions. It is within us. Whether you direct your intent towards a deity - or as I more often prefer to do, towards nature and the universe as a whole - the wish, spell, prayer is cast through visualisation of the hoped-for outcome amalgamated with the energy provided through an – often symbolic – action.
Dropping a coin into a well symbolises an offering to the universe; candles were historically put on cakes to symbolise the glowing of the moon – it was said that the smoke rising from them would carry a person’s prayers to the gods.
As for me, I sent my wishes skyward this year by paper lantern, which carried my hopes into the universe gracefully. These intentions were coupled with the action of burying apples in a particular spot in my garden. In giving this offering back to the ground, I was visualising a symbollic outcome: my first snowdrop sighting.
This symbol of hope represents the arrival of a much craved-for spring; life and light beginning to seep back into the darkness we currently find ourselves enveloped in. The next turn of the wheel. I never fail to feel joyous at the sight of that first fragile and most courageous of flowers, braving the February frosts. A beautiful metaphor for what the spirit can overcome.
When I see these wondrous reminders raise their heads from a wintery slumber, at the spot where I buried my offerings and released my hopes to the sky, I will know my wishes have already begun to come true.