I wrote a blog about this... and thought I'd share it here as well.
smalltownwiccan.blogspot.com/2010/03/arrrrruuguugggggggg-spell-editorial.html (Originally posted at this link)
I frequent a pagan website, which I've mentioned before (and is linked over there somewhere ---->) and new members usually post "can I have a spell that..." and "I need love, someone know a love spell?" and it just rubs me the wrong way terribly.
Spells are not meant to be a fix-all, be-all. I've cast a couple in my lifetime but I view spells in a different way than other Wiccans (I'm assuming, from my experiences) I view spells as a rite. A Ritual. A different way of "prayer". It's very similar to ceremonies held by organized religion. I use a spell as an "umpf" not a crutch.
(Let me try to use English)
When I say "crutch" I mean... If you are in a coven, or trying to be a part of a coven, MOST of them make you take CLASSES. Yes, like school. You have to take classes and studies before they will even CONSIDER you. As a solitary you obviously have more freedom but I like the idea that covens want you to be schooled before they will welcome you in and let you yeld a wand. Because you have to know what you're dealing with before you welcome energies into your life. You need to. I can't stress that enough.
As a solitary I hold my own standards. Respectively, I studied for 5yrs before casting my first circle. Most books you'll read will tell you to study at the very very least one full year and a day before calling any elements, or chanting anything altering to the universe. I completely revel in the year and a day thing. You need that time. You need it. It's kind of like a spiritual cleansing. You need those days, hours, weeks, minutes... to just purge out all you ever thought of religion and replace it with new ideas and new insights. Rushing into things usually end horribly.
I practice my craft much like a Buddhist tries to reach enlightenment. I approach everything with patience and time. Meditation is very important to me and it truly affects everything you do in life. With spells, you take time. You study it. You research the items you will be using if you are unfamiliar with them or haven't used them before. Check all angles. Is there a better herb? Is there a better oil? Is this the right color candle? Should you have to call a circle or could you just send up some words to the Goddess and feel content?
There are so many ways things could pan out. There are so many outcomes that aren't desired that could happen. Anything can and will happen.
A "spell" is such a loose term. When I say spell in this article I truly mean calling a circle, inviting spirits, energies and elements into your current physical being and welcoming the Goddess to show her true self to you. Not just lighting a candle or sending energies to your deity. Many people that practice any form of "spell-work" even see a simple, "Dear Goddess, bless me on this day and help me follow my path" and a nod to the moon as a spell. While others (like myself) view full-blown casting a circle and/or using items to construct a ritual as a spell...
Wicca is a huge gray area.
Everything I've said may or may not be agreed with and could be "wrong" to someone else.
I'm a solitary, I know how I do it and I'm aware how others do it.
(Never be afraid to make something your own or change things to fit you in your craft. Wicca is very personal and very self-described)
I'm really not trying to confuse anyone, there are just so many options to spells and the like. To me the most powerful of spell is one that is written by your own hand and created in your own mind. I don't feel like buying a spell from a bookstore makes it legit. If you want spell books for ideas and educational to learn how to construct a spell, I have no qualms with that. I read spells all the time just out of curiosity, but for the most part I feel like my own spells written by me or spells I've found and altered to be my own work the best.
Love spells kind of need their own blog, but while I'm on the subject I might as well cover it.
Love spells are just silly. I view love spells in the same way christian view the Holy Grail. Unattainable and most believe is a myth but yet people don't stop the journey. I don't believe in love spells, I've never tired one nor would I ever. Love is such a beautifully twisted, ugly, outrageous, wonderful, twitchy, maddening shroud of what could be, should be, might be. Love isn't meant to be tampered with by any forces other than yourself purely on an emotional level.
To cast a spell asking for someone to love you is setting yourself up for disappointment.
(Remember the gray area? There is one here too)
The gray area for loves spells is this: I can see doing a "love" spell wanting to heal from a bad break up, or to strengthen the love you have for yourself. A "love" spell can also be cast (in my opinion) when you feel unloved and you want to be AWARE of the love around you, not CREATE it. An awareness spell seems far more legit to me rather than a "I want to create this love that didn't exists before" spell. I believe that wanting to be aware of the love that IS around you when you are doubting it, seems okay to me and probably wouldn't backfire on you. It's when you ask for something that wasn't there to suddenly be there is when energies get skewed and people's emotions get toyed with and possibly you end up with some pretty heavy negative baggage that won't go away until you do a counter-spell to hopefully dispel some of the nasty that you got from the original one.
On the forum that I go to whenever someone wants to cast a love spell, I try to stear them in a new direction. Here are some examples:
"I just want him/her to love me. I want them to be mine. I love him/her so much!"
-Do you want them to love you back or be aware of it? Have you tried to tell them? Are you too scared to talk to them? Do a confidence spell to make you strong enough to talk to them and make them aware of your feelings for them.
"He broke up with me and I can't take it anymore. He already has a new girlfriend and I want him back. I love him and he needs to love me back."
-You should do a healing spell. Mend your heart before you could possibly ever cast a spell requesting such a thing. If you cast a spell with animosity in your heart you will probably send the wrong kind of energy out into the universe and love won't be what is sent back to you. Do a spell asking for inner peace and when you get your head straight you will realize there are others you could love and will love you back.
"I have a friend that really likes this guy and we want to do a love spell so she can get him to notice her. What kind of love spell could I do?"
-An awareness spell. Do a spell that "reveals" things to him directly. As in, you are more obvious in your actions in hopes that he could notice you. Spells are a reflection within yourself on others, not an attempt to change other people's actions and emotions to reflect back on you. A spell is sent out and hopefully rebounded back... much like a boomerang. You have to send it before you can receive it. I believe if you have this mindset while casting a spell, it will properly be sent out into the universe and hopefully answered.
Again, I am not the know-all be-all and not everyone will agree with my opinions but I just hope to offer some insight. As always, do you own research before you take my opinions as your own.