Before beginning the study or practice of any type of magick, regardless of how innocuous the spell may appear, a person should truly get a feel and understanding for the Wiccan guidelines which apply to magick. The Wiccan Rede states, "An Harm to none". This means no one - not your neighbor, your family, your significant other, yourself or your dog.
Well, what does "harm" imply? Simply put, anything that causes harm to another's emotional, physical, or psychic wellbeing is causing harm. A question I am asked quite often is "Are love spells harmful?" While something as simple as a love spell may sound innocent and cute, they are quite often dangerous and extremely harmful. Let us say for example, that there is someone you like a lot and you want them to ask you out on a date. Such and such a book says to put such and such components together and POOF! the other's interest will suddenly peak and there is your date. Let's take a look at the possibilities in this one.
You are thinking, Great! The magick has worked! Yippee-Skipee! WRONG! Now, you can't get rid of this person. They are hounding you night and day. They suddenly become obsessed and, no matter where you go or what you do, you can't get rid of 'em! Alright, this example is a bit to the Right - but magick sometimes does not work the way we plan. Who did this spell harm? If you answered both individuals, including yourself, you would be correct. First, never ever manipulate another's free will to your will - that causes harm. Also, in the long run, you have caused great harm to yourself, as well.
This is a great time to mention what Wiccans refer to as the three-fold law. Simply put, the three-fold law is anything that is put out, be it positive or negative, will be returned to the sender three times over. This is simple cause and effect. I can not stress enough how important it is to keep this law in mind during any magick performed! Also, watch the effects. The more you do within your life that is positive, the more which will be returned as positive. For more information regarding the 3-fold law and Karma, I encourage you to investigate books and information on the web, there is lot's of it!
Another question that some might be asking is, "Exactly what is a Spell?" Well, this one I hope to put to bed (pardon the love spell pun). In my opinion, a spell is simply a prayer with props. And before people start chasing me down with their brooms remember, I did say "in my opinion"! Seriously, spell work is generally how Wiccans perform their Magick, performed within a sacred and consecrated boundary, at a specific time and only when there is great need.
"Do you perform Black Magick?" Again, if one has read all of the above, one would already know the answer to that. True Magick is neither black, nor is it white. It is the intent of the practitioner that determines the outcome. As my Priestess put it, "Magick is like a bowl of water. You can use it to drown a kitten or, instead, give it to the kitten to drink, which will provide nourishment. But either way, the bowl of water is just a bowl of water." (Thank you, SylphSong!)
What does it take to make magick work? There are in my opinion, several things that are required to make a spell succeed. Will, desire, intent and, most importantly, need. Without these basic requirements, spells will generally fail. Also, when an occasion arises which you feel demands the use of a spell, you must first look at the physical (also known as the mundane). Unless you are willing to first do the work required in the physical, there may not be enough need for the spell in the first place. If you have intend to perform a job spell for example, but don't go out and submit applications, an employer will not come knocking at your front door no matter how much need and will you exert!
Finally, what about working spells for others? There are only rare occasions on which I will ever work magick for another. I feel that one should always, always obtain permission for any spell crafted for another individual, whether they need help with their health, emotional well being or whatever. Always be aware as well, of their intent. If they want to get rid of a tooth ache, that is one thing. If they want to get rid of ol' Uncle Billy Bob for his inheritance, I would certainly stay clear of that one!
True Wiccans rarely ever cast spells. Most things, you will find, can be solved in the mundane world by answering a classified ad for a job, or asking that "special someone" if they would like to go out for a candlelit dinner! Yet, we are always performing magick. How is this possible? As a Wiccan person, I find magick absolutely everywhere! At the ocean, in the forest, watching a sunrise or sunset. I perform an act of purification magick every time I clean my home. A little furniture polish, sage, up-beat music, sunlight and fresh air are wonderful and magickal ways to keep the home clear of negative feelings and energies. Sometimes, just reminding someone that you care is a simple act of healing magick that can go a long, long way.
Magick is not for everyone. For those who choose to investigate further for themselves, I encourage you to do so, safely! The saying, "To Learn, To Know, To Dare, To Keep Silent" applies here. Learn how and when a spell is needed; know the spell intimately; dare to implement the spell and of course, keep silent about your workings, because the doubt and/or criticism of others can cause your desire to fail.