As an older Houngan people often come to me when spells they have tried to cast for themselves don’t work. Similarly, clients come to me when spells cast for them by less experienced practitioners don’t work. You may have found yourself in a similar situation. You may have wondered why the spell you tried didn’t work. Here is a short list of reasons why spell did not work. This is not an exhaustive list, there are many other reasons why a spell can fail, but this will cover some of the more common reasons for spell failure.
The Wrong Time
It was the wrong time to cast that type of spell. This can mean the wrong time of year, the wrong month, the wrong day, or even the wrong time of day. As Voodoo Houngans we know that each Lwa have their own months, days and times. Performing a Voodoo rite and casting a spell effectively means being patient and waiting for the correct time. Sometimes this means I have to stay up late, sometimes it means I have to wake up early, sometimes I have to wait for the appropriate day.
Low Quality Ingredients
If the spell ingredients or items you use are of a low quality, this can impact the strength and success of your work. A high quality magical implement does not mean that it must be expensive, however. The difference between a high quality candle and a low quality candle, to use an example, may only be if the candle has been touched by other people. A candle that is prepared correctly will not have been handled often, whereas a low quality candle, such as one you find in the corner store, may have been touched multiple times by potential customers.
Knowing where to source the correct items and knowing which items on the shelf are of a decent quality to use is part of the spiritual practice. Another more intuitive example would be with offerings of food, where fresh items are preferred over old or spoiled items (unless the spirit is one who specifically prefers spoiled items). A high quality rum would be preferred over a low quality rum (this is one example where quality will actually be more expensive). This means knowing each spirit you work with and understanding what items will be well received.
No Relationship With The Spirit
As a Houngan I speak primarily on Voodoo, but this is true for spiritual practice outside of Voodoo as well. If you do not have a strong relationship with the Lwa, or with any spirit you ask for, anything you ask may be denied. For practices outside of Voodoo we see this to be true as well, for example if we look at the spirits in the Solomonic grimoires. Experience with a spirit will give you a stronger affinity with them. This relationship is essential for anything that you request of the spirit, particularly for material requests and spell work. When you have a Houngan or any other caster perform a spell on your behalf, it is their relationship with the spirit that is important. This is one reason why a spell you cast for yourself might not work, but having the same spell cast by someone else will.
This is not the most common reason, but it does explain a lot of spell failures. If the spell you are using is underpowered – if the spell simply isn’t a good spell – it wont give you the full results you want. This doesn’t mean a spell needs to be complex. Some powerful spells are very simple. (Simple does not necessarily mean they are easy to cast.)
Voodoo is a long tradition, so we have developed collections of spells over time that have been tried and tested. New traditions may still be experimenting with new spells and have more errors relative to older traditions. Magical practices that are inherently more experimental may also have higher rates of error. This is not to say these practices or traditions are worse. I don’t intend to talk down on anyone’s spiritual journey. This is only to offer an explanation for some of the limitations we may see with newer spells. Time and practice will eventually prove the effective spells.
Lack of Intention
If you lack intention – if you don’t truly want the spell to work – this is a certain way to undermine the spell. This is essentially a form of self sabotage. Its not uncommon for someone to say they want something, but to feel they don’t deserve it, they don’t truly want it, or don’t need it. If your intention isn’t aligned with the spell work then your casting is less likely to be successful.
This applies primarily to spells that you personally perform. If someone else is casting a spell for you then it is their intention that is key. This is why it is important that anyone casting for you is fully committed to the results that you want to see. Houngans and Mambos spend time training intention for this purpose.
We could also add will or focus to this item, as the same would apply to a lack of these.
Avoiding The Pitfalls of Spell Failure
If you cast spells on your own, you have to be prepared for them to fail often. This is a part of the learning experience. In Voodoo this is something everyone experiences as a beginner, an initiate, a journeyman and onwards until they become a professional Houngan or Mambo. We experience failures early in life. We learn from failures so that we don’t experience them later. Your own spell work will follow a similar path, if it is Voodoo or if it is something else. At first you will fail often, but with practice you will become more experienced and fail less. This is true for every skill in life, not just spell work. Here again we see the spiritual and the material worlds mirror one another.
If you don’t have time for spell failure, you don’t want to experiment with spells, or you need solid results that is when it is in your best interest to seek a professional. I’m always available and happy to help of course, but it doesn’t need to be me and it doesn’t need to be Voodoo. However, you do need to find someone who is experienced and who is consistently able to get results with similar cases.