My magical practices have gotten a lot simpler over the years. Part of it was due to money issues, part was annoyance, but in the end, simplifying made me much happier. As I look back, I realize that some of the beliefs I had and systems I followed actually held me back from doing magical work.
Now, don’t take the title wrong and think that I don’t like ritual or tradition. When applied properly, both can be wonderful. However, anything done wrong or adhered to in the extreme can be detrimental. The easiest way I can think to explain it is to make a somewhat extreme example or two.
Let’s say you’re unhealthy and looking to do some healing magic. Your tradition has a healing spell, but it calls for a gold foil candle anointed in the tears of a first born daughter. Or maybe you want to cast a spell to embrace your femininity, but the spell says you need an amethyst carved in the shape of a vagina. There’s a spell to get you your dream job, but it can only be performed on the third Wednesday of a month ending in Y, 5 hours after the new moon rises. If you can’t get those things or arrange those circumstances, you may very well be put off doing that type of magical work.
Obviously, those are pretty extreme, as I warned. However, the idea is valid. A lot of spells and rituals out there are insanely complex. They sometimes flat-out state that you must perform them at a certain time, or that you must use specific elements. There are plenty of reasons why those might not be possible for someone to achieve. For a lot of people, especially newcomers to alternative spirituality and magic, these things can put them off doing magical work at all. that’s quite a shame.
I believe that you can do magic as simply or with as much complexity as you choose. If a spell calls for a marble goddess in the center of your altar and you don’t have one, draw a goddess on a sheet of paper and use that. If a spell calls for seven purple candles and all you have is one white one, use it. These things only matter as much as you believe they do. If you believe that you can be just as successful with one candle as with nine, you can be. If you understand that there are no set-in-stone rules, you’ll be open to a whole lot more.
Personally, I use very few tools and materials in my work. Sure, it might look really awesome to have a jade dragon on my altar surrounded with six silver candles and two chalices of wine and nine copper coins. However, I can probably do just fine with a few pennies, a single votive and my little dragon pendant. Simplicity allows for versatility. If I have all the fancy stuff and can work on a special date and time, I will, but if I don’t or can’t, I’m not going to skip the spell or ritual.
I think that all practitioners or potential practitioners need to understand that they don’t have to be all sorts of elaborate in order to work magic or be spiritual. Something as simple as sitting on the ground in your favorite jeans can be magical. A ritual that uses nothing but a slip of paper and takes five minutes is just as good as one that costs $100 in materials and takes all night. Never allow someone else’s ideas of what something should be stop you from doing something you want to do.