So you found a spell you like, but it’s not perfect. Maybe it uses an ingredient that’s rare or expensive in your neck of the woods. Maybe it asks you to go out and stand in the moonlight and there’s been nothing but snow and rain for weeks. Or, maybe, it’s just not fully clicking for you.
There’s lots of reasons why a person might adapt a spell or ritual. It’s usually for ingredient based reasons, but just as often it could be due to timing or personal practice choices.
But adapting a spell is a fine line. If you adapt something too much, it’s not the same spell. If you swap out an ingredient, you may change the way the spell works. Analyzing spells is something you figure out how to do as you gain experience and knowledge with spell casting. It’s hard to adapt a spell when you might not have the basic knowledge to do that. An experienced witch probably will make changes on the fly, using what’s in their cupboards and their knowledge from research and experience. Others might have to pause to double check something or they might even skip a few ingredients by double up the purpose of an ingredient.
In short, adapting spells can be really easy – but it can be a challenge too. It’s okay if it’s a challenging or daunting task for you! It really is. Because spell casting is a lot like cooking and baking.
If you think of a spell like a recipe, then it may take some of the pressure away from having to “get it right”. Cooking and baking is relatively subjective – things need to turn out a certain way to be properly edible and taste good, but not everything is going to taste great to the same people. Spells are a lot like that. You may learn that you just don’t click with herb based spells or anything that asks you to start a fire is a no-go. And that’s okay! Know your strengths and boundaries. It’s a good idea to push those boundaries and strengths sometimes, but you don’t need to do it all the time.
It’s okay to hold back from adapting a spell or even doing a spell, because you’re not sure of the changes that need to be made. I’m in the camp that says try your adaptations anyway. Take notes on what you changed.
Of course, there’s always some folks out there that say a spell should be used exactly as written. There’s certainly a reason for that. Spells are written with specific intentions in mind and omitting an ingredient or altering a process may change the entire intention of the original spell – even if the person adapting it doesn’t know that. The more complicated the spell – or the more often it deals with spirits – the more likely it is that the process and ingredients are very intentionally chosen. Adaptations and substitutions may cause the spell to fail or not work as intended.
I’ve written spells that have very clear instructions to them because the process, while simple on the surface, was written very intentionally as part of the ritual. The steps aren’t there for the end goal, they are part of the end goal. It’s like a recipe – you need to prep the vegetables properly to really get the flavor you want out of the dish in the end.
I’m still, by far, in the camp of adapting your spells. If a verse in a spell doesn’t seem natural or comfortable, I’ll change it. If I’m doing a complicated ritual, I’ll either take it apart to see exactly how it works or I’ll try it as written and make adaptations for future usages.
It depends on how much experimentation you do with your magic. If you’re looking for a simple grab-and-go spell (and absolutely no judgements here, if that’s your jam), then use what’s written or adapt on the fly. It’s your magic, your practice, and your results. Do what works best for you.