|“||Powerful spells are bound by something even more powerful... the moon, a comet, an aurora. Purgatory was made thousands of years ago, and it still exists. That means she must have bound it to something that could exist just as long.||”|
— Phoebe about spells.
Spells one of the main components of magic; a "spell" being the word used to signify the means employed to carry out a magical action. This allows users to magically alter reality to a wide number of effects or to evoke forces to change their surroundings. According to Leo Wyatt, when someone casts a spell it leaves a kind of signature, like a magic fingerprint which can be used to discover the identity of the caster.
Some spells require more than one performer to make them work in order to increase the amount of magic and therefore potential power available for the spell. For example, the spell to vanquish the warlock Jeremy Burns is a Power of Three spell.
The demon Abraxas revealed that by reading a spell backwards correctly, one can reverse the effects. For example, the spell to vanquish the Woogyman will instead summon it when said backwards, and the spell to invoke a witch's powers will rebind them if read backwards.
|“||Concentrate. Forget about the vampires. Focus on tapping into your power, listen to the sound of your heart beating, the sound of your lungs filling with air.||”|
— Bonnie Bennett to Olivia Parker.
A spell can consist of a ritual action, a spoken component, a verse, a gesture or any combination of these. A spell may require the use of certain tools, ingredients (herbs, stones and minerals) or the use of additional power such as from celestial events or a specific kind of magic. According to Morgan le Fay, ceremony and naming are the beginning of all spellcraft, and are the first steps to binding magic to the will of the mystic. Nature demands balance and as such every spell has a loophole, no matter what magic is used to cast the spell.
Although majority of the spells are spoken in ancient languages (i.e. Latin), some spells may be cast in the native language of the witch (e.g. Jesus Velasquez recited his spells in Spanish and Holly Cleary recited hers in English). Particular spells can also be activated by personal phrases predetermined by the caster. A powerful enough spell-caster with lots of experience can cast spells non-verbally, albeit with a hand gesture (e.g. by drawing sacred sigils) or even a thought. The latter technique requires the caster to concentrate on the incantation and recite it mentally.
Parameters of SpellsEdit
Spells are capable of producing a wide variety of effects, both harmful and helpful. They can produce physical or chemical changes in a person or object. They can also have profound mental effects such as altering memory, manipulating emotions, or causing magical compulsion (such as forcing someone to speak truthfully).
Spells can manipulate other kinds of magic, such as binding (preventing the use of) a witch's powers, transferring powers between individuals or objects, breaking magical barriers, lifting or casting curses, protection from harm and range from healing to resurrecting the dead. Some spells require more than one witch to make them work in order to increase the amount of magic and therefore potential power available for the spell.
The subject of a spell can be affected at a distance. Spells have been depicted as effective when the incantation was transmitted over telephone lines, or when it was recorded and played back at a different place by someone else.
Some spells, such as those used to vanquish demons and warlocks, have a momentary duration. Others are persistent, and continue to have their effects on their subjects until they are specifically reversed. It has been shown and proven that powerful spells are bound to something even more powerful (e.g. the moon, a comet, a doppelgänger, the caster themselves), as in order for them to persist they need a continuous source of power; because of this, should the spell's source of power be neutralized, its effects will immediately desist. A few are self-ending: the magic fades after a predetermined length of time (i.e. the magic fueling it runs out), or when certain conditions are met (i.e. the spell has played out). Many spells, especially those used for personal gain, have consequences, and can backfire on the caster in undesirable ways.
Specifics and LimitationsEdit
|“||You misused magic to make him the object of ogling, and the spell backfired and did the same thing to you.||”|
Despite Grams implying that witches are capable of anything, it is safe to assume that that is not completely true. Just like asking a genie to grant a specific wish; there are often loopholes the wisher, or caster, can fall into if they are not very specific. Spell backfiring is also a common problem.
Spell backfire can result from:
- A witch sworn to the Wiccan Rede using magic for personal gain
- Not being specific enough with the incantation
- Nature's "will" to teach the witch a lesson in some way
In addition to the possibility of backfire, the spell's effect may be very weak, or may not even work at all. This implies that the willpower and innate magical strength of the witch has an affect on the spell's success. For example, Penny and Patty Haliwell cast a spell to send the Charmed One's back to the future, but they only succeeded in sending them forward 10 seconds, and Prue Halliwell was only able to injure the spirit of Jackson Ward while casting the "To Vanquish A Ghost" spell, and only manages to finally vanquish the spirit when she truly means to vanquish him; in other words, she felt strongly enough in her conviction to vanquish him. Also, when Prue was alive, she and Piper were powerful enough to vanquish Shax. Following her death, the Power of Three was needed.
Extra material components, potions, or rituals may or may not be necessary for a spell. This is implied by the sisters' tendency to make up new spells on the fly with nothing but the incantation. Instead, the extra components may just help to magnify the spell's strength.
Spells can, at times, replicate powers, such as Gram's "Freezing Spell", stopping Piper in her tracks, and achieve more spectacular effects, such as the "To Lose a Love Forever" spell, Phoebe's (although failed) "Flesh to Stone Spell", and the "Obscuring Mist Spell".
For reasons unknown, the majority of spells used by practitioners of witchcraft can be broken or temporarily interrupted by fairy light. Such spells are also bound to the witch who cast them; once the witch who cast the spell dies, the spell itself is broken.