The Road To Hell: When Witchcraft Backfires Despite Good Intentions

The Road To Hell: When Witchcraft Backfires Despite Good Intentions

You don’t have to practice baneful magick to reap unintended consequences of witchcraft. Every witch who’s cast more than a spell or two, can share stories about when witchcraft backfires. Even the spells we send out with our best intentions to do good, can manifest unwanted consequences.

To be clear, I am not talking about the rule of return or the rule of three. Witch, if that’s your belief, you do you, but I don’t take such a rule literally. I talking about the unpredictability of chaos.

Be Careful What You Witch For

As witches, many of us believe that the universe, the powers that be, or the gods and goddesses hear our requests. If that’s the case, it seems they aren’t picking up on nuances, and apparently can’t read minds, leaving plenty of room for witchcraft to backfire.

I know a witch who’s desire was to achieve great success and financial abundance as a coach and mentor guiding women through profound grief. She didn’t count on the universe sending her one tragedy after another so that she might draw on personal experience.

Another witch told me that she continually spelled to free a friend from an abusive marriage.  She hoped the friend would find the courage to leave on her own, or that her spouse would find the strength to overcome his addictions. When he died of a sudden illness, the witch felt terrible.

Did her witchcraft backfire? Do we have that kind of power as witches? I don’t know, but I’m very careful when crafting my spell work these days. As a general rule, being clear about your wish to manifest your desire with no harm to yourself or others, for the greatest good and highest purpose of everybody involved, is the best practice. Even if you are hexing or cursing, you may want to ask for the least amount of suffering and destruction possible to avoid a total Armageddon situation you didn’t intend.

Poison Apple

Why Do Magick At All

If all our magick, even the well intentioned, has the potential to backfire, then why take the chance? Honestly, we take greater risks in our mundane life all the time. Just driving is significant risk. Every time we get behind the wheel of a car, we’re taking our own life and the lives of others in our hands.

We might be excellent drivers with years on the road under out belts, never a moving violation or accident to our name. Still a slight distraction might get the better of us on any given day, sending us careening into another car or immovable object. An unforeseen but natural occurrence, like black ice or an oil slick on a rainy day, could be our undoing. Some other, careless driver could come into our lane unexpectedly, causing a serious accident, injury or death. All examples of the vagaries of chaos.

Regardless of statistics and odds, we continue to take the risk of being injured, even mortally, every time we get behind the wheel or are a passenger in a moving vehicle. We feel safe because we control the factors we can.

In the same ways we reduce our risk on the road, we can limit the risk of working magick. When casting spells we’re tapping directly into chaos energy. The more experience we have, the better we can anticipate what might happen by paying attention to the factors we can control.

Begin With Knowledge

Four Pillars of Witchcraft

Knowledge is the first pillar of witchcraft. You had to learn the rules of the road before you could drive safely. It’s no different with casting a spell—study, learn, practice.

If you’re a new witch, read books, blogs and magazines—both online (like this one) and in print. A Google search will turn up the best choices. Listen to podcasts and follow the YouTube channels of respected authors and thought leaders in the witching community.

Movies like The Craft and series like Charmed are good for sparking curiosity, but you know what they say about curiosity and the cat. Don’t rely on pop culture portrayals of witches and witchcraft for your magickal knowledge. Toss some good documentaries about witchcraft and magickal practice into the mix. And while you’re at it, introduce yourself to quantum and string theory.

Get to know other witches and listen when they share their experiences.There are numerous groups across social media venues where you can interact with experienced witches and pagans. Ask questions when you’re unsure what your actions might manifest.

Energy And The Laws of Nature

Before casting your spell, consider the properties of energy—primarily Newton’s Law of Motion, that for every action there is an equal but opposing reaction, a push back if you will. Consider, also, the nature of a void. When you remove one thing, another thing fills the space. Displacement works the same way. If you add one thing, some other thing must go.

Drop a pebble in still water and it displaces some water. You’ll see the water rise up  and then come back down. Meanwhile other water has rush into the space, filling the void. All of this moving energy creates concentric rings on the surface of the water, moving outward from the center. If they reach a boundary, they will reverse direction (opposing action).

We can’t see the energy we initiate when we cast a spell, the way we can see energy moving on still water, but it’s there. We really have no way of knowing how far the energy we set in motion will go and how many people it may touch.

Water Drop

When working your magick, be specific about what you want to cast away and what you want to draw near, as well as how you want it to happen. A witch I know twice cast spells to draw money to her and twice she was seriously injured. Even though she received financial settlements for her injuries, it wasn’t quite what she had in mind.

“I didn’t mean to literally hit me with a bus or drop a thousand pound chandelier on my head,” she said.

Once again, with baneful magick the intent is do do harm, but will the energy of that harm bounce around like a pinball? I once cursed somebody who was attacking my character with what I thought was a harmless enough consequence.

“You shall smell cat pee whenever you think or speak ill of me.”

I knew he had a cat and I imagined him driven to distraction, trying to figure out why he smelled its pee all the time. I buried a photo of the guy in the bottom of my cat’s litter box for good measure.

A new witch at the time, I failed to consider who else the energy of the curse might bump up against. What if he blamed his children or wife for not cleaning the litter box? What if he blamed the cat and mistreated it?

Don’t Discount Human Nature

Another witch shared her story with me, of working a powerful spell to heal her ex husband’s physical illness.

“I wanted him to get sleep and rest, to be surrounded by love and support so that he could get the help he needs and get better. And that his parents would support him and help him get medical help. All so he would get better and be the best he could be.”

After about a month, she was alarmed that he was just getting worse, critically so. She began questioning where her spell went wrong. Her ex was living with his parents and she’d forgotten to consider his father’s complete lack of empathy and how sick her ex would have to get before it was noticed.

“Daniel (not his real name) would have to be on his death bed for his father to care and see that he got help.”

Still another witch told me, “The most effective spell I ever cast was a banishing spell. I’d simply had enough of my husband’s ex wife and her hostility toward me for no reason, so I energetically banished her from my space. I was quite pleased when she took a new job that meant she’d be moving 1500 miles away. What I never imagined was that my adult step daughter would follow her only a few months later, effectively removing herself from my husband’s life.”



Before you resort to the baneful magick of hexing or cursing, before you use magick at all, take the time to think it through, to imagine how and where the energy might manifest.

As mentioned, taking the precaution of working for the highest purpose and least harm to all those involved is one way to safeguard your magic—as much as that can be done. Another good practice is to put time limits on your magick, as Celie did in The Color Purple.

“Until you do right by me, everything you even think about gonna fail.” — Celie

Putting time limits on all your spells is good protection. If you didn’t put an expiration date on a spell that backfired, don’t worry, you can cast good magick after bad. Either revoke the original spell or set a timer on it now.

I don’t know if my smelly cat spell ricocheted in any way, but still, not long after I cast it I removed the photo from the my cat’s box, cleaned it off and buried it beneath the sundial in my thyme garden. I invoked time (and thyme) to heal the wounds and let bygones be bygones.

Mundane Solutions First, Then Protective Magic

It’s always a good idea to first make every effort to resolve your troubles with mundane actions. I hear witches wanting to hex a neighbor who infringes on property lines, without bothering to explore what their civil and legal options might be. Or the proliferation of love spells to manifest the perfect match, without first manifesting your authentic self.

Many a witch vows to curse an unfaithful lover for cheating. Just remember that the energy you send forth to any other person connects you to them. Is that really what you want? In my opinion, living well without them is the best revenge, so rather than wasting your energy to wreck them use it to draw prosperity and happiness to yourself.

When mundane measures don’t work and magick is called for, consider choosing protective magick. Create magickal boundaries—I particularly like making myself invisible to my enemies. I also make use of energetic mirrors that deflect anything harmful sent my way. Occasionally I’ll put offenders in a mirror box that reflects their own flaw back to them. Freezer spells are also effective in freezing an adversary in their tracks.

I also find cord cutting to be a very effective way to remove unwanted people from my life, and even to remove aspects of relationships with people I don’t want to banish completely. I especially like this cord cutting meditation for first cleansing, and then severing energetic tethers.

Don’t Do The Crime

Whose to say if magick can rid a friend of her abusive husband? The desire was spoken and perhaps a death was they only energy that was ever going to break the bond. Was being hit by a bus really an answer to prosperity spell? Can casting a spell for healing turn into even worse illness because of somebody we didn’t consider? Maybe, or maybe not. But once we decide there’s nothing to help a situation but magick, we must own the consequences.

If as a witch, I cannot accept the risks of working with elemental energy prone to chaos, then it’s time to hang up my witch’s hat and turn in my magickal rocks.

So cast your hex or curse with all your power, using all the cautions and protections you can to keep your witchcraft from backfiring. Just know that there’s probably something you didn’t think of and even your best intentions might backfire.

Willow Rose

Willow Rose-Senior Editor, Head Kitchen Witch and BadAss Crone. Willow is a writer, artist and wildcraft witch. After more than 30 years of practicing and exploring many paths, she is distilling her magic to it's purest form—witchery without dogma and practical magic for everyday living. Read her musings here on The Way of Witch, and also at the Agora for Patheos Pagan and on her blog at

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