Happy New Year! Here’s how to hack the intentions of your resolutions for better magick

By now you’ve seen scores of New Year’s resolution announcements, and maybe you made a few yourself. They probably run along the lines of “lose x amount of pounds,” “read x amount of books,” and/or “be a better person in some manner, defined or undefined.”

While most people will look at the how of your intentions – how to set small steps so that you achieve them, even with the possibility of a little backslide – I want to look at the why of your resolutions. If you’re a witchy type, you always need to know why you are doing something or more specifically what you get from any action you take for yourself or for another person. After all, while we have infinite creative energy we only get so much of it at at time and we do need to use that for ourselves before we give any excess to others.

image and graphic by Diana Rajchel

Let’s break down those resolutions from the perspective of intent. For this, we get to turn loose our inner toddler on our resolution list. The question du jour? Why?

Example: I want to lose weight.


Because it’s healthy?

Is that really why?

(For the vast majority of people it is absolutely not why, and reading Health at Every Size will move you right past that bugaboo and clear your head for better thoughts. Two to three will mention screaming back and joint pain, and yeah, that makes sense. In which case, look at below but align all your material for health and strength associations.)


Because people might find me more attractive.

OK, you might judge yourself on that a little bit, but I buy it.

Any other why?

Because I might find myself a little more attractive.

That sounds true.


Because I feel better emotionally, and if I pair weight loss with fitness I feel better physically.

OK, that’s some good honesty there. We might want to dig around why you feel the need to be attractive, but that takes a therapist and not a blog post. Besides, it’s human to want someone to like you – even misanthropes look for validation from bigger misanthropes.

This honesty is where you need to look before you set your intentions. You may find yourself resisting, or feeling embarrassment or fear as you dig. If that comes up, sit with it for about twenty minutes and possibly talk to yourself about it and see what you say. (You’re reading a Pagan blog, you’re already off quite a few beaten paths.)

What you want might be about something deeper than a number on a scale. In most cases this desire is about changing how you feel about yourself, or about changing how the world feels about you. The latter one is not something you can control for a very long time, and it’s not really something you should, in most cases, because there’s nothing quite like caring way too much what people outside your immediate circle think to pull you off your true path and ultimately leave you feeling like you’re emotionally starving as you reach out for approval that isn’t needed and doesn’t exist.

At this point, if you’re a witchy person, you may want to craft a spell to help you achieve your resolution. You can do some standard “make sure I succeed” spells (and those are great and you should do them lots just because they’re good!) You can also tailor something specific to this goal. Now that you recognize your true intention – you want to find yourself sexy, or more likable, or perhaps reduce the power of the little shitty committee that lives in your head. (That negative talk is NOT actually motivating you, quite the opposite, by the way.)

I don’t always do it, but I’m fond of crafting spells by beginning with a mission statement. That mission statement always addresses how I want to feel when the spell comes to completion. If you want to feel confident and sexy, then build your phrasing around that feeling – not around a specific number on the scale. While manifestation work is nifty, most magic is driven by deep emotion – play to that strength.

Your mission statement might be: from this magic, I now feel amazing, confident, and sexy in my own skin. I love my body unconditionally, and my body and mind are in happy accord.

If your reasons are aesthetic, then structure any working you do around aesthetics – but keep them metaphorical. Don’t use vision boards if you want to put images of humans on them. Thinspiration and fitspiration send out that you are trying to have another human being’s experience. Magic likes the path of least resistance, and even if you don’ know the person “inspiring” you, you’re going to encounter some resistance because their experience simply doesn’t belong to you.

Rather than choose things that inspire a mix of jealousy and wistfulness, use material that evokes your best emotional self. You might want to use items you know correspond with love and happiness. If you create a vision board, add tactile and fragrant items that give you a lift – perhaps cinnamon (which also balances blood sugar), and a little bit of something fuzzy and soft, and maybe an image of a place you’d like to visit while feeling your absolute best. Look at magical items that push forward how you want to feel – colors and stones that align with happiness, maybe a few cleansing habits, and some resin incenses to “stick to it.”

As you go through the year, make an effort to dress how you want to feel – it might not even look aesthetically pleasing to everyone else, but if it gives you the feeling you need, that’s what matters. Create a small ritual you can perform weekly that helps you reconnect with your true intentions of how you want to feel. Seek out art, poetry, film, that makes you feel that way. If you can exercise and find something that delights you, do it for the sake of delight.

At the end of the year, you’ll get a chance to evaluate from the heart: did you come out feeling the way that you want to feel? Because that, more than any number, matters.

Happy New Year lovely Pagan folk! I wish you the best of luck and intentions – and I hope to talk a lot more about intention setting in the near future!

About the Author

Diana Rajchel lives at the western edge of San Francisco, where sea creatures and hippies meet, breed, and glower at gentrification. From this liminal place she runs the Emperor Norton Pagan Social, writes about magic, herbs, and human quirks, and looks to both sidewalk and sky for wisdom. She is the author of Divorcing a Real Witch, the Mabon and Samhain installments of the Llewellyn Sabbat essentials series, and a title on Urban Magic to be released by Llewellyn in 2018.

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