When I first studied witchcraft (in the early 90s), I spent more time worrying that any kind of ritual or spell I attempted wasn’t done properly, and less time actually doing rituals and spells. Over the years, I relaxed into a more laid-back approach, but substituted my “properly done” worry with the “does this make me a Fluffy Bunny?” concern.
[For those record, my understanding is a Fluffy Bunny is someone who is only playing at being a witch – they’re more interested in the image than the practice.]
I’m now balancing between the two. I’m studying and learning more about proper ritual etiquette, but not getting too caught up in tiny details when doing basic spell work. I found a simple candle spell in Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, and I’ve been using it (with a few, using-what-I-have-on-hand tweaks) ever since.
All you really need is a candle (I use white tea lights), something to scratch runes or symbols on it (I have a small, pointed quartz crystal), something to light it (I prefer small wooden matches), and a quiet spot to reflect on your spell/intentions (mine is usually at my computer desk). Start by getting a place ready for the candle (in my case, clearing enough clutter off my desk away to prevent a visit from the fire department). Decide what the focus of your spell will be – say, for example, a loved one is driving home through a storm, and you want to send them protection energy.
Next, figure out what you want to scratch into the candle. I usually use one of the runes from the aforementioned Guide (you can find a partial list here, but I highly recommend buying the book so the entire list with interpretations are always handy). For the example spell, I’d use my crystal to carve the rune representing protection (not pictured in the Google preview – see, I told you buying the book was a good idea!) on top of the tea light. However, I think even something as simple as their initials, a heart, or whatever else you feel would represent your intention would work just as well.
Then I’d sit with the tea light in my hand, imagining my loved one walking through the front door, safe and sound. Next, I’d light the candle, and stare at the flame a little longer, whispering things like, “Be safe. Drive with care. Come home safe to me,” and whatever other relevant thoughts popped in my head (usually with the occasional, “Wait, did I turn the burner off? Did I ask him to pick up milk? Why are the kids so quiet all of a sudden” thrown in for good measure). Then I’d place the candle down in the cleared space, making a point to send more good energy whenever it caught my attention.
I know many practitioners recommend letting the candle burn itself out (which is one reason I’ve become so fond of tea lights for spells like this), but I feel once the rune burns away completely, it’s okay to blow the candle out. Also, I use many variations of this spell, depending on what the situation calls for (and what I have laying around the house at that particular moment), but having something this simple makes it much easier to do magic at the drop of a (pointy) hat.