If you shortcut the magic, you shortcut the spell.
One of the most important aspects of casting is the pre-work. The pre-work is the mental and physical work done before any casting, the most important of which is cleansing.
Cleansing is the bread and butter of any spiritual blog/tiktok/vlog or how-to book. It is the first thing you learn as a fledgling. And while there is tons of information available, what works for one might not for another.
This is because magic is intuitive. It relies on the individual self, and what you bring to the table to make it happen. When you begin a ritual, clouded, the magick might not be able to recognise your true intentions. When you shortcut the pre-work, you risk short-cutting the effects of your spell. As Cunningham wrote "Magic requires effort", and this is true in any aspect of work, spiritual or not.
Trinity of Cleansing
The same way you cleanse your face for serums, masks or lotions, you have to cleanse for magick. There are three aspects of cleansing: mind, body and spirit. This may seem straightforward but they are often not used in conjunction. You may know to cleanse your space before a spell, but you may not have cleansed your self or your mind.
Magick is psychological work. You are setting an intention in your mind and actualising it into form, and it can mess with you if you're unprepared. So, being in the right head space is vital for proper spell work.
Cleansing yourself mentally means getting into the right head space. You can do this by meditation, trance states, or practicing mindfulness. But, not one thing works for all people, so finding your method is important. As long as you can mentally clear your mind and hit the snooze button, there is no need to force other methods.
To some, it's listening to ASMR, music or binural beats. To others, it could be screaming inside your head for as long as possible, drowning all else. And then there are those that find peace in exercise and physical movement. Whatever it is that brings you to centre, find one that works for you, that can help you defocus. It might not always be the same thing, so having a running list is beneficial.
Along with your mind, your body should be cleansed too. Every day you gather stress from the outside world, tensing your body and tiring it. Being able to release that when you get home, centers your body and helps the mind clear.
Remember that you are not only doing the ritual with your hands, but your body and your heart. Of course, this doesn't mean you should detox and purge your body every time you need to do a ritual. But your body should at least be clean, rested and satisfied.
If you have a favourite food that always puts you in a good mood, it would be beneficial to eat that before a ritual. If you feel confident with a shower, makeup and perfume, then make a night of it. Resting as well, putting your feet up and relaxing from your day, can do wonders for your body.
The spirit is the most well known of all the cleansing, it's everything that encapsulates you. Your own home, your altar, the candles you choose, the tools you use. Magick is an investment and purchasing your tools for your crafts should be a personal thing. It is not because it's pretty but because it calls to you.
When you bring things into your space, you have to make them yours. Choose your own cleansing method; incense, burying, moon light, sunlight, running or blessed water. Even the vibrations of music that encapsulates you, empowers your spirit.
Catering to your five senses is an easy way to remember these cleansing tips: Sight, Smell, Hearing, Touch and Taste.
Harmful magic extracts a high price - Cunningham
In putting so much of your own mind, body and spirit into your craft, you expose yourself to the universe. It is the oldest and common of all rules in the craft; the threefold. Whatever spell you cast will return threefold.
In exposing yourself in these three manners, you are an open nerve to the universe. You cannot hide from your deities nor from consequences. The more of yourself that you put into your magick, the brighter your magick shines, the easier you are to find.
While wards can prevent negative influences entering your space and self, they cannot protect from an open invitation. If you cast a spell to do harm, your intention was harmful, so you welcome back the harm. If you cast a spell for utter good, and your intention was not pure, you will welcome back masked goodness.
Magick should come from a loving and calm place, cleansing brings perspective. You may find that the more time you devote to cleanse, the less desire you feel to actually do a spell or ritual. If you do move forward, you do it because you are ready for it. And the universe will accommodate.