Pin cushion, photo by Steve Johnson

There are good and bad reasons to hex, and scads of online writings meditate on the “when, why, if” of such practices, but few really examine the “how” — the best methods and practices in doing so.

There are good ways and bad ways to cast a hex, and a great deal of trauma could be prevented if more people knew some of these methods. If you must hex, hex well. Doing it poorly can end in escalating situations that make the original reason for the work seem basic.

Personally, I prefer confusing people into submission. Even so, on occasion an especially persistent turd rises to the top of the bowl of life despite several flushes. Over the years I have learned to recognize which of said pieces need lemon-scented cleanser and which need a Harry Dresden-style flamethrower.

After enough scorched earth has happened, I now have a hexing procedure checklist. I want to make sure I hit the correct person, that hexing will solve a larger problem, and that doing so will not create yet more problems. I have made many mistakes in my 20+ years of witchcraft and I share this so that other practitioners may make fewer errors when working their personal dark arts.

XYH: Examine your head

Good hexes come from a place deeper than the Homer Simpson mentality of “but I’m mad now!” Emotion fuels almost all magick. A good chunk of misfired magick happens due to emotions not being fully understood and integrated. The process of feeling and incorporating emotions extends way beyond the scope of hexing, even though it has a huge impact on it.

Best practice: See a therapist. Not everyone can afford to see a therapist, and this kind of work is only effective when you make the decision to commit to healing yourself. It also does not rule out the need to hex someone.

Next best practice: Clarity work. A clarity working helps you see and understand a whole situation, starting with your own feelings, preferences, and prejudices. I have a personal ritual for this using a white candle and anointing lemongrass oil over my third eye and solar plexus, but you should use whatever method works for you.

XYG: Examine your gossip

All beings are subject to a constant network of influences. We easily see the more obvious ones, such as advertising and religious indoctrination, but the more subtle ones can slip past us. Sometimes we realize too late that we’re enacting the will of another, not our own. This can lead us to take extreme, emotionally driven actions without pause for self-comprehension.

Understanding your own emotions towards the person you want to hex is important. Just as important is understanding why someone else might want you to cast a hex for them. There are people who ask others to perform negative magick believing it’s harmless, imaginary, or simply not as bad as overt violence. Others may persuade you to work this negativity without ever directly asking you. Even if you never said a conscious “yes,” you may find yourself acting on these requests and commands.

Witchcraft, while inclusive of all genders, has a shadow largely composed of women’s rage built up over millennia. Women, of all walks of life, throughout every era, learned to launch attacks indirectly. Often, people locked in these patterns persuade others to attack the targets of their ire, keeping their personal energy traces away from it. Some people have become quite skilled at conscious and unconscious manipulation. This manipulation can pierce right through the best shielding, because it engages your emotional self. This behavior is one of the shadows of our collective consciousness that still needs confrontation and healing. It releases a great deal of negative intention into the world.

If you find yourself ready to put someone on metaphysical blast after a conversation with a friend, check yourself. Most psychic attacks begin with gossip. Would this person have your attention without your friend’s comments? What would someone else gain from your work? There are certainly legitimate reasons to perform a hex on behalf of another — hexes are a classic tool of witchcraft for fighting oppression. They are, however, also a double-edged sword, and well-intentioned friends can become oppressors while thinking they fight the good fight.

Best practice: Again, clarity working can help. If suspicious, work a gossip stopping spell and make note of what energy settles and what topics suddenly get dropped as though forgotten when you do that work.

Bullseye, photo by Emilio Küffer

XYT: Examine your target

Back in my naïve days as a ’90s witch, I assumed myself the lone witch for miles. I learned fast and hard that not every witch wears a pentacle or openly prays to Goddess. (And I eventually moved beyond that myself.) Never assume a person is non-magical, and never assume a non-witch has no power.

Some might not even recognize what they do as magick. Prayer looks easy, but do it with enough emotion on repeat, and it can work just like a spell. Also, people may have family magical traditions they don’t call witchcraft, or are so ingrained they don’t think to call them anything. These are all things you can get tangled in when trying to send someone harmful energy.

Best practice: Perform a divination or similar working to find out what protects this person, or what practices they might use to protect themselves.

Advanced best practice: This psychic warfare technique only works when the targeted person has done something objectively terrible. In ancient Rome, generals made sacrifices to the patron deities of the cities they sought to conquer. You can perform a similar act by preparing an offering (usually a meal) to the protective entities of your target. Depending on how mad they are, they might tell you how to do your work in such a way that this person won’t harm or oppress anyone ever again.

Related: Divination for the dead of winter, by Donyae Coles

Related: Dowsing without a pendulum: Divination on demand, by Charlz dela Cruz

XYTI: Examine your target’s influences

Always try to understand the reasons for your target’s words and actions. You do not need a complete psychological profile, and you do not need to excuse bad behavior. Understanding the pressures and conflicts of your target can show you their strengths and weaknesses, and the likelihood of your desired result.

In the last five years, an increasing number of people have been catching behaviour-influencing spiritual entities. Even more get entangled with negatively-acting psychic vampires that draw them into a drama cauldron. If you are looking to improve a situation for yourself, you need to know about these things. It’s fine to hex someone until you find out that they harbour a seven-foot demon with no sense of humour.

I want to add that you are not obligated to heal every person that wrongs you and yours. Unless someone commits themselves entirely to self-healing, outside help never sticks.  

Best practice: Perform a divination that helps you understand this person and their network of influences. Look especially at where your influences overlap theirs.

XYE: Examine your endgame

While “making someone suffer” counts as magical intent, it’s vague and has, at best, diminishing returns. Worse, if you hex a masochist you could end up in an energy-draining loop. Before you begin, ask, “How do I want this to end?” That examination may lead you to conclude that a hexing is the less effective option. For example, if you have a coworker who hates you, making them miserable will only increase their hostility. A spell to promote harmony would improve your life in that circumstance more than a hex might.

Best practice: Write down exactly what you want to see happen as the aftermath of your hex. Shape your intent and consequent workings around that vision.

ZYM: Zip your mouth

Often there’s an impulse to brag about your spell or threaten your target. Say nothing. Silence and plausible deniability can only serve you.

Brace for kickback

Most magical energy is subject to the laws of thermodynamics. If you send an energy pulse, a pulse comes back. That isn’t karma, that’s physics. Prepare for it with protections and cleansing, both before and after your negative working.

Best practice: Perform an uncrossing or similar clearing before you start your work. Perform a protection working immediately after your hex.

Even better practice: Cut your energetic ties to your hex immediately after you release it. It’s easy to find out who did what magically these days. Many people get trapped in addiction loops and end up hexing the same people on repeat, and they expose themselves in the process.


Hexing, like most negative magick, came about because someone ran out of options while playing fair and had to create a new tool. Like most tools, it has a double-edged nature. Hexes can be a means of resisting oppression, but they can just as easily cause it.

To paraphrase Paul Huson, author of Mastering Witchcraft: The longer someone practices magick, the more likely that person will draw negative attention. At some point, even the most evolved witches must sometimes dip into the realm of shadow to keep their own freedom. My experience supports this.

If you find you must cast a hex, know why, know who benefits, and above all, aim well.

Image credits: Steve Johnson, Emilio Küffer, milomingo