The Rider Waite Smith tarot deck features one of the most iconic images of Western occultism. A magician stands beneath a garland of hanging roses, a wand in one hand raised to the sky. The other hand points toward the ground, signifying their ability to influence the heavens to bring their desires into fruition. The practice of envisioning something to materialize it has been considered a bedrock of magick practices for centuries, which is why The Magician is captured in this act. In contemporary culture we know this work to be called “manifestation.” It is far from a fringe practice reserved strictly for witches and magicians these days, though. A diverse range of figures from pastors to life coaches to doctors emphasize thinking positively about the results one wishes to see in order to manifest them. There’s plenty of conversation on manifestation, but that may also mean there’s plenty to be curious about.
Why are some opposed to manifestation? How can we strengthen our practices, and why do some of our manifestations fail to spark? What are the implications of our beliefs on the topic? Throughout this article we’ll be exploring some of the origins and techniques that will fortify both our understanding and application of manifestation. Firstly, let’s consider what manifestation is.
Manifestation at its surface may seem like a simple gesture to bring prosperity or happiness into our lives through positive envisioning coupled with candle burning, intention setting, or other ritualized works. Some spiritualities frown down on the act, considering manifestation to be a reflection of our own greed. In truth, the topic is more complex than that. Manifesting is an act of faith. It’s the will to witness a small miracle. Manifestation is an exercise of spiritual agency when we feel something we desire or need is not coming naturally to us.
However, there’s a lot to unpack in the language surrounding this darling ritual of the metaphysical community. Some of these critiques also pose nourishing food for thought. Nonattachment, or the state of transcending desire, has a rich relationship to the historical pursuit of expanding the soul’s growth. Some variation of this pursuit of transcendence exists across traditions such as Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism and sectors of Christianity. The philosophy that underpins these belief systems is that the soul will be more devoted to God alone if it is undistracted by competing material desires. Schools of thought critical of manifestation sometimes stem from these approaches towards spirituality.
Appreciation for what one possesses already, and our access to the natural beauty bestowed upon us all, can empower us to look on our existence in a different light. Gratitude can still be had for where we are now–however small the joys may be in some of our darkest nights of the soul. A glowing sunrise. The birdsong announcing new avian life ringing out from a nest built in the eaves of your porch. Tinkling laughter between friends, the luminescence of fireflies at dusk. All of life’s precious treasures too intertwined into the flux of existence to be taken from us are worth appreciation, even in the midst of sorrow.
Gratitude for what we have certainly leads to fulfillment. Most practices of manifestation, such as the law of attraction, propose that like invites like. Therefore, thinking positively about what we already have invites more prosperity to us. There are flaws with some of the theories surrounding the law of attraction or popular works such as The Secret, though. While confidence in our capacity for self-determination is empowering, the idea that the quality of anyone’s life is fully contingent on how positive we are is untrue.
Ideas that suggest otherwise fail to account for the realities of systemic racism, unequal access to resources, congenital health issues or societal biases that are outside our control. This places the burden of well-being solely on a single person when in reality cultural overhauls requiring collective participation are required. Failure to acknowledge these types of realities are one of the strongest examples of “toxic positivity.” The link between privilege and manifestation doesn’t end just there, though.
In the United States, the concept of manifest destiny was an ideology used to justify settler expansion into Indigenous lands, including Mexican territories. While one clear, concise definition of manifest destiny didn’t circulate, the general concept argued American expansion was the fulfillment of a national destiny. The ideology of manifest destiny proposed that a divine status of Americans endowed them with the right to manifest their destiny by divesting others of their lives and land. Manifest destiny also meant expanding slave-holding territories. Given this disturbing history, we may want to turn our critical thinking on when we engage with metaphysical approaches and narratives to secure our prosperity through manifestation.
While there are some historical associations that may lead us to take pause at our manifestation practices, it’s also been used as a means of both personal and collective liberation across cultures. In Haitian, African-American, Anglo, Celtic, Mexican and Native American cultures, works to manifest protection and secure resources have remained prevalent, especially in uncertain times. While purists may have some choice words for manifestors, it’s easy to critique from a place of comfort. So whatever it is we manifest with the support of crystals or candles or even just positive thinking, know that as long as you’re in alignment with your moral compass there’s no need to overthink. Here’s some techniques to support your manifestation from tried and true approaches:
It stands to reason that when we undertake our work of spell casting, ritual and positive envisioning, thinking abundantly not just for ourselves but for others is wise. If we wish to manifest love, we will encounter it more if others also have bounties of compassion and open heartedness to give. If we manifest prosperity it helps if our loved ones, community and clients can spend and give freely, providing insurance against having to lend out all we gain.
We’ve all had moments of self-doubt in our ability to manifest something. Whether it’s love, money or happiness, sometimes the hope just isn’t there. The author Lenora Carrington referred to crystals and gems as “the earth’s stars.” Just like stars, crystals influence human affairs, not vice versa. A crystal will support your desire through its own energy, and possibly help restore yours, too. Rose quartz will invite loving kindness your way, amethyst is reputed to promote peace. It’s also been used by magicians to help support breaking bad habits. You can always find high quality, ethically sourced ones here: (check out the descriptors for more guidance on which crystals support your needs best.)
Reevaluate your manifestation and break it down into smaller works. Is something you're striving for a major upgrade? Pair your desire with action items. Reach for the stars, but build a stairwell to get there. Slowly but surely, you can manifest through concentrated–and realistic–routes.
If you’re trying to conjure the love of your life but instead find yourself one disappointed Tinderella, start small. Manifest a meaningful conversation, then a date that isn’t a total dud. When you’re reaching into your witch’s bag for just the thing to bring the apple of your eye into view, you can add some oomph to your Love Candle by lighting it on a Friday. Friday is ruled by Venus, one of the most benefic planetary influences for love related ritual work.
We are all highly exposed to messaging that tells us what to want. Whether it's advertising, family expectations, or some other source, it can be hard to discern what we want or who we want to be from whom others want us to be. Manifesting someone else’s goal is sure to lead us to a place of confused dissatisfaction. Try centering yourself through meditation, journaling, or reflection to tune back into your intuition. This will help build a better pathway to understanding what it is you truly want to materialize. If you need to cut through the static, the Intuition Spray is a witchcraft pated tool specifically to help amplify our own inner-instinct.
While some of your manifestations might come easily, trust the timing and exercise patience with the others. Most importantly, don’t forget that joy and abundance are best enjoyed with others–so be generous with your intention setting and positive thoughts. Good luck!
Alejandra has been practicing and researching magick art forms for over a decade. She shares her crafts of tarot and crystal ball readings, angelic invocation and lectures on the occult through her practice Gemineye Tarot. Booking: www.gemineyetarot.com IG: @gemineyetarot