My path is a rough one and my Goddess is harsh - she frowns on wasting magick on the superfluous. Does that mean I don't do magick to help me find a parking spot downtown? Hell no. I do plenty of frivolous magick, but I'm not going to bother my Goddess with it. When I do little spells to make my life easier I use my personal energy and the energy of the world around me. Sometimes these spells work and sometimes they don't; it depends on what other energies my will has to overcome, how focused my energies were, etc. When I want something but don't really need it I'm on my own for making it happen.
When I really need something - that's a different story entirely. When I have a genuine need I can ask my Goddess to give me a boost that almost always guarantees success. The tricky part is knowing what you really need in order to ask for it. For example, I was unemployed for over a year when I got out of law school and I desperately needed a job. Unfortunately, I graduated a year into the recession and jobs were thin on the ground for even the best students (which I was not). If ever there was a time that I needed every iota of energy on my side at was during that job hunt, so I did several spells to help me find employment. At first I did spells to help me find "the perfect job," the job that would pay my bills, make me feel good about myself, have a positive work environment, and have room to grow. This was what I wanted, but who actually manages to find a job like that right out of school with no experience. Unsurprisingly, those first spells didn't work too well. Then I started doing spells to help me find a "decent" associate position that would pay my bills and at least offer some challenges day to day. If those jobs were out these, they didn't find me. Finally, I just did a spell to find any job that would keep me from defaulting on my student loans and credit card bills, whether it was an attorney job or not. I got a job within a week. What I "needed" was to learn to swallow my pride and take what was actually available. Magick done to fill a need is the most potent magick anyone can do.
How do you know what you really need? The best way I've ever found to identify what you really need is the mediator's trick of asking why. Think of something you want, now ask yourself why you want it, then ask yourself why you want that reason, do this over and over until you finally find the real reason for your desire - that's the need, and if it's not a need then you probably shouldn't be doing magick for it. For example, I want an iPhone, why? - they're cool, why do I want something cool? - it's fun and would make me feel less behind the times, why is that important? - it gives me self-esteem, why do I want that? - self-esteem feels good, so what I want is to feel good. Do I "need" an iPhone to feel good, no - so no iPhone spell. However, I can do a spell to help me to know what I need to do so that I can feel proud of myself and have better self-esteem and then do it. Could that kind of spell lead to an iPhone, possibly, but it will likely lead to something much better than a nifty toy that will be obsolete in a year.
Doing magick for what you need, rather than just to do or get the things that you think might fill your needs is both more effective and can open you to possibilities that you'd never thought of. There is one caveat to doing this sort of magick: occasionally, what you really need is a swift kick in the ass. Is it what you want? No. Will you probably be better off for it? Yes. Be open to what you really need and your magick will help you more than you can imagine, just accept that what you need isn't always what you want.
Suggested ebooks:Justin Winsor - The Literature Of Witchcraft In New England
Michael Sharp - The Great Awakening