I've been getting a lot of questions of that ilk lately. People who have never had a spell work for them, at least noticeably. Some of these are people who have been Wiccans or Pagans for almost as long as I have, and some are new to the craft. I've never had a problem with any of my spells. Sure, not all of them have worked they way I may have intended them, but I've never had a "flop", as it were. With so many ideas as to what kind of spell works best and what magick actually is in a scientific sense, it is no wonder that so many people have issues with their spells.
There is a common theme: Most people, say 90% or more, of people who have never had a spell work are simply not confident enough and don't direct their energies properly. Yes, it is both that simple and that hard at the same time. If they don't believe it will work for them, then it probably won't. It's as easy as that. If they try to control outside influences, other people, etc. then their magick probably won't work either. It isn't that it cant, it is just that it simply doesn't take into account the other person putting their own influences on things. The hardest part of magick is gaining the confidence and the ethics necessary to practice it.
In the essay "What Is Magick" by David Rankine, he states: "Magick assumes belief in, or rather experience of, subtle energies. We can only see about one seventieth of the light spectrum, yet what we cannot see still affects us - such as x-rays and ultraviolet light." I think that this is accurate, but it again involves belief. Belief is one of the hardest things to achieve as a human, yet once we have it? We can truly do anything. By anything, I mean anything. I read an article not so long ago about a man who healed his own brain injury. Doctors had told his wife that he would be in a vegetative state the rest of his life, yet through strength of will and determination - essential skills for would-be magick users - he re-forged brain connections. He can still learn, he can walk again, he can talk again. He has taught medical science amazing things about the brain, simply because he believed and had confidence in himself.
That story does show the other part of magick. Magick is most effective when used to effect change in ourselves. Many young people, new to wicca, want to start with love spells. I don't think this will ever go away, we as humans feel such a need to be loved. Most of us will explain to them that it is not ethical to do so, that you should never control someone else's will. That is as far as it goes, and they either leave dejected or run off to waste money on a site proclaiming "WICCAN LOVE SPELLS!!!!!" You know you've seen them. Instead, why couldn't we tell them that yes, while it isn't ethical to do a love spell on someone else, why not do a love spell on yourself? Ask the Gods to bring love into your life, to prepare you and ready you so that you can accept that love? The study of ethics is something that every pagan should look into. Christians have the bible to tell them what to do, but us? We have "an' harm it none, do as ye will." We need to look beyond that to the ripple effect, we need to start thinking ethically, so that it becomes second nature. There are some fabulous books out there on Pagan Ethics, and I heartily suggest that everyone read one of them. When, Why, If by Robin Wood is my person preference.
If you are truly having trouble, a teacher or mentor in your area may be able to help you. Some areas are large enough that circles or covens will hold basic classes. Check out resources and never give up. Belief and confidence are hard won, but with them anything is possible.
What is your experience with Magick? Let me know!