QUESTION: I want to practice the magic spells from Atharva Veda, can you advise me on a good translation that’s really simple and explains things “for dummies.”
You might benefit from doing Atharva Veda spells, but the benefit would be mainly due to psychological and psychosomatic effect. The real, practical magic wouldn’t happen in any profoundly tangible way. Here’s why.
Magic spells only work when they are done exactly right, and its pretty damn near impossible to do any Vedic rituals exactly right anymore. Even the Vedic language alone is very difficult and exacting (it is much more strict and difficult even than classical Purāṇic Saṁskṛta) not to mention the myriad other components of the ritual. In an incantation, even the pitch-intonation of a syllable is important. There’s a famous incident: by getting the wrong pitch on just one of the symbols of a spell, even the great and accomplished mystic magician Tvaṣṭā created a monster who would “have Indra as an enemy” rather than “be Indra’s enemy” and thus his summoned demon got killed by Indra rather than killing him to avenge the death of Tvaṣṭā’s noble son.
So, forget about a translation of the Atharva Veda! You certainly need to incant spells in their original language.
Also, an incantation / mantra / spell won’t have its tangible effect without the contextual ritual for it. Vedic rituals span all four of the Saṁhitā (Ṛg, Yajur, Sāma, and Atharva). So, for many spells, you’ll have to study not only the Atharva Veda but also the other three. (Though the Atharva seems to contain many self-contained spells, these are meant to counteract and correct various mistakes and omissions in the larger rituals, and so are not really stand-alone spells).
Even if you want a translation just to get familiar with the meaning of the spells and rituals, the problem is there are no simple translations of the four Vedic Saṁhitā, mainly because it’s impossible… “simple” just isn’t what the Saṁhitā are. The Purāṇa and Itihāsa are designed to be the simple, easily understandable, part of the Veda. The Upaniṣads, Āraṇyakas, and Brāhmanas are more abstruse than the Purāṇas and Itihāsa, and even those are simplified compared to the Samhitā of Ṛg, Yajur, Sāma, and Atharva which they exist to clarify and explain.
To even begin using these Saṁhitā one has to be educated in the Six Disciplines: pronunciation, meter, grammar, word-meaning, and situational- and astrological- timing. The “timing” part is called jyotiṣa, which is why astrologers say you can’t do the Atharva spells (or any Vedic rituals) without their help. They are right, though they probably don’t even know the right type of astrology to be of any help (jyotiṣa in this context is not the same as “Vedic astrology”). In any case, a spell has to be incanted at a particular time, it can’t give its effect at the wrong time or for the wrong situation. It also need the exact pronunciation and meter, and has to be intoned by a person who comprehends the meaning (which requires knowing the dictionaries and grammars).
So, it’s no wonder we don’t often see Merlins flying through New York City on carpets.
I think you would find more real success if you investigate the āgama – which are also called tantra – rather than the Atharva Veda. The Tantra don’t exactly give “magic,” but they give something similar which works with karma to bring you the results you are looking for. The rituals in the Tantra are much simpler and easier than those in the Saṁhitā – fasts and pūjās for example.
Or go to the four practical Vedic sciences like medicine, music, artchetecture, and warfare – whatever is appropriate for what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you want an Atharva Veda spell to make your hair seductively luscious you would get much better results going to Ayurveda and using the herbal oils and diet modifications reccomended there.
Better still for the deeper issues is Bhāgavata Purāṇa. Really, if you want the most accessible and simple translation of the Vedas, you have to study Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, or at least Mahābhārata. That’s what these books (Bhāgavata and Mahābhārata) are. That’s why Vyāsa wrote them. In Bhāgavatam you will also find all the most essential princinples of tantra – for example the Kātyāyanī Vrata for romance and marriage, and especially the Nārāyana Kavaca as mystical “armor.”
You’ll still need to be very serious to do any of these correctly, and will need to be able to remember and comprehend the Sanskrit involved – but its doable. Vedic spells aren’t. They’re really impossible for practically everyone in Kaliyuga. The Tantra fill that void, and the best Tantra for whatever you want (conventional, unconventional, or transcendental) is Bhāgavata.
Vic DiCara / Vraja Kishor