Updated: Feb 26
One of the questions I get the most often is how to time a spell for best effect. I'm not an astrologer, so my first answer is to get a proper astrological election, but I don't do that either. If an astrologer gives you a time, that time or time range is the most important layer you could use, but also I rarely use that myself. After that, this is something I build by layers. Any layers you can fit in are great, but there's also the case of can you wait for it. The best time to cast a spell is when you need it. If you can't wait for a layer, then don't. So let's look at what layers you can add. First and probably simplest, is the day of the week that you do your spell. This never means waiting more than 7 days so it's usually possible to get to. Sunday - Sun Monday - Moon Tuesday - Mars Wednesday - Mercury Thursday - Jupiter Friday - Venus Saturday - Saturn. At some point, I'll write something for everyone about which magical intent lines up with which planets, but until I get it done, this is something you can find with a search. For this layer, any time that day will work. Time of day doesn't matter, which is good, because we'll add that in later. Next layer to look at is what we call planetary hours. There's a formula for this, and they're not actually an hour long. I'll give you the formula, which requires knowing sunrise and sunset, but I'll also link you to a tool that will just calculate them for you. Planetary hours start at sunrise with the same planet that rules the day. Sunrise to sunset time divided by 12 sets the length of each daytime "hour", sunset to sunrise divided by 12 sets the time for nighttime hours and it goes around, but in a DIFFERENT ORDER than the days of the week
Days of the week follow the star, hours go around the outside. There's a reason for it, but it's not something we need to get into here. This is finicky, so I just run them through https://planetaryhours.net/
You can combine days and hours to mix 2 planets if you want the energies of 2, or you can do day AND hour to strengthen the planetary alignment. You can also do a lot with growing things during the waxing Moon, and reducing things during the waning Moon. With the longer cycle, I don't always wait on it, but some things can be done either way right? New moons help conceal things, and full moons help bring things to light. Those of you with a special relationship with the moon might also find other Moon phase things useful. Mansions of the moon are a thing, but I usually don't use them. They're precise, and a longer cycle, so it's very hard to get that to line up with my needs. You can also work by the hands of the clock. Growing something when the clock hands are rising, either just minute or minute and hour, or shrinking when they are going down. I'll use minute hands some times, but for me the planetary hours are more important. I rarely mess with this myself, but it's important to note. I always time these if it's too short a period for your whole ritual, it's easiest to start rituals within these timeframe than panic over timing the middle. You can layer these so you have several aspects of timing, but I always treat timing as positive layers. I don't get hung up on timing that doesn't work out, it's just extra layers if you can get it.
Other Timing factors
Some folks really like timing some things by the moon. There's a big push for doing things by the full moon, but that's not always practical, and not always the right thing to do. The moon can be approached by the same rules as the hands of the clock. As the moon is waxing, you'd do things for increasing something, and as the moon is waxing, you'll do things to decrease things. The full moon for me IS good about manifesting something, or bringing it to the physical, but for me, this is usually the end of a long run of daily spellwork. The symbolism for me is much stronger as the end of several days of growing something, concluding with the "activation" so to speak.
While we have traditional weekly timing by the planets, you can also time things by more modern associations with each day. Monday isn't great planet wise for job things, but it's also got some modern associations with the beginning of the work week. That makes is great for job things. Likewise, I prefer whatever day payday is for money spells rather than picking by the planets, especially because for money things, the type of money you're looking for can influence the day. Other more personal associations with days can and should be used where appropriate. Trying to get a date with someone? do your spell on the day you normally hang out with them.
Of course, timing isn't the kind of thing I want you all to get hung up on. The layers we add through timing are great, but not having the proper timing shouldn't be a reason to NOT do your spellwork. The best time to do spellwork is when we need it. Timing can just as much a tangle or snag as a benefit if you get too hung up on it. Remember, this is about adding layers, not about why you can't do something.