There's a whole lot of work to be done right now, and each of us have the opportunity to find where we fit best into the rebuilding and re-imagining of our world. Tune into your skills and values, your privilege and practices and open yourself up to infinite possibilities.
I'm trying to figure out an appropriate spell or ritual for "trying to stop something bad from happening", roughly. I know that's a tricky category in general. The type of things I'm talking about are, say, global environmental disasters activated in specific instances by people in places of power. Of course doing the worldly work of activism is paramount but as a lone person with a small voice who feels powerless, I'm looking for an energetic or ritual action I can take against say the "doomsday button". But when I think, "I want to stop (example of dangerous thing here) from happening" I know I'm running into that tricky rule of manifestation where you are NOT supposed to emphasize the negative. How to balance emphasizing the positive with trying to take magical action against a particular event? I can't think my way around it, I'm probably coming at the idea from the wrong angle. Thanks for any and all input you have to give.
Thanks for this question, it’s a good one and I’m sure others find themselves in similar dilemmas. First I want to take a moment to say that I think it is important that us witches do this kind of work. To be a witch is to align yourself with the oppressed and to ally those in need. I’m sure there are witches who would disagree, but I believe that to walk this path we must be tuned into more than ourselves. Activism and witchcraft go hand in hand.
Next I want to quickly address your statement “as a lone person with a small voice who feels powerless...” This is not an uncommon sensation, and I’d venture to guess that most of us feel this way from time to time, if not more. While it is true that one person may be hard pressed to save the world on their own, never underestimate the power of millions of people with a similar mindset stepping in to do their portion of the work. Only in this way can great transformation occur. We are exponentially more powerful together, so I recommend doing your magical work on new moons, full moons, and high pagan holidays. This way, even if you are working alone, you can easily tap into the flow of energy created by hundreds (thousands?) of other witches doing magic at the same time. Alternately, find a witchy friend or join or form a coven to amplify your power and your voice.
Now, onto your main question. How to use spell work to “stop something bad from happening?” Like you said, it is tricky to attempt this because you end up giving energy to exactly the thing you wish to deter. In my experience, the best way to move forward is to instead focus on the outcome that you do want to occur, and use that vision to drive your ritual. For example, let’s say you are trying to stop a hurricane from landing in a populated area. Envision the storm shifting with the wind to propel it into an area where it can do less damage. See the place where it was headed as being safe and undamaged, the people, creatures and buildings thriving and intact. Or say you want to stop a world leader from engaging in nuclear warfare. See them having a change of heart and choosing to not “push the button.” See the warhead still in its dormant state, and the land untouched by the violence. Let each spell you cast be for the highest good of all. This is important. As mortals with good intentions, we may think we know what is best, but we don’t have the gift of omniscience. So, any magic you do that affects others should include a clause that whatever the outcome it will be in alignment with the highest possibility for all.
I like to think of these events in terms of alternate timelines. If we allow that there are infinite timelines occurring all around us, then there is definitely a timeline where the outcome you desire is the outcome that is happening. In that regard, what you desire is already so, and all you need to do is guide the two realities together. Sound complicated? Of course it is! It’s also quite simple. Anything you can imagine is possible and therefore exists and is right there waiting to be claimed. See it, call it in, and let it be for the highest good.
In the current political climate many of us are overwhelmed and unsure of where we fit in in the movement for social justice. Personally I have been gathering with like-minded witches to cast spells of protection (for the most vulnerable among us, Black and trans folks to the front), deep healing, and envisioning for the world we hope to co-create from the ashes of the revolution. A chant that came to me (inspired by a line from The Craft) is “Now is the time, Now is the hour, We are the change, We are the Power.” I find that repeating it at different volumes helps me to channel my energy towards the magic at hand. If it helps, feel free to use it. Believe in your ability to effect change and get to work, energetically, magically, and literally.