This is a very important question. Back when I was first beginning with paganism (22 years ago or so) I was one of these pagans that wanted to do spells and rituals but also laughed at the idea of them. "Spells! *laugh* How do you know they even work? You say a rhyme and some time passes. Haha." But after you do the spell, there is noticable change going on. Let me explain.
When you begin your ritual or spell there is probably a prep time. This allows you to dress a candle, or pray over a candle or envision something about the area or the spell or thing representing your spell. If you have the ability or the power within you, you will sense a hushed time period, before, and during your spell or ritual. This is the knowing (of what I am about to do). It feels different than just getting up and going to the bath room or making some dinner to eat or something. The more knowing you feel, the more your abilities will grow and the more you will fine tune your prep time and abilities as a pagan/shaman etc.
Say you have done a love spell (popular amoungst teen pagans lol) and you want to know what signs to look for. Say you asked Venus or Aphrodite or Diana for assistance attracting a lover to you or you were some dark witch that used a person's actual name! This is warned against as this person can become obsessed for real. They say it breaks threefold law, and it harm none, do as you will. This has been found out to be a poem, so it holds ritualistically no boundaries. But "what you give out, for good or ill, will come back in threes" which is the basis for old threefold law. I've reaped threefold in my earlier days. Not that I am a bad witch but someone needed a lesson. Fate included me on the results. This is what I believe. Trust me, I learn to word things in a different way.
If the love spell is a positive sign, then your crush object or other forms of crush objects may begin to notice you and come around you.
If the love spell is a negative sign because they are an unknown asshole to you, then you will stop loving or crushing on them all together and you will quit seeking relationships of any kind.
That is how our guardians or angels and God/desses keep us safe from assholes and maybe closet masked murderers.
If you have done a money spell, (popular in coffee house pagans and a bit older maturer pagans) then the positive sign leads to finding more money on the sidewalk, someone mysterious gives a loan or grant, or gives you a present, you may get an unexpected raise or promotion at work. If it's a negative sign you are finding less money than normal, and you are nagged about your spending habits and how you budget what you have.
You should have result signs from spells within 1-3-5 weeks on average.
What if I can't buy the stuff for a spell? Can I use shadow magick as a thought?
Yes. If you can use shadow magick, or thought projection for spells, or rituals by all means do that.
Just read the spell see the way you would actually perform it and then do it with shadow thought or projection.
However, just because you are adept on doing shadow magick means it will work better or faster or haunt someone to the extremes.
Sjadu or Zhae-do, shadow magick is ruled by five fold magick. It impacts the five shadow worlds of thought, memory, life, death and improvements of our actual living life. Five is the number of the self. In order to do the self magick of the shadow, we must long or want for nothing. Shadow magick emcompasses us correctly if we are Selfless and won't work well if we are not. Unless you are doing the justice or revenge circuit and only if you don't mind a bit of a backlash in your general direction, too.
Shadow magick will see results in three minutes to over all three long months. New Moons indicate times in which you can cast new shadow magick that may last a long time. This is the honest magick. If you can't be real with yourself, don't do shadow magick because fate will hand you your own ass.