Buffy/Angel : How are magic spells originally created?

They always have to hit the books and find old spells. Was it ever explained how spells were originally created, and why they can’t make their own new spells? Or have they made a brand new never-seen-before spell or two?

My theory is that the needed power or knowledge for that is long lost,hence all spells are really old.

Well, Willow has been shown “experimenting” with spells (using different ingredients, etc.), so there probably are some accepted standards, but variation is possible with different results. I suppose it’s a bit like asking where recipes come from. There was probably an oral tradition that was eventually set down, and then variations emerged from there.

And why go to the time and effort of coming up with a new recipe when you have one that’s supposed to work? I say “supposed to” because of the number of times spells have gone awry throughout the series.

Wouldn’t it be better to make spell to your specifications, than to rely on a limited set of pre-existing spells with their own limitations and restrictions? For example, they needed to re-ensoul Angel a few seasons back (and again now on Angel). Wouldn’t it have been better to create a new ensoulment spell without the “moment of perfect happiness” flaw?

Of course, these flaws are necessary from a plot standpoint; you can’t make things too easy for the heroes. But, I was wondering if the spell-writing/creation had ever been addressed in the show, which was mainly why I made this thread.

It certainly could be written in such a way that when a spell is initially created, one doesn’t even know the drawbacks to it. This would make spellcasting even more perilous than using the pre-known ones, and perhaps more interesting, plot-wise.

I’ve wondered about this too, and I figured it might be sort of analogous to something where I work.

I work in the pharmacy compounding business. We can customize prescriptions for individual patients based on whatever that specific patient needs, and sometimes new formulas are created to deal with a specific ailment. However, we have a big database of formulae already created that will often do the trick just fine. Why make up a new formula (or in The Buffyverse’s case, a spell) when an old one will work just as well?