There are plenty of spells that can be done without “candles and ingredients”. Are they going to be effective? Probably not.
A spell requires:
- focused intent/will
- sources of energy
- divine grace (how ever one defines divine)
- a means of delivery, transfer, or anchor to the physical realm
to be effective. Even when one reaches a level that they don’t need the same things a novice needs to cast a spell, these things are still required.
What it usually takes to reach a level of being able to reliably manifest projection of one’s will is years of study, observance, and experience becoming aligned with one or more natural forces. So there are no shortcuts.
The ingredients used in spells are not mere tools of focus. Well, they may be devalued to that level by some people who have confidence issues around non monotheist beliefs or who believe that witchcraft is a hobby, not an art or a science, but for most experienced, practicing witches who have ever had to use it for survival, ingredients are extremely important. Each stone, plant, or other substance, has its unique, innate energy, and each does something different when will or intent is applied to it. This is why it is important to be careful when one needs to use any substitutions.
When you know what various ingredients do, you understand how they are important in spellcraft. Without them you could be missing a necessary source of energy and/or means of delivery for manifestation.
When people say that one has reached a level of skill, awareness, or alignment that they don’t need ingredients, what they mean is that they have reached a level that they are okay with themselves being the ingredient. It means they have accumulated enough energy or reached an age that they don’t mind some of their life force being drained to do the job, or they have accumulated enough merit with the deities they work with and/or set up their life in a way that the drain would be temporary or drawn from other sources already established.
For example, if someone has over the years built enough shrines, sustained enough life that glorifies some of the forces they work with, and perhaps along the way made a few fetishes or generators to store and channel certain energy, they may go out and do feats that appear to be without “ingredients”, but there were plenty over the years.