Magick is Seldom Spectacular Because It Seldom Needs to Be

This quote from Donald Tyson has been the tagline for my blog since I first started it several years ago. It perfectly summed up my view of magick. I repeated it this past week when talking to a friend about magick. My friend asked about my magickal technique and was surprised to see that it wasn’t as theatrical as he expected them to be.

To be fair, I’ve done my fair share of theatrical magick. Once, the coven I used to work with mixed sulfur with incense and pushed our fears into the mixture. When we “sacrificed our fears to the cauldron of the Goddess (a cauldron of hot charcoal)” the blast from the sulfur lit up the night. It was amazing! Another time, I littered my backyard hundreds of tea lights and bowls of dry ice for a full moon ritual. It was awful to clean up, but it created a magickal ritual space.

As I have gotten more comfortable with my practice, my reliance on the proverbial bells and whistles of magick has decreased. That doesn’t mean that I don’t use them, but most of my magick is based in simple breathing exercises and visualization.

This works for me specifically because the magick I use most often is for practical purposes. Since most of these things happen when I’m away from my altar, I have to rely on the most important magickal tool, my mind. When I need to avoid traffic, I imagine that everyone else on the road take an alternate path. When I’m having an issue with a coworker, I charge a packet of sugar with loving thoughts and add it to my coffee. When I need the weather to cooperate with my plans, I simply pray for it to change.

For more on how to use magick on the fly, you can check out Instant Magick by Christopher Penczak.

The Magick of Pendulums

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I first encountered pendulums at Jupiter’s Door, a metaphysical shop in Norwalk, Ohio. My friend Liz and I walked in to the shop and saw the display of pendulums on the counter. We asked what they were and Judy, the owner of the shop, gave us a demonstration. I, of course, immediately purchased one.

Most pendulums available at occult bookstores are made of a piece of polished stone attached to a chain. However, I’ve seen some witches use a charm necklace with remarkable success. Pretty much any object that can dangle from a string can be used as a pendulum. To use a pendulum, you simply hold the chain in your dominant hand and observe the way the stone swings.

Here are some ways I have used my pendulum in my practice:

  1. Simple divination

To start, I hold the chain in my dominant hand and place my non-dominant hand underneath the stone. I ask the stone to show me “yes” and note the way the pendulum swings. I then ask the pendulum to stop and ask it to show me “no,” again noting how it swings. Then, I simply ask a yes or no question and record the answer.

 

  1. Spirit Communication

One method of spirit communication with the pendulum is to repeat the steps for simple divination, but ask the spirit to move the pendulum.

 

Another method is to create a spirit board with the alphabet listed on it. Then move the pendulum slowly over the board until it reacts. The reaction might be a circle around the letter or you may feel the pendulum be pulled to a certain letter. Record what it spells out and you’ll have the answer to your question.

 

  1. Finding lost objects

I quickly create a makeshift map of the area I am searching (usually my house). Then I slowly move the pendulum over the map and note any reaction from the stone. Usually, the area of the reaction is where the object is.

 

  1. Checking Chakra Energy

I meditate and open my chakras. Then, one my one, I move the pendulum to the area of a chakra and note how the stone moves. For me, if there is energy flowing through a chakra, the pendulum will spin in a circle. The faster the circle, the more energy that is flowing. If the circle is wonky (a technical term) that tells me that there is something blocking the flow of energy.

I’m sure there are more uses for pendulums, but these are the practices I tend to get most traction with. Simply put, pendulums are fun! So, how do you use pendulums?

Spring Reiving

I first learned about the concept of reiving, or the process of ritually cleaning, clearing, and preparing your magickal work space in the book Witchcraft: Theory and Practice by Ly de Angeles. What started as practice of clearing my ritual space before a hefty ritual, slowly evolved to involve my home and surrounding property.

The first step in the process is extremely mundane. In fact, it involves the stuff that normal spring cleaning entails. I wash the walls, clean the baseboards, vacuum the floor. You name it, I do it. I even move the fridge so I can clean behind it. This is also my annual closet clean out. I take out everything that I haven’t worn in a while and set it aside for donation.

At this point, I’m usually a sweaty, dusty mess. I lay out some clean clothes and take a shower with intent. I ritually purify myself with sea salt and lavender oil. I then move to the center of my home.

On the coffee table, I place a dish of incense. It’s made of equal part sage, clove, and copal. Also on the makeshift altar is a dish of burning charcoal, a dish of sea salt, a chalice of water, a glass of red wine, a single white candle, and my athame.

I light the candle and ground myself. I cast a circle with my athame around my altar. Once the circle is cast, I visualize it expanding around my entire house. Once this thought it solidified in my mind’s eye, I push the circle out to cover my entire property.

Next, I place the tip of the athame in the salt to bless it. After I add three pinches of salt to the chalice of water, I sprinkle the water around my house working clockwise. I then move outside to sprinkle salt around the perimeter of my house. Side note – I typically do this late at night to avoid my nosey neighbors. Once I move back in the house, I toss some incense on the coals and repeat the process of smudging my house and the outer perimeter of my property.

When I return to the altar, I place the censer back in its place. I ground, once again, before picking up the glass of wine and sitting on my couch. Once, I’ve finished the wine, I head to bed, letting the circle dissipate, forming a natural ring of protection around my home.

The Magick of Tattoos

One of the members of my study group got her first tattoo today. She decided on a pentacle with a crescent moon at its center with a sky scene behind it. It is absolutely beautiful and served a reminder for the tattoos I have gotten.

For me, tattoos are an amazing way to express yourself and what you find meaningful. As a Witch, tattoos serve as powerful forms of magick. The intention of choosing an image, the pain of getting it done, and the permanence of the tattoo makes the process a powerful work of magick. I’ve gotten several magickal tattoos in my life and wanted to share what they mean to me and the magickal intent behind them.

 

My first tattoo had to be extremely witchy. I, naturally, wanted to get a pentagram, but I had to choose something a little more flashy. I finally found what I wanted, a pentacle surround by fire, on the cover of the boo Wiccan Warrior by Kerr Cuhulain. I also wanted to add some gay pride, so I placed a pink triangle around it. When I got the tattoo, it was just that, a tattoo. However, over time, I charged it to be a protection sigil and I often focus on it when I feel like I need a little extra protection.

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Years later, I got a Leo symbol tattooed on my forearm. It was terrible. Not long after, I had  experienced several hardships in my life that contributed to a major bout of depression,  self-harm, and substance abuse. After I got treatment and felt more stable, I got the Leo symbol covered up by a phoenix. It was magickally charged to remind me that I can overcome anything that tries to deter me.

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As part of my recovery from the breakdown mentioned above, I had to clear out my group of friends. Several of them were bad influences and, honestly, just bad people. From this experience, I realized that I have the propensity to be too trusting of people. This leads me to be taken advantage of and not really having people in my corner when I need them. So, I chose another magickal tattoo. This time, a beautiful swallow with the phrase “A true friend is a rare bird” written in Latin below it. Like *ahem* magick, all of these bad friends simply fell to the wayside. It’s still a struggle, but this tattoo helps me discern who belongs in my tribe. And, like magick, when I determine that someone is not worth my time, they pretty much disappear.

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I was once, (brace yourself) very whitsey-lightsey. Everything in my spiritual practice was about love and happiness. It was a façade. I was trying to hide the darker aspects of who I am. After some shadow work, I was able to fully embrace my inner monster. To commemorate this,  I got the alchemical symbol for sulfur tattooed on the nape of my neck. In alchemy, sulfur is a symbol of the Devil (my shadow self) and represents the soul. My tattoo is charged to be a mental focus on shadow work, as well as astral work.

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Finally, when I began working with Ganesh, I asked him to be my guide and to open the door to happiness for me. I got his image tattooed on my right wrist as a symbol of his guiding hand.

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I’m sure I’ll get several more tattoos in my life. I’d eventually like to get excerpts from my Book of Shadows tattooed on me. This way, my skin will be a record of my magickal journey.

St. Expedite Part 2

Last week, I wrote about St. Expedite. I wanted to do a follow-up post because I recently asked him to intercede for me and the results were amazing.

I’ve grown bored with my current job. It isn’t challenging, so dragging myself in there every day is a struggle. To add to it, a few other circumstances made the future of my job uncertain. So, I lit a candle and prayed to St. Expedite. I wrote my requirements for a new job on a piece of paper, read them to him, and placed his candle on the paper to burn out. I promised to give him $10 in quarters and two Sara Lee Pound cakes.

Long story short, I start my new (dream) job on the 19th. Not only will the job be more challenging and fulfilling, but I am working a better schedule for more money. St. Expedite came through in a big way!

So, thank you St. Expedite. You are amazing!

 

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Why Magick Sometimes Fails

I recently had a spell misfire, so to speak. I asked for something very specific. While I didn’t get what I asked for exactly, I got something appropriate. It’s made think about why magick fails. Now, I’m not saying that I am a powerful witch who can turn you into a frog with a wave of my little finger, but I tend to have good results with my magick.

Anyone who has a magickal practice has experienced success with magick. Otherwise, why even bother practicing magick at all? However, we’ve also experienced situations when our magick fails. During these times it’s easy to lose faith in our practice and become skeptical or feel resentment of our path.  Personally, I think there are several reasons why our magickal attempts sometimes fail.

Intent is a huge catalyst for magick and sometimes our efforts may not be enough to cause change in the material world. For example, if I wanted to cast a spell to be draw a new lover to me, simply lighting a red candle isn’t enough. Even if lit a hundred red candles for seven days in a row, it might not be enough to draw the lover to me. Magick must be fueled with intent and energy must be released in order for any magickal application to be successful. My rule of thumb is that if you can finish a magickal operation without grounding or without feeling that inner “click” of connection, you’re intent and effort may not be enough to cause change.

On the other hand, too much intent can sometimes cause magick to fail as well. Recently, I worked magick in order to ensure a particular outcome in a personal situation (I know this is vague, but I promise the details aren’t important). Each day, I left offerings for my patrons and my ancestors. I prayed for it each day and worked several spells to ensure success. Needless to say, the situation didn’t end as planned. To be fair, the result wasn’t as bad as they could have been, but it definitely wasn’t my best case scenario. My reasoning for this is that I didn’t allow the initial spell long enough to manifest. To illustrate this, consider my situation as being a bucket. When I add water (magick) to the situation, it can only hold so much. When bucket after bucket of water is added, the original water is displaced and overflows. What splashes out causes change, but not the focused change I wanted. In other words, practice magick that supports the original spell, but not magick to replace the original spell. For example, if I cast a spell for love, I may cast another spell to clear the path or to make me more receptive to that lover, but not to draw the lover to me.

Skill also plays a role in magick. Without the ability to create, manipulate, and release energy, your spells won’t have enough “oomph” to cause change. I’ve seen several witches forgo the initial magickal practice and jump into the more substantial magickal practices. Some people use esoteric ingredients without understanding why they are using them. In fact, magickal accoutrements are simply toys without a clear and focused understanding of how magick works.

Another hurdle in magickal success is the lack of mundane follow through. For example, if you cast a spell to draw a job to you, you have to do the mundane work of applying for jobs.  I seems silly to have to say this, but some people think magick does all the work. Magick is subtle. We use magick to tip the scales in our favor.

The hardest reason to accept, at least for me, when magick fails is that the Universe is simply saying “no.” Sometimes that things we ask for aren’t best for us. Sometimes what we’re asking for will stop us from learning a lesson or prevent us from receiving an even bigger gift in the future. Our Gods know what’s best for us and sometimes it’s not what we want.

When magick fails, I think following up with a divinatory working can help shed light on the matter. It can tell us where our magick was misguided or hindered. This information is helpful for us to use in future workings and to avoid any resentment towards our craft that we may feel.

Amethyst Spell to Set Clear Boundaries

You will need:

  • A bottle of purified water (any kind will do)
  • The High Priestess Tarot card (from any deck that speaks to you)
  • A piece of amethyst

Set the items on your altar, as well as any tools you would normally use to cast circle and connect with Deity. Before beginning, close your eyes and concentrate on slowing your breath. Do the following, as you normally would: ground and center, cast circle, invite Divinity to witness and assist with the spell. If these steps are not part of your usual practice, feel free to skip them.

Place the High Priestess card in the center of your altar as a focal point for meditation. The High Priestess knows and respects her own power. When she says “no more,” she means it. She sets clear boundaries for herself and expects others to respect them. Visualize where your boundaries have not been clear. Then, visualize yourself setting clear boundaries. What will those conversations sounds like? What actions will you take? How will you feel when your boundaries are respected?

Visualize this emotion as a tangible energy. Form the energy into a sphere in your right hand. Then will the energy to fill the piece of amethyst[1]. Once this visualization is complete, place the stone in the bottle of water. See the bottle of water glowing with energy as the stone charges the water. Once this visualization is clear, remove the stone from the water, thank Divinity for their help and take down your circle.

The water can be used in many ways. You can use it to brew tea or coffee to create a potion to strengthen your will in regards to creating healthy boundaries, you can use it a magickal bath, or you can use it as a floorwash to use in physical places in which you have trouble maintaining healthy boundaries.

 

 

[1] This technique can be used to empower a crystal for any type of spellwork.