Even if you’re not a witch, if you practice magic you probably know the Witch’s Pyramid: to know, to will, to dare, and to keep silent. The first three steps are fairly straightforward, even if they aren’t particularly easy.
The fourth one is hard.
Some say if you talk about your magic those who are opposed to you or jealous of you will work magic against you, subconsciously if not on purpose. A local elder says talking about magic tells the Universe “I already have this” and so the working stops. I see talking about magic like opening the oven every five minutes to see if your cake is done – it’s going to interfere with the baking process and screw up your cake.
But how much silence is enough? How long should a result take to manifest? Recently I was reminded that magic takes how long it takes, and that attempts to speed it up are rarely helpful.
Monthly sigil magic
Gordon White’s The Chaos Protocols is perhaps the best practical magic book I’ve ever read. It spends a little time teaching you how to work magic and a lot of time teaching you what to work magic for. Its core technique is sigil magic, which is stripped-down, secular magic. It’s fairly easy to do, particularly for someone who is competent with the written word. Sigil magic has been my go-to system for getting stuff done for years.
Gordon suggests doing monthly sigils and reporting. Each month, pick five or six or ten things you want to manifest, create and charge sigils for them, then fire and release them. Next month, see how you did, and create another round of sigils. Chaos magic is extremely pragmatic – if it works it’s true, if it doesn’t it’s false.
This was new for me. I’ve always worked magic on an as-needed basis. But they don’t call it practicing magic for nothing – I knew that doing sigils on a regular basis would help me get better at doing sigils. So after I read the book I made monthly sigil magic part of my routine.
The results were mixed
The results varied from month to month, but in general about half of my sigils brought in exactly what I wanted. About a quarter brought in something good but less than what was desired, and about a quarter brought in nothing.
This wasn’t entirely unexpected. Magic (as best I can tell, anyway) doesn’t directly bring what you work for. Rather, magic increases the odds that what you work for will happen. Some of my sigils were for things that had a 60-70% chance of happening anyway – it didn’t take much magic to push those over the line. And even if you have an 80% chance of success, that means one time out of five it won’t work.
So statistically speaking, I expected some of my sigils to fail – I just didn’t know which ones. And then there was the time when I did a poor job of target selection and ended up working magic for something I didn’t want. But a couple of targets just kept failing month after month after month. They were things I wanted and needed, so I kept working for them, mundanely as well as magically. Still, they kept failing over and over again.
Overscheduling and stress
A few months ago I reached a limit. I was traveling to teach and to promote The Path of Paganism. I had some deep workings in process with a local group. I was keeping the blog going, getting the video series started, serving on a committee at Denton UU, and trying to do a few things around the house. Oh, and I was working a full-time job in the mundane world.
Oh, I could have, but something else would have had to slide… like sleep. That never goes well. And so I made the decision to stop doing monthly sigils and reporting.
Keeping silent by default
There is no undo button on a spell. When you cast it, you release it, and it takes on a life of its own. This is true whether you’re doing a candle burning spell, a visualization, or sigil magic. The sigils I had created and fired were still there, still doing their thing.
Except now I wasn’t thinking about them. Now I wasn’t opening the oven door on the first of every month. Instead of having 30 days to work uninterrupted, they had 60 days, then 90 days, and then more.
Last week one of the targets finally hit, in a big way. Something I had been working on for a year and a half with virtually no results manifested in a way that was even better than what I wanted. And another working that had been dead in the water for months made noticeable progress.
The magic finally had time to work.
No, I won’t tell you what it was. It was an interim target in a longer process and talking about it beyond generalities will greatly decrease the odds of continuing that process. Trust me that while it wasn’t anything beyond the laws of Nature, it was anything but trivial.
Magic works in its own time
There is value working magic on a regular basis. Magic is like any other skill – the more you practice, the better you get. This is true whether you’re born with a natural talent for it or whether you have to scrape for everything you get.
There is value in reporting (to yourself, anyway) on your magic. What works? Keep doing it. What doesn’t work? Try something else. If you don’t keep records of your spells or you never review them, you’ll never know what needs to be adjusted. For all the esotericism associated with magic, it remains a very pragmatic endeavor.
I’ve heard someone (probably Gordon White, but I can’t remember for sure) say “if sigils don’t work, do more sigils.” That’s not wrong. The method has been shown to work – you just have to learn how to make it work for you. Until you figure it out, keep trying – there is great value in perseverance.
But working with time is perhaps the most difficult area of magic there is. I can’t see time in divination beyond “now” “near future” and “distant future”. And while I try to put time bounds on my magical workings (if you need money to pay rent on the 1st, getting it on the following 30th is too late to help) that tends to be rather unsuccessful.
Magic works in its own time. And some spells need more than a month to manifest successfully.
Learning by doing
I learned something in all this. While there is value in working magic on a regular basis, working magic on an arbitrary schedule brings sub-optimal results. Reviewing results is necessary, but not when it interferes with the “fire and forget” approach of chaos magic.
Going forward, I’m going to give my sigils time to work.