Successful magick is a tricky thing. Sometimes, you will find that your magick actually is effective, but it seems to go horribly wrong. Let’s discuss what can happen and the reasons why.
The magick didn’t work the way you wanted it to.
Perhaps you did a spell to give you more time on your hands. As a result, you lost your job and now you are on Unemployment. Not helpful. But you did get exactly what you asked for, didn’t you? Remember, magick takes the path of least resistance. The easiest thing for it to do in order to accomplish your purpose was to remove the offending work that was taking away so much time from the things you actually want to do, so that’s what it did! Younger Self does not understand that you need to make money, really, and neither does Higher Self because it has no material needs. Christopher Penczak has a good story to tell about this very thing on his website.
Lay down your parameters. Consider, when you’re performing magick, what you might be willing to sacrifice in order to get what you want; because you may be forced to make a choice. If you want more time on your hands, you’re obviously going to have to put aside something you’re doing in order to make room for it. And what do you want to do with that time instead of what you’re currently doing? Maybe what you need is time management, not “more time.” This is part of why most good books on magick (and because I would like this to be a good book on magick, I’ll tell you this too,) recommend that you do everything possible in the physical world first to get the result you want.
The magick worked, but you didn’t want to pay the price.
It’s important to include the following caveat in almost any magick that you do: an it harm none; because, magick takes the path of least resistance. Sometimes it will run people over. The classic example is the spell for more money that causes someone to receive an inheritance from their favorite uncle (who obviously is no longer in this world.) My husband and I did a spell to bring us and our household more money. The path of least resistance was a life insurance policy that paid $100 000 for dismemberment. Now my husband is missing a leg. Not worth it.
Another example occurs when somebody does a spell that they believe is in another’s best interests, but interferes with their free will. When I was still new to magick, I had a couple of friends in high school that started dating, and they were constantly fighting, breaking up, getting back together, and of course they would complain to me all the time because I was best friends to both of them. It was a regular nuisance. I came to the conclusion that they had some kind of negative tie that was pulling them together and it had to be cut. I made paper dolls of them with their names in Theban script, tied them together with a string, and ceremonially cut the string. They broke up all right, but both of them descended into a depth of depression that resulted in one of them trying to commit suicide
I really didn’t intend to harm them, but I was self-righteous. I believed that I knew better than they did what was good for them. I did not, and you never can, no matter if that other person is your spouse, your best friend, or even your child. The only spells you should ever do for anyone else without their express permission is a spell of healing or protection (or a protective hex, if someone is causing harm and you believe that the greater good is served through this), and even then you should include a caveat that means that they must accept what you offer.
The magick worked, but it didn’t take the form you expected.
Magick will often – often! – show up in a form that surprises you. Sometimes it accomplishes what you actually wanted, and sometimes it doesn’t. The key is to be careful what you wish for. You might be amused by a couple of personal examples.
I had a reading from a psychic who told me, essentially, that I had missed my calling and I should be making music. I was angry. There was a time when I had decided to do exactly that, and I was very serious about it. I was in a goth rock band called “Gallows Hill,” and we had a little cult following on Mp3.com, and a song that stayed in the top ten on their goth rock charts for a month. I quit working and spent a great deal of time recording and practicing and gigging and promoting the band.
Then, it was like the Universe conspired to make sure that we couldn’t succeed. Everything that could go wrong did: from our keyboardist, who also owned the small label producing us, quitting the band; to the guitarist not being permitted to cross the border into Canada so that we could continue recording; to me being in a car accident that left me broke and broken for several months, until the guitarist was forced to move and the distance between us was too great to continue working on the band. I felt like I was being kicked while I was down. I said to the psychic, “Well, I tried that, but the Universe made sure I couldn’t succeed, so now if the Lady wants me to make music, She needs to hand me a record deal on a silver platter!”
Are you laughing yet? It met my criteria, didn’t it? “A record deal on a silver platter,” is what I had asked for. I didn’t ask for money from it, did I?
I have a much more productive example. I sent out the intention that I wanted a dedicated Temple room for myself, my coven and tradition to Work in. So some resource-draining roommates of one of my newer coveners moved out and they turned the empty room into a Temple. Well, I didn’t say I wanted it to be at my place, did I? This worked out just fine. My coveners had a really wonderful place that had lots of room and we used it for all of our Sabbat gatherings and Esbats. It was what I really wanted.
So, be specific about what you want, and then be open-minded about how the Universe chooses to give you what you need. Decide if the form that the result chose to take suits your needs, and if it doesn’t, perhaps refine your request or change your parameters. Don’t forget the old adage about the man trapped on the top of his house during a flood who asked God when he died why he hadn’t been saved when he was praying so hard, and God replied, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter; what more did you want?”
The magick worked, but it wasn’t powerful enough.
Perhaps you did a spell to bring more money, and you found a $20 bill lying on the sidewalk. What you really needed was enough money to pay your rent. But you didn’t clarify that, did you? Go back to the drawing board and be more specific next time.
Maybe you did a spell to bring more money, and the money you needed did arrive, in the amount required. But then something happened that took that money away again. Instead of having the money to pay the rent, now you have to pay for new struts on your car, for example.
Self-doubt is where you have gone wrong here. The likelihood is that you spent so much time worrying about all the things that could go wrong that you brought them about in addition to the money you wanted. Or perhaps, your core belief tells you that nothing ever goes right for you, or that as soon as something does go right, something else will go wrong to balance it out. Well, you just proved that, didn’t you?
This is a difficult problem to overcome, but we’ve been working on that throughout these lessons and we’ll continue to do so.
Ceremonial magicians often speak of something called “True Will.” True Will is your innermost desire, as well as a sense of destiny. People in the New Age community call it “Serendipity.” Some people believe that the god(s) sent us here for a specific purpose, and when we have accomplished this purpose, then we will pass into the next realm and perhaps be sent back later for a different purpose. Magicians believe in a similar philosophy, except that they believe that we have chosen this said purpose before we were matter. Sometimes that True Will is at cross-purposes with what we think we want at the time. We feel thwarted, and we think our magick hasn’t worked, but this is where understanding what you really want is so important.
A personal example – I tried for two years to have a baby, and I finally got pregnant and I was so happy. I did everything that the midwife said to do. I joined prenatal yoga, I ate right, I drank teas supposed to be helpful, and so forth. At about three months I miscarried, and I and my husband were heartbroken and angry. I had done everything right, but it all went wrong anyway.
Two and a half years after that I was in Port Coquitlam staying with a dear friend and sister priestess while my husband lay in Vancouver General Hospital literally on the brink of death. I had signed four papers for major surgeries and he was in the longest of them while I waited; the repairing of his shattered arm, and a nerve graft. And I realized with a start that if I had carried that baby to term, she (I thought of her as a “she,” though of course I don’t really know) would have been two years old. I was incredibly relieved and grateful that I did not have to go through all this horror and chaos with a two year old! My True Will knew that this experience was coming down the pipe and knew that I could not do both.
This is a lesson from The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power: Intent. You can enroll in the whole course, or in other classes on magick and witchcraft, at Sable Aradia’s School of Witchcraft at Teachable!