“The experience is similar to trying to hitch a lift on a deserted road in the dead of night. You’ve been there for hours, it’s pouring down with rain and you “know” with an air of dread certainty that no one’s going to stop for you now, but you stick your thumb out anyway. What the hell, eh? Five minutes later, you get a lift from the boy/girl/anteater of two sigils back, driving a Porsche and asking you how far you want to go. Maddening, isn’t it? But sigils often seem to work out like that.” –Phil Hine
So here’s something that I don’t think gets said enough: Every spell has an impact. Whether that impact is a poke or a shove is up to the individual Witch and the circumstances they’re attempting to manipulate, but ultimately, magic turns possibilities into probabilities. Any spell cast with a specific goal in mind nudges the desired outcome towards achievability, even if that goal still remains unlikely or implausible.
Sometimes, a spell hits just right and sets off a chain reaction. All the necessary coincidences fall into place, and everything works out in such a spectacular way that innocent bystanders are like, “How the hell did that happen?”
This is my favorite thing in the whole world.
Other times, the spell lands, but the odds of the intention coming to fruition are too low for magic to make any difference. Like, I could cast a spell to make Luke Evans fall madly in love with me, and he could very well be languishing in bed right now, pining away for a moderately attractive Texan Witch who really understood his performance in No One Lives, but the chances of us meeting in real life are, like, slim to none. There are just too many variables in play for the spell to have any real influence.
And variables can be like saltpeter to Witchcraft if we don’t plan ahead for them. As we will see below.
About a month ago, I was talking to my friend Baron about the stresses of job hunting, and he was like, “Well, why don’t you go work for that local publishing company, the name of which escapes me at the moment for legal reasons?”
It actually wasn’t a bad idea. I’d met the publisher himself on several occasions, and we got on well — he’d once even asked half-jokingly when I was going to come work for him. At the time, I was gainfully employed, and the only positions he had available were in outside sales, which weren’t really viable for me. But he’d been expanding his operations since then, so I figured there might be more lucrative career potential somewhere in his firm.
I felt like the probabilities in this situation could definitely be wrangled to my advantage, which meant that a magical working would fully tip the scales and score me a decent job. So I gathered together some mystical doo-dads, drew a couple of sigils, and generally prepared to witch it up.
But before I got to work, I threw some cards to see what kind of an impact the spell would have.
The Star in the past was accurate — I’d picked a destination and was working towards it. And Toad in the present was pretty auspicious, since, as I’ve mentioned before, it tends to appear in readings involving Witchcraft, so it felt like a green light.
The Mushroom crossing the present gave me pause, though. It represents unpredictable surprises and suggests that there are things going on behind the scenes that the querent is not yet aware of. In other words, it foretells variables. And honestly, I should’ve heeded that a little more than I did.
Birch in the future could be about manifesting goals, which was a good sign, but it can also represent being watched. Or noticed, perhaps? For me, Birch tends to symbolize scrutiny, but in terms of getting a job, it could also be a good sign.
I decided to take it as such, so I moved forward with the magic, focusing specifically on the publisher and increasing the likelihood of him hiring me.
In retrospect, I can say that there are eight other Liminal Spirits cards that, in the future position, would’ve clearly indicated success. (I counted.) But because of how things played out, I have a much better understanding of both the Mushroom and Birch cards, so on the upside, I’ll know how to react the next time they turn up in readings.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What happened next is that I did a bunch of Witchcraft, made sure to ground properly, and went to bed. The next morning, I fired off a professional but enthusiastic email to the publisher, letting him know that I was available for full-time employment, and that I was open to any opportunities he might have.
He wrote back shortly after that and was like, “I would love to have you join the team! I’m traveling at the moment, but all of our hiring is done through our managing editor, so I’ll have her reach out to you to schedule an interview.”
This was the first unexpected variable, but it was a negotiable one. I’d been introduced to the managing editor once at a fundraiser I’d helped put together, so I figured my reputation would proceed me. She emailed me later that afternoon, and we set a meeting for the end of the week. And I was prepared, y’all.
On the day of the interview, I arrived five minutes early and let the receptionist know who I was there to see. And then I settled in, surreptitiously checking the clock on my phone every few minutes. It was closing in on an hour when the managing editor wandered up front and said, “… Oh. You’re still here.”
Have you ever walked into an interpersonal situation and just immediately known that someone didn’t like you? That’s what washed over me as I followed her back to her office: Everything in her demeanor suggested that the next fifteen minutes were going to be a colossal waste of her time, but I was determined to win her over.
I did not win her over. But she also didn’t lunge across her desk and stab me in the face or anything, which frankly felt like a win at that point.
Basically, she made it clear that she was interviewing me as a favor to the publisher; that she was unaware of any open positions within the firm; but that she would speak with the publisher over the weekend and reach out to me on Monday morning to let me know what they’d decided. And in the meantime, if I could die in a fire, that would be great.
Monday came and went, as did Tuesday through Sunday, so a week later, I sent the editor a perky email just to check in, and to let her know I was still interested and appreciated her consideration. In response, I received a Dear
John Thumper rejection letter that hit my inbox so quickly, I suspected she’d copied and pasted it from a template.
I replied with a friendly, “Thank you for letting me know, please do keep me in mind, yadda yadda yadda,” because “You CAN’T fire me; I QUIT,” would have been cathartic but, y’know, wrong timeline. And I also received a very nice email directly from the publisher, expressing that he really, really, wished he could bring me onboard, but that it just wasn’t in the cards. So to speak.
Mainly because they’d hired a couple of assistants and a new director earlier in the month. Right before I’d cast the spell.
Variables, man. They’ll getcha.
It would be easy to look at all of this and think, “Well, clearly the spell didn’t work.” But it did work. There were just too many factors in the way — which is what Mushroom was trying to tell me. So, okay, fine, I didn’t get the job. But I did get more working knowledge of my favorite method of cartomancy, and since the Liminal Spirits are a big part of my Chaos Magic journey, I’m glad to take it.
Plus I’m not going to have to work with that managing editor, glaring at me with her barky Birch eyes. This also feels like a win.
In related news, I am thrilled and relieved to report that I’ll be starting a new job in a couple of weeks. I don’t want to go into details just yet, but I will say that it’s a diverse working environment with an LGBTQIA+ focus, and it’s the kind of place where, as I told my dad, I could dye my beard purple and no one would notice. (I then of course had to assure my dad that I do not have any plans to dye my beard purple.)
The starting salary is not the stuff of legends, so I will unfortunately be poor for… well, ever. But there’s a lot of room for growth and advancement, and at least for the time being, I’ll be able to pay my bills without falling further into debt (although I will certainly not complain if anyone wants to buy me a coffee).
And it’s also nice to know that I’m not going to have to lead a double life in this job — if I need a day off for religious obligations, I can say so without anyone freaking out or condemning me. After having worked for Republicans, this is up there with health insurance as a prime benefit. (I’ll also get health insurance.) Overall, things are going to be a hell of a lot better than if I’d ended up at the publishing company, and if my spell hadn’t bounced off of unforeseen circumstances and knocked a more amenable option into my path.
Author and matchmaker Tracy McMillan once said, “Everything works out in the end; if it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.” I think this is applicable to magic along with relationships, especially when we’re trying to find detours around variables to achieve the results we’re working for.
Just remember that every spell makes a difference, and every possibility can be rerouted. And as a Witch, no magical operation is over until you say it is.
If it hasn’t worked out yet, if the obstacles and variables have not been identified, then you can rest assured that it’s not the end.