Over on the Agora blog, Lisa Jade of Living the Liminal has an excellent post titled What If You Turned Your Magick All the Way On? I encourage you to go read it. She has 11 suggestions and they’re all good. I particularly like #8: figure out why you’re a witch. Here’s a quote:
Ask yourself why you’re a witch, how you know this to be true. Begin with a journal. Write out your reason. And then pose the question, “Why?”. Write your response to why, and continue to ask yourself this. As you do so it’ll drill down into the simple reasons that you are a witch.
I’m a Druid, not a witch. But my Druidry is very witchcraft-adjacent, and not just because of the Gerald Gardner – Ross Nichols connection. Magic is an important part of my life – I’m teaching an on-line course on magic right now. I don’t know how I could deal with the current state of the world without a strong foundation in spiritual practice, which includes regular magical workings.
Is my magic all the way on? Most days, no. But I think it’s about time to turn it up a notch or three. Here’s how to do it.
Work more magic
At the base level, it really is this simple. If you want more magic in your life, do more magic. The ability to do magic is like every other ability we humans have. Some have a lot, some have very little, and most have enough to do what we need to do. But at any level of natural ability, the more you practice the better you get.
Perhaps today you can only run 100 yards. But if you have ordinary health, if you run 100 yards every this week (and add some walking afterwards) then next week you can run 200 yards. Eventually you can run 400 yards, and then a mile, and before too long you’re looking for a 5K road race.
Magic works the same way. Whatever magical techniques you prefer, the more you do them the better you’ll get with them. You try something. If it works, you keep doing it. If it doesn’t work, you figure out why and do it better next time. Or you decide that this technique isn’t right for you and you try something else instead.
The best way to get better at magic is to do magic.
Strengthen your spiritual relationships
One of the ways magic works is through the intercession of Gods and spirits. If you need to ask for divine favors, you’re far more likely get them from those with whom you already have a relationship.
Increase your offerings. In my experience, quantity and frequency are less important than regularity. Making offerings to your ancestors on Monday nights – every Monday night, no matter what else is going on – is better than offering three days this week, none for two weeks, and then five days the week after.
I’m starting to think I need to spend more time in meditation. The more we meditate on a deity, the more Their virtues and values become part of us. We will never have the power of a God (at least not in this life) but if we become more God-like we will better understand our place in the world. And we will better align ourselves with what They’re doing, which means we’ll do a better job of figuring out what to work magic for.
As the motivational poster asks, what would you do if you knew you could not fail? I’m not particularly fond of motivational posters – they oversimplify complicated situations and often imply that things out of your control are somehow your fault. Still, this one serves a useful purpose: it reminds us to think big.
What do you want most in life? You can’t have everything, but you probably can probably manage one thing. Better material surroundings? Deeper relationships? A better understanding of the spiritual world? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of the women?
Think big! And then start moving in that direction. Even if you don’t get all the way there, you can probably make substantial progress and improve your life in the process.
Remember, you have an advantage most people don’t: you know magic is real, so you can use it to stack the odds in your favor.
But when it comes time to write the spells to help you reach your goal, go small. Or rather, go narrow. Magic works best when it’s focused tightly on one very specific, very well-defined target.
If you work a spell for “money” you may find a $5 bill laying on the sidewalk. Congratulations: your spell worked. If what you need is $100 by the end of the month, then work a spell to bring $100 by the end of the month. If what you need is a job that pays you 20% more than you’re making now, then work magic for that.
String multiple workings together
But what if what you really really want is really really big – too big to accomplish with one tightly focused spell? Then break it down into multiple workings. As the Tao Te Ching says “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Work magic for the first step. If it takes multiple tries, so be it – each failure is a learning experience. Each partial success is a learning experience. See the first section: the more magic you work, the better you get at magic.
When you achieve the first step, then work magic for the second step. And then the third and the fourth and so on.
In addition to breaking down a complicated journey into manageable bites, this approach also give you multiple opportunities to reassess your goal. Do you really want to be rich and famous? If so, keep going in that direction. If you figure out you really want to be a Druid, a priest, and a writer, the sooner you figure that out the sooner you’ll get yourself on the path that takes you there. It took me longer than it should have, but at least I found it.
Do magic that scares you
Working more magic and working magic in a systematic method will help you get better at magic. But if you want to turn your magic all the way on then you’re going to have do more than add quantity. You’re going to have to take some risks.
For some of you, that means learning a new magical system. Perhaps you’re good enough with herbs and stones – you’ve gotten comfortable… and complacent. So maybe you need to learn sigil magic. Or vice versa.
For others, it means working magic for something you’ve always been told – or that you’ve told yourself – is “too much” for you.
For some, it means learning every technique of defensive magic available, including those that are generally considered cursing.
No magic is safe. Even if it doesn’t blow up in your face, it can bring you what you want in ways you would have preferred it didn’t. Think through everything before you do it.
But then do it, even if it scares you. If nothing scares you, either you’re not paying attention or you aren’t taking enough risks. You’ll never turn your magic all the way on if you don’t take risks.
Gaze into the abyss
Every time I’ve thought I understood the bounds and limits of magic, I’ve been wrong. There’s always something more. As I go deeper and learn more, I find that “something more” is always bigger, stranger, and more ambivalent toward humans than I previously assumed.
I appreciate “light and love” Pagans. The world needs more light and love. But on the edges, magic is not light and love. Magic is power and will. You may use it for virtuous reasons with only the best intent (and I hope you do) but it remains an act of power and will.
This is not a place for beginners. You will burn your fingers when you’re beginning – better to do that on something small and relatively easy to repair. But when you are competent with the basics you owe it to yourself to walk out to the edge of the cliff and see what’s there.
I know people who have done that and run screaming back to their nice safe loving Mother Goddess. I’ve known others who ran all the way back to the toxic fundamentalism they worked so hard to leave. But if it’s there, I want to know all I can know about it… and what I can do with it.
Don’t expect to be “all the way on” all the time
Work magic deeply enough for long enough and it becomes more than a tool to effect change. It becomes part of who and what you are. It changes how you see the world – it changes your priorities. But few of us can be all magic all the time.
Most of us still have to make a living in the mainstream world. We may use our magic to help us do that more effectively and more sustainably. But at the end of the day mundane work requires mundane work. Our ordinary relationships require maintenance just as much as our spiritual relationships. And most of us have interests and hobbies that are decidedly unmagical – Jason Mankey and I both love watching football.
Setting the magic aside for a few hours or a few days doesn’t mean you’re not a witch or a Druid or a magician anymore. It means you’re a whole person who has many interests. Rest and breaks are helpful to magic, just as they’re helpful to athletic training and other pursuits.
Unless you don’t have a choice.
Most people have a choice as to whether to worship, serve, or work with a God. Some do not. I don’t know why that is, I just know that it is.
Likewise, most people can choose whether or not to work magic. If they say yes, they can choose how deeply they want to get involved.
Others have no choice. A God or a spirit won’t leave them alone. People keep coming to them for magical help, whether they’re advertising or not. Some tragedy happens leaving them unsuitable for anything else. These people are few, but they’re real. If you are one, you don’t need me to tell you about it. If you aren’t one, be thankful.
Even for those who have a choice, there is often a point of no return. An interest can become an obligation. I’ve taken on obligations in my religious work, and happily so. I’m not there with magic. Yet. I think.
Even if you have a free choice, an interest can become an obsession, and that is rarely a good thing.
Magic isn’t safe, not in individual workings, and not as a spiritual pursuit.
But for those of us who are called to it, nothing can take its place. And if you’re going to learn magic, work magic, and make magic a part of your life, why not turn it all the way up?