Sometimes trying to build a magical practice is like trying to figure out what to do for dinner.
“What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” “Anything is fine with me.” “I don’t know, and anyway I picked last time.”
This is the paradox of choice: having a few choices makes us feel like we’re in control of our lives, but having many choices is just a lot of work. So while it’s fairly easy to come up with a spell to address a clear and immediate need, trying to come up with a spell to stay in practice is much more difficult.
And of course, that’s what I challenged us all to do in my last post.
What do you want? What do you want passionately? Passion alone accomplishes nothing, but properly channeled passion can help power a spell better than just about anything else.
Here are some ideas for your consideration.
On one hand, the ethics of love spells are highly questionable. On the other hand, there are more love spells in the Greek Magical Papyri than any other type of magic. Ethical or unethical, people have worked magic for love – or just for sex – for centuries.
Some of the PGM love spells are magical date rape drugs that attempt to compel the target to have sex with the person casting the spell. I trust none of you will be doing that. But using magic to draw love (however you want and need it) toward yourself is no more unethical than taking a shower and putting on nice clothes before you go out.
The second most common category of spells in the PGM are those to create and charge protective amulets. Our world is considerably safer than Alexandria in antiquity, but there are still plenty of things out there than can harm us.
I prefer daily shielding work for general protection. If you don’t know how to do that, read Psychic Witch. But for protection against more specific threats, other forms of magic can be more effective. Those include amulets, but also wards, and alliances with Gods and other spiritual persons.
Do not attempt to substitute magic for ordinary medical care. Eat well, drink plenty of water, exercise, get enough sleep, and if you need medication, take it. And unless there’s a valid medical reason why you can’t, get a Covid vaccination.
But magic makes an excellent supplement to mundane health care. It can enhance your body’s own healing processes. It can help a doctor prescribe the best medicine instead of the usual medicine. It probably can’t make your chronic health condition go away, but it can help you deal with it more effectively.
The complication is that magic works best when it’s specific, but health is notoriously vague and subjective. Working magic to improve your “health numbers” is very doable, but better numbers don’t always mean better health.
Please, no weight loss spells unless it’s part of an overall health improvement project. There is something you want and need a lot more than to fit in a size smaller pants.
I see a ton of money spells from the Law of Attraction crowd. Quantity is no substitute for quality – a good money spell takes a lot more than “affirming” some financial wish.
I’ve read far too many success stories from people who worked magic for money to meet an immediate need to dismiss them. So if you have an immediate need, here’s your target.
But I hope for this challenge you’ll select something a bit more long term. For June, this can be the first step on a longer journey to financial stability and to accumulating wealth. That requires making a long-term plan, but you have to start sometime, and you can only start where you are.
5. Finding a mundane resource
You may not need magic to find a job right now. But you may need magic to find childcare so you can be away from home or a car to get to the job. If you need a house right now you definitely need magic.
We can debate the ethics and the politics of our current economic situation. In a just society, finding the things you need to provide for yourself and your family shouldn’t be this difficult. But it is this difficult. And one of keys to successful magic is to see things as they are and to deal with them as they are.
If you have a serious need, work magic to fill it.
6. Finding a magical resource
Several of the medieval grimoires have spells to conjure a demon and compel them to “bring me a book of magic.” In our time that demon’s name is “Amazon” – I’m pretty sure you know how to summon it.
But what if you need spell ingredients the local craft shop doesn’t carry? Or access to a book locked away in a museum? Or a teacher in a specific tradition? Then work a spell to find that resource, or to bring it to you.
When I taught a course in Operative Magic last year, I gave the students the spell PGM I. 247-62 “A Spell For Invisibility” and asked them to tell me how they thought it works. Most said they didn’t think it did.
I’ve never seen (or not seen, I suppose) a spell that successfully made someone physically impossible to see. I’ve never read any credible reports of such a spell. But I’ve worked “don’t see me” spells before with some success.
I think a spell for physical invisibility is a such a low-probability working that it’s not worth your time (but it’s your project – give it a shot if you like). But moving in public without being noticed? That can be very useful, and it’s very possible.
Necromancy is a spooky-sounding word that simply means communicating with the dead. I hope you communicate with your ancestors on a regular basis… though that’s generally not what people mean by necromancy.
If there’s information you need and the only person or persons who know it are dead, then you’ve got to communicate with them. Either you summon them to you, or you go to where they are. But remember: just because they’re dead doesn’t mean they’re smart. If they didn’t know it in life, they probably aren’t going to know it in death.
Some forms of necromancy involve compelling the dead to do things – either to give up information they would prefer stay in the grave, or to harass the living. You decide what your ethics will allow.
But if you can send the ghost of John McCain to harass Donald Trump like in A Christmas Carol, be my guest.
I avoid fights whenever I can. I prefer to appeal to people’s sense of compassion, reason, and fair play. And I try to remember that many times, my hands aren’t exactly clean. If conflict is unavoidable, I prefer to shield myself and work for my success rather than for the downfall of my opponents.
But sometimes that’s not enough. If someone is punching you in the face – metaphorically, magically, or physically – then you’ve got to do something about it.
Last year I wrote A Modern Pagan Guide to Cursing – it was one of the Top 10 Posts of 2020. In it, I advocate for a progression of baneful magic: reflective magic, banishing, binding, and when necessary, more aggressive curses.
I don’t do this often – I haven’t thrown a formal curse in almost three years. I hope you don’t need to do this now. But if it’s time to stop playing around and break out the big hammer, then do it.
Find a specific target
These are general categories of things you can work magic for. Magic works best when it’s extremely narrow and focused. The more specific you can make your target, the better chance you have of getting what you really want.
“Money” isn’t a target. “I have three months’ expenses in an emergency fund by the end of next year” is. “Health” isn’t a target. “I walk three miles in under an hour” is.
If you’re struggling for ideas, go for a long walk and run these things through your head. Or sit quietly and do it. Don’t try to force it – just let your thoughts and feelings flow and see where they lead. If you find yourself getting too far off track, bring yourself back to your quest for a target.
If you’ve got a couple of ideas and you’re trying to narrow things down, break out the cards or runes or whatever you use for divination. See where each choice is likely to lead, and choose the one you like best.
And remember that this isn’t a one-time thing. You can choose something else next month. You can change directions next month. Your choice doesn’t have to be perfect – this is definitely one of those times when the perfect is the enemy of the good.
The main thing is to do something challenging – something new, something different, something deeper, something big.
Something you want.