The Magical Arts

The Magical Arts February 24, 2023

There is Magic in Art

When you stare at the Mona Lisa painting, what stands out to you? When you step back and take it all in, it’s not particularly special. It’s not very big. The brush strokes aren’t particularly unique. But to this day, it still attracts crowds by the millions each year. There’s one thing that stands out, that this painting is most famous for… her smile. It looks as if she knows something, a secret. It’s not a full smile. It’s more so a smirk. Just an average set of lips with the slightest curl at the edges. It provokes such curiosity. It’s mischievous. It’s seductive. 

Throughout history, people have inspired art and art has in turn inspired people. When it comes to a magical practice, I find it’s no different. Art is more than just pictures, drawings, and paintings. It’s also sculpture. It’s music, it’s stories and poetry. We have categorized art as romantic, not because it inspires romance, but because it motivates passion, passion for the beauty, the technique, perspective of the artist, the disturbed, the weird, and the ugly. And it is my opinion that very same passion inspires our craft.

Religious Art

Magical practitioners have been inspired by art for centuries. Many were inspired by appropriated jewish mysticism, and biblical passages. John Milton was so inspired, he wrote Paradise Lost in 1667 about the fall of Lucifer, God’s most favored angel. It was not inspired by any biblical story because it’s not in the Bible. You’ll notice there are only two passages in the bible that reference Lucifer, Ezekiel 28:18 and Isaiah 14:12-17 and both are very vague but refer more to a human king than satan. Instead John Milton pulled from an apocryphal text rejected by both Christian and Jewish scholars. But in modernity, it is still one of the most popular stories and has inspired full branches of practice and belief.

The Bible as a work of religious art has been used by many traditions in magical practices. It’s seen heavily in Appalachia, Southern hoodoo, Mexican sorcery, Pennsylvanian Braucherei, Italian folk magic, ect. Passages are read that tell the story of Jesus healing the sick over an ill person as a form of symptomatic magic. 

“Just as Jesus healed the sick, so may you now be healed”. 

Psalms have been used in magic to bless or curse. 

“Just as Jesus cursed the fig tree to no longer bare fruit, so shall you no longer bare children”. 

Saint and prayer pendants sourced from Canva

The iconography of the saints has inspired Saint cards, Saint novenas, specific rosary prayers, and even jewelry (ex. St Christopher Protect Us pendants). This of course comes from a long line of icons and symbols representing certain virtues of blessing or sanctity.

A Personal Experience 

What is a sigil if not art? It’s a small personally created symbol that carries with it the spirit of your specific desire. In my practice as an animist, sigils are the names of the spirit that resides within. It cannot be spoken, only drawn. The magic that these spirits work is literally magic art.

In my book, Cunning Words: a Grimoire of Tales and Magic (to be released on March 20th, 2023), I write stories of witches that teach ways of working magic. Not only are spell instructions written into the tales, but there are rites in the book that are inspired by the tales. 

Abracadabra triangle first seen in the 2nd century to reduce malaria

One of the stories called Our Mother in Green tells the tale of a herbal healer who wears a green cloak to disguise her whereabouts in the forest. One of the spells inspired from this story used the ancient Abracadabra triangle as a healing charm with this incantation to call upon the spirit of the Mother in Green to charge this charm. 

“Abracadabra” said the Green Mother

Into the ear of the sick

“I’ve gathered herbs from my garden

And come to heal you up quick”

The magic word took away

All ailments from the afflicted

A gift from the Green Mother

No more shall they be afflicted

This is spellcraft inspired by folklore. I am calling upon this very specific archetypal figure that I have written to carry healing virtues. This is what narrative magic is and it is just as powerful, just as valid as working with any other mythos.

Photograph by Anastasiya Dobrovolskaya

I have written on my platform about a spell inspired by artist Anastasiya Dobrovolskaya. Her photograph of three women carrying three foxes, one red, one black, and one white, was so mesmerizing, so magical, I knew it was a working presenting itself to me. At first came the title, The Three Wise Healers. I liked the basis of an old European narrative charm to take away burns that went like this:

Three angels came from the east

One brought fire

Two brought frost

Out fire In frost

In the bane of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

It was so simple. It called upon deified power and told a simple tale of angels bringing gifts to heal a burn. It also carried with it a story of sympathetic magic. Just like the angels in the charm put out the fire, so too will it take away your burn. Inspired by this, the charm for the Three Wise Healers came to me.

There once were three wise healers. 

One with hair as red as blood

One as black as a raven

And one as fair as flax

The first healed your wound

 The second took your pain

And the third made you whole again

Childhood Art

When I was very young, I drew a sketch of a woman in a summer art camp. My mother framed it for me and hung it in our living room for years till my parents separated. When downsizing, I was gifted the drawing back. I decided it deserved an update and recreated it digitally. I had a print made and framed and gifted it back to my mom in her new house. You see, this Lady had been watching over me and my family for decades. She watched over dinners, over movie nights, over fights, over hardships, over love, over loss. She watched it all. She watched me, and now she watches over my mom. The tile of this work… “The Lady who Watches”.

Art created by Marshall WSL

So next time you happen to be moved by a tale or work of art, look deeper. Are there hidden messages within? Are there secrets behind the eyes of a portrait? What are they? Do you have art that’s hung in your home for years? Look closer. Are they watching you? Dose the image inspire you? Could they offer you protection, creativity, motivation, clarity, ect?

Art is truly magic. It’s an idea, an inspiration made real. If that’s not magical, I don’t know what is.

From the crossroads of Texas,

Marshall WSL 


About Marshall WSL
Marshall is a practicing traditional which living in Texas. Be sure to catch them on their podcast, Southern Bramble: a Podcast of Crooked Ways. You can read more about the author here.
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