For Best Magical Results, Set Your Intention

For Best Magical Results, Set Your Intention July 7, 2023

(This post is meant for attendees of the Starwood Festival, but the ideas it explores may still be useful to other readers, and you are invited to copy the practice described here — which I’ve stolen and adapted from Jeff “Magnus” McBride’s “Alchemical Fire Ritual”.)

The Starwood Festival, and particularly its Saturday night bonfire, is one the great sources of magical energy in North America. Every time I return I feel like a member of the Green Lantern Corps coming back to Oa to charge up my power ring. (Yes, yes, that might not be part of current comics continuity, just go with it.)

But raising magical energy is only part of the process of working magic. In order to use the energy raised, one must set an intention, and direct that energy toward it.

The Starwood Bonfire. Photo by the author.
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Magical Intention

Every magical working has five parts. As I explain in my book Punk Magick we might (somewhat cheekily) explain them as:

1. Decide what you want. (“Set intention.”)

2. Do weird stuff. (“Raise energy.”)

3. Make the weird stuff connect in your mind with what you want. (“Direct energy.”)

4. Seal the deal. (“Cool down.”)

5. Get off your ass!

The “weird stuff” we do to raise energy can include ritual performances; drumming; dancing and other forms of moment; meditation, in all of its different forms;; building fires; light and sound machines; trancing; chanting or singing; breathwork; temperature extremes (saunas, sweat lodges, cold plunges); fasting; sexual practices; or herbs and drugs, from coffee and tea to tobacco to alcohol and beyond. Many of these are available in some form at Starwood; and each of has its benefits, challenges, and risks.

Ideally we want to set intention before we raise energy, but sometimes we find ourselves charged up by unplanned circumstances and need to quickly decide where to direct the energy.


Magic is about change. But change is always happening. What sets magic apart is that it is willed change. A magician doesn’t merely make things change – sit down for a minute and something will change somewhere! A magician makes change happen in the way that they wish – “in accordance with will”, as Aleister Crowley put it.

And that means that for the best results, the magician must be clear about what they wish. Expressing your intention in words, symbols, or art is an excellent way to bring clarity.

Failure to set a clear intention can have disastrous consequences. There are many tales of magicians who failed to state things clearly: who left a loophole when they summoned a spirit and got crushed by it, or who phrased a spell ambiguously and got a result they asked for but did not desire.

At an event like Starwood, though, the most likely outcome of failing to set a clear magical intention is just missing out on the magic. So don’t!

For the past few years I’ve set up a station at the “Didge Dome” where people were invited to make “prayer ties”, writing or drawing their intention on a piece of cloth, then tying it onto on a strand of natural fiber rope.

Tying the knot is a way to ritually seal the energy of your intention — we don’t undo the knot, we cut the rope around which they are tied in order to give them to the fire. So your ritual knot remains intact.

These ties are then given to the Didge Dome fire shortly before the Bonfire torches are lit from it. Thus your intention is ritually carried to light the bonfire.

This year we have more official endorsement for this, and will also be setting up a prayer tie making location near the Creation Station.

So with the endorsement of the Rosencomet Project, I invite you to maximize the magic of your Starwood experience, by ritually setting the intent towards which you will direct the magical energy of this event.

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