Spell Craft

Felix the Cat had his bag-of-tricks, Batman had his utility belt, and witches have spells.

Hollywood tells us that all a witch really needs is a good book of spells and they’re in business.  Hot, diggity-dang!  I’ll run right out and get me one of those.  Except, aren’t there any useful modern books of spells?  The ones that I can find are kind of out of date and a lot of those spells aren’t of much use any more.  I mean, who needs a spell to keep your yams from wandering over the fence into your neighbor’s yam patch at night?  Or one to get rid of boils on your bum?  (My health plan covers that, unless it’s a pre-existing condition.)

Of course, there are modern spells for love charms and making money.  In fact, that seems to be the main focus of most of the spell books on the shelves these days.  I guess if you want to have a spell for some other purpose, you’ll just have to work it out yourself.  If you’re not an old hand at crafting spells, that might seem an intimidating task.  But, trust me; it’s as easy as pie.

First off, let’s be clear what we’re talking about.  A spell is actually nothing more than a plan that involves magic to get something done.  Most spells are subtle ways of injecting magic into a process so as to make it more successful.  And magic, as we all know, comes in a wide variety of forms.  Most magic workers find they are more adept at one or two forms and tend to stick with them for most of their spells.  This isn’t surprising since specialization happens in every art form.  Magic works in direct proportion to the amount of will power put into it, so most magic requires a good deal of mind work and motivation.  Spells commonly use what most would consider to be psychological tricks.

For instance:  A few years back, a fellow came to me and said he was suffering from writer’s block.  He just couldn’t seem to write anything useful and he was getting frustrated over how long it had been going on.  By the way, this guy was a die-hard typewriter user.  Why, I’ll never know.  But I made use of the fact in my spell.  After a little questioning, I created a spell that got rid of his writer’s block in one week.  Here were my instructions to him:

1. On day #1, sit down at your typewriter.  Clear everything off the desk with the exception of the typewriter and a stack of blank paper.
2. Insert a sheet of blank paper into the roller and put your fingers on the keyboard.  But do not type anything.
3. Sit like this for precisely one minute.
4. Take out the paper and burn it.
5. On day #2, sit down and repeat steps #2 through 4.
6. On day #3, put the paper in the typewriter and sit for two minutes without typing anything on it.
7. Then, type one key, any key.
8. Take out the paper and burn it.
9. On day #4, repeat #6.
10. Then, type a complete sentence… anything.
11. Remove the paper and burn it.
12. On day #5, repeat #6.
13. Type the same sentence that you typed for step #10.
14. Then type, “I am a GOOD writer.”
15. Remove the paper and burn it.
16. On day #6, roll in the paper but don’t type anything.
17. Look at it for ten minutes.
18. Leave the paper in the roller and exit the room.
19. Do not return to that room until the next day.
20. On day #7, type anything you want.

I had no assurance that this spell would work but I thought it would because of what I knew about the man and his habits.  He was what I would call a compulsive writer.  By forcing him to go ‘cold turkey’ about his writing but giving him a specific ‘cure’ for his writer’s block so he’d be motivated to follow my instructions, I felt he would bottle up so much writing energy that it would nearly explode from him on the seventh day.  And it did… right on cue.  He called me up that night and told me he’d written twenty-two pages and wanted to do more but was too tired.  He thanked me profusely and then hung up.  I learned the next day that he’d gone back to finish a paragraph and ended up writing another five pages.

The magic in this spell is obvious.  I relied upon the person’s own compulsions to break the barriers down that his mind had put in place.  I knew that most so-called writer’s block was because the unconscious was telling the writer that they had to change something in their lives and/or story before the creative juices would flow again.  I just gave him the time necessary to make those changes while providing something that he believed would make that change for him.  The spell didn’t actually make those changes; he did.  But while he was doing that, I gave him a reason to accept a change in his normal routine.  I gave him a distraction as well as making him hopeful that the change he wanted, the breaking of his writer’s block, would happen and happen at a specific point.  Just an old Jedi mind trick.

A lot of spells are like that.  They use the predictable changes and energies around a situation and give them purpose and direction.  How was I able to come up with this particular spell?  Well, the formula is actually something I learned years ago when reading The Art of War.  The solution to a problem usually lies within the proper description of the problem.  Remember that the so-called ‘writer’s block’ was something that the man was producing himself.  And I knew that most of the time, a ‘writer’s block’ is nothing more than the unconscious trying to adjust things so the natural creativity of the person can work better.  All I did was use that knowledge and make up a spell that gave his unconscious enough time to do its thing without the guy feeling frustrated all the time (which undoubtedly would have hampered his unconscious from doing what it was supposed to do).  In other words, I used what I knew about his condition and provided a reason for him to allow the problem to take care of itself.  And it worked.  I found out later that he’d taken the time he would have normally used for writing and spent a good deal of it with a lady he’d met a few weeks before his ‘writer’s block’ had appeared.  Their relationship blossomed and actually turned into an intense romance that lasted well after he was done with the book.  He told me that one of his female characters had to be rewritten so she acted more like his girl friend and that had been what the story really needed.

A good part of most spells relies on psychology.  Understanding how people think and what kinds of things motivate them is a key factor.  But also knowing how other things function is necessary in making successful spells.  Much of the time, spells appear not to have anything that connects them to the purpose or goal of the spell.  How would burning a candle help find a lost pet?  Why would white rose petals worn in your right shoe help you find a lover?

As magic users, one of the first things we learn is that everything is connected.  Simply because something appears not to be connected doesn’t mean that it won’t make a difference in how things work down the line.  Just as every parent knows, what is done with a child at the age of two has a great deal to do with how they behave at the age of twenty-two.  Knowing how a small change here can make a big change there is the kind of thing needed to craft a good spell.  Of course, such knowledge requires a good deal of education.  Witches (and, for that matter, all magic workers) are always curious… about everything.  But I believe the biggest thing that sets magic users apart from others is that one concept, everything’s connected.  Anyone who works magic believes that concept is true.  And because of it, we see the world differently from how much of the population sees it.  For us, thinking that there is a connection between the rose petals and finding a lover is not outrageous.  We can’t always justify or explain how something is connected or how it influences things, but there is no doubt in our minds that it is so.  For us, this is not bad science or crazy thinking; we like to think of it as ‘wisdom’.  Whether it is wisdom or just a different way of viewing the world, it works for us.

Hollywood and the entertainment media in general tend to portray spell crafting as some super mysterious way of causing fantastic events.  While that might sell movie tickets or books, the truth is that most spells are rather bland.  No big flashes, no swirling smoke, no freezing time… sorry.  Just getting stuff done.  But I don’t discount the importance of mystery.  Sometimes it’s necessary for things to work properly.  Take the spell mentioned above about getting rid of the writer’s block for instance.  If I’d told the guy, “Hey, give it a rest for a while; get out a little more and have some fun,” he probably wouldn’t have taken the advice and certainly wouldn’t have found some needed distraction so his unconscious could work out the kink in the story.  I purposely camouflaged what I was doing so it would work better.  Like I said: old Jedi mind trick.

Remember that many people ascribe powers and attributes to us that are absolutely untrue.  They may think we’re strange (well, that might be a little true), some think we’re even evil.  They might believe we can fly on broomsticks.  Then again, they might think we’re totally bonkers.  But they also believe… or at least want to believe… that we can twitch our nose and make things happen.  (I’ve tried for years to learn how to twitch my nose that way, but so far…)

Anyway, a bit of drama or skillful misdirection can be useful sometimes, especially with non-magic workers.  It could be argued that this doesn’t help dispel (Get it…dis + spell?  Ha, ha.  Well, anyway…) the idea that we are aligned with ‘evil forces’ but I think that is another whole subject.  It’s a way of using the person’s own energies for empowering the spell.  They can’t expect us to do everything.  Besides, many who come to us for spells are frustrated and don’t know or believe that they have the power to make the desired changes in their own lives.  Having them be the source of the spell’s power is one way to give them a sense of ‘ownership’ that will help them in more than just that one instance.

Crafting spells is an art, and a very useful one at that.  Learning how to do it for others is part of our bag-of-tricks.  But remember that whatever you create, you are responsible for.  Whether you work magic for yourself or for others, the rules are the same:

1. Be careful what you invoke.  (You just might get it!)
2. Don’t make something you can’t un-make.  (If you made that mess, you might have to clean it up!)
3. What you do will always come back to you.  (If you’re lucky, it will only be threefold!)
4. Do good.  (Don’t be mean, nasty, ugly,… or stupid!  See #3!)

Finally, just a word about doing spell work for others:  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  You are under no obligation to do something just because somebody asked you to.  In fact, the only obligation you have is to be a responsible magic worker (see the above rules).  Always, always be mindful of what your own spirituality tells you and be true to it.  The best spell is the one that you do on yourself to make you into a better child of the gods.  Blessed be.