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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in spellcrafting

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Using Fictional Magic in Real Magick

Lately I’ve seen a lot of questions online about using fictional spells and magical techniques in real magick.  Things like trying to use “expecto patronum” from Harry Potter or “forzare” from the Dresden Files in actual protection spells.  While this type of pop culture magick seems like a no brainer, there’s actually a lot you need to think about before trying to twist fictional magick into your real magick.

The best argument (in my opinion at least) for using fictional spells and magical techniques in your actual magick is that it allows you to build off of ideas that already exist both in your own mind and in the minds of others.  Why reinvent the metaphysical wheel if there’s already something suitable at hand?  Magick is all about delivering energy charged with intention to an intended target in order to manifest a desired result.  Our spells and rituals are the mechanisms we use to raise energy, charge it, and deliver it to its intended target.  We can do that most efficiently, and thus get the best results, when our minds have clear, easy paths to do so.  Forging those smooth paths takes practice, lots of practice.  However, we can shortcut things a bit by using spells that lots of other people use (getting the advantage of some of their energetic work) or by using words and techniques our brain already associates with the results we’re working towards - this is where fictional spells come in.

To get the most energetic benefit from using a fictional spell or technique it has to be something you know really well.  The fiction we know and love, that we see or read over and over again, has a special place in our hearts and minds.  The fiction we truly love becomes a part of our very being; there is no mental path smoother than those which flow to the things we love.  I’m confident that I can recite the entirety of The Princess Bride at any given moment, plus a good chunk of Harry Potter, and probably several seasons worth of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  These mental paths aren’t just smooth, they’re greased to almost frictionless.  Using the magic from the fiction that you love allows you take advantage of these frictionless paths and send all your energy directly where you intend it, none wasted forging the path.  Sure, you can use that amazing spell you saw once in that one episode of whatever, but unless it made an indelible mark on your very being it won’t be anymore effective than that really well written spell you found on the internet.  While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, you won’t be getting the best bang for your energetic buck.

There are some downsides to using fictional magic as part of real magick.  No matter how much you love it something that your mind identifies as fiction will take some time and effort to switch to non-fiction, though the benefit is usually worth the small energetic cost.  Let’s look at the “alohamora” spell from Harry Potter.  This is a spell used numerous times in the books and movies to unlock doors.  In the Harry Potter ‘verse you just wave your wand, say “alohamora” with conviction, and the previously locked door pops right open.  Sadly, our reality doesn’t work that way so we have to look at intent of the fictional spell to figure out how to translate it into something that works here.  A real spell based on this fictional one might be to inscribe the word “alohamora” onto a candle, charge it with the intent of unlocking a particular path or removing an obstacle to a goal, and then burning the candle to release the energy into the world.  Alternatively, a locksmith who happens to be a practitioner might use the word “alohamora” as a mantra to recite while picking an actual lock to help focus their will and guide their hands.  Both of these real spells use the fictional spell to enhance the real energetic work being done.  I personally prefer to add a few objects or techniques with magickal correspondence to my goal to help add a little “oomph” to my spellwork whenever possible.  However, one could simply focus on their intent and say the word “alohamora” while projecting their intent towards their target, just as the characters in Harry Potter do and it would be a valid spell as long as you truly believe it to be. 

Another hurdle in making fictional magic effective real magick it that the real results will never match up with the fictional results.  One of the most commonly used spells in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series (which I cannot recommend highly enough) is “fuego.”  As you might imagine if you speak spanish or any other latin based language, the fuego spell conjures a large fireball that hurls itself at the caster’s target.  This spell is used multiple times in many books; it’s probably used over 100 times in the series so far.  Both I and everyone else who’s read these books has a very clear picture cemented in their minds of what this spell looks like when it’s cast.  Unless your spellwork includes some pretty impressive professional pyrotechnics, your execution of a “fuego” spell is not going match the picture your head wants that spell to create.  That’s a problem.  Let’s say you wanted to use “fuego” to conjure a protective circle of energetic fire by visualizing the circle of fire while reciting “fuego” as an incantation.  In order to accomplish your goal your spell needs to energetically overcome the your cognitive dissonance of the results not looking the way your mind expects plus the energetic dissonance that every other reader’s idea of what the spell should be in order to manifest itself.  That really limits the ways that fictional spells with firm visual results can be used effectively in real magick.  To use “fuego” in real magick you’d really want to have some actual flame present to help mitigate the dissonance.  For this reason I really wouldn’t recommend using fictional magick with a really strong visual component unless it’s part of a big ritual that can recreate at least part of the expected visuals.

On a similar note, a good chunk of fictional magic tends to be overly theatrical, especially magic from television and movies.  Fictional magic is supposed to be entertaining and it can’t be entertaining in a visual medium unless the person casting it is doing something that we the audience can see.  In the movies witches and wizards are always doing big arm movements, gesturing with oversized tools, and shouting into the wind.  As fun as that is, it’s pretty wasteful energetically speaking unless you’re facilitating ritual for a large group that needs those visual cues.  Yes, I can hear you saying “but repeated physical movements help focus energy and smooth pathways.”  Of course they do.  Things like banishing and invoking pentagrams are particular physical movements that serve a particular energetic purpose and can enhance a magickal working in many ways.  However, there’s a line between movement used to focus energy and giant theatrical absurdities that look great and serve no purpose.  It’s a lot like the difference between martial arts in the movies and martial arts in real life.  I’d advise you to choose fictional spells that don’t expend as much energy in casting them as you’re trying to project out to your goal.

Fictional magics can be used in real magick to enhance spellwork and rituals by tapping into the pathways they’ve already forged in our minds.  To get the best results it’s important to be mindful of what shape those fictional spells and techniques already have in our minds and the minds of others.  By working with those ingrained images we can ensure that the energy we raise gets to its goal rather than being wasted forging the path to that goal.  Be mindful of what expectations a fictional spell raises both in how it’s supposed to look as its cast and its end result; be sure that really works with what you want to accomplish.  Choose the fictional magic you want to work with carefully and make sure it’s something that deeply resonates with you in order to get the best possible results.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Surviving the Holidays...with Deadpool?

Ah, the holiday season: time of joyous family togetherness, or, if you’re like me, a time for anxiety and generally trying to hide and become one with the wallpaper.  I love my family but they make my brain revert into a horribly awkward teenager for some reason.  Consequently, I feel the need to gird myself a bit in order to face them and being the nerd I am I often turn to pop culture magick for a boost.  A few weeks ago I became the proud owner of a Deadpool ugly xmas sweatshirt and joked over on facebook that I’d use it in a spell to help me make it through the holidays.  Of course that got me thinking about how I might do just that.b2ap3_thumbnail_Deadpool.JPG

In previous writings I’ve advised people not to try and work with characters like Deadpool due to their incredibly unpredictable nature.  For most pop culture workings it is easiest to work with characters that are relatively straightforward and predictable.  You can pretty much always rely on a character like Spock to help you find a logical solution to a problem or for a character like Steve Rogers help you stand up to bullies.  No brainers, really.  It’s far more challenging to work with a character whose actions are difficult to predict.  You never really know what chaotic characters like the Joker, Delirium, or Deadpool are going to do.  Sometimes they’re pretty decent people, other times they kill or maim everyone in the room - you just never know. While it’s difficult to work with unpredictable, chaotic characters, it is possible.  There are two keys to working with unpredictable characters: version control and guidelines they will actually follow.

Regular readers of mine will recognize that version control is something I talk about a lot in regards to pop culture magick.  In this context, version control is simply figuring out which of the many existing iterations of a character you want to work with in this instance.  There are a lot of different versions of Deadpool out there in the world and their behavior can be radically different.  For example, the Deadpool you get in the Posehn/Duggan era comics is rather different than the one in the Ultimate Spiderman cartoon series (much less murder in the latter than the former).  For a straightforward character I recommend finding whatever version of that character’s personality best suits the working you’re trying to do and using it.  For a less predictable character I have to amend that to: find the version of the character that you know best and that you think might actually listen to you.  In order to work with an unpredictable character sanely you have to know it very well; well enough to understand their motivations and use those motivations in order to get it to do what you want and nothing you don’t want.  That is easier said than done.  For all that I know the Deadpool of saturday morning cartoons is likely to be easier to work with than the comic Deadpool, I don’t watch those cartoons and thus don’t know that Deadpool well enough to hope to predict his actions.  Thus, even though he’s a lot more dangerous, I could only ever work with the comic Deadpool because he’s the one I know best (though I’ve got several years worth of comic Deadpools to choose from, oy vey).

The second key to working with unpredictable characters is by far the most difficult to figure out: guidelines they will actually follow.  By their very nature, chaotic characters don’t like rules.  This is where really understanding the version of the character you’re working with is invaluable.  The only way to figure out how to phrase your working guidelines in a way the character will actually follow is to know that character inside and out.  I can’t see successfully working with this type of character if you’ve only got a casual connection with them.  To get a chaotic character to walk the path you want them to you need to phrase your goals in a way that will make them the character’s goals as well.  Use the thoughts and motivations you know the character already has in order to make them want your goals to happen in the way you want them to happen.  In my “Holidays with Deadpool” thought experiment my guidelines would have to include things like no harming anyone and keeping all snark non-verbal and confined astrally to not spill over onto my hapless relatives.  In order to get his compliance I need to figure out why Deadpool would ever want to be confined to those rules?  I know from the comics that Deadpool has a fairly well developed sense of morality and is pretty big on protecting the innocent, particularly children; he may be insane but Deadpool is a good guy at heart.  He is also incredibly playful, so I know that if I can make fulfilling my goals a game that he can win, Deadpool will toe the line.  Therefore, in order to get Deadpool to help me navigate the holidays while keeping to my rules I have to explain my goal is to maintain the happiness of my family and to make sure that strife doesn’t make my adorable little nieces cry.  As a bonus, he would get points for each time he prevents me from feeling bad without alerting my relatives to his presence or making them think I’m nuts.  If he gets enough points by the end of the night he’ll get an extra offering.  Use your knowledge of unpredictable characters’ thoughts, motives, and backstory in order to get them to want what you want and you should be ok.

Working with unpredictable characters is a calculated risk because you cannot guarantee they’ll behave themselves.  I would only recommend doing so if you really, really know the character well and have a deep enough connection with them that you feel comfortable with what you know they might do in a given situation.  With a firm grasp of the version of the character you want to work with and confidence in guidelines you believe the character will actually follow even someone like Deadpool can help make your holidays a bit brighter.  Do your spellwork safely. Happy Holidays!

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Objectification

Objects can hold power, and collect energy.  In "The Magick of Making", we explored how magick can be instilled into artwork by the maker.  But what if you're not an artist/maker? And what about items that weren't originally made with magical intent but take on meaning for you? 

Even if you don't consider yourself a "material" person, there is undoubtedly some sort of token that means more than the sum of its parts to you: your grandmother's thimble, a book from your father, the feather you found on the street on that really rough day, the rock from the hike you went on during that vacation, your "lucky" sweater. 

Whether an item is made by humans, manufactured by machine, or created by nature, it has the potential for meaning, and meaning can be acquired most typically via association or by function. 

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Melissa
    Melissa says #
    I had to smile when you started talking about mugs. I have a mug that was given to me by a good friend of mine, just before she di

My study of magic and metaphysical healing has emphasized magical herbalism from the beginning. The first pagan book I bought for myself was Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. I knew nothing about plants at the time; I couldn't even identify lavender or rosemary, and I was a little shaky on dandelions. Sometimes figuring out which herbs to use in a spell was very difficult.

I hadn't yet learned to hear my intuition, much less trust it. So I usually chose herbs off the lists of correspondences in the back of the Encyclopedia and hoped I could buy them from the botánica in my New Orleans neighborhood, or from the bulk section of the Whole Foods across town.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Magically Unsticking

Tarot readings aren't magic, but they can create magic. I've been doing a lot of three card readings via email lately. Normally I do SKYPE or phone or in person sessions but have been guided towards more email readings.

These are short readings since they are only three cards, but I'm finding that the questions asked are creating magic for my clients.

In these readings, I'm getting asked many things but one question keeps coming up.

How do I get unstuck?

To that end, I wanted to share a three card spread you can use for yourself. I will also show you how you can craft a spell using the three cards you get.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Kasey Leavitt
    Kasey Leavitt says #
    I tried this one and loved the results. Thank you so much. I felt stuck on my novel, so I asked about that. I have a non-standard
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    Is that the Vision Quest deck? I love that one. I love your reading on this.
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    Agreed. It's a fabulous thing!
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Rock on, my dear. It is interesting that "How can I get unstuck?" is such a regular question from clients. I see the same from my
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    LOL, I remember the Pagan Tea Room. I do readings via SKYPE now too. Love technology.

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