Magick and Wiccan Spellcraft

Do you want to be Pharaoh or do you want to be a cowering slave?

/ * agick started with our first observation of the universe. Like science, magick is a way of explaining the amazing things we observe in the natural world. Thousands of years later, Pharaoh (or some other poser) warned that he would blot out the sun. His people were terrified. Without the sun, crops would fail and people would starve. When the day became night at Pharaoh's command, it was the magick that made slaves cower and masters beg. Well, it was magick to anyone who did not understand the natural laws that govern a solar eclipse.

Wiccans and other nature-based religions see absolutely nothing supernatural about magick. The very idea that we believe in a difference between magick and science is insulting. Our religious views are not how we explain the supernatural because we do not believe that anything exists that is supernatural. Naturally we believe that magick really works because it is a system of understanding the very real natural world.

The word magick is just a word that is used to describe natural laws that we are not yet aware of or do not fully understand. Once that law has been discovered, the event is typically called science. I'll let you in on a little secret: Your local occult store will sell you a green candle that can reportedly fill your pockets with money. If you honestly believe the candle will bring you money, it will bring you money. But that magick is not a function of the candle. It is a function of your mind. If your mind expects results, you will generate results.

This does not mean you must believe a spell will work for that spell to cause change. The science of subliminal messages shows us that we can affect the minds of people who are completely unaware of the process. Likewise, the magick of scent and other stimuli can be used to affect our minds and the minds of those on which we cast our spells.

Magickal Guideline: Stupid spells will work for stupid people

The phenomenon of subliminal messages can be called stupid spells work for stupid people. Chances are the green candle will work if you are gullible enough to believe it will, but very few people are that stupid. Instead of blindly believing in the power of the green wax, most people purchase the candle because they think it won't hurt. Such a driving force is entirely too impotent to cause the manifestation of intent. This is why most spells do not work. Speaking as the owner of one of the largest pagan shops in the Midwest, I have to let you in on a little secret. With only the exception of the few customers who are mostly brain dead, the only ones I see making money off this practice are the store owners. Do you really think a lump of green wax controls your level of wealth? Do you really want your level of wealth controlled by a lump of green wax? What would happen if your former wife had a lump of black wax and wasn't happy with the terms of your divorce? Running a retail store is very hard work. If almost any other shopkeeper or I had special candles that could fill our pockets with money, we would not be selling them for $5.99. The magick is not found in the candle. It is found in the mind and your intent.

Just like Pharaoh's subjects, such tricks are only really magick to the uninformed. You might think this ranks Pharaoh's people with the truly gullible. In all truth they were, but that's not a bragging point. Our modern culture is almost as ignorant as any that has ever graced this Earth. Trust me on this one; I sell a lot of green candles. The sum total of today's human knowledge is only marginally greater than that of the most primitive society. Only a fool would believe he understands anything more than a tiny portion of the natural laws that operate the universe. This leaves the greatest portion of our world unexplained. That is where we find magick, in the unexplained. The process of magick is kin to the process of science because both are attempts to understand natural laws. The only real difference between the two is that science is generally thought to fully understand these laws. I say generally because science cannot always explain what takes place inside a laboratory, much less the whole of the universe. Science once taught that the sun revolved around the Earth and that the flow of electricity was exactly the opposite of how it is taught today. Science has been wrong before, and it will be wrong again.

Before meeting my lover one night, I wanted to do something that would better my odds of an amorous evening. I rubbed a few drops of patchouli oil onto my wrists. While rubbing my wrists together, I visualized our bodies rubbing together. That night, our passion found a new peak.

Was it magick? Guidelines of magick and spellcraft have included lust as one of the powers of patchouli for a very long time. Knowing that part of the lore of patchouli is that it inspires lust, I have deliberately observed the way my lovers have responded with and without the scent. Even if I cannot explain the properties of patchouli in a scientific manner, I can still study its effects and predict the outcome of its use within an acceptable risk. It is magick!

Was it science? Chances are, in just a moment the lust attribute of patchouli will no longer be magick. Patchouli tends to inspire lust in women, but only when worn by a man. It appears that the scent of patchouli either mimics or heightens natural male pheromones. So, if you believe my assessment of how patchouli works, most of it is no longer magick. I say most of it because the volume of different responses the human mind has to the scent of patchouli is probably larger than the human race will ever be able to catalog. Just about everything that is magick has elements that are science, and just about everything that is science has elements that are magick. Which word we use is just a matter of our perception.

The essential oil of patchouli was only one of the agents involved in causing my intent to manifest. The oil simply helped to establish an environment favorable to my intent. It increased the odds that I would be successful at manifesting my intent. The real magick can be found in the mind that created the intent and the mind that was influenced by the intent. This is the basis for a great amount of what we call magick. I consider it the single most important guideline in magick.

Magickal guideline: Internal visualizations tend to manifest in external tangibles

What we think tends to come true. More precisely, the thought of an event may not be enough to bring that event into manifestation, but that thought is enough to change the probability of the event taking place. Even though we use only a portion of our mind, it is a very powerful tool of both science and magick. Some of the most successful people may use as much as 10 percent of their minds, but the great majority of us use far less. What if we could use that extra 90 percent? If we can't access that other 90 percent, what if we could better focus the 10 percent that we do use?

There are countless examples of the mind causing both internal and external manifestations. I found an amusing example on the label of a popular antacid. The label claimed that the product was "twice as effective as placebo." This did not mean the antacid was twice as good as nothing. Placebo is a very powerful medicine. It is the invocation of the mind to heal the body. What that label said was that without any practice or training, our mind will bring about half of the cure. The medicine is twice as good as placebo because we cannot remove the placebo effect. We cannot turn off our minds, but if we could and we were able to see the medicine act without the assistance of the mind, we would see only half the effect. If the label was accurate, this would be roughly equal to placebo. Hence, the mind is just as effective as the medicine, but using both produces the best results.

Our ability to heal with the mind is not limited to only our own bodies. Studies have been clear that prayer will induce healing. In a study reported by Marilyn Elias in USA Today in March 1998, Elisabeth Targ of California Pacific Medical Center divided 40 equally ill AIDS patients into two groups. One group received prayer from volunteers; the other did not. Neither group of patients knew about the prayer. After six months, it was determined that the group that was prayed for spent an average of 10 days in the hospital, while the group that was not prayed for spent 68 days in the hospital.

(Source: Power of prayer passes muster in AIDS study, Marilyn

Elias, USA Today, Arlington, VA; Mar 12, 1998, pg. 1d)

My Catholic mother might say that this result was divine intervention. She is right! The cross between Catholic prayer and Wiccan spells can be found in the different concepts of divinity.

Wiccans do not believe in a supernatural god who watches us from his seat in heaven. Although Wiccans and Catholics worship the same creator, our archetype of that creator is distinctly different so the formats of our prayers are different. We view divinity as a natural part of all living things. We see the creator as both eminent (external) and immanent (internal). Every man is God. Every woman is Goddess. It is impossible for you to think without prayer because thou art god. If that is too much to swallow, consider yourself a part of god. At a minimum, you are the lesser deity that controls your own reality. Thus, anything you do to cause intervention in your reality is divine intervention.

Knowledge of the mind's ability to cause change is not new. It has been accepted by both ancient and modern culture. It has been studied, documented, and developed. In feudal Japan, archers practiced a principle of Zen. Before the arrow was released, the archer knew it would strike its target. Why? Because he had already seen it happen in his mind. He visualized the arrow meeting its mark before he released, maybe even before he drew. The power of positive thinking is taught at entrepreneur seminars where the motto is "Think and grow rich." Today's spiritual leaders with instructions to "visualize world peace" have tapped combining the power of many minds.

Why then do we not have world peace? Without discussing war, how many newspaper articles discuss peace? How many movies are made about peace? Each day, how many people do you think visualize peace and how many visualize war?

Leading minds in the field of quantum mechanics believe we cannot observe an event without influencing that event. Go a little bit further left than the typical quantum physicist and you can find scientific theory that human consciousness defines and redefines the universe. Now there is a scary thought. Consciousness defines the universe, but we do not control our consciousness. If every stray thought were to manifest, how long would a man remain faithful to his wife?

The ability to cause manifestation is directly related to our effort and skill. This is good because it prevents us from accidentally burning down our homes when we think of bonfires. But don't let it fool you. We are not safe from our own minds. Because manifestations don't tend to be as dramatic as sword and sorcery movies, we have virtually ignored the daily manifestations that do happen. A lack of skill does not mean the untrained mind is unable to cause large manifestations and changes. It just means the manifestations will not be guided by clear intent. Changing the tiniest of things can cause great changes in our lives. The difference between a perfectly healthy mind and suicidal depression is only a tiny change in brain chemistry.

A great portion of this mastery is simply learning what our true intent is. Instead of running haphazardly through our lives, accepting the state of being that our every whim deals, we can determine what it is that we intend to accomplish and then determine the best method to achieve that intent while avoiding the daily whims that seek to distract us.

Even the slightest whim can certainly cause difficulty in our lives. Mentally healthy people do not deliberately sabotage their own lives, but causing undesired manifestations is as easy as self-doubt. Reverse the visualization conducted by the Zen archer. What would happen if he visualized the arrow missing the target?

If we can cause health through a positive mental image, surely we can cause illness with a negative mental image. Referring back to the placebo example, if we take a sugar pill thinking it will make us well, we tend to become well. What if we take the same sugar pill thinking it will make us sick? We have the ability to manifest both creative and destructive influences on our health. Medical science has accepted this as fact for many years. The phenomenon is commonly called psychosomatic illness.

Remember those studies on prayer. If keeping another person's health in our mind will cause their health to improve, what happens when we keep a person's illness in our mind? If a parent constantly worries about his child becoming ill, chances are his child will become ill.

Once the manifestation has taken place, it is difficult to end. When we perceive an illness with our senses, those perceptions become a mental image. Because the thought of a sick person will tend to manifest a sick person, we can see another important magickal guideline taking shape.

Magickal Guideline: Like attracts like

Most men have experienced the "taken man" syndrome. When you are not in a relationship, women don't seem interested in you. But when you are in a relationship, women start to notice you. When that relationship becomes serious, women really start to notice you. The more committed the relationship becomes, the more women seem to want you. If only we had a cosmic hold button.

There are no coincidences, but there are patterns. You attract more women who want a relationship with you when you have the clear image of a relationship with a woman. Being in a relationship automatically generates that clear mental image. The mind works in both directions. What you see inside the mind tends to manifest outside the mind. What you see outside the mind tends to manifest inside the mind. If there is a woman in your life, your mind will tend to manifest women in your life. If you are surrounded by poverty, you will tend to manifest poverty. Your mind acts on all that you perceive. The more you consider a situation, the more attached you become to that situation.

If it were only that simple, you could think of something and it would happen. But controlling the mind is not nearly that simple. Try thinking about anything for more than a moment or two. Try concentrating on one thing and absolutely nothing else. How long until you have to scratch or cough? How long until the position you are sitting in becomes painful?

A good way to gauge and improve your ability to concentrate is to close your eyes and visualize a cube floating in a sea of nothing. Concentrate on that cube and nothing else. Assign a color to each face of the cube. Concentrate on that one object for as long as you can without thinking of anything else. In your mind, rotate the cube horizontally and then vertically. Can you remember the colors for each of the six sides? As the cube rotates, do the colors of the faces come up in a set pattern as they would if the cube was tangible? How many times can you rotate the cube before the color patters become different? How many minutes can you think of the cube and absolutely nothing else? As these numbers go up, your ability to control your mind will increase.

What we hold in our minds can also be detrimental to our goals. Even if you are able to visualize intent with absolute clarity, how many times during that same day will your mind drift onto doubt that will defeat the visualization? If you spend an hour visualizing success and an hour visualizing failure, where do you think you will be? Zero plus one minus one is zero!

If you don't like your job, how long can you go without thinking about it? Are you in a bad relationship, low on money, or sick of your roommate? The more you think about something, the more likely it is to manifest even when it is something you truly do not desire. Your relationship will get worse, your money will become less, and that roommate will invite his brother to live with you.

Try not thinking about the forefinger on your right hand. How long can you go without thinking about that finger? Carry a notepad for one day. In it, record each time you think of the forefinger on your right hand. Do your very best to keep it out of your mind and count how many times it finds its way back inside. As you improve your abilities to keep things out of your mind, the number will decrease.

Practicing these two exercises and improvising others will improve your level of control. Most people can double their scores just by being aware of their own thoughts. But even with an entire lifetime of study and work, it is not possible to completely control our minds. That is where spellcraft comes in.

Spellcraft is the practice of determining the conditions that will improve your odds of achieving your intent. In the case of creative visualization, this is often a matter of manipulating what goes into your mind and what happens once it is there. A spell is a procedure that you hypothesize will establish the condition most favorable for your intent to manifest. As with the patchouli I mentioned earlier, sometimes spells involve establishing conditions where others are more receptive to your intent. More often, the spell will focus on yourself because your mind is the one you are most likely to understand the best. A great deal of spellcraft is simply the process of learning one's own mind.

You could skip spellcraft and just jump right into casting spells. There are volumes of books that contain little, if anything, other than spells. They may work and they may not. Because these types of books are the great majority of what is available, Wiccans are only receiving half of the story about how magick works. Most books will tell you that faith and belief are absolutely necessary for successful magick. What they forget to tell you is that belief is the nemesis of spellcraft. When we cast our spells, it is best to have absolute belief that they will work. Visualize that arrow striking the target before you release it.

However, before the spell is cast, it must be researched. If you allow yourself to believe that faith is enough to drive that arrow to its target, you will probably overlook the need for the fins that stabilize its flight. Just as scientific theory is constantly proven wrong, magickal theory is constantly being proven wrong. We are fallible recording devices of an ever-changing world. It is only natural that we will get things wrong time and time again.

The visualization of the arrow striking its target is an attempt to manifest your intent. It is telling the universe what you would like that arrow to do. However, the seemingly mundane function of properly fitting fins to the arrow is a much more direct method to address the same universe. If I honestly believe I can levitate a tree stump from the ground, that tree stump will lift up and pull itself from its roots. However, a much more direct method of making this suggestion to the universe is accomplished with dynamite.

It is impossible to determine every variable in a universe where there are very few constants except change itself. Dynamite is one of those few constants, so it is a good tool to be used in the visualization of a tree stump being blasted into splinters. Looking for a job is another one of the few constants in the universe, so it is a very good tool to be used in the visualization of getting money.

Even you change from moment to moment. When someone else writes the spell, the constant becomes a variable and mathematically the odds of success go right down the drain. Instead of blindly following someone else's instructions, define your own by observing and questioning that which you observe.

"Soft of eye, light of touch, speak ye little, listen much"

—the poem of the Wiccan Rede

Observe

Spellcraft starts long before casting a spell and even before you know your intent. The beginning of spellcraft is observation. Become aware of the world in which you live. Study it and take notes, especially when you notice synchronicities and when things seem to contradict what you thought was true. Note and record as many variables as you can. Our world does tend to follow patterns the way a turntable follows the grooves in a record. If the record is in the same condition as when it was created, the needle will tend to track exactly the same way over and over again.

1. Question what you have observed. Our world is not as it was created. Why did the record skip? Is the record scratched? Can you predict when it will skip again? Did someone bump the turntable? Can you bump the turntable to get the same results? You may already have a good job. But how did you get it? Do you remember what colors you wore to the interview? Did you put on a specific scent, oil, or cologne? What were you thinking during the interview, on your way to the interview, and even the night before? Did you ask a certain deity form for assistance? How many jobs do you think you will get without toothpaste or deodorant? What type of toothpaste and deodorant did you use? Question undesired effects as well. Maybe your girlfriend dumped you because your sex life has been horrible since last Yule. About that same time, you started using camphor to ease a cold and lavender to address insomnia. Could that have something to do with your lack of sexual desire or passion?

2. Create a possible explanation of why things happen as they do. Here is where spellbooks and the works of others come in very useful. In his book Incense, Oils, and Brews, Scott Cunningham lists camphor and lavender as ingredients used in a celibacy bath. Maybe your new inclination towards celibacy can explain the drop off in your sex life. Then again, it might have been another toothpaste and deodorant issue.

3. Determine a way to test the explanation you have created. Ideally, you will want to change as few variables as possible. That includes girlfriends. If she is willing to stick around while you try to work things out, that's great. If not, you can continue without her but the results will be less valuable.

4. Test your explanation. If you think your performance was off because your girlfriend didn't brush her teeth, convince her to brush her teeth. If she won't, try having sex with a woman who does. If you think it was because of the camphor and lavender, set them aside and see what arises.

5. Form a conclusion about your explanation. If you were right, record each possible variable and all results. If you explanation was wrong, go back to Step 3.

Science, magick, and religion have not always been the separate things that they appear to be today. They have tremendous amounts in common. Each is a method of searching for explanations. Science and magick are so closely related that steps I have listed for spellcraft are roughly equivalent to the process known as the scientific method:

1. Observe an effect in the natural world.

2. Question the potential causes of the effect.

3. Create a hypothesis as to which potential cause was responsible for the effect.

4. Determine a method of testing the hypothesis.

5. Test that hypothesis. If the test confirms your hypothesis, conduct it again to make sure.

6. Draw a conclusion based on the experiment as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct. If correct, record your conclusion and all matters that may have contributed to it. If your hypothesis was not correct, go back to Step 3.

At this point, you might be wondering if I have an obsession with deodorant and toothpaste. Yes, I do. Actually, my issue is with common sense. No matter how many candles you burn, your love life will be dismal if you do not bathe. No matter how many chants you recite, you probably won't get a job if you don't look for one. When searching for explanations, do not try to separate the magickal from the mundane. There is no separation between magick and the real world because magick is a function of the real world. Remember that the principles of science and magick are the same. In each, the simplest explanation is most often the most correct explanation. Science expresses this principle as Ockham's razor.

Ock-ham's razor also Occam's razor (kmz rzr) n. A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. Also called law of parsimony.

(From The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition)

Like science, magick has generally accepted principles. You don't have to put your hand in fire to know that it will burn. Someone has already done it and his findings are recorded. Science likes to call these explanations laws. It wasn't long ago that scientific law said the flow of electricity was exactly opposite of how scientific law says it flows today. The former law of electricity is now known as the common theory of electricity.

In magickal terms, these generally accepted principles are called models. When these models are used to explain deity, they are called archetypes. When they are used to explain magickal properties, they are called lore.

Lore tells us that using a broom to sweep the temple area before ritual begins will cleanse the area of negative energies. A very small number of Wiccans probably think the broom is literally throwing the negative energy from the circle. Most do it because it is part of their tradition (another word for lore) but have absolutely no idea why it works.

To become proficient at spellcraft, you must recognize the sweeping as a model that assists our visualization of clearing the circle. We see the broom moving back and forth. We hear it sweeping across the ground. We feel the broom within our hands and feel our muscles move in the familiar pattern of sweeping away the things that we do not want in our home. The physical act of sweeping is a method of triggering your mind to clear the circle. In group ritual, even when you do not instruct the visualization, a collective effect is achieved because everyone is familiar with the model. Everyone has used a broom. Because everyone sees the action, everyone's mind has been sent the signal that we are sweeping out what we do not want in the circle. With that thought implanted in their minds, everyone will attempt to manifest a cleaned circle even if they do not know it is what they are doing.

Your senses carry messages directly to your mind. Anything that you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel will affect your mind. It is not a coincidence that fast-food restaurants have hard seats and yellow decorations. The hard seat feels fine for about 30 minutes. After that, it then becomes distractingly uncomfortable. This is approximately the same amount of time it takes the yellow to cause similar distraction. At first, the color stimulates your hunger but after about a half an hour yellow tends to upset the stomach. The intent of the restaurant management is for you to come, eat, and leave relatively quickly so they have seats for the next customer. To that end, they determined the conditions that would improve their odds of causing the desired behavior in customers. Have you ever noticed that even though the popcorn machine is running, movie theaters tend to stock the machine with previously popped corn? The popcorn is made when it is practical. The machine runs to generate the scent of popcorn to entice moviegoers. If commercial establishments can use your senses to manipulate your mind for their benefit, surely you can do it for your benefit. After all, whose mind it?

Each of our senses has the ability to either work with us or against us. Each can help to establish conditions favorable to either success or failure. Once we are aware of the many things that enter our mind, we can better manipulate conditions to be favorable for success.

Sight

Vision is the sense that we rely on the most. This explains why it is also the sense so many spells focus on. Tell someone you are casting a spell, and they will inevitably think candles will be involved. The flame makes a great focal point for meditation.

Ceiling paint usually contains a hint of blue so slight that it cannot be consciously perceived. But the almost invisible hint of blue makes a room feel more relaxed, the way a home should. Lore tells us that the seven primary colors have been associated with different functions of the mind. Blue is associated with calming influences. Chakra lore teaches that blue stimulates peace, truth, and quiet order.

No occult store would be complete without the New Orleans-style voodoo doll. But it isn't the driving of a pin into the doll that causes change; it is your vision of the pin driving into the person that the doll represents that causes change. The doll is just a prop to help you visualize. The same is the case when a human image is used for healing. Human-shaped candles are often burned to aid in health. As the flame burns through the candle, the visualization is to view the sickness burning away from the body. Sometimes the visualization involves seeing a white light of health enter the body. Whichever works the best for you is the one you should use.

Protect your mind from visual assaults. Everything that you see has already entered your mind and will try to manifest. If you want some sense of order in your life, you should force yourself to establish a sense of order in your home. Wash your dishes, do your laundry, and make your bed on a regular basis (okay, maybe you don't have to make your bed). If you wake every morning to see an unkept house, your mind will manifest the condition. The condition of your home may well be a leading factor in the inability to successfully complete a job interview. Your potential employer does not see your kitchen, but you do.

Smell

The sense of smell functions twice as fast as your sense of touch. Of all the senses, it connects the strongest to our memory. The smell of salt might trigger memories of the ocean. The smell of freshly mowed hay might remind us of Spring. It is possible that the scent of new mown hay could trigger Springtime mating habits. Scent cannot completely control behavior, but it can certainly nudge or push us in deliberate directions. Pheromones in fresh sweat can promote sexual passion. Have you ever noticed how mosquitoes never bite some people while other people are almost literally eaten alive by the insects? Those same pheromones are what drive away insects. If scent can turn women on and turn mosquitoes off, you can imagine the range of other capabilities.

Aromatherapy has reached almost fad popularity because the basics work without any level of skill or awareness. It is as easy as putting a few drops of essential oil of lavender on a diffuser to get a good night's sleep. Individual scents each promote different responses.

Mixtures can be used to achieve more advanced goals. But you will not be able to create or customize those mixtures without the knowledge of how the blend works. Money-drawing oil does not have the power to run out, grab the lucky lottery numbers, and return them to you. But the power of scent can help put you in the right frame of mind to create the opportunities that will increase the chances of money coming to you. It can also put others in a frame of mind that encourages charity, trust, or other moods that may contribute to your income. If you sell used cars for a living, a scent that will encourage your customers to trust you will probably increase your sales and thus your commission checks.

Scent can also aid in removing emotional obstacles between you and your intent. Think of what you could accomplish if you didn't have distractions like anger, anxiety, bereavement, claustrophobia, depression, exhaustion, fear, frustration, grief, guilt, hysteria, impatience, indecision, insecurity, insomnia, irritability, jealousy, loneliness, mood swings, panic, restlessness, regret, sadness, self-doubt, shock, stress, worry, and more.

We all know that sex sells. Half-naked women are used to hawk everything from beer to bicycles. Why does the scent of patchouli increase retail sales? Because it subconsciously stimulates women to think about sex. This elevates their moods, thus loosening the grip on their pocketbooks. Having amorous woman around elevates the moods of men, thus causing them to be more inclined to spend money as well. Now don't tell my mother she is using sex to make money because you will ruin it for her. We know the effects of patchouli as science, but she still thinks it's magick.

As with all of the other senses, your nose can also be used to your detriment. Protect yourself from olfactory assaults. Open the windows once in a while and pick up after your pets. If you spend time in a stuffy atmosphere, you mind will believe it is boxed in. If you spend time surrounded by the smell of feces, your mind will manifest those things associated with it and where you smell it. Remember that the same scent that is a detriment in your home can be a blessing in the garden.

Taste

Food and drink are important parts of spellcraft. In addition to their chemical effects, different tastes promote different responses. In the way that colors are qualities that sight can perceive, there are different categories of taste: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

Our culture is wildly taste oriented. Business meetings are often discussed over lunch. Romantic dates often involve dinner. Notice the relationships that food and drinks have to the events of your life. Consider not only the chemical effect of champagne, but also the taste and the memories it might bring. If your family was anything like mine, there were foods that were reserved for holidays. Stuffing always makes me think of home and family. Even though I am the only member of my family that doesn't eat meat, even my tofu turkey brings the comfort of home.

Touch

The sense of touch might only be half as fast as the sense of smell, but it has more than twice the area of sensitivity. The skin is the largest sensory tool in the human body. It is responsible for the widest range of inputs, and yet we generally do not see spells that include this wonderful tool. This is sad, as the sense of touch has a dramatic effect on our minds. If jumping into cold water after a hot shower does not clear your mind, nothing will.

When experimenting with spellcraft, make sure you note the room temperature. I am very comfortable at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but most people would be highly uncomfortable with such a low temperature. If you are working outside, be aware of the seasons and the correspondences each season has. Central heating is a relatively new invention. Chances are, part of seasonal lore is based on temperature and how it affects the human body.

Our sense of touch is also the only justification for ritual robes. During the witch hunts, deeply hooded black robes may have been worn to conceal identity and slip away into the night, but the pre-Christian country dwellers on which we base our religion were free of such persecution. Clothing can be a tremendous distraction, but even more distracting is the social conditioning that tells us that public nudity is wrong.

Robes dramatically decrease the amount of distraction that normal clothes cause while providing security of knowing we are not breaking social taboo. When you wear nothing but a robe, you never have to worry about your shirt coming untucked, your belt that is too tight, your zipper being open, or hiking your britches because your waist is larger than your hips. If you wear undergarments, you are completely defeating the purpose of the robe, as undergarments are typically the most restricting and distracting part of our outfit. If that idea alarms you, remember that we are always naked under our clothes. If that does not help, seek qualified professional counseling.

If you are practicing in a public place or if you must be seen in public on your way to or from a rite, the robe itself will probably be a distraction. Rather than distracting yourself by challenging social convention, find other ways to protect your mind from tactile assaults. Get rid of those tight-fitting jeans. Buy a pair of suspenders and loosen your belt. Purchase a bed that doesn't leave your back full of kinks and wash the bedding that causes you to itch.

Hearing

Everything that we hear will affect the mind. In order to understand what we are told, our mind must process the sound and turn it into meaning. Even when words are not spoken out loud, the mind processes the information contained in those words in the same way. The only difference between the thought of a word and the spoken word is that the spoken word is generally easier to exchange.

A child can only hear how worthless he is so many times before the child starts believing it himself. Sometimes the easiest way to prevent verbal assaults is to simply get away from the people who cause the harm. Failing that, we can establish empowerments that reinforce our defenses against such attacks. When I was really in need of verbal empowerment, I almost had the words you have value tattooed on my wrist so I would be reminded to say the words daily.

Hearing is particularly effective when it is the spoken word that is being heard. Language is much more direct than symbolism. Generally speaking, words have set meanings. The down side to language is that, because it is so direct, it is easy to unknowingly use this sense to your own detriment. If you are receiving words of encouragement from your friends and peers, do not argue with them.

If we say something over and over, we will begin to believe it. In ritual, I always conduct the outsider offering. In so doing, I verbally affirm that I want to rid myself of attributes that I consider undesirable: "These are the ones that challenged the gods and lost! These are greed, bigotry, and ignorance. There is no place in our circles or in our minds for these creatures."

The outsiders are then symbolically taken outside of the circle. Hearing those words causes others to affirm that we wish to rid ourselves of those attributes. As our personal vision of god is that which we aspire to resemble, identifying things that we do not aspire to with those who challenged the gods provides positive reinforcement of self-image. If we hear the words enough times, we will believe and manifest that belief. Hardly anyone actively listens to the content of radio commercials, but we do tend to remember the brand names. Later, we manifest those brand names in our lives by purchasing the products.

Verse and repetition are the most effective ways to use the sense of hearing to focus the mind. If you were to run as far as you could, how far would you get? If I gave you a set of magick words to recite over and over again, do you think you could double that distance?

"To bind ye spell every time, let ye spell be spake in rhyme"

—the poem of the Wiccan Rede

The military certainly believes that it works. Drill sergeants might not know exactly what they are doing when they call cadence, but it still works. The process of hearing and repeating the words gives us the ability to exceed what would have been our normal limits without the chant. Cadence gives the soldier something to focus on so that the distractions of pain and exhaustion are less likely to enter the mind.

What is Wiccan cadence?

"Circle strong and circle bright

Merry meet enjoy the night

You're a Witch and should be proud

So sing this song and sing it loud."

Chants and mantras are often included in spellcraft for one simple reason: They work. The best chants are short, with one word or syllable stressed more than the others are. That way the beginning and end of the chant can blur together, but not so much that the chant will lull the concentration. If the meditation is solitary, write your own and put it through the six steps to see if they work. Chant the mantra again and again until something else wanders into your mind. Record how long the chant was able to fend off stray thoughts. If the chant is to be used in a group setting, consider who will be reciting it and make the words applicable to their life experiences. Avoid using words that are not understood.

Rhythm and rhyme are also incredibly effective memory tools. Most Wiccans can recite the main message of the Wiccan Rede perfectly: "These eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, an ye harm none do what ye will."

The quote is easy to remember because it employs both rhyme and rhythm. Earlier in this chapter, I included the single most important guideline of magick. It was a single sentence written in prose. Do you remember the exact words? Probably not. The words and chants of spells are much more effective if they have rhyme and meter because they have a greater impact on the mind in that form. Evidence of this is found in the fact that they are more readily remembered.

Beyond our senses, there are many other things that affect the mind. Most notably is the physical condition of the body and the chemicals that are placed into it. This is where we find lore about foods, drugs, fasting, physical exhaustion, and a host of other techniques that affect the mind by affecting the body. You are a great deal more than what you eat, but what you eat is definitely a part of your mind, body, and soul.

The props that are used in spellcraft often combine influences of multiple senses as well as what is introduced into the body. Pre-made money oil is almost always green and love oil is almost always red. This fuses the sense of sight with the sense of smell. If the oil is rubbed on a particular part of the body, the sense of touch is used and a small amount of that oil is absorbed into the flesh. I doubt traditional flying ointments could leave a human with the ability to focus the mind enough to actually levitate the body. However, the recipes clearly contain drugs that probably simulate the feeling of flying. In a much less dangerous approach, the tiny amount of oil that is absorbed into the body when anointing a candle probably has an effect on how the mind functions.

The focal point of your spell may be the flame of a candle. That same candle could be made with herbs and oils whose scent aligns with the desired goals. It could also contain herbs that have a chemical effect on the body and mind.

The most effective spells will use as many of the senses as possible without overwhelming the mind. If your spells become too complicated, the spell itself will become the distraction that defeats your intent. Be creative, but not too elaborate. Unusual sensations will stand out, but in-depth symbolism is often missed. At first, the best messages to send to the brain are short and to the point. The ones that will work are the ones that have already been programmed into your mind. After years of trying to quit smoking, a friend told me that "nobody likes a quitter." Instead, I should "Just say no." It worked because my mind had listened to the first phrase for most of my life and to the second for the last 20 or so years.

Studying the archetypes can create more precise and effective spells and models that history has shown us time and time again. Mythology is a great deal more than stories. It is a study of the human condition that can be dated to the very beginning of history. Where a god is described, an aspect of humanity is revealed. You can appeal to these archetypes without an in-depth study of the model, but without a working knowledge of what it is that you will call forth, how could you decide if you want to bring it into manifestation? You could drown your body in Pan oil, fill your lungs with his incense and your belly with his favorite foods to call him forward, but without a working knowledge of what the archetype is, how could you possibly know that he is the one you want to manifest within yourself? The same is also true of elemental archetypes, familiars, and other archetypes.

Chapter 2

The Path To Positive Thinking

The Path To Positive Thinking

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