A friend once asked me if being a magician was like being in Charmed. In the television show spirits (usually demons) manifest physically. Then they interact with a variety of humans wreaking havoc. The witches do various things to make the demons explode in a shower of sparks sending them back to hell. My response was that no, my life is not like Charmed. As I started this post I intended to say no here as well. Then I started listing the exceptions to that statement.
The first I can remember was during a psychic faire. A spirit from the Lesser Key of Solomon which some would call a demon* (but I would not) very clearly walked up to my table and sat in the chair across from me. While he did not have a physical body he almost looked like he did. I told him that he would have to go as I was busy. He left peaceably enough with the parting observation that “Sooner or later you will have to deal with me.” He was correct. I did speak with him many years later as part of a working to skry all 72 Lesser Key spirits. I found him completely amiable. At this point I have not worked with him to the point of a formal evocation. My best description of our relationship put in human terms would be ‘well-liked acquaintance’.
The other night another spirit from the Lesser Key stood at the foot of my bed. He was very real but did not appear physical in the least. He was there to take credit for what was about to happen in my dreams that same night. The dream I had was quite instructive and dealt with something I have been working on for some time. I have no problem with him dropping by to take credit. I am not sure how to assess the one-off visit and help.
I have had working partners tell me that my skin tone and physical appearance change when I invoke gods. The people that have witnessed this were in magical states themselves. I doubt anyone in a normal frame of consciousness would have seen what they did. When I lead soul meditations my voice sometimes has an odd echo to it. This also occurs in Cult meetings where I call upon the gods to appear to the group. The attendees can all hear that change in voice. I suspect a passerby in a normal state of consciousness would hear it as well.
Not too long ago there was another incident while I was making offerings to the spirits on my property. A tiny blue and white water spirit crawled out of the plastic cup that I was using to make the water offering. The spirit looked like a little angel or faery-like being. The odd thing is that I never think of these events as fantastic or unusual as they are happening.
I did not make any of these spirits explode or send them back to ‘hell’. Aside from some serious mistakes very early in my career I have never conjured anything that turned out to be a danger to myself or others. This is not to say that I haven’t accidently kicked my own butt a few times but nothing ever occurred that did any long term harm to myself or anyone else.
The few dangerous things that I have encountered were sent by other mages or witches. The issue with doing this is that someone may send something to you that they think is a mild slap on the wrist but that slap may hit you like an artillery shell. Human psychology is weird enough on its own. Since magick finds the path of least resistance what it finds is often the biggest crack in the target’s psychology. Even if you think you deserve a wrist slap (we all deserve one once in a while), send anything someone sends to you back and I mean everything. Here I am discussing magick meant to do you some level of harm. Well-intended magick does not lead to such black and white conclusions.
If want is intended to be a mild wrist slap can do that much damage you can imagine what truly malicious magick can do.
With those and many other experiences in mind I will revise my premise. Magick can be like living in a friendly or not so friendly episode of Charmed, but often it is not.
Making Non-Hollywood Magick Work
Most magick is not visible in normal states of consciousness, at least not for me. The forces do not become so physical that you can touch what you conjure. Most magick merely sets a series of events in motion. Here the advice of Ferris Bueller pays off: “Life [Magick] moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around for a while [pay attention], you could miss it."
I recently made a prayer bag consisting of an herb, a stone, and a petition. I made the bag because I realized that I had grown a great deal spiritually. People from my past would be more than surprised by the difference between who I was and who I am now. They would not be surprised by the fact that in some instances that spiritual success is hidden by the antagonistic aspects of my personality**. I have not fully manifested those changes in all aspects of day-to-day life to the extent that I want. The bag was charged with manifesting all the changes I have made and make them obvious to myself and others.
The next day one of my coworkers came to my office and said without preamble, “I just realized what a peaceful guy you really are.” My bosses paid more attention to my suggestions. Strangers smiled at me for no reason. My internal attitude changed to something I can only refer to as global respect. Very few people would sense magick but many saw me differently. Several weeks after removing the prayer bag the benefits of wearing that bag are still apparent. That kind of result would make for boring television. No one exploded. No one saw any flashing lights. No one saw anything.
I noticed the results because I pay attention to the universe around me. I know what is normal and what is not.
One should not stop paying attention after getting positive results. After a week or two of wearing the bag I was climbing out of my skin. I felt like my body had been plugged into a 220v circuit. Emotionally I was fine but at the same time I felt like I would explode physically. After eliminating any other significant stressors in my life (which I had been handling with the aplomb of a holy man) I was forced to acknowledge my prayer bag was the problem. It was manifesting more of my soul energy than my physical body could process.
Paying attention let me know I was in trouble. I removed the bag. Two weeks later I was back to normal. I will recreate the prayer bag with a variation in formula to temper the effects and see what happens.
The point is that you cannot expect Hollywood special effects to let you know what is going on. You have to pay attention to your universe. You must do this after a working but in order to make that effective you have to pay attention continually. This gives you a baseline to compare things to in order to guage results. Just because the results of magick can be subjective or appear to be subjective that does not mean you can get away with a sloppy approach to life.
Let’s say you do magick for a promotion at work. You have worked hard but never been in the running for anything other than keeping your job. In this scenario magick would not usually manifest in a way that you’d be handed a sudden promotion. People have to have a reason to do things. They are not going to wake up and say to themselves, “Phil has always been okay. I think I will make him a manager today.”
Magick is more likely to create a scenario in which you can prove yourself and help you do that. This then gives your boss a reason to begin thinking of promoting you. Your boss will not act in a way she perceives as irrational. Going from not thinking of you to promoting you without a cause would feel irrational to her. Magick will make her feel like promoting you but then you have to play an active role that aligns with your magick and your goals.
To make magick work in this instance you have to pay attention. Magick will most likely create a situation which you can take advantage of. For the sake of discussion let’s say your magick creates an emergency. Chances are that you will not notice that your magick created anything. To you and everyone else it will feel like a normal work experience. While I am not quite sure why it works this way I think it is because it drops you into the flow of what used to be an unfulfillable potential reality. That current of possibilities feels so normal that you do not notice the change. Once you are in that current you will naturally do what it takes to make that impression on your boss.
Of course it works this way until it doesn’t. Sometimes the universe requires you to be more active. You will instinctively know when this is happening because you will be required to make a conscious choice. This choice involves reacting in a ways you have not done before. Your previous actions left you in a current where promotion was not possible. After the shift in behaviour the promotion becomes a tangible opportunity. When this happens you are being taught much more than that your magick is working. You are being taught that you can willfully change your habitual responses when you want. Being able to do that makes one powerful and aware.
If you do magick without paying attention to its results you will miss these critical opportunities.
To avoid that you should actively strive to feel what the magick is trying to encourage you to do and trust in that. Many magicians lose confidence not because their magick is ineffective but because they are expecting irrational or dramatic results and consequently miss the subtler situations magick creates. Always remember that people have to explain themselves to themselves. Give them a reason to act on what the magick is prompting them to do.
While I am not generally in favour of love magic I will use it here to serve as an example. Desiring a life partner, you do love magick and charge it with the following words: “Bring to me someone that I can respect and love, who can respect and love me, and who desires marriage.” The next day you see an acquaintance in a whole new way. You realize she has been right next to you the whole time. Up to this point your relationship has only been cordial. She is not likely to suddenly walk up to you and plant a kiss on you even if she has always wanted to. That would take too much courage on her part. You have to give her a reason to either start thinking of you in a new way or to give her a reason to be brave and reveal how she has felt all along. In this case it the suitable reaction may be as simple as asking her out for a cup of coffee.
Ultimately the success of the bag I created was not subtle at all. Neither would the path to promotion or the appearance of a love interest. Such opportunities will be obvious to you and maybe others. Even with that lack of subtly sometimes you might not notice in the moment. The most likely person to be aware of the change would be a close magickal confident whom you told about the magick. Most of the time those people have the good sense to keep their mouth shut and wait to point out the obvious after everything has played out. Most mages do not have a person like that in their life. To everyone else the events which lead to your promotion or the woman entering your life were just normal life experiences.
Magick is often a hidden thing. It's typically not flashy and showy like Hollywood would lead you to assume. Expect your magic to be subtle and appear mundane. Sometimes there is that bright flash of light but most of the time things just change.
*I would use the term demon to describe something utterly malicious for no reason that a human could perceive. With the spirits of the Lesser Key you get what you expect. If you call them to be mean and nasty to someone you will get a mean and nasty version of them. If you call them to be of aid in your life you will get a version of them that is helpful (though it may appear to be the case at first). Or, if you are not ready for the energy of your working, you will have your butt kicked and they will feel every bit like a demon.
**That which is ‘negative’ is not necessarily non-spiritual. It is still part of our perfection but it does hide spiritual gifts from those that may otherwise benefit. For example, being an antagonistic teacher with the wisdom to know when to confront a student would be beneficial in the long term. Random antagonism would mask the teaching moments making them totally ineffective.