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August 13th, 2010


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12:58 am - Musings on Magic That Successfully Affected the External World
In thinking about my recent posts about magic, I started to think about deliberate acts of magic that I've performed that have had clear results in the physical world. The following are the four clearest examples of successful magic influencing the physical world that I have performed. These are not the most powerful works of magic that I've been involved in, but they are the most powerful that had affects on the physical world, rather than simply mental, emotional, and spiritual effects. All four could easily be chalked up to chance, but they don't feel like chance, and also honestly seem fairly unlikely.

Blood Magic for Love (performed twice)
The two most obvious are the two rituals I performed to find romance. I describe doing the second of these rituals in this post. I did the first of these in August 1991, "met" teaotter by letter in October of the same year, and we fell in love in the Spring of 1994. During the intervening time, I had a larger number of romantic relationships than I have had before or since, all of which were various sorts of either short-term flings or short-term disasters. So, I learned various obvious problems with romantic relationships. I also became a Wiccan priest during this time, joining a coven, having two initiations (my 3rd degree initiation happened 3 years after Becca and I were handfasted), and my dragon-bonding ritual. In doing this, I also learned even more about myself. Then, my dear friend Aaron got involved with xtricks, which changed my friendship with Aaron sufficiently that there was enough emotional room for me to have a primary romantic relationship. This was effectively the 2 ½ years during which I actually grew up, it was difficult, painful, and also exciting and amazing, and then Becca and I fell in love and everything worked out wonderfully.

The next version of this ritual took far less time, I met and fell in love with amberite the next April, and all three of us moved in together in November of that year. The time between the ritual and meeting Alice was perhaps the most crazed portion of my life, which served to convince me that I most definitely had no interest in moving out of Portland, and gave me a broad and very strange introduction to the otherkin community, while also finally helping to make clear the difference between people who are wonderfully eccentric and disturbingly crazy. In that short period of time, I fell for two people prior to falling for Alice, and had one short and disturbing romance.

The single most fascinating and impressive thing about both of these rituals is exactly how many brief romances (as opposed to unreciprocated crushes) I have after performing this ritual. After both rituals, I made a serious effort to meet interesting people (in the first case, as penpals the Mercedes Lackey fan club, in the second by getting involved in the online otherkin community), but I've tried similar efforts before without the use of this ritual and have generally found very little in the way of either friends or romantic partners.

Acquiring the House
This was actually a joint working. Becca focused her energy and intent on it in a non-ritual fashion, while I included it in one of my periodic blessings, and also periodically focused my intent and energy on it in a non-ritual fashion. Obviously, the only way we were going to get a house was from my parents. However, they'd talked about getting us a house four or five years before they got us one, and had largely stopped because of how high housing prices had gotten in Portland. Then, one month after Alice returned from teaching in China, we were all kicked out of our apartment. This happened in July of 2008, one month before the worst of the real-estate crash.

This event sufficiently horrifies my parents that combined with the somewhat lower property costs, they were willing to buy us a house. I knew this would be true well before I talked to them, and understood that as horrible as having to move in 30 days was, within a day of hearing about it, I understood that we were likely to get a house in the next few months. As seems typical of my most potent magic, the process was quite harsh and difficult at the time, but we were living in a very nice house within 8 months of getting kicked out of our apartment.

The Protection Charm
As I mentioned above, in the early 90s, when I was very lonely and living in the vile social wasteland that is LA, I joined the Mercedes Lackey fan club, which was (quite unsurprisingly) filled with pagans. At the time, I was in training in an Alexandrian Wicca (with significant draconic additions), and so many of my pen-friends asked me various questions about magic and suchlike. I also made charms for people I liked who asked for them. In all but one case, these charms were for overall luck, or luck regarding love or money. However, I also remember when one of my pen-friends wrote to me how she was scared – serious accidents had happened or almost happened to several of her friends and family members and she had an intuition that something bad was going to happen to her. I made her a protection charm, the only one I have ever made. Two weeks after I mailed it, I received a letter from her where she expressed her extreme gratitude – less than a week after receiving the charm she was in a very serious car accident that totaled her car, but no one suffered anything more than bruises, she attributed this to my charm.

In thinking further about these four examples, all of them fit within the parameters of this theory of magic , since none of them had direct physical effect and all four could be explained as altering the emotions and perceptions of various people (most definitely including, but definitely not limited to, my own perceptions and emotions). I'm on the fence as to whether I believe the theory of magic I came up with, but I am certain that magic that has direct physical effects is not merely subtle, but likely considerably less common that magic that has effects on minds.

In any case, for other magicians reading this, I'd love to read descriptions successful magic you performed that had effects on something other than your own thoughts, emotions, and habits – obtaining money or a job, resolving some external difficultly in your life, finding a romantic partner... Have you performed any magic that clearly had a direct physical effect? If so, what was it?
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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From:edwarddain
Date:August 13th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
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Three come to mind rather easily, there's probably a couple of more though if I really wanted to dissect the last quarter-of-a-century...

1- Most recently, I asked Mother for a slave. Within two weeks I had about the last person I would have expected contact me out of the blue - sylvarthorne (and also the last thing I was expecting out of a slave, I was expecting a fey guy about my age, she was a femme, 19, and still living at home at the time we started our relationship) - three-and-a-half years later we're still together, thorugh thick and thin, and growing closer by the day.

2- House Warding - To this day, my Ex, a woman with horrible pushy boundaries, can't stand any closer to our front door than about thirty feet and really seems to be more comfortable in the driveway, in her car if possible.

3- Divorce and Custody Fight(s) - So I asked for the best result for myself and my son. A judge that was biased against men, who really hated my guts because we were all poly and pagan, ended up giving me sole custody with generous visitation for my Ex. Ten years later, in another iteration of the custody fight, a different judge who was heartily sick of both of us read me/us the riot act and then essentially gave me everything I asked for when the written judgement came down. In both cases, my lawyers were really surprised as to how it actually worked out in the end based on what had been said.
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From:slothman
Date:August 13th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
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Nothing that I could repeat in a lab, but there have been some damn strange patterns. I have a general talent for making machines work through laying on of hands when they are otherwise being recalcitrant (such as the time I had mononucleosis and my aunt’s car didn’t want to start to take me home from a visit to the doctor until I set my will on it— she was impressed, and I suspect the utter exhaustion of mono was helping concentrate my mind). I know a guy with the same talent who’s a technician in a research lab, and all the scientists know it’s important to let him do the setup.

While I won’t go into details in public, I strongly recommend setting careful limits when attempting to do things like manifest a new car, and if your teacher does not suggest setting careful limits when they offer that as an exercise, find a new teacher. (I was experimenting with being a bit more trusting and less suspicious at the time. That was a learning experience...) I did wind up with a new car.
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From:shadowandstar
Date:August 14th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for sharing these.

I have never done a spell for an external goal which worked -- but then again, I never worked at developing any talent in that are until recently.

On the other hand, I have done some rituals for personal/internal work that have been quite potent.
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From:rjgrady
Date:August 16th, 2010 07:04 am (UTC)
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John, as I have noted before, I don't call myself a magician precisely because I am skeptical of magic with physical effects which would would seem to violate causality. I have experienced things which I would consider a transfer of information, which implies some kind of physical exchange but perhaps is still kosher on a gross physical level.

Changing subjects. What is striking to me about these workings is that in each case, the successful casting seemed to bring a lot of mess and fuss with it (the protection charm's result still being wholly positive, nevertheless). It seems to me that the love magic and the house magic are situations where transforming yourself might have resulted in less collateral stress. Nonetheless, life's greatest breakthroughs are often accompanied by pain, new vision, and a process of surrender. Zen suggests that changing ourself is usually more productive than changing the world. I wonder what you think of that.

I have sometimes said that if I had some power, I would nourish my dreams. If I had godlike power, I would probably change nothing at all.
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From:heron61
Date:August 16th, 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
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It seems to me that the love magic and the house magic are situations where transforming yourself might have resulted in less collateral stress.

Around half of the effects of the love spells, especially the first, involved changing myself, I just had help. Being lazy, that's useful.

Zen suggests that changing ourself is usually more productive than changing the world. I wonder what you think of that.

That depends on what I want. I'm often highly goal directed, and if I want a house, and I don't want to have to drastically change my life and then work for a decade to earn the money, I'll take changing the world over changing myself any day of the week - I want the world on my terms.

In a more general sense, I find this idea to be exceptionally pessimistic, which is my reaction to most of Buddhism, I see it as a well-meaning, fascinating, but ultimately focused on a world-view that I reject. I find it less obviously negative than the various desert monotheisms, but see all of the pre-modern faiths as being ultimate world-rejecting, self-denying faiths.

This widespread attitude also makes much sense to me, in the pre-modern world, life sucked more than most modern residents of the first world can easily imagine, and people were far more vulnerable to disease, famine, and weather than almost anyone living in the first world is today. Also, well more than 80% of the population of any civilized society were stuck as farmers, and if too many people sought a different way of life, the whole system would collapse. Thus, teaching acceptance was a social necessity. However, our lives are no longer remotely like that, and so I see little place for such faiths other than as historical curiosities. Buddhist meditation techniques and other spiritual techniques look to be exceedingly useful and fascinating, but the overall belief structure really doesn't work for me.

I believe that collectively and individually, in both large and small ways, we can change the world. I have no patience with any belief system that says that it's better to learn to accept your current situation than to improve it. So, from my PoV, both are necessary, but given the choice between changing the world to fit what I want and changing myself to accept my current situation, I always regard the first as preferable. That doesn't mean that the second isn't often necessary, but from my PoV, that's a bug and not a feature.

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