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Magical Fluidity
by Lupa

When most of us first start delving into magic, we do so with a specific outcome in mind. The stereotypical example is the spell for one particular purpose—maybe enough money to pay this month’s bills, or a positive job interview. And, of course, there’s the dreaded love spell used to get the attention of one particular person.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a witchy spell—it could also be a sigil or servitor, for example. Regardless of what tools and rituals and trappings you use, the need is still the same—make that person fall in love with me! Generally speaking, the love spell is the domain of the underconfident, the person who feels that s/he has no chance of getting the attention of the object of hir infatuation, or of fixing a broken relationship. So in desperation s/he uses the love spells as a last-ditch measure to bring so-and-so (back) into hir life. Supposedly if the spell is followed to a T it’ll make the caster and target fall madly in love and live happily ever after.
This pattern underlies a limiting factor common within magic, especially among newer magic workers who are still stuck on rote memorization and following of prefabricated spells and rituals, most of which are also written for a very specific need. How many of us have, at one point or another, been told that our purpose must be very carefully worded in order to get what we want? For example, when working a money spell we have to add in that
“harm none” clause—or we may find that a rich beloved relative dies in a plane crash, leaving hir vast fortune to us at the price of hir life! (There are variations on this warning, but this is the one that I’ve heard the most.)
One thing I have learned over the years is that the spells and rituals, tools and trappings, all serve to teach us to recognize magic. Magic exists whether we acknowledge it or not; it is a part of the flow of Reality, the current of linear space/time that our world is immersed in. To create magic we use tools to plug ourselves into that flow and align our personal realities with the magical reality, thereby bringing about change in our lives. (Granted, this is just how I see magic; you might readGeorge Leonard’s The Silent Pulse to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.)
The other thing I’ve learned is that magic, as a force, is intelligent. Granted, its consciousness is widely different from our own. However, I’ve never had any doubt, in the deepest part of a successful ritual, that magic is alive, more than just in my head or simple electrons bouncing around at my behest. It is a part of the fabric of reality that all beings—people, animals, plants, rocks, deities, spirits, etc.—are also involved in. Whether this consciousness is the sum total (and then some) of all the consciousnesses in reality, or its own thing, I haven’t yet figured out.
What I have experienced, over and over again, is that magic knows how to find the best possible situation for me within the parameters I set. For example, I have found time and time again that whenever a spell or ritual didn’t work, later on something happened that showed me it was for the best. No matter how perfect my timing and intent, sometimes the magic just didn’t give me that exact outcome I wanted. And I paid close attention.
So I started being less exact about my wants. In job magic, for example, I stopped burning a candle before every interview. Instead, I asked that the magic find me a good, enjoyable job that paid well and was within reasonable distance from my home. I got better results from that than any single-shot spell.
Some of it is because it allows for more possibilities. The more specific the working, the less of a chance it has of being successful. Granted, you don’t want to be too vague—for example, doing a ritual for world peace is going to be less effective than one to make progress in a particular localized conflict. There’s an art to figuring out the balance of probability in magical results, and what’s most likely. Still, on a personal level, it’s quite possible to get too specific—such as with our not-so-good friend, the love spell.
Let’s look at a typical situation. Say you have Person A, who is madly in love (lust/infatuation) with Person B. However, B has absolutely no interest in A, who hasn’t spent an evening out of the house in eight years, has marginal personal hygiene, and whose topics of conversation are mainly limited to the properties of ear wax, statistical analyses of the rates at which different brands of exterior paint dry, andPamela Anderson’s boobs. B, on the other hand, is smart, witty, popular with the sex of hir choice, and can converse intelligently for hours on a wide variety of subjects.
Now, suppose A manages to get a copy of Lady Treehouse Shadow Glitterbutt’s book, “Spells For Everyone, Everything and Then Some, All For $9.99!” On page 736 of this prodigious tome (useful for holding up tables, stopping bullets, and balancing the national budget) is the Ultimate Love Spell That Will Work For You! A immediately gathers the old newspapers, pink candles, half a pound of mixed parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme –and a picture of B that s/he pilfered from hir locker back in high school. Mix the ingredients together, shaken not stirred, and drink it all in one gulp, and supposedly that will make A irresistibly attractive to B.
The chances of something that specific working are next to nil, even with all the effort put in. What’ll probably happen is, while B is out that night with hir friends and admirers, A will be worshipping at the porcelain altar while all that newspaper and herbage comes flooding back out of A’s offended digestive system.
Now, what A should have been doing is an entirely different type of magic. First off, you know that saying “In order to be loved, be lovable?” It’s true. If you feel underconfident, unattractive and otherwise unlovable, chances are that’s what you’re projecting. Before embarking on any sort of love effort whatsoever, look at yourself, first. Are you happy with who you are? And, controversially, what sort of image do you project to others? Granted, your own happiness should come first, but one of the Geek Social Fallacies is that your friends (and lovers) should love you for who you are. What that fallacy forgets is that those around us are also good at catching faults that we might miss in our blind spots. For example, I trust my mate,Taylor, to let me know when I’m screwing something up, without being an ass about it.

Now, back to the topic of specifics. Once A has some positive changes under hir belt (undoing insecurities, improving hygiene, getting out and seeing the world as it is instead of how it was in 1999), s/he may still want to work that love spell. However, there’s a better way to do it.
Instead of “Let B fall in love with me,” the magic should concentrate on “I open myself to the possibility of finding someone who is compatible with me and a relationship that will be beneficial for all people involved. Let me find the right person for who I am now, and who I want to become”. A can even add in the disclaimer “With no harm to anyone” if s/he so desires. This leaves the options much more open. Person B may not be the answer, but maybe Person C will be as close to perfect as it gets. (For all we know, B may be a serial killer with a really good P.R. agent. Probably better that A didn’t get hooked up with hir.)
Leaving the magic more room to work with increases the chances of better results. Granted, these results may take some time to manifest; my husbandTaylor spent six years in a series of workings to find his magical mate, refining the process with each failure. But he finally found me, and here I am, and we couldn’t be happier. Patience is key here, and the end result is almost always worth the wait, if what you get is given proper value. People can be damned ungrateful when they don’t attain perfection, forgetting that sometimes what we end up with is an opportunity to improve a situation. The magic often gives us what we need rather than what we think we want, and it behooves the magician to respect that.

Lupa is a twenty-something pagan and experimental magician living in Seattle . Lupa is the author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin (March ’07) and Kink Magic: Sex Magic Beyond Vanilla (withtaylor, November ’07). Her website is .