Hey there Occulties,+
I was recently inspired by a forum post in a facebook forum I belonged to, where a gentleman had posted a relatively nicely made tool he'd made "hadn't worked."
Now I put that in quotes not because I disbelieve the man (I believe it didn't work when he tried,) but more because I believe when it comes to magical tools, sometimes people do the same thing as clicking at a TV with a remote that doesn't contain batteries or an energy source, then complain the remote "doesn't work." ;) This is the same as those of you who light a candle or say what looks like an easy chant, then complain "it doesn't work" - it won't work if it has never had the energy to do so.
And, interestingly enough, one of the easiest ways to make something "magical" (albeit, you'll accuse me of pushing religion,) to work is to use something really really used. For example, the Pater Noster (Our Father) has been spoken so many times devoutly, that it does work for a blessing even if you don't believe - which honestly, I'd rather you say it with belief than none, it's just the words carry the weight of over a thousand years of faithful saying them with faith. ...Think of that like the battery that people all over the world keep charging. ;) It still works better if said with faith, but even the faithless can say it, and it may help...
That said, let's get away from prayer for a bit before all of my agnostic readers throw their hands in despair.
In Hoodoo, as I was taught and as I have learned, all things have an energy - living beings, parts of deceased beings, feathers, stones, roots, herbs, dirt, even every day items have an energy or a signature. Using the law of signatures as my base for my test (how does it grow? Where does it grow? What does it belong to? what is it near? what does it do? how does it effect humans? how does it effect others of it's kind? etc, etc,) I can often figure out what an unknown substance might do magically. For example, if we are trying to bring money to ourselves, we might use dirt from a bank for an ingredient. As all of these items have an innate or natural "charge" to them, we can use this power to bring forth that which we desire, when we combine items properly....but if we look at this like baking, just because I have all of the ingredients for a cake, this doesn't mean I know what amount to add to the cake, or what to set the oven to and for how long. ;) That knowledge comes with practice and effort. (See Why are practitioners such bags of dicks here.)
Oh, good Lord....I've suggested rewards aren't always immediate in spellcasting for yourself, and that some effort and practice is probably required. Everyone hold open the door to the Rant Room and let the "spellcast once for myself for a quick fix" people out of the room.
There, now that we're alone with serious students, back to my tangent. ;)
So, back to the gentleman who'd made a magical tool that "didn't work..." I'm of a mind that certain types of work - that is, certain paradigms, - are not necessarily good beginner work, and what he'd created would be a tool for that very type of not-the-best-for-beginners-type of work. In Hoodoo, I see this far less in the sense of "I went and bought this ancient tome, see, and then applied 14 hours of work to making this thing it told me to make, and jack shit happened." In Hoodoo, often if we apply focus of will, and a stillness of the mind, we're not so worried if we fasted for 14 days, didn't masturbate or have sex for another fortnight, and painted in the blood of 15 dead unicorns* to make some particular tool work. This means, while there is something to be learned, practiced, and wielded (that is, will,) we are also assisted by the natural energies within the ingredients we are using.** Rather than spending months or even years achieving some level of mastery just so as we can have a set of tools that works amazingly well (or a set of rituals that works amazingly well, see Frater Ashen Chassan's Ars Almadel experiments, here for example, and here,) it is my personal belief that Hoodoo employs what is, for the most part, easily accessible (except if you're an incredibly lazy or incredibly cheap asshole...and it even works for several cheap assholes,) Hoodoo can be successfully employed by beginners who focus their will and don't give into lust for results.
Once we use natural energies in each item as well as our own (remember all those times I said charge the candle, or envision x or y thing? This is what I mean when I say using your own will, or adding energy, etc,) in Hoodoo, we often achieve success.
Failure, however, is inevitable - not in all attempts at spellcasting, but in some. Even the most practiced master of the art will fail at times. I've mentioned before an incident where, in my younger days, I'd used Mars-based energy on a reconciliation (thinking that sexual passion would be a key element to bringing back the target,) only to discover I was involved in some fisticuffs action with the target instead (because Mars rules the grosser lusts which include wrath.) While this was not a failure in the sense of "nothing happened," and while this was not a failure in the sense that I never had the target come back to me (he did, in time,) it didn't really work as an effective reconciliation in the sense of "Wow, he's so sorry for his actions, and wants to be my baby right now." ;) I don't even view that as a failure, really. Something happened.
And maybe this is where you and I do not see eye to eye... To me, there is a sliding scale of success...or maybe it's a tree...or something. I mean there is the effect of "Nothing happened." Which is to say, after years of waiting (yep,) I can honestly still say at this moment in time that what I did resulted in no effect whatsoever. That's a definite fail.
Yes, years, because I've had incidents where I didn't learn of the effects til more than a few years later, and it ended up that I had a pretty resounding impact, actually, I just didn't get what I want in the way I wanted it. :P So, technically I was successful (I had one guy suicidally in love with me who never told me, and was "outed" by his friends years afterwards for example,) but whoever was impacted didn't make a move where I could see it. Sometimes it's that I didn't see my opportunities until the hindsight I had was 20/20, either. Like "Oh, if I had just done this or that thing when the opportunity presented itself, I'd be $35k richer right now. WTH, why didn't I grab that opportunity? Hrm..." I did go over this in another article to some degree (about trying to find opportunities) so we've actually touched on this subject before...
But let's go back to the proverbial success tree...success being the branches, fail being the roots..
So, as far as I can tell, results (so types of success) from spells fall under the following categories:***
1. TOTAL AND COMPLETE SUCCESS! Good job, you got everything you hoped for and basically in a relatively predictable way. No surprises here. You wanted x job, and got hired for x job. You wanted y person, and y person came to you like they'd loved you forever.
2. Somewhat unexpected success! Good job, you got everything you hoped for, but, as I often remind my readers, it came to you in some manner you didn't entirely expect it to. ;) Maybe you didn't get a promotion at your current job (like you suspected you would when spellcasting for a higher paying job,) but instead got a much better job at a different firm. Maybe the police didn't arrest your neighbor for being...well, a criminal (as you suspected they would when you cast a spell to get that person out of your building,) but instead your neighbor got evicted by the landlord for non-payment of rent. Maybe your ex didn't text you when you discovered they wanted you back but rather ran into you at the convenience store and blurted out that they love you.
3. Wholly unexpected outcomes that were eventually a success. While this is similar to #2 and #4 on this list, it is not entirely the same. For example, let's say you want to reconcile an old partner. Initially, after the spell is cast, this person argues with you a lot or acts distant. About 2 months after the work, the person tells you that they'd had so much animosity towards you that if it had never come out, they could not reconcile with you, and they DO reconcile with you. OR, let's say you spellcasted for a better and higher paying job (not specifying you remain at the same job.) About 2 weeks later, you're fired for some totally bullshit reason from your current job. When you apply to a few places thereafter, you are met with animosity or coldness from prospective employers. Just when you're about to give up, your old friend Zeke calls from the opposite coast that you live on (or maybe from the mid-west, wheresoever you have a friend named Zeke, heh,) and you dish that you've lost your job and everything seems bad. Zeke mentions he still has some connections where you live and makes a few calls. Voila! You are given a better job with better pay as opposed to the job you were fired from.
4. "Monkey's Paw" success. Among the occultists I know, a "Monkey's Paw" effect is getting what you want in an undesirable way, and is the meaning of "be careful for what you wished for, as you just might get it." It references a famous W. W. Jacobs story. Sometimes the outcome is that you never wanted what you asked for to begin with - you get the job you requested only to find out that you despise the job and everyone who works there. Maybe you ask for the love of a person only to discover that they are obsessive, possessive and abusive (and now quite ardently in love with you.) Or perhaps you ask for money, and your house burns down (but the insurance pays out nicely.)
5. Something definitely happened. This is the most common type of "failure" which is actually (in my mind) a success. You made an impact, but perhaps not to the level or of the kind that you desired. My "Mars for reconciliation" episode mentioned above could be filed under this (I got a reaction from the target, and he WAS sorry for his behavior later which led to some reconciliation, but admittedly I wasn't looking to get into a physical altercation with a man I wanted to reconcile.) More than one attempt at magic tends to find itself filed under this header - we use something we are sure will work, and, while it has a noticeable effect, it's as if it falls short of our goals - rarely (well, perhaps when you get out of the neophyte stage is it rare,) is it as silly as "Let's use the God of War for reconciliation" type of outcome (because as a beginner/intermediate I tried a lot of weird things experimentally without considering some things I now would see as obvious mistakes,) and more commonly, it's a matter of seeing a noticeable impact from what we've tried to achieve with spells without getting what we want.
6. Total and complete desirable impact with missed opportunity (success, but you didn't grab the opportunity.) Sometimes, because we are humans and believe ourselves far smarter than we really are, we just miss something. ;) For example, you spellcast for certain traits in a lover rather than a particular person only to realize you started chasing anything that showed interest and missed the best one for you. OR you spellcasted for a good new job, and once you turned in a bunch of applications you took the job that, even though you felt a better fit at a job that paid $2 less an hour, paid the most, only to realize the slightly-lower-paying job was your dream job. Sometimes you even work to reconcile someone only to be too proud to do so when the opportunity presents itself. :( This isn't a spell-failure, it's human failure. On the positive, your spell totally worked! On the negative, you're probably going to have to try again because it worked and you didn't grab opportunity by the nutsack when opportunity's nutsack was out.
7. Hidden success. I'd mentioned above that there have been times in my life where I only found out a great time later that I'd been entirely successful in my work. While I find this more often when cursing (because I don't poke around to hear about someone's misfortune, as it is my belief that this is counter productive to the curse working,) I've also had the experience where I'd made someone suicidally in love with me (according to mutual friends years later,) when all he ever showed me of that was that he tried to steal a kiss (he had reasons for holding back which were quite good, but if I'd realized how I'd tortured the young man at the time, I'd never have let it get that far.) Sometimes we are all far more successful in our workings than we realize, though some people might also categorize this as #5 above.
And failures are basically under the following categories:
1. Spell failure, no obvious reason. Sometimes you do everything right, and as far as you can tell, nothing happens...while this might fall under 6 or 7 on the success list later (sometimes even a 5 on that list,) there will always be those incidents which NOTHING HAPPENS, and for no real understandable reason, no matter who you ask...though, if it's not under the success list after a few years, it's probably because one of the reasons 2-4 below...
2. It's not yours to have. We can't have everything we want in life. Sorry. I can't sing a note, and even if I trained my voice for years, I'd still not have a great singing voice. It's just how God made me. I'm fine with that. Also, I really love Ryan Gosling's body...I don't think that's mine to have either (though, Mr Gosling, you're free to prove me wrong there at any time.) I will never be tall. I'm terrible with math, so I'll probably never be a five-star mathematician...but I think MOST of us can understand basic limitations like this.... HOWEVER, sometimes we just don't see that what LOOKS like it could be ours can't be ours. Maybe it's a job, maybe it's someone you know, maybe it's a lot of things, but for whatever reason, the Universe has decided that which you seek is not yours to have at this time.
3. You fucked up the spell. You didn't focus, you didn't let go of the spellwork, you thought it to death, you obsessed, you worked against the spell energy, you did something wrong while casting, you did something wrong after casting, you didn't do the right things before casting...honestly, this is one of the more common reasons for failure. The remedy? I guess, if you still want that thing, try again. ;)
4. You suck at spells. I'm just going to come out and say it - some people are just not at all capable of spellcasting, and will never be more than meh at doing it. That's a smallish percentile. The next group is a group of people who have to work really really really really hard, but after lots and lots of practice, they become somewhat competent at it (and never amazing or even good.) That's a reasonable sized percentile. The next group is a group of people who definitely have to put a good deal of work in, but the effort pays off, and they are quite good. That's also a reasonable sized percentile. Then comes the naturals...they are good to start with, but need to work to be amazing. That's a smallish percentile. Look, I have a bachelors degree in fine arts - do you know how many impressive artists there are who will never be masters at it? A large percentile. It's the same idea. Find any vocation which requires practice, study, and skill, and you will find only a small percentile become true masters at that skill, while some people - no matter how much study and practice they put in, - are never going to be good at it. Spellcasting is no different.
So, we've gone over successes and failures, and I can honestly say a good 75% or so of spells (aimed at a realistic end - not at turning oneself into a werewolf or winning lotteries,) will fall under the success part of the tree in some way or another...at least in my experience. With failure - I've said it a thousand times, the most common reason for failure is lust for results/thinking the spell to death, and it's entirely avoidable. :P
HOWEVER, I don't think failure is always (or even often) a bad thing. I've learned from every failure or every not-stunning success.
Remember, people give up because of SLOW PROGRESS, never realizing that slow progress IS STILL PROGRESS. Maybe that failure is part of you still making progress on the situation. Did you really want what you started spellcasting for? If you don't get it immediately, will you just NOT LEARN ANYTHING AND GIVE UP? If you will, then I highly suggest you go to some sort of place where they put a crash helmet on you and nice people help you get dressed. You aren't capable of achieving anything in life (because nothing worth having is effortless,) and might as well give up on trying to get anything or lead a life. :P Or you're a product of the internet age, and you should stop reading my blog because no one instilled beliefs in you like "hard work and effort pay off." I'm sorry you have bad/incapable parents/teachers (but very capable enablers, apparently,) then, but I take no responsibility for you being so stupid/inept/lazy. :(
For the rest of you...failure is not a shameful thing, it's a learning opportunity. Remember above where I said "grab opportunity by the nutsack?" Why aren't you? Even if you don't achieve what you set out to achieve (be that being with or being reunited with someone, or a desired better job, or more money, or revenge on an enemy, or even just to have more friends,) with spells, what did you learn by NOT getting what you wanted? OK, past that x spell didn't work. ;) WHY did it not work? Or why did it not work HOW YOU WANTED IT TO. Did you do everything right before? Did you stop thinking the work to death (or never start)? Did you cut corners with your spellwork? Can you direct your will? What were the planets doing when you spellcasted? Look at all the reasons FOR failure, and you will learn from failure.
And also those "successes that don't seem so successful," (for example "something happened, just not what I'd wanted,") are also some of the most amazing learning experiences out there. So, I didn't reconcile my ex to the point he wanted to reunite with me, but now he's not against being my friend...what did I do wrong there? Was I not using enough sexual element? Was it not enough romance? Why is he afraid to come back to me? What are the psychological and social elements which might hold him back? These are all valuable questions to ask when, if you find in a few months, there isn't the desired result.
Until you're willing to accept failure (or half-assed success, heh,) as part of the learning process in casting spells for yourself (and you will "fall down," and you must get up and try again, just like when you were learning to walk,) you will never become competent at spellcasting. The easily discouraged do not win any awards in life, and people forget that someone who is an expert at something has failed to do whatever they are doing now a number of times before they got to where they COULD DO that thing. This is no different. If you cast spell and see SOME impact, congratulate yourself for doing SOMETHING. Try again.
So there you go. That's my rant on failure. ;)
+Still adding my 2014 posts. Sorry. December was a busy month and yet low-paying and discouraging. I have no excuse for myself other than working 14 hours a day every day for less than a dollar (gross not net) an hour makes me really not want to add 2 extra hours in unpaid. I need compensation for work that I do to stay motivated, just like most living things. :/
*I've never actually seen any suggest painting in the blood of a mythological animal, to be fair - this is merely me being sort of sarcastic. Sex and eating regulations are sometimes suggested in varying grimoiric texts, however.
**This is why I tell you not to buy that cheap, shitty, machine made crap that pretends to be traditional formulas. Mineral oil and/or baby powder are not substitutes for real ingredients.
***If I can be wholly honest here, I don't actually limit success or failure to those following 11 categories, but, because a broad view is usually the best for the sake of teaching, it's pretty helpful, and includes the more popular reasons.
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