You Don’t Always Need Magick
Many modern people find their way to Wicca and many other Pagan paths through an interest in magick. My only assumption for why that is would be that there is some sort of inherent appeal in magick. Perhaps it’s the thrill of being able to bring about change in one’s life, or discovering and being able to do things originally deemed impossible. Of course, it might just be the media’s portrayal of various forms of magick, even if you’re aware that throwing fireballs around without exerting any energy is pretty much impossible. While it might not be what keeps us walking the paths we walk, it is certainly an important aspect in our lives for those who choose to work it.
That said, there is an important lesson for beginners to learn should they wish to pass beyond the “dabbler stage.” And no, I’m not going to go on a long-winded speech on the ethical side of magick. While ethics are no less important than they were before you started reading this, they’ve been addressed countless times already. I don’t believe I need to restate them here. Nope, today’s lesson, should you care to hear me out on this, is about deciding when magick is appropriate in various circumstances. To do so, I’d like to give two recent examples from my own life (and, by recent, I’m talking within two or three weeks of writing this) involving protection magick.
So let’s start with the first scenario. I’ve already been working at a summer camp for a couple weeks, the same camp that has been my summer job for the last five years. Now, while counselors aren’t allowed to keep food in the cabins (kids can’t have it either, and we don’t want to attract pests) , we are allowed to keep food in the offices and in our staff fridge in the kitchen. Now, I usually kept my stash in the office, most of it sealed up in a watertight, airtight box. Whatever I couldn’t fit in the box, I kept in a plastic bag near my stuff on the desk. However, one morning I came into the office, ostensibly to get stuff ready for class, and discovered an entire unopened package of Oreo cookies missing. Well, you can imagine how upset I was. I asked around the office and even reported it to the assistant dean of the camp, a very nice man I could trust with basically anything. He was as upset as I was, suggested to me that I label my stuff and inform him if anything else went missing, and told me that, if we found the person, they’d be fired on the spot (as someone had been stealing other people’s food as well) .
After labeling my stuff, I then went about the rest of my day (which included an all-camp dance party in the evening—I had so much fun) . When I went back to the office later that evening, the other package of Oreo cookies, which had been opened and labeled, had been cleaned of all but five cookies, even though I was pretty sure I hadn’t eaten that many. After mentioning again to the assistant dean (who promised he keep an eye out for the thief) , I decided enough was enough. Making sure to choose a time when no one else was around the office, I took two stones. One was a holey stone, which has natural protective properties, and the other was a natural piece of quartz I’d found around the camp. With these two stones, I put up a protection spell not only to protect my belongings but also to illuminate the identity of the thief (though not to harm him or scare him) . Once that was done, I hid the stones in a broken electronic toy shark, set that on top of my box and walked away.
Before I get to what happened after I cast the protection spell, let’s set up scenario number two. This happened much later on in the session, close to the end of the camp for the summer, and it happened back at my cabin. On the last night before all the kids went home, a few of my girls approached me and another counselor. They had overheard rumors of one of the boys’ cabins planning pranks on our cabin that night. Now, this wasn’t too much of a surprise to us. The cabin in question had gone a little crazy with pranks that last week, which went from stealing our shoes off the front porch and hiding them in three different places around the camp to breaking into our cabin in the middle of the night and drawing with toothpaste around the toilets (I was kind of annoyed with the fact that I hadn’t managed to hear them break into our cabin) . While the girls had gotten back at them in a less invasive or destructive way (leaving tampons painted with red nail polish on the doorstep) , they were still concerned that the guys were going to go all out that night. In fact, they described the guys’ mentality as “Hey! We’re going home tomorrow. They can’t punish us!” Yeah, you can imagine how concerned we were.
However, in spite of that concern for the girls, I wasn’t sure protection magick was the best answer to this situation. I mean, this wasn’t just my stuff we were talking about. This was my entire cabin, campers and counselors alike. While I’m sure they would’ve appreciated the sentiment (they seemed to like me a lot and knew I had their safety and best interests in mind) , it would’ve been too much of a hassle to get permission from all the girls and the counselors to work a little protection magick. Plus, I can’t see too many of them being okay with the fact that one of their counselors were a Witch. On top of that, it had been a long day, and I had just recently gotten sick. I had enough materials to work another spell (I had lots of holey stones that I’d collected from the rocky paths around the camp) , but, physically, mentally, and emotionally, I was not in a good enough state to be working magick. So what did I do? I instead acted on a suggestion the girls gave me: to sleep in our front hallway near the door to prevent access to unwanted intruders.
So how did everything work out in each scenario? Well, in the first scenario, two things happened. First, the assistant dean bought me a new package of Oreos to replace the ones that had been stolen (such a sweet guy, I can’t remember how many times I thanked him) , and no more of my food was stolen. Second (and more importantly) , one of the other counselors began acting strangely, and some of the other counselors began to talk about recent changes in him. I’d even seen him run out into a terrible storm during a tornado watch with no rain coat, then just stand out there letting out a Tarzan yell. That freaked me out. After hearing how clingy he’d been with one of the other counselors and hearing some of the things he’d done and said to her, I let the assistant dean know. After that, more people began to speak up about his behavior, and the dean and the assistant dean confronted him about it. While I’m not sure exactly what happened between them, I know that he had decided, with suggestion for the dean and assistant dean, to return home and seek help. From what I heard later, it turns out that he had not only been stressed about entering college that fall but had also gotten into marijuana, which, according to my mom, gives you the munchies after the high. And, seeing that he didn’t have his own food stash in the office and my stuff was closest to the door, my guess is he was the thief as well. At any rate, after he left, my stuff was left alone.
But his story doesn’t end sadly, and it brings up what resulted from the second scenario. After a late night spontaneous dance party suggested by the dean to get the kids too tired to play pranks, I set up my sleeping bag out in the front hallway, close enough to the front door that anyone trying to get to the girls’ rooms would have to, quite literally, go through me. Later on, another of our counselors joined me in the hallway, a good friend of mine whom I cared about deeply. We spent the time until we both fell asleep quietly chatting about what had happened over the previous week, how we had enjoyed this cabin much more than our previous cabin (not to say we didn’t love our previous cabin too, but spending two weeks with twenty-five girls between the ages of seven and fourteen can drive you crazy—my room in that cabin was actually dubbed the “madhouse” by the girls I shared it with) , and what we planned to do after we went home.
However, it was during this time that I found out about the counselor who had left. My friend had been probably the closest to that counselor while he was going through the worst of his issues at camp and was the only person I knew of who still maintained contact with him. She let me know that he was doing a lot better, had managed to get help from his parents and some doctors and was drug free. According to the texts she received from him, he was grateful that things unfolded the way they had and that he was getting the help he needed. And, quite honestly, I am too. For everything that he went through, I couldn’t have picked a better ending. I also couldn’t have picked a better ending for the night I spent sleeping in the hallway. No one tried any pranks, and, aside from being woken up at around 7 to make room for the girls leaving early on the bus and crashing on the couch, the only person to sneak past me was one of our cabins counselors who was trying her best not to wake the rest of us up (we joked about her being a ninja) .
So what was the point of these two stories? Well, remember how I started out by mentioning that not all situations call for some kind of magick? I could’ve used protection spells in both those scenarios, but I didn’t. I didn’t need to. They were two completely different situations that needed to be resolved in two different ways, yet both stories have happy endings.
Probably one of the biggest traps that novice Witches and Wiccans can and sometimes do fall into (speaking from personal experience, and I’m sure many of you can relate to this) is thinking that every situation can be resolved with some sort of spell. While magick definitely carries its own sort of charm (pun intended) and can certainly be effective in any situation, not every situation needs magick to be resolved happily. The protection spell I used in the first scenario was something I did because I felt I had exhausted all other options. I never intended for the outcome of it (and I only asked to illuminate the thief’s identity, not to mess with him or scare him off) , but the fact that the thief ended up getting help for some of his own issues brings a little more warmth to my heart. In the second scenario, I was in no shape to work any spells and I still had options at my disposal, one that was even asked for by some of my campers. And, as you guys read, everything still turned out okay (aside from being sore from sleeping on the floor, but I can live with that if it means my girls feel safe and secure) .
So, the lesson for today: there is nothing preventing you from using magick to help out in any situation, but you should carefully consider whether or not magick would be the best option. Take into consideration every factor you can think of and everyone involved, including others and you. People might not want the spell worked, and their wishes could affect the outcome. Look at your own condition. If you’re working magick when you’re sick, angry, depressed or in any way not feeling your best, chances are that will affect your magick. Magick is a wonderful aspect of life, but not every situation calls for magick. You’ll know when one does.