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Witchery 101 : A Prelude & Introduction to Practical Magic

Here at Chez Ankh, I am surrounded by books on witchcraft. More magical tomes than I can hope to read in a lifetime are literally at my fingertips.

So when I am asked (as I often am) “How do I begin studying witchcraft?” one would think that I’d have a ready answer. But I don’t.  There are so many paths, so many traditions, so SO many books that this simple question cripples me with indecision. How should I advise the sincere seeker when my own education is ongoing?

So I don’t. Instead I direct them to the books that have, over the years, made their way from the groaning Weiser shelves onto my  (equally burdened) desk. These are the titles that I turn to again and again, whether I am looking for some simple solution to a common magical problem or an obscure and powerful correspondence. These books are what I would classify as essential reading for the would-be witch.

So back to that original question. “How do I begin studying magic?”

Let’s begin with the most basic and accessible form of  witchery – Practical Magic. The information here is based on two of those aforementioned essential titles - Pure Magic by Judika Illes and The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland:

*****

Practical Magic is Earth-Based and Utilizes All “Living” Things

I. Everything that breathes, grows, occurs naturally or is crafted with intent has spirit – and spiritual power.

Witchcraft, as it is understood by most practitioners, is an earth-based belief system. Its core tenet is that the Earth, and everything on it and in it, contain spiritual power. Things that are mass-produced, without variation or individualized intent, do not have spirit. A rock has spirit, but a factory-made paver does not. A hand-sewn and embroidered pillowcase has spirit. That thing on your bed that you bought at Marshall’s does not. And obviously, everything that grows and/or breathes has spirit – although a plant raised from seed in your own garden, or found in a forest meadow will have more spirit than one that you picked up at the Lumber Depot.

II. The spirit of a thing relates to its origin and how it functions. The degree of its power relates to where and how it was formed.

This is important, because a witch uses or borrows those powers to work magic.  The spirit of each thing differs in degree (see above comment on wild/home grown plants vs. factory farmed) and kind. The power of an onion is vastly different than that of a rose. The power of obsidian (volcanic glass) formed and forced out from the Earth’s own furnaces differs greatly from that of sea glass, created by man and reshaped by sand and sea. Both are magical, both have spirit – but whereas the sharp, lethal energy of obsidian makes for great arrowheads, sea-glass is much better suited to an amulet.  And you wouldn’t woo a lover with a dozen onions, now, would you?

Practical Magic Utilizes the Four Elements

Each element has its own unique power and energy, lending strength to its associated magic. Each witch has a preferred element. Even if you’ve never practiced the craft, you probably already know which element you favor and (as a result) what kind of magic will work best for you. The elements also have associated planets, seasons, directions, etc. There is a whole volume’s worth of discussion here, so let us suffice with a brief description of each and a few correspondences.

Earth –  Common to us all, this is the element of grounding and healing magic, as well as money and fertility spells. It is, logically enough, feminine in its energy. Plants, because they grow in earth, are saturated with earth magic. Salts, being of the earth, are excellent vehicles for earth magic.

  • Time: Midnight
  • Season: Winter
  • Direction: North
  • Zodiac: Taurus; Virgo; Capricorn

Air – The element of intellect, intuition and communication. A more mysterious element than the other three – it is felt less directly, although it is no less essential. It is, in fact, the element that we need most (and need constantly). It is a masculine energy that fuels fires and fills sails. It is forceful and forward moving. Incense and fragrances are powerful air magic.

  • Time: Dawn
  • Season: Spring
  • Direction: East
  • Zodiac: Gemini; Libra; Aquarius

Water – The origin of all life (both planetary and individual) it is the element of life, love, emotion and mystery. It is feminine in its energy, and best accessed with baths and washes. Didn’t your mama tell you that everything works better when it is clean?

  • Time: Twilight
  • Season: Autumn
  • Direction: West
  • Zodiac: Cancer; Scorpio; Pisces

Fire – The most dangerous and unpredictable element – creator and destroyer – a thing that is not a thing – representing intelligence, purification, and sex.  Fire energy is powerfully masculine, and accessed though candle-magic and any number of spells that require burning and smoke.

  • Time: Noon
  • Season: Summer
  • Direction: South
  • Zodiac: Aries; Leo; Sagittarius

Practical Magic Utilizes Color

Colors have power. That why Priests (and witches) wear black and a certain famous golfer is know for winning when he wears his red shirt. Here are the most common color correspondences:

Black – the color of protection, authority,  and fertility (as in rich, black soil). Its element is Earth.

“Harness the power of the color black for fertility spells and for petitions to heal those who are chronically ill. Black candles are considered the most beneficial for repelling evil intentions while black crystals create psychic shields.” (Judika Illes, Pure Magic, p. 26)

Brown – the color of comfort, nurturing, and grounding. Its element is Earth.

“Surround yourself with brown energy to preserve and reinforce your personal power in the midst of long, draining projects. Brown is the color of justice. Brown candles are traditionally burned for assistance during legal proceedings.” (Ibid p.27)

Green – the color of growth and prosperity. Its elements are Earth and Water.

“Use green candles, baths and crystals in spells for employment, to get cash, in general, for anything that you wish to increase in your life.” (Ibid, p.27)

Yellow – the color of joy, harmony, and love. Its elements are Earth and Fire.

“Yellow is associated with romance as it’s the color most frequently associated with the most powerful spirits of love. Harness the power of yellow for romantic enchantments. A yellow candle will kindle new love. A yellow color bath can help you learn to love yourself.” (Ibid., p.29)

Red –  the color of passion, vitality, and good fortune. Its elements are Fire and Earth.

“Harness the power of red to enhance your personal power, your vitality and to protect as you transition over thresholds, particularly those having to do with marriage, birth and children. Pink demonstrates red’s gentler aspects. Pink is especially beneficial for spells involving children and a new romance.” (Ibid., p.28)

Purple – the color of royalty and psychic energy. Its element is Fire.

“Purple is also associated with sexual pleasure. If you can’t decide what color sheets to buy, you might consider purple. Purple candles are used in the most amorous of love spells.” (Ibid., p.27)

Blue – the color of tranquility, healing, and protection. Its elements are Air and Water.

“Blue is traditionally the most important protective color, particularly in regards to thresholds. A blue bead worn at your throat protects you from saying ‘the wrong thing.’…Paint your doors, window frames and/or ceilings blue for spiritual protection. Blue assists in breaking the chains of bad habits. Burn blue candles to reinforce your commitment to terminate a detrimental addiction.” (Ibid., p. 26)

White – the color of creativity and potential. It can be used, magically, as a substitute for any other color. Its elements are Air and Fire.

“White is especially beneficial for candles and spells to initiate new projects. Keep a healthy stock of white candles on hand for spontaneous spells…White is traditionally the color of the moon. Use white crystals, candles, and clothes when you wish to draw down some moon magic.” (Ibid., p.29)

Practical Magic Requires Only a Few Simple Tools

And probably ones that you already have on hand. Practical is the operative word here. No need to spend lots of money or search the far reaches of the internet. Just look in your cupboards or head down to the hardware store.

Candles – as we saw above, different colors have different associations, but simple white candles will serve all of your purposes.

Charcoal – for burning resins (such as Frankincense) or home-made incense (not pre-made in cone or stick form)

Incense Burner – an oven-proof dish, scooped out stone, or large seashell will do. Fill it with sand before setting in the charcoal and lighting up, to protect from heat and flame. Warning – if you use beach sand, you may ignite some briny odors you weren’t intending. Clean sand thoroughly!

Cauldron – oh yeah! Cast iron is nice, but really, any pot put aside for magical purposes will do.

Wooden spoons – for gently stirring potions and the like. Longer handles work best.

Mortar and Pestle – can be found cheaply almost anywhere these days. A coffee grinder works too, but is far less fun.

Containers – to keep your ingredients in and clearly marked - glass is best but anything airtight-ish works fine.

Knife – keep it small, keep it sharp, and (ideally) keep it exclusively for chopping magical ingredients and carving magical symbols.

Paper - for writing spells and intentions. The fewer chemicals the better, so unbleached is best, although again, whatever you have on hand will do.

Salt – for purifying, protection, making lovely scrubs and baths. Sea salt is always best.

Blank Book – because you will need to keep track of things, like what works, what doesn’t, etc.

Pop Quiz

What is more magically powerful?

  • a polished cowrie shell from a beloved beach-side shell shop
  • your grandmother’s needlepoint sampler
  • Mardi-Gras beads
  • poison ivy
  • it depends

You want to cast a love spell. Which magical combination would serve you best?

  • A black candle and a garlicky pasta dish.
  • A blue candle and a hot soak in epsom salts.
  • A purple candle, anointed with rose oil and incised with the planetary symbols for Mars and/or Venus (or any combination thereof)
  • A brown candle, soothing music, and a valium

Homework

  • Set aside some small space for your magical supplies and books. It needn’t be big, but it should be dedicated to witchy workings.
  • Gather the supplies mentioned above. If you don’t have something listed, be creative and make do with what you have. Magic is about intent, not purchase.
  • Keep your eyes, ears, etc. open for things that speak to you magically – a smooth stone that skips into your path, an iridescent crow feather, etc. – collect them if it is safe and ethical, or write about them in your witchy book.

Required Reading

**If you have suggestions or questions please post them in the comment field! I know that there are many, many of you out here who have wit and wisdom to share with Ankhie and the newbies, so post away!**

NEXT WEEK:  Witchy History and a Few Spells to Start You Off

Curating the Creepy – a Conversation with Varla Ventura

Ankhie sat down (virtually) with the always awesome Varla Ventura (Book of the Bizarre, Beyond Bizarre) to chat about her role as curator of the new Weiser Books Digital Collection, specifically the series Magical Creatures. I want to live next door to Varla. I really, really do.

Hi Varla. Thanks for taking time to chat! I thought we could talk about the Magical Creatures series in the new Weiser e-book Collection. You curated this group as well as the Paranormal Parlor series. How did this gig come about?

 Well, Jan Johnson, the publisher over at Weiser Books just called me up one day and said she had a new idea and could I come for tea? Weiser has published The Book of the Bizarre and Beyond Bizarre and they have been pretty successful and I guess my penchant for collecting and my eye for the unusual or strange made her think I’d be the right person to curate! It has been great fun.

Was the decision to split the collection into these two series a publisher decision or a curatorial one?

Both. Originally they asked me to do the Magical Creatures but then I found a great deal of paranormal stuff that I liked and we kind of mutually came up with the Paranormal Parlor collection.

 In your own occult collection (which I know is vast) are you more inclined toward the paranormal or the monstrous? Or is that like asking you which child you prefer?

Worse. It’s like asking me who I’d rather date, Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi.

My first question about this series is a fairly obvious one. What distinguishes a magical creature from, say, an ordinary house-pet?

Magical Creature is the marvelous umbrella term for fairies, elves, gnomes, imps, mermaids, werewolves, vampires, and more. Your house-pet may well be a magical creature–you never know what they are up to when you are not around. Your cockatiel might just be a shapeshifter in disguise! A Magical Creature is a description of a being of folklore or myth but I’d like to invite readers to throw out the idea of real vs. myth. Sometimes it is just a matter of how keen your eye is, or how observant you are. You may not have seen them, but I can pretty much guarantee that you have been seen by them. And they have the magical ability to reveal themselves only to select people, and grant them riches or curse their first born.

There are two books in this series that focus on the undead as their subject matter. Vampyre – a Tale, and The Mummy and Miss Nitocris.

Starting with Vampyre; this story has quite a literary legacy. Could you tell us briefly how it came to be written?

Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft (Shelley) were reading ghost stories aloud to one another one stormy night at Byron’s lake house in Geneva, Switzerland. Byron prompted his partygoers to write a ghostly tale of their own. Out of this came the beginnings of Frankenstein, a Modern Prometheus.  As it happened, John William Polidori was also there that fated night. Personal physician to Lord Byron and a writer as a past time, Polidori crafted The Vampyre, A Tale from a sketch of a story that Byron composed that same evening. Often wrongly advertised as a story by Byron himself, The Vampyre has remained a relatively obscure tale of terror. The first vampire story published in English, Polidori’s work predates the seminal Bram Stoker’s Dracula by more than seventy years!

So this is one of the first vampire stories written for the entertainment of the reading public? How was it received in its day?

I think it probably was fairly well received, at least at first, because of its association with Byron. When it was first published several printings were mistakenly identifying Byron as the author. I guess back then you could just poach something pretty easily and print it. Also the publicity confused matters, saying that Lord Byron was the author but he was embarrassed by it and denied it. That wasn’t really true, though we really don’t know the ultimate truth. I kind of think of Polidori as this doctor to the stars who wished he was one himself. And so he made it happen. Would it have happened if he hadn’t known Lord Byron? Probably not. It is entertaining, but admittedly Polidori was not the master of language that Lord Byron was.

What do you think Polidori would have thought of today’s sparkly teenaged vampire heartthrobs?

He would have probably wanted to inject them with some kind of slow poison that first robbed them of their sparkle and then stopped their heart.

I think I love him!

The mummy hasn’t fared as well as the vampire in the public’s affections, but it was enormously popular at the time The Mummy and Miss Nitocris was published. What do you think accounts for that decline?

We know too many of the facts about the Pharaohs and the Egyptians. Back in late 1800s and the early part of the 1900’s we were still going about raiding the tombs and rumors of curses were rampant. Now we have all of these scientific facts getting in the way of our imaginations. Also, you have to be an Ancient Egyptian to become a mummy. A vampire is much more communicable. One bite, and bam! You are in.

We know that mummies are real (though not perhaps in the way that George Chetwynd Griffith meant), but you also mention in your introduction to The Werewolf that there is a scientific basis for that phenomenon, at least in part. Can you tell us a little more?

There is a rare but very real disease now called clinical lycanthropy. Those diagnosed believe themselves to able to transform into a non-human animal, specifically a wolf.

You also talk in that introduction about the difference between vampires and werewolves. Vampires are frightening but also, let’s face it, kind of sexy, whereas there is something sympathetic, even pitiful about the werewolf. Why is that?

Well, there is something kind of lusty about a bite on the neck. We might have some sympathy for the poor immortal vampire, but overall we kind of want to be a vampire ourselves. Live forever, make out with other vampires with dark hair and pale skin. I’ll keep it G-rated here, but certainly we’ve all had a hickey here or a love bite there?

But werewolves, in many cases, seem to not want to be what they are. And they have this more pathetic help-me kind of vibe, I guess it’s the dog in them. Vampires are very civilized but werewolves have an uncontrolled wild streak. You can put pants on them, but as soon as the full moon comes round they are going to dash the pants and run out into the yard howling and foaming at the mouth. They can’t hide what they are. I’ve dated both and I can’t tell you which I prefer. They both have merits.

Now for my favorite title The Occult Power of Goats (I want that on a tee-shirt) – this is really a fantastic compendium of British and Welsh Faerie tales. Most everyone reading this knows the difference between Fairy Tales and tale of the Fae, but for the sake of clarity what makes these stories chilling and not really for children?

These are old-world fairies that prey on children, or expect payment, or play tricks. They aren’t all evil, but there is no Prince Charming here. There are things you can’t outrun and creatures that lure you into their kingdom. Ultimately, the fairy gets rewarded for trapping mortals so don’t expect the fairies with sparkling wings and cute figures. They’ll take whatever form necessary to get you, but once they have you, you will most assuredly regret being so foolish. These are goblins, brownies, imps, selkies, and other mythological members of the fairy world.

I know that there are a lot of people in both the old world and the new that believe wholeheartedly in the Fae. There is also a modern witchcraft tradition known as Feri, and a Faery Pagan movement. It may seem a silly question, but can you tell us briefly what the difference between them is?

Actually, as I understand it, the modern magical traditions attempt to work in harmony with unseen forces from the fairy kingdom. They are also really into fairies, so they probably wear wings to all the pagan conventions and such. All witches work with unseen forces, but I think the fairy traditions specifically use the trickery and magic of the types of creatures that appear old-school tales like those in Occult Powers of Goats. But I’m no expert on the magical practice part. I just like to scare people.  

And scare them you do!

As always you are an amazing resource Varla, and this is a fabulous collection. Will there be more titles to come?

But of course! There are some upcoming fun things like a Christmas Troll, always more mermaids, and a great collection of Pooka stories. I’ve got about two-thousand potential titles that I am trying to narrow down, so it will keep going as long as Weiser sees fit!

Excellent news! Thanks Varla!

Want more Varla? Check out her Blog of the Bizarre and on The Huffington Post!

If you are a Nook reader, the Weiser Collection can be found here.

The Collection is coming soon to iPad and other e-readers everywhere!

Cold from the Crypt & Hot Off the (Virtual) Press – The Weiser Digital Library

Those of you who are familiar with Varla Ventura (she of The Book of the Bizarre and Beyond Bizarre, as well as The Huffington Post) know that she rejoices in all things odd and unseemly. So when Weiser Books needed a curator for a new digital library of lost occult classics, the choice was obvious. Varla’s selections for the first ten titles in this series were not. In keeping with her fabulous freakitude, Varla chose tomes as obscure and unsettling as The House and the Brain (which may be the creepiest title ever) and The Occult Power of Goats. God I love that woman!

The result is a group of digital books that will inform, enlighten, surprise, and scare the pants off you. Perfect. They are inexpensive  (starting at $2.99)  and are currently available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and soon (very soon) most other e-reader platforms.

Intrigued? Of course you are. So, because Ankhie loves you, here’s a taste of some serious weirdness from A Haunting in Paris:

Utter night: the last flicker of the lantern was gone. I sat and waited; my mind was still keen, but how long would it last? There was a limit even to the endurance of the utter panic of fear.

Then the end began. In the velvet blackness came two white eyes, milky, opalescent, small, far away,—awful eyes, like a dead dream. More beautiful than I can describe, the flakes of white flame moving from the perimeter inward, disappearing ending flow of opal water into a circular tunnel. I could not have moved my eyes had I possessed the power: they devoured the fearful, beautiful things that grew slowly, slowly larger, fixed on me, advancing, growing more beautiful, the white flakes of light sweeping more swiftly into the blazing vortices, the awful fascination deepening in its insane intensity as the white, vibrating eyes grew nearer, larger.

Like a hideous and implacable engine of death the eyes of the unknown Horror swelled and expanded until they were close before me, enormous, terrible, and I felt a slow, cold, wet breath propelled with mechanical regularity against my face, enveloping me in its fetid mist, in its charnel-house deadliness.

With ordinary fear goes always a physical terror, but with me in the presence of this unspeakable Thing was only the utter and awful terror of the mind, the mad fear of of a prolonged and ghostly nightmare. Again and again I tried to shriek, to make some noise, but physically I was utterly dead. I could only feel myself go mad with the terror of hideous death. The eyes were close on me,—their movement so swift that they seemed to be but palpitating flames, the dead breath was around me like the depths of the deepest sea.

Suddenly a wet, icy mouth, like that of a dead cuttle-fish, shapeless, jelly-like,fell over mine. The horror began slowly to draw my life from me, but, as enormous and shuddering folds of palpitating jelly swept sinuously around me, my will came back, my body awoke with the reaction of final fear, and I closed with the nameless death that enfolded me.

Cram, Ralph Adams; Ventura, Varla (2011-10-03). A Haunting in Paris, A Truly Terrifying Tale: Paranormal Parlor, A Weiser Books Collection 

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

View the whole collection (so far) here.

And in the meantime, if you know of any great, forgotten, out-of-print spooky books, let us know! Varla is hungry for more!

Coming soon – an interview with the woman herself!

Esoteric Thursday – “The Worship of Isis”

Sometimes, it’s good to stop, take a moment, and reboot with an old classic. October is a crazy month here at Chez Weiser, and Ankhie has barely had a moment to breathe.  So this morning, while downing yet another scalding cup of coffee, I let my eyes wander across the bookshelf behind my desk and paused on a familiar title – Dion Fortune’s Aspects of Occultism.  Opening to a random page, this is what I read:

CHAPTER V

The Worship of Isis

All the gods are one god; and all the goddesses are one goddess, and there is one initiator.

In the beginning was space and darkness and stillness, older than time and forgotten of the gods. Movement arose in space: that was the beginning.

This sea of infinite space was the source of all being; life arose therein as a tide in the soundless sea. All shall return thereto when the night of the gods draws in. This is the Great Sea, Marah, the Bitter One; the Great Mother. And because of the inertia of space ere movement arose as a tide, She is called by the Wise the Passive Principle in Nature and is thought of as Water, or Space that Flows. But there is no flowing in space till the power stirs; and this power is the Active Principle of creation. All things partake of the nature of the Active or Passive Principle,  and are referred thereto.

Thrice-greatest Hermes graved on the Smaragdine Tablet, “As above, so below.” Upon earth we see the reflection of the play of the heavenly principles in the actions of men and women. The virgin in her passivity is even as primordial space ere the tides arose. The male is the life-giver. These in the making of life play the active and passive parts. By him she is made creative and fertile; but hers is the child, and he, though the giver of life, passes empty-handed. He spends himself, and nothing remains that is his, save as she calls him mate.

His life is between her hands; his life, that was, and is, and shall be. Therefor should he adore the Passive Principle, for without her he is not. Little knoweth he his need of Her in all the ways of life. She is the Great Goddess.

All the gods are one god, and all the goddesses are one goddess, and there is one initiator.

She is called by many names by many men; but to all she is the Great Goddess, space and earth and water. As space she is called Rhea, mother of the gods that made the gods; she is more old than time: she is the matrix of matter; the root-substance of all existence, undifferentiated , pure. She is also Binah, the Supernal Mother, that receiveth Chokmah, the Supernal Father. She is the giver of form to the formless force whereby it can build. She is also the bringer-in of death, for that which has form must die, outworn, in order that it may be born again to fuller life. All that is born must die; but that which dies shall be reborn. Therefor she is called Marah, bitter, Our Lady of Sorrows, for she is the bringer-in of death. Likewise she is called Ge, for she is the most ancient earth, the first formed from the formless. All these she is, and they are seen in her, and whatsoever is of their nature answers unto her, and she hath dominion over it. Her tides are its tides; her ways are its ways; and whoso knoweth the one, knoweth the other.

Whatsoever ariseth out of nothingness, she giveth it; whatsoever sinketh down into nothingness, she receiveth it. She is the Great Sea whence life arose, to which all shall return at the end of an aeon.

Herein do we bathe in sleep, sinking back into the primordial deep, returning to forgotten things before time was: and the soul is renewed, touching the Great Mother. Whoso cannot return to the primordial, hath no roots in life, but withereth as the grass. These are the living dead, they who are orphaned of the Great Mother.

The daughter of the Great Mother is Persephone, Queen of Hades, ruler of the kingdoms of sleep and death. Under the form of the Dark Queen men also worship her who is the One: likewise is she Aphrodite. And herein is a great mystery, for it is decreed that none shall understand the one without the other…

It goes on of course, beautiful and mysterious, but Ankhie must return to the waking world of emails and phone calls, as must you, I imagine. The Dark Queen will wait…

“The Tarot and the Holy Qabalah” – Crowley Speaks

For the better part of a year, now, Ankhie has been pulling a daily card from the Thoth deck and posting it on the Weiser Facebook page, along with illuminating excerpts from  Lon Milo DuQuette’s amazingly erudite Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. However, at this point we’ve posted chapters on nearly all of the cards, and I, for one, still have a lot left to learn. So what better place to turn next than Uncle Al’s own Book of Thoth, especially for the more esoteric aspects of this rich and sometimes confounding deck?

So let us begin again with the basics (inasmuch as anything Crowley touched can be considered basic!) with “The Tarot and the Holy Qabalah”

The next issue is the Holy Qabalah. This is a very simple subject, and presents no difficulties to the ordinary intelligent mind. There are ten numbers in the decimal system; and there is a genuine reason there should be ten numbers, and only ten, in a numerical system that is not merely mathematical,but philosophical. It is necessary, at this point, to introduce the “Naples Arrangement”. But first of all, one must understand the pictorial representation of the Universe given by the Holy Qabalah.

This picture represents the Tree of Life, which is a map of the Universe. One must begin, as a mathematician would, with the idea of Zero. Absolute Zero, which turns out on examination to mean any quantity that one may choose, but not, as the layman may first suppose, Nothing, in the “absence-of-anything” vulgar sense of the word. (See “Berashith”, Paris 1902)

“THE NAPLES ARRANGEMENT”

The Qabalists expanded this idea of Nothing, and got a second kind of Nothing which they called “Ain Soph” – “Without Limit”. (This idea seems not unlike that of Space.) They then decided that in order to interpret this mere absence of any means of definition, it was necessary to populate the Ain Soph Aur – “Limitless Light”. By this they seem to have meant very much what the late Victorian men of science meant, or thought that they meant, by the Luminiferous Ether. (The Space-Time Continuum?)

All this is evidently without form and void; these are abstract conditions, not positive ideas.  The next step must be the idea of Position. One must formulate this thesis: If there is anything except Nothing, it must exist within this Boundless Light; within this Space; within this inconceivable Nothingness, which cannot exist as Nothingness, but has to be conceived of as a Nothingness composed of the annihilation of two imaginary opposites. Thus appears The Point, which has “neither parts nor magnitude, but only position.”

But position does not mean anything at all unless there is something else, some other position with which it can be compared. One has to describe it.  The only way to do this is to have another Point, and that means that one must invent the number Two, making possible The Line.

But this Line does not mean very much, because there is yet no measure of length. The limit of knowledge at this stage is that there are two things, in order to be able to talk about them at all. But one cannot say that they are near each other, or that they are far apart; one can only say that they are distant. In order to discriminate between them at all there must be a third thing. We must have another point. One must invent The Surface; one must invent The Triangle. In doing this, incidentally, appears the whole of Plane Geometry.  One can now say, “A is nearer to B than A is to C”.

But, so far, there is no substance in any of these ideas. In fact there are no ideas at all, except the idea of Distance and perhaps the idea of Between-ness, and of Angular measurement; so that Plane Geometry, which now exists in theory, is after all completely inchoate and incoherent. There has been no approach at all to the conception of a really existing thing. No more has been done than to make definitions, all in a purely ideal and imaginary world.

Now then comes The Abyss. One cannot go any further into the ideal. The next step must be the Actual – at least, an approach to the Actual. There are three points, but there is no idea of where any one of them is. A fourth point is essential, and this formulates the idea of matter.

The Point, the Line, the Plane. The fourth point, unless it should happen to lie in the plane, gives The Solid. If one wants to show the position of any point, one must define it by the use of three co-ordinate axes. It is so many feet from the North wall, and so many feet from the East wall, and so many feet from the floor.

Thus there had been developed from Nothingness a Something which can be said to exist. One has arrived at the idea of Matter. But this existence is exceedingly tenuous, for the only property of any given point is its position in relation to certain other points; no change is possible; nothing can happen. One is therefore compelled, in the analysis of known Reality, to postulate a fifth positive idea, which is that of Motion.

This implies the idea of Time, for only through Motion, and in Time, can any event happen. Without this change and sequence, nothing can be the object of sense. (It is to be notices that this No. 5 is the number of the letter He in the Hebrew alphabet. This is the letter traditionally consecrated to the Great Mother. It is the womb in which the Great Father, who is represented by the letter Yod, which is pictorially the representation of an ultimate Point, moves and begets active existence).

There is now possible a concrete idea of the Point; and, at last, it is  a point which can be self-conscious, because it can have a Past, Present and Future. It is able to define itself in terms of the previous ideas. Here is the number Six, the centre of the system; self-conscious, capable of experience.

At this stage it is convenient to turn away for a moment from the strictly Qabalistic symbolism. The doctrine of the next three numbers (to some minds at least) is not very clearly expressed. One must look to the Vendanta system for a more lucid interpretation of the numbers 7, 8 and 9, although they correspond very closely with the Qabalistic ideas. In the Hindu analysis of existence the Rishis (Sages) postulate three qualities: Sat, the Essence of Being itself; Chit, Thought, or Intellection; and Ananda (usually translated Bliss), the pleasure experienced by Being in the course of events. This ecstasy is evidently the exciting cause of the mobility of pure existence. It explains the assumption of imperfection on the part of Perfection. The Absolute would be Nothing, would remain in the condition of Nothingness; therefore, in order to be conscious of its possibilities and to enjoy them, it must explore these possibilities. One may here insert a parallel statement of this doctrine from the document called The Book of the Great Auk to enable the student to consider the position from the standpoint of two different minds.

“All elements must at one time have been separate. – That would be the case with great heat. – Now, when the atoms get to the Sun, we get that immense, extreme heat, and all the elements are themselves again. Imagine that each atom of each element possesses the memory of all his adventures in combination. By the way, that atom, fortified with memory, would not be the same atom; yet it is, because it has gained nothing from anywhere except this memory. Therefor, by the lapse of time and by virtue of memory, a thing could become something more than itself; thus, a real development is possible. One can see a reason for any element deciding to go through this series of incarnations, because so and only so, can he go; and he suffers the lapse of memory which he has during these incarnations, because he knows he will come back unchanged.

“Therefor you can have an infinite number of gods, individual and equal though diverse, each one supreme and utterly indestructible. This is also the only explanation of how a Being could create a world in which War, Evil, etc., exist. Evil is only an appearance, because (like “Good”) it cannot affect the substance itself, but only multiply its combinations. This is something the same as Mystic Monotheism; but the objection to that theory is that God has to create things which are all parts of Himself, so that their interplay is false. If we presuppose many elements, their interplay is natural.”

These ideas of Being, Thought, and Bliss constitute the  minimum possible qualities which a Point must possess if it is to have a real sensible experience of itself. These correspond to the numbers 9,8, and 7. The first idea of reality, as known by the mind, is therefore to conceive of the Point as built up of these previous nine successive developments from Zero. Here at last is the number Ten.

In other words, to describe Reality in the form of Knowledge, one must postulate these ten successive ideas. In the Qabalah, they are called ‘Sephiroth”, which means “Numbers”. As will be seen later,e ach number has a significance of its own; each corresponds with all phenomenon in such a way that their arrangement in the Tree of Life, as shown in the diagrams, is a map of the Universe. These ten numbers are represented in the Tarot by the forty small card.

Whew! Did y’all get that? On to the Formula of the Tetragram!

Celtic Exorcism & The Road to Hell – Wicked Tidbits from the Weiser Vaults

Every once in a while in her wanderings through the Weiser backlist, Ankhie comes across a forgotten gem. Such was the case this morning when, looking for something else, a slim volume entitled Celtic Legends of the Beyond: A Celtic Book of the Dead, popped off the shelf. How could I resist? It’s full of folksy recollections as recorded by French author Anatole Le Braz in 1893. The Weiser Edition was translated by Derek Bryce in 1986 then reprinted 11 years later.

The first thing my eyes fell on was a chapter on exorcising ghosts:

The people that need to be exorcised are almost always the rich who have obtained their wealth by wicked means, and those who have lead a disorderly life. Therefor they are mostly nobles and middle class; peasants have too hard a task earning their living not to be peaceful after their death.

Their souls are condemned to wander until all the wrongs they have done have somehow been put right. They are ill-tempered and wicked. They prowl about their old home, and get their own back for their distress by making trouble amongst the living. They are exorcised in order to immobilize and silence them.

Only priest have the power of exorcism. Not all priests can do it. It needs one who has the know-how, ability, and determination. It is quite something if there is one in every region. It is not enough for the exorcist to know his science thoroughly; it is also essential that he is a tough character.

When the priest is called in for an exorcism, he puts his surplice on and carries his stole in his hand. He takes his shoes off when he reached the haunted house, for he must be priest right to the ground.

The evening before his arrival, the people of the house have to sprinkle fine sand or ashes over the floors and steps of the house from the front door right to the attic. This permits the exorcist to follow the ghost’s footsteps and to shut himself in the room where they seem to end. This is where the evil ghost is lying. A terrible combat takes place between the exorcist and the ghost. Sometimes the priest comes back from his encounter worn out, pale, and covered in sweat. During the time this sinister meeting is taking place, the people of the house huddle around the hearth, dumb with fright. They block their ears so as to try not to hear the terrible din coming from the room. They ask themselves who is going to win, the evil ghost or the man of God. Sometimes the priest repeats special prayers, sometimes he struggles bodily with the ghost, sometimes he asks the ghost difficult questions, and takes advantage of the moment the other is thinking what to reply, to put his silken stole round its neck.  Then the ghost is beaten. It becomes grovelling and docile. The priest says the rite of exorcism over it and makes it enter into an animal’s body, most often that of a black dog. he takes it outside and entrusts it to someone in his confidence, often the verger or the sacristan, one of whom would often accompany him on such a mission. Then they go, the priest in front, the other one behind and leading the animal, towards some rarely frequented place, such as a barren heath, a disused quarry, or a quagmire. ‘From now on this is where you shall live”, says the priest to the ghost, and he marks out a circle delimiting the space in which it can move; he often uses a barrel hoop for this purpose. They choose a rarely frequented spot because if someone were to pass close by, he or she would surely be grabbed by the feet and dragged underground.

The second passage was, logically enough, about Hell:

The road to hell is wide and well-maintained; it invites the traveller to take it. It has ninety-nine roadside inns in each of which one must stay for a hundred years. Good-looking, friendly bar staff serve drinks, which taste better and better the closer one is to hell. If the traveller resists the temptation to drink to excess, and reaches the last inn without being drunk, he is free to go back; hell has no more hold on him. But in the case of those arriving drunk, they are given a horrible mixture of snake and toad’s blood to drink. From then on they belong to the devil, and are done for.

I must admit, I enjoy the idea that one need not abstain completely to avoid hell, just keep it in check. Seems like a reasonable policy.

“O coffee! By the Mighty Name of Power do I invoke thee…” – Crowley’s Magical Diary & an Ankhie Ramble

THE THIRD DAY

6.55  Now the day has been gloriously broken, I awoke with some weariness, not feeling clean and happy, not burning with love unto my Lord Adonai, though ashamed indeed for that thrice or four times in the night I had been awakened by this loyal body, urging me to rise and meditate – and my weak will bade it be at ease and take its rest -oh, wretched man! slave of the hour and of the worm!

7.0-7.16  Fifteen cycles of Prana Yama put me right mentally and physically; otherwise they had little apparent success.

7.30  Have breakfasted – a pear and two Garibaldis. (These by the way are the small size, half the big squares.)

7.50  Have smoked a pipe to show that I’m not in a hurry.

8.5  Hanged Man with mantra in Visuddhi. Thought I had been much longer. At one point the Spirit began to move – how the devil else can I express it? The consciousness seemed to flow, instead of pattering. Is that clear?

One should note here that there may perhaps be some essential difference in the operation of the Moslem and Hindu mantrams. The latter boom; the former ripple. I have never tried the former at all seriously until now.

8.10 -8.32  Meme jeu – no good at all. I think I’ll get up and have a Turker.

9.0  Am up, having read my letters. Continuing mantra all the time in a more or less conscious way.

9.25  Wrote my letters and started out.

10.38  Have reached the Cafe de la Paix, walking slowly with my mantra. I am beginning to forget it occassionally, mispronouncing some of the words. A good sign! Now and then I tried sending it up and down my spine, with good effect.

10.40  I will drink a cup of coffee and then proceed to the Hammam. This may ease my limbs, and afford an opportunity for a real go-for-the-gloves effort to concentrate.

It cannot be too clearly understood that nearly all the work hitherto has been preliminary; the intention is to get the Chittam (thought-stuff) flowing evenly in one direction. Also one practices detaching it from the Vrittis (impressions). One looks at everything without seeing it.

O coffee! By the mighty Name of Power do I invoke thee, consecrating thee to the Service of the Magic of Light. Let the pulsations of my heart be strong and regular and slow! Let my brain be wakeful and active in its supreme task of self-control! That my desired end may be effected through Thy strength, Adonai, unto Whom be the Glory for ever! Amen without lie, and Amen, and Amen of Amen.

Aleister Crowley and the Practice of the Magical Diary, ed. by James Wasserman – excerpt from John St. John

Aside from the glorious invocation of coffee, what I like best about Aleister Crowley’s Magical Diaries is how ordinary they seem. Let me rephrase.  I like that they make this extraordinary process of spiritual discipline seem almost ordinary by placing it in the context of daily life. Crowley’s spiritual quest was completely integrated, which is probably why he had the success  he did. But if you only read his better known works, the treatices, instructions, meditations, and fictions – you would have a very different impression of who he was and how he got there. In the guise of the Great Beast he is fully formed – enlightened, erudite, and arrogant. The diaries reveal the man behind the process – not in the least bit lessened, but enriched by the struggle, the doubt, the surprising bursts of boyish enthusiasm.

So here comes the Ankhie ramble…

What do we lose by committing all of our thoughts to electronic media? It is assumed that the internet generation is guilty of over-sharing, posting  every mood and misguided deed for all to see. That is somewhat true, of course (Ankhie has a teenaged daughter – she knows of what she speaks), but most folks have some sense of decorum – they think about what they are posting, edit it with readers in mind. If you are putting it online, you expect that someone will be reading. What do you suppose Crowley’s diaries would have looked like had they been in blog format? or tweets? Would anyone have seen the very human, and humorous side of Uncle Al if he had been aware, with each entry, that he was writing for the world not just himself? Of course, Crowley must have imagined a future audience for these journals – but even so, there was the buffer of considerable time and distance between the experience & writing (nearly simultaneous) and the publication. That buffer made all the difference.

Just curious. Who out there keeps a real, pen and ink magical diary these days? How does that differ from your online musings?

PS If you know what a ‘Turker” is, let me know.  Unless it’s something totally filthy… oh, hell, let me know anyway!

Sit a Spell – A Little Labor Day Money Magic

Ankhie knows hard hard you work, how much you need the coin,  and how much you are looking forward to this long, labor-day weekend. So in the spirit of reward and ease I offer you these money spells from Judika Illes’s Pure Magic:

$$$

Oshun Prosperity Incense

  • Brown sugar
  • 5 dried orange leaves
  • Orange zest
  1. Pound the ingredients in a mortar and pestle until roughly pulverized.
  2. Place in a cast-iron pan and set aflame.
  3. Let it burn for a minute or so, then smother the flames. It should smoke fairly heavily, allow the aroma to fill the room.
  4. Offer some pure springwater and honey to *Oshun and tell her what you need.

$$$

A Money Dream Pillow

The stuffing encourages creative financial dreams and inspiration.

  • 2 ounces dried basil
  • 4 ounces dried chamomile blossoms
  • 2 ounces dried fenugreek

$$$

Money Magnet Oil

To attract money, rub two drops of essential oil of bergamot on the palms of your hands, in your wallet, inside your pocket or wherever you carry your cash.

$$$

Milk and Honey Prosperity Bath

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup cow’s milk
  • 1 cup goat’s milk
  • 1 cup sheep’s milk
  • 1 cup holy or springwater
  • 1 cup honey

This bath is reputed to draw money towards you. It is guaranteed to make your skin feel wonderful. Add the ingredients to the bath water. You can increase the quantity of the ingredients, if you wish, as long as all proportions remain equal.

$$$

Creole Antipoverty Spell

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 safety pin

Combine the first three ingredients together in an open bowl. Stick an open safety pin in the center and keep the bowl on the counter in full view.

$$$

High John’s Money Roll

  • Essential oil of basil
  • 1 cash bill (Any kind of cash can be used, however a two-dollar bill is considered most especially effective because it is rare and because the number 2 embodies the concept of doubling. Alternatively, any foreign currency lying around that you don’t know what to do with is perfect for this charm)
  • 1 High John the Conqueror**  root
  • Red or green thread
  1. Rub a cash bill with basil oil and roll it tightly around the High John root.
  2. It’s important that when you wrap the root, you roll the money toward you, not away from you.
  3. Bind the little money roll with red or green thread. Carry it with you as a charm or place it discreetly near the entrance to your business. (Inside the cash register is good, too!) If things slow down, reinforce the root with extra basil oil as needed.

$$$

Money Spell Box

  • A box
  • Cinquefoil
  • Dried patchouli or the essential oil
  • Powdered basil leaves
  • Dried veviter or the essential oil
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • High John the Conqueror root
  • Any other financially lucky roots you are able to collect: Beth Root (Low John) or Lucky Hand
  • 1 lodestone and/or citrine
  • Lucky charms: small silver horseshoe, silver shamrock, miniature rabbit, rat or mouse

A spell box is a work in progress: start with whatever you have accumulated and continue to build. If you should find a four-leaf clover, it is a powerful addition. Place one bill from any windfall inside to grow.

  1. Line the box with botanicals. (If you’re using essential oils, rather than dried veviter and patchouli, use them to anoint the roots and crystals.)
  2. Add the roots, crystals and charms.
  3. Keep the box closed except during rituals, visualizations and spells
  4. Periodically anoint crystals and roots with essential oils or another money-drawing oil formula.
  5. Keep the box in a safe spot so that no one can play with your finances.
  6. When your goal is accomplished, either save this box for future use or bury it in Earth, but mark the spot so you can dig it up again if you need it.

*SPIRITS OF FINANCIAL PROSPERITY

Hermes (Greece), Lakshmi (India), Oshun (Yoruba)

Oshun, Orisha of Sweet Waters provides material comforts (and cash!) for her devotees. Like the most powerful spirits, she offers assistance in all departments: romance, health, beauty and prosperity.

Oshun’s traditional offering, whenever you wish to invoke, petition or thank her, is a glass of springwater and a dish of honey. You must always taste any honey offered to Oshun, every time. An attempt was once made to poison her with honey. She will not accept any untasted offerings and may, in fact, look upon you with suspicion rather than love. Her colors are yellow and orange. Her metal is brass. Her sacred birds are peacocks, parrots and vultures. Her number is 5.

**HIGH JOHN MONEY MAGIC

The king of American root magic goes by the name High John the Conqueror. Named for a legendary African-American slave hero, this root provides good fortune of all kinds. It is potent left whole, whether carried alone or added as a prize ingredient to a charm bag. The powdered root brings fortune and removes a curse. (Buy a whole one so that you can see what you’re getting: powder it yourself.) High John is a member of the morning glory family. An elusive plant, it answers to a series of Latin names: Ipomoea jalapa, Ipomoea purga and Convolvulus jalapa. Reserve High John for purposes of enchantment only. It should never be eaten as it is an extremely powerful laxative and purgative.

Witchy Wednesday – “Sweet is the vintage…”

It’s been a busy summer here at Chez Weiser. We have been off tending the vines and readying the cellars for this Fall’s fine harvest. So in the spirit of full casks and corn cribs,  enjoy this excerpt from Charles Leland’s Aradia, Gospel of the Witches (Witches’ Almanac, LTD, Nov. 2010)

*

TO HAVE A VERY GOOD VINTAGE

AND VERY GOOD WINE

BY THE AID OF DIANA

“Sweet is the vintage

When the showering grapes

In Bacchanal profusion reel to earth,

Purple and gushing.”

*

- Byron, Don Juan, c.124

“Vinum bonum et suave,

Bonis bonum, pravis prave.

O quam dulcis sapor – ave!

Mundana ketitia!”

- Latin Songs, E. du Meril

*

He who would have good vintage and fine wine, should take a horn full of wine and with this go into the vineyards or farms wherever vines grow, and then drinking from the horn, say:

***

(in translation)

I drink, and yet it is not wine I drink,

I drink the blood of Diana,

Since from wine it has changed into her blood,

And spread itself through all my growing vines,

Whence it will give me good return in wines,

Though even if good vintage should be mine,

I’ll not be free from care, for should it chance

That the grape ripens in the waning moon,

Then all the wine would come to sorrow, but

If drinking from this horn I drink the blood -

The blood of great Diana – by her aid -

If I do kiss my hand to the new moon,

Praying the Queen that she will guard my grapes,

Even from the instant when the bud is born

Until it is ripe and a perfect grape,

And onward to the vintage, and to the last

Until the wine is made – may it be good!

And may it so succeed that I from it

May draw good profit when at last ’tis sold,

So may good fortune come unto my vines,

And to all my land where’er it be!

But should my vines seem in an evil way.

I’ll take my horn, and bravely will I blow

In the wine-vault at midnight, and I’ll make

Such a tremendous and terrible sound

That thou, Diana fair, however far

Away thou may’st be, still shalt hear the call,

And casting open the door or window wide,

Shalt headlong come upon the rushing wind,

And find and save me – that is, save my vines,

Which will be saving me from dire distress;

For should I lose them I’d be lost myself.

But with thy aid, Diana, I’ll be saved.

* This is a very interesting invocation and tradition, and probably of great antiquity from very striking intrinsic evidence. For it is firstly devoted to a subject which has received little attention – the connection of Diana as the moon with Bacchus, although in the great Dizonario Storico Mitologico, by Pozzoli and others, it is expressly asserted that in Greece her worship was associated with that of Bacchus, Esculapius, and Apollo. The connecting link is the horn. In a medal of Alexander Severus, Diana of Ephesus bears the horn of plenty. This is the horn or horns of the new moon, sacred to Diana. According to Callimachis, Apollo himself built an altar consisting entirely of horns to Diana.

The connection of the horn with wine is obvious. It was usual among the old Slavonians for the priest of Svantevit, the Sun-god, to see if the horn which the idol held in his hand was full of wine, in order to prophesy a good harvest for the coming year. If it was filled, all was right; if not, he filled the horn, drank from it, and replaced the horn in the hand and predicted that all would eventually go well. It cannot fail to strike the reader that this ceremony is strangely like that of the Italian invocation, the only difference being that in one the Sun, and in the other the Moon us invoked to ensure a good harvest.

In the Legends of Florence there is one of the Via del Corno, in which the hero, falling into a vast tun or tina of wine, is saved from drowning by sounding a horn with tremendous power. At the sound, which penetrates to an incredible distance, even to unknown lands, all come rushing as if enchanted to save him. In this conjuration, Diana, in the depths of heaven, is represented as rushing at the sound of the horn, and leaping through doors or windows to save the vintage of the one who blows. There is a certain singular affinity in these stories.

In the story of the Via del Corno, the hero is saved by the Red Goblin or Robin Goodfellow, who gives him a horn, and it is the same sprite who appears in the conjuration of the Round Stone, which is sacred to Diana. This is because the spirit is nocturnal, and attendant on Diana-Titania.

Kissing the hand to the new moon is a ceremony of unknown antiquity, and Job, even in his time, regarded it as heathenish and forbidden – which always means antiquated and out of fashion – as when he declared (xxi. 26, 27)  “If I beheld the moon walking in brightness … and my heart hath been secretly enticed or my mouth hath kissed my hand … this also were an iniquity to be punished by the Judge, for I should have denied the God that is above.” From which it may or ought to be inferred that Job did not understand that God made the moon and appeared in all His works, or else he really believed the moon was an independent deity. In any case, it is curious to see the old forbidden rite still living, and as heretical as ever.

***

Occult Under the Radar – Dion Fortune and An Ankhie Ramble

One of the things I love about J.K Rowling is that she really did her homework. Most of the magical material in her books is based on fact – or a least, legitimate occult and mythological sources. Perhaps that is why the boy-wizard books resonated so far beyond their targeted demographic. Something in them rang true – a sound that (for most folks) had long lain silent in the dark corners of their collective unconscious.

Fiction is many things for many people – a fantasy, an escape, a thrill, a terror, an insight into the human condition, and a way to investigate ideas and feelings that might be too scary or too risky to explore in real life.

Ankhie has a friend whose mother told her (on the eve of her wedding) that Anna Karenina would tell her everything she needed to know about marriage. Dark? Certainly. True? Well, it ain’t a classic for nothin’. Adultery and suicide are extremes, well beyond consideration for most people – but that doesn’t make them less real, or less probable under the right set of circumstances. We need this sort of heady fiction – not to know what is true (that territory is claimed, with varying degrees of veracity, by non-fiction)  but to know what is possible.

A fiction writer creates a world out of nothing – sounds conveyed by words empowered by ideas fueled by observation imagination and experience. Fiction that lasts makes those transitions seamlessly, and honestly. Most humans are born with excellent bullshit detectors – we know when someone (or something) is full of it. Beautiful words and lyrical phrasing will only get you so far. There must be something at stake for us to care. If the work is, at its core, dishonest, it won’t continue matter to us beyond the last page. Although it might have been entertaining, it is forgotten as soon as it is finished, mentally shredded with other passing distractions.

Next week, the Weiser Book Club on Twitter will be discussing The Secrets of Doctor Taverner by Dion Fortune. The author famously writes in her Introduction:

I do not wish to imply … that these stories all happened exactly as set down, for such is not the case; they are, however, all founded on fact, and there is not a single incident herein contained which is pure imagination. That is to say, while no picture is an actual photograph, no one is an imaginary sketch: they are rather composite photographs, obtained by cutting out and piecing together innumerable snapshots of actual happenings, and the whole, far from being an arbitrary product of the imagination, is a serious study in the psychology of ultra-consciousness.

Fortune was criticized by some of her peers for divulging occult secrets in her novels and stories – because those who knew the facts easily saw past the fictional mask. Those who did not know the truth sensed it, and responded accordingly. Popular in their time, these stories still entertain and inform, many decades later.

Diana L. Paxson – herself a writer of fantasy fiction and a practicing occultist, writes a beautiful foreword to the latest edition of The Secrets of Doctor Taverner in which she reflects upon it as “A Study in Secrets”:

When I consider Fortune’s approach to presenting real magic under the guise of fiction, I am reminded of the meeting at which my editor commented that there were “a lot of rituals in The Sea Star, but they work.” I did not tell him that they ought to, since I had actually done most of them. Fiction, which allows the author to express  subjective experience and atmosphere, can often be a more effective means of describing magical operations than a detached description.

I don’t think anyone could have stated it better or with more authority.

Truth doesn’t need to roar, or perform aerial acrobatics to be noticed. Even when flying under the radar, you’ll know it’s there.

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