Well, it’s been a funny ol’ week (and a bit), that’s for sure. Last Monday I had the unusual but undeniably enjoyable delight of making huge batches of play-doh (and a lot of mess) for Thursday’s Talismania workshop. As mentioned in previous blogs, practical crafty stuff has a tendency to not work out particularly well for me but fortunately this was largely fool-proof (or, at least I had the sense to wear a pinny and have a wet cloth to hand). The point is, we were all going to have a go at making a very basic talisman of some variety at the end and, since I’d be putting everyone on the spot a bit, I would need to have a clear idea of what I wanted to make, and how, and why, as an accessible example based on all the aspects we’d be discussing. This put me in a quandary – I’m very selective about my own practical magic, but at the same time I did want to do something ‘real’ and meaningful, not just a throwaway token gesture. What was I going to do? What did I want to fix? Make better? Attract? Repel? Normally of course this wouldn’t be a forced process, you would have the inspiration in order to want to make the talisman and not the other way around. But the more I started thinking about it (and something that was raised as a cautionary note in the workshop) I realised that I could pretty easily think of at least half a dozen things I could quite happily want or need a talisman for at any given time. It would be very easy to get carried away.
The day after the workshop, on Friday, my spidey-senses were tingling. It happens intermittently and, while I frequently don’t know the cause, I know enough to pay attention to it. It was fairly persistent and unsettling so I drew a tarot card to try to get to the bottom of it, again, something else I very rarely do as it can quickly become habit-forming.
…But Deliver Us From Ignorance
In this case, it gave me just enough to put my mind at rest a bit and let me get on with my day feeling a little more settled. It was a good thing. This time. Surrounded by all of this knowledge, all of these options, all of these practices and paths it would be very easy to want to ‘fix’ things with magic all the time – daily readings, weekly castings, monthly rituals ‘just because’ (something else I’ve touched on before). I was also particularly taken by Nimue Brown’s blog on the implications of the notion of magically fixing things. For myself, I worry that once magic stops becoming a tool (for want of a better term) and starts becoming a crutch it stops being effective (which is not the same as to say it necessarily stops working). I worry about reducing it to a series of actions only used to achieve narrow, specific objectives, rather than as a rich and diverse exploration of ideas and information and, yes, spirituality which will provide much greater overall benefit than any incantation or charm.
So while I’m always happy to help, and advise, and discuss, I will almost always advocate the path over the practice – finding your own way, which can sometimes just as much be about what you choose not to apply as what you do and learning as much as you can even where the relevance does not seem obvious – revelations can come from the strangest of places and it’s not always a case of better the devil you know!