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Concentration During Spell Work

To: alt.lucky.w,alt.occult.methods,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic,alt.magick
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Concentration During Spell Work
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 20:45:38 GMT

Kristiane wrote:
> Hi!
> Well, I finally started the the Crown of Success ritual and I had a
> couple of questions before I take it any farther.  

> The most important
> concerns the tossing of the bath water at the crossroads--I was so
> rattled by the unexpected presence of quite a few people that I
> actually threw the water in the wrong direction, towards the west!
> Not knowing what else to do, I took another basin of bath water and
> repeated the procedure, correctly this time.  So, have I irredeemably
> screwed up or am I okay to continue?

I am not one to say anything as anti-magical as "you screwed up" -- but
you might note that you did let your will and your concentration be
distracted by the presence of people. 

It is my experience that the most successful mages are those who do not
let themselves be distracted. This takes practice for some people.
However, once the spell is started, i would always encourage a person to
complete it. 

A spell is not always a yes-or-no thing. Consider sports as a metaphor
for magic: There are degrees of success and ellegance in spell-craft,
just as there are degrees of proficiency in, for example, track and
field events. Sometimes just completing a race is a worthy goal, even if
one does not win the gold or set a new world record. And the next race
may be run in better time. 

In my experience as a root worker, one of the most difficult moments for
me to retain full concentreation is not when i am ritually disposing of
remains such as bath water -- it is during the simple act of lighting

I used to tend to break concentration as i fumbled around to find where
i'd hidden the matches. I tended to form visual judgments about the
artwork (or lack thereof) on the match boxes or folders as i picked them
up. I tended to worry, very briefly (as a result of my having low vision
and no depth perception), that i would miss the candle wick completely
for several passes until the match went out or until it burned my
fingers, or both. 

In order to overcome these tendencies for my will to be distracted at
the moment of lighting candles, i have for the last ten years made a
practice of buying a certain brand of wooden matches from Peru that are
packed in graphically beautiful boxes. Because they are beautiful, i can
leave them out on the altar where i can find them and i can enjoy
handling them without making negative aesthetic judgements about the
artwork. Because they are wooden, they strike well and stay lit for a
long time so that i can put aside concerns about the flame dying out or
my fingers getting burned before the candles are lit. 

It has taken specific effort on my part to get to a point where i can
sail through the lighting of the matches without breaking the
concentration i wish to develop when doing spell work. 

Just today all that came crashing down: 

My husband siva has a very cool red lighter with a picture of Chairman
Mao on it that plays the Chinese national anthem ("The East is Red")
when you open it. We recently ran out of my Peruvian matches (gotta
order more ... maybe i should carry them in the shop???) and we have
been using "The East is Red" to light our ritual candles for the past
two weeks. 

Yesterday evening, while en route to a concert that Siva, his brother,
and his sister were to attend (by a band called Yes, if it matters), we
got stuck in a tremendous traffic jam on highway 101. What is usually a
two hour drive promised to be a three or four hour drive in stop-and-go
traffic that was piled up for a length of about thirty miles! To pass
the time and set a limit to siva's fretting, we discussed several
methods of spell work that might be used to extract us from the traffic
jam, to break up the traffic jam, and so on. Eventually i said that
rather than work on the traffic jam itself, i would suggest an ex voto
spell or prayer asking for help so that Siva achieve his *true* goal,
namely, to be at the concert venue and seated before the music began,
regardless of what happened to the traffic jam. 

We discussed which gods or goddesses might "rule" the condition or
situation at hand and i proposed that we petition two Cathloic Saints --
Saint Christopher (patron of safe travel) and Saint Expedite (patron of
speedy results) -- to interceed with God Almighty on Siva's behalf. We
vowed to light two golden taper candles and to offer flowers before
small statuettes of the saints if they would interceed on behalf of
siva's petition to be at the concert and in his seat by the time the
music started. 

Shortly after we spoke aloud our petitions, we took our designated exit
to the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and left the traffic jam behind us on
101 -- and in due time we made it to the rendevous point with Ken and
June *exactly* as they were standing on the street about to get into a
car to leave for the concert. I stayed behind with June's daughter
Ariel, as planned, and siva left with them, and he did indeed get to the
concert and into his seat before the music started. 

Thank you, Saint Chistopher! Thank you, Saint Expedite!

This morning siva got out the golden tapers and the statuettes and i
picked a bouquet of roses and crocosmia flowers, and we set everything
in place on an altar in the shop. Siva oened "The East is Red" and the
music layed -- but no flame came out! "The East is Red" was out of
lighter fluid!!!! My old nemesis, the moment of candle lighting, had
struck me again. 

Trying to retain my concentration, i steped into the lab portion of the
shop and got put the box of long wooden fireplace matches we use for
lighting glass-enased candles. 

The very first one i touched BROKE in my fingers. 

Siva said he would use it anyway, but when he went to strike it, it
broke again, leaving a little stub. This he struck and lit -- but it
burned at his fingers before he could light even the first candle, and
he waved it out almost at once. 

I went and got a second long match, trying very hard to keep my
concentration through all these distractions (and not succeeeding,
entirely, truth to tell). Siva was rattled, too, and spoke aloud in
commentary (something i don't like during ritual), saying "it'll be okay
if i hold it up near the head." 

I wanted to respond, "No, that's not necessary -- the other match was
just defective" -- but i didn't open my moth. However, the thought had
intruded, and my concentration was shot for the moment. 

I then stood still and breathed slowly, finally regaining my
concentration as he struck the match and, on his third attempt, got the
candles lit. 

I tell this long story for one reason only -- as a practicing mage or
root worker, you may be faced with small moments of distraction almost
every time you perform a spell. 

Some distractions from concentration may be the result of your own
idiosyncratic mentality, such as your case, where you were letting the
precense of people impede your disposal of the bath water, or my case,
where i decades ago built up a "charge" around the lighting of matches.

Some distractions from concentration may be the result of a series of
unfortunate coincidences, such as we had with the lighter and matches
this morning.

Some distractions from concentration may be the result of a combination
of those two factors, such as today, when my personal history of
distractions around match-lighting were compounded by an actual series
of failed lighter and match events. 

But no matter what, whenever you lose your way in the rite, it is in
your best interest to pause, re-collect your concentration, and move

This was not the most graceful ex voto petition i have performed, but
the saints DID come through for siva, and we DID fulfil our vow to them,
and the altar DOES look beautiful with the flowers and candles and
statuettes in place. 

Sometimes that is just good enough. 

> And when one has to do something "at dawn" does this mean at the
> precise moment of sunrise (in my case, 6:21 a.m.) or does one get a
> certain amount of leeway?  How much?

As the old blues song has it, "Soon in the mornin' just about the break
of day." 
> Finally, the $64,000 question:  what happens if I should miss a day in
> the 9-day ritual?  For example, what if I forget to set the alarm and
> miss the sunrise--can I simply do the procedure later that morning or
> will I have start everything from the beginning?

Again, such "misses" will tell you more about your concentration and
dedication to the ritual than they will augur your eventual success. 

> I hope these questions make sense because dawn is a very, very
> desperately bad time for me and I'm not thinking straight...

The reason that many spells are performed at dawn is because they arose
among sun-worshipping people. The sun's rise is a time of worship.
That's all. 

> Thanking you in advance for your help,

I hope i did help ... i mostly wanted to reassure you that, in my
opinion, becoming an *effective* spell-caster is easier to accomplish
than becoming a *perfect* spell-caster. 

Good luck, 

> Kristiane

cat yronwode 

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice --

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