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Magic in the Maelstrom of Prejudice

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,alt.religion.wicca,alt.lucky.w,alt.witchcraft
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: Magic in the Maelstrom of Prejudice
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2003 10:56:53 GMT

lorax666 wrote:
> Caliban:
> >>>>> ...Magick is such a sensitive work that purity in the
> >>>>> ingredients of an incense or an oil must be paramount.
> lorax666:
> >> I tend to agree.

I do too, but i have known some who do not agree and who still
consider themselves successful magicians. They tend to state that Will
is their tool, and that natural magic, as represented by herbs or
roots or minerals ("ingredients"), is not necessary. 

> Trev:
> >>>> Recipe magic(k) is fine for showing some folks examples
> >>>> but, if they are not prompted to bake their own cakes,
> >>>> where's the magic in that?

> lorax666 
> providing goods or pre-prepared recipes is legitimate in many
> fields of endeavour and acceptable within certain cultures.

Yes, within most non-urban cultures world wide, and within some urban
USA subcultures (Latin American, German American (Pennsylvania Dutch),
and African American, for instance) what Caliban calls "recipe magic"
is the major form that magic takes. Even Solomonic magic, much
respected in the hermetic urban sub-culture, is essentially "recipe
magic," if you look at it without a Rosicrucian or Golden Dawn
> Caliban:
> >>>>> It's like fools who buy a gun and think that ownership of
> >>>>> that gun makes them safe. Buy a spell, and become
> >>>>> (fill in the blank).

I have not noticed this sort of foolish presumption at all -- and i
provide materials and instructions to many magically inclined adults
and talk to them pretty much all day long. I have the opinion that
Caliban is making an elitist or xenophobic assumption ("they" are
fools; "we" are wise), but what he describes really doesn't correspond
to attitudes i have seen in real life -- except among the very young,
who can be excused on account of their youth. 

> > ...if you're saying that spell kits perform a type of magick
> > for the people that buy them -
> > well, that doesn't fall into my definition of magick,
> > or of doing magick - and I have a pretty broad definition
> > of that term.

I don't think anyone has claimed that the spell kits per se "perform"
any sort of magic. They are simply collections of ingredients. 
> lorax666:
> most kits I've seen include what any could put together oneself
> in the construction of a spell, based on the influences of
> the designer. therefore a spellkit is as good as the person
> who put it together and supplied the ingredients. some that
> I've examined seem to be based on strange associations.
> be sure of the sources upon whom you may wish to rely.

I agree with siva here. I have seen spell kits that are more or less
jokes, also spell kits that were replete with all the things that one
would need to cast a particular traditional spell. Our own most
popular spells kits are 
   (1) the love spell kits with paired lodestones, magnetic sand,
love-herb mixtures, oils, incense, herbal-mineral bath salts, and
candles that are used to perform one of the most well-known
love-drawing spells in the African American oral tradition;
   (2) the house-cleansing and uncrossing bath spell kits that contain
Chinese Wash with broom corn straws, hyssop herb, mineral crystals,
white candles, oils, and incense for performing traditional spiritual
cleansing rites in the African American oral tradition;
   (3) the money-drawing spell kits with a single large lodestone,
green candles, oils, herbs, and incense typically used to perform an
ongoing money-drawing spell in the African American oral tradition. 
Most people who buy these kits are already familiar with the work
through their community history and personal teaching within their
families. In some cases, they have a childhood memory of seeing an
elder performing the spell but would like to see a written-out version
to refresh their memories. I provide the spells themselves for free
online, but many people buy the kits rather than picking up the
individual ingredients. 

> lorax666:
> how severely will you limit yourself? why?
> does it serve you to restrict your understanding so?
> care to exhibit greater specificity, then, and explain where
> the concept of spell kits fails your tests?

Unless it is sheer unthinking prejudice, the "spell kits are not
magic" belief is based in bad experiences, i presume. If all one ever
saw was fast food, one might say, "Restaurants never supply healthful

food," If one only shopped at discount stores, one might say,
"Store-bought clothes are all cheaply made."

> Trev:
> >>>> Techniques can be taught.  Methods can be taught.

I agree. This is the essence of human civilization -- including magic.

> > Sometimes that method of learning is effective, but not
> > with magick. One cannot observe the actions of an adept and learn
> > anything about what is really going on.

I have *not* found this to be true in my experience. Without some
communication and guidance from a teacher (physically present, on the
telephone, or in a book) there is no transmission of cultural skills.
Yet we know that the teaching of magic has endured for millennia.
Obviously, therefore, teaching magic is an effective means of

> Trev:
> >>>> Magic(k) does not reside in techniques and methodologies.

> lorax666:
> >> on the contrary, magic is part and parcel of technik. without
> >> technik, magic is nothing, a kind of wishing Wiccaism.

> > I'd like to see you justify this statement with an argument utilizing
> > examples of various magickal traditions demonstrating the importance
> > of technique.

> lorax666:
> no doubt. putting forward outrageous contentions in order to flush out
> convention in response is an age-old argument technique which I have
> sometimes used myself.


See the anthro text "Magic and Curing" edited by Edwards -- there is a
long article in there on the emphasis on the perfection of specific
magical techniques in some cultures (e.g. Trobriand Islanders), and
this is compared with the looser, more improvisatory style of
spell-craft in other cultures (e.g. Central Africa). 

> Trev:
> >>>> It cannot be _taught_.

> lorax666: 
> how do you arrive at this strict limitation of form and purpose
> without engaging in cultural myopia? anthropologists from a good
> number of backgrounds demonstrate contrary evidence to your claim.
> we've occasionally discussed these in alt.magick.* groups.

Looking at magic from a world wide perspective, there are indeed
numerous examples of it being taught. The belief that it cannot be
taught seems as peculiar to me as equivalent statements such as
"Baseball cannot be taught" or "Administering the Last Rites according
to the precepts of the Roman Catholic Church cannot be taught" or
"Achieving simultaneous orgasms with your lover cannot be taught."
Actually, all those things CAN be taught -- and so can magic. 

> > I am not against making a profit, just against doing it in a
> > misleading way. Selling spell kits is grossly misleading for 
> > the consumer.

Have you had a bad experience with a misleadingly marketed or poorly
made spell kit -- or do you always make such sweeping pronouncements
without factually supporting them?

> lorax666:
> I don't see how this can be sustained except as a myopic constraint.

It does seem myopic to me, too. 

> > If there was an FDA of magick, spell kits would get re-called
> > and shit-canned.

> lorax666: 
> that would be pretty foolish, given that they may save the consumer
> a goodly amount of time and $, and have practical focus rather than
> serving to place emphasis on talismanic effect.

Any attempt to argue this subject rationally with a person who has
descended to using fecal terminology is going to fail. 

However, i will ask a few obvious questions: If you come from a
hereditary tradition in which ritual house cleansings are performed
once a year, will the spell only work if you grow all the herbs, mine
all the minerals, and harvest all your own broom corn? Will the
house-cleansing fail if you buy a spell-kit containing the ingredients
in one package? What if you live in a city and can't grow hyssop --
should you just give up on magic and pray instead, because prayer
doesn't require materials? 
cat yronwode 

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice --

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