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Spells: originality, tradition, kits

To: alt.magick,alt.lucky.w,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic,alt.ocult.mthods
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Spells: originality, tradition, kits
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 02:36:38 GMT

Yowie  / []> wrote:
> From what I understand, there are several forms of "magic". I for 
> one am more akin to "making up a suitable spell that works for me" 
> than repeating a spell word-for-word or item-for-item. But not 
> everybody believes like I do, and not every culture emphaises such 
> originality. There is nothing morally or ethically wrong with either 
> system, because really whatever works for you is whatever works for 
> you - and if that is a "spell" that is well known and oft repeated, 
> then so be it.

Like you, i am a pragmatist, so amen to the statement "whatever works
for you is whatever works for you."

During my practice, i have used both methods you describe (making up a
spell for the particular operation at hand and repeating an older spell
or ritual word-for-word) -- and i have also trod a middle path, creating
new spells using traditional ingredients, traditional techniques (such
as candle-burning), and even fragments of traditional incantations. 

I have never been one for the "my way or the highway" approach to magic
or to religion, and i agree with you that ethics and morals have little
to do with the issue except in the mind of certain dogmatists. 

> I see nothing different in the "bundling" of various spell items to 
> those supermarkets which sell things like "taco kits" or "complete 
> embroidery sets". The customer could by taco shells, taco sauce and 
> salsa seperately, or they could just buy them in a bunch in once 
> box. A person could pick out their emboidery pattern, and then spend 
> time picking ut each different thread that they needed, perhaps not 
> purchasing enough or too much, or they could buy all of what they 
> needed bundled together.

I have always admired the economics of the embroidery kits -- given that
in many cases the design shown is better than one i could draw myself,
the savings accrued from not buying too many strands of floss-thread are

> Lets see, I want to make soup. I need two potatoes, one carrot, one 
> onion, three sticks of celery and a bit of stock. I don't have any 
> of these in my cupboard at the moment. But when I go to the 
> supermarket, the minimum amount of pototoes I can buy is 2kg. I 
> don't usually use pototoes so that would be a waste. Carrots come in 
> bags of 12 or 24. Even if I ate carrots every day, I still wouldn't 
> be able to eat them all before some of them went off. Ditto
> with onions and celery, and what the heck am I supposed to do with a 
> litre of stock when I only need two tabelspoons? Guess I won't be 
> having soup then.
> But wait? Whats this? The supermarket has recognised my need and has 
> created "soup mix" which in one bundle has *exactly the right 
> ingredients* and includes the recipe (although I already know it).
> But I can't buy it because it would be ethically wrong to encourage 
> the supermarket to cater for my needs because it implies I am an 
> ignorant moron for not knowing what I want and encouraging 
> "wannabees" to make only one sort of soup when they would be far 
> better off making their own version. Too bad that pretty much 
> everyone I know makes soup with two potatoes, one carrot, one onion, 
> three sticks of celery and a bit of stock, I guess following a well-
> known and popular recipe is clearly wrong. Gosh, I guess I'm really 
> not going to ever have soup again, then. But it sure was nice of
> the supermarket to understand what I wanted and to provide that 
> service for me.
> Yowie

I really enjoyed this analogy because some spells -- like the well-known
African-derived beef-tongue spell to silence or trip up witnesses in
court cases -- are as much a part of their culture as certain recipes
for soup might be. :-) Supplying the physical ingredients (beef tongue
not included!) and a concise description of the four most common
variants of the spell is indeed much like supplying pre-measured

Objections to spell-kits generally center on the assuption that they are
sold to ignorant people through  

   false hype (this is a Secret Ancient Egyptian Voodoo spell!)
   implied guarantees (this will solve your problem instantly!) 
and that they block the buyer's further devlopment through

   failure to teach magic theory (do it this way, don't ask why)

   false declarations of spell invariance (no substitutionse!)

Now, while it is true that there are many such kits sold -- especially
by a few notorious internet marketers -- i have seen equally many kits
prepared by my competitors as well as by myself that 

   contain no false hype
   contain no imoplied guarantees
   teach magic theory (e.g. colour symbolism, doctrine of signatures)
   encourage originality by giving theory and variants of the spell

In the end, spell kits *as a class of magical tool* are no more morally
or ethically dubious than BOOKS are *as a class*: -- for are there not
also books about magic that are sold to ignorant people through  

   false hype (this is a Secret Ancient Egyptian Voodoo book!)
   implied guarantees (reading this will solve your problem!) 
and that block the buyer's further devlopment through

   failure to teach magic theory (do it this way, don't ask why)
   false declarations of spell invariance (no substitutionse!) ?
Choosing whether or not one's personal path in magic will include the
use of spell-kits is not unlike choosing which movie to rent, which
restaurant to patronize, which lover to settle down and have children
with: One can make a decision based on personal intuition, divination,
or by reading reviews and talking with others who are familiar with the
material through their own personal experience (loved the movie!,
thought it was a fabulous restaurant!, hated the way she treated my cats
back when we went out together in college!) -- or combine all three

Knowing a bit about the personalities of those who write reviews or
relate their experiences even allows one to create meta-reviews of their
opinions. (He also hated  and liked  so we
have similar taste in films, she's probably not a good judge of
restaurants because last week she said that she can't tell the
difference between  and , he is a gentle person and it
is very unusual for him to criticise anyone so this must be a serious

In the end, of course, everyone must make his or her own decision about
whether to use spell kits or to assemble products and perform a
previously written spell or create an entirely original one. 

Spell-kits, like books, are not for everyone. Many practitioners --
newbies and old-timers alike -- are utterly uninterested in them. Some
newbies like them because they provide a set of "training wheels," as it
were. Some old-timers like them for the reasons of convenience and
cost-effectiveness that Yowie gives above. 

But to hold them all up -- regardless of contents -- as *inherently*
predatory and/or *inherently* detrimental to the development of a
practitioner is to give them a power that they do not have. And that is
a delusion that every mage would do well to cast aside. 


cat yronwode 

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