The Elements of Spellcrafting identifies and explains 21 keys to successful sorcery--a best practices of sorcery--in three sections:
If you have ever cast a spell that didn't work, The Elements of Spellcrafting will help you figure out why.
If you regularly cast spells that seem to work but you still wind up in the same circumstances, this book will definitely help you chart a new course for victorious spellcrafting.
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Jason Miller (Inominandum) has devoted the last 23 years to traveling the globe and studying practical magic in its many forms. He is the author of Protection and Reversal Magick, The Sorcerer's Secrets, and Financial Sorcery. He also runs the Strategic Sorcery Training Course and Strategic Sorcery Blog. He lives with his wife and children in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, where he practices and teaches magic. His popular blog can be found at www.inominandum.com/blog.
Read an Excerpt
Key 1: Know What Magic Actually Does
Before we can talk about the best ways to apply Sorcery to your life, we need to talk about what Magic can actually do. Because Magic is a subtle pursuit that is not even acknowledged as real by many people, this is not as clear as you might think, even to its practitioners.
By far, the most popular definition of Magic is from Aleister Crowley: "Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will." Ever since Crowley set this definition down, people have been adding qualifiers to it to fit their particular spin. Dion Fortune seemed to be concerned that people would take some of the promises of traditional Magic too literally and lose track of the inner transformation she hoped Magic would cause, so she changed Crowley's definition to read "Magick is the art of causing changes in consciousness in conformity with the Will." Donald Michael Kraig, author of Modern Magick, was worried that Crowley was too broad and that his definition could be applied to literally anything, so he said, "Magic is the art and practice of causing change in accordance with will, using methods not currently accepted by science." Frater U.D. had an interest in pushing the Chaos Magic idea that altered states of mind are the key factor in working Magic so he added "Magic is the Science and Art of causing Change, on a material as well as a spiritual level, to occur in conformity with Will by altered states of consciousness." If you start Googling you can probably find a dozen or more spins on Crowley's definition, each reflecting a vested interest of the writer. Rather than add on to Crowley's classic definition, I would like to simply change a key word that I think instantly improves understanding of Magic and how to use it.
Magic Is an Influence, Not a Cause
If I could only change one thing about Crowley's definition it would be this: "Magick is the Science and Art of influencing change to occur in conformity with Will." The key here is to take out the idea that Magic is a direct cause of change, and instead make it an influence upon change — one influencing factor among many, the nudging of fortuna.
This is a much truer description of not just Magic, but almost any attempt at change. Whatever the effort, your influence is in competition with other influences, some of which support your goal, some of which work against it. If we are trying to sail a boat to Greece, we have the influence of the wind, the design of the sail, the quality of the boat, the skill of the other crew members, and a dozen other factors impacting the journey. When you extend this idea out, we can look at how the diet of the crew and events in their personal lives will impact the quest. We also have unforeseen events that may pop up that will have an impact: Something as large as a sudden storm or as small as a distracting glimmer have impact. Whatever action we take directly to make our sailing successful, it is set amidst this sea of influences.
When we get into Magical goals, the idea of influencing change rather than causing change is key. It shows us why spells that aim to divert a coming storm will work better than attempts to make it snow in July. One of these is an event that just needs a nudge, the other requires a drastic suspending of the laws of nature. Magic as an influence rather than a cause is why enchanting for a better job or to start a successful business is a good investment of time, while spells to win the Mega-Millions lottery are a fool's errand.
As far as modifying Crowley's definition of Magic further, I would even drop the "in conformity with will" line. That line speaks much more to Crowley's Thelemic philosophy than it does to the practical aspects of Magic. It also negates the not infrequent occurrences of accidental Magic manifesting in the lives of practitioners.
Influencing What Exactly?
So, if Magic is an influence rather than a cause, we need to think about what it influences. The answer isn't simple because sometimes truly miraculous things can happen, things that defy explanation. You do a spell for love and find someone sitting on your doorstep when you get home. You do some healing to reduce a tumor, and your next check-up has the doctors scratching their heads because they have never seen a reversal like that. One friend of mine, Sara Mastros, conjured the spirit Sabnock, who according to the Goetia of Solomon, grants castles, and wound up moving into an apartment in the historic Henry Lister Townsend castle in Philadelphia. But scenarios like these are not the norm. These occasional and exceptional occurrences happen from time to time, but you can't bank on them. In general, Magic is an influence upon two things: events and minds.
By "events," I mean just about anything that has a probable chance of happening, from a storm, to a car accident, to a raise at work. Magic doesn't make these things happen, but it can influence them.
By "minds," I mean the classic enchantment of spellbinding — influencing what a person, or even groups of people, think. A lot of people get concerned that they might be robbing someone of free will by doing Magic for this, but it's important to remember that Magic is just an influence, like any other influence.
Because the mind seems subtle in comparison to hard-edged reality, and because some people believe Magic works primarily through a psychological mechanism, many assume that minds are easier to influence than external events. They are wrong.
If you have ever attempted to break a habit, you know how deeply intractable the mind can be, even from changes that you wish to make on yourself. The mind is even more resistant to influences from the outside. This is not to say that minds cannot be influenced with Magic. Enchantment is one of the oldest types of Magic, but it's rare that someone does a complete 180-degree turn on an issue just because of Magic. Enchanting people's minds is not difficult if it is for something that they are at least somewhat open to, and you do non-Magical things to help it along, but the idea that you are going to psychologically dominate someone through Magic and make them your psychic slave is not so easy to do, even if it were ethical. There are some over-the-top methods for this, but most people avoid them.
Sometimes you might be doing Magic that you expect to affect the mind of a target, but will instead manifest as an event. I first encountered this with a tanglefoot binding I did on a stalker. I thought the Magic would simply make them lose interest, but what happened is that during their stalking, they had an accident that put them in the hospital for a bit and provided enough evidence for a restraining order. The ladder that he was using to climb to her bedroom window collapsed, and he broke both his legs.
Every key and every comic in this book presents a problem that people encounter when doing Magic. In this case, the problem is that we are told that Magic works, and that it always works, yet, obviously the world is not filled with Witches and Magicians who get everything they desire.
Magic always presents an influence on events and minds, but that influence is not always enough to sway the situation. Our Sorcerer, Harold, is trying to make it snow, probably so he can take off from work. Salphegor, the demon he has conjured, can influence the weather, but it's July, so snow is out of the question.
When crafting a spell, let your awareness of how Magic works inform what you use it for. When Magic doesn't work or work the way you think it should, ask yourself:
* What was I trying to influence, and how much resistance was there to it?
* Is there a more probable angle and manifestation that I can approach this from?
* Am I aiming to change minds, events, or both?
Key 2: Stop Making Crappy Goals
Now that we have established that Magic is an influence on probable events and minds, we can start to plan our goals. When I started teaching, the first homework I gave was to set a longterm goal for something you wanted to change with Magic. After the first round of homework submissions, it became clear that I needed to give folks a little more guidance and specifically warn them about four types of crappy goals.
Impossible and Highly Improbable Goals
I hate to be the one to break this to you, but there are no spells that are going to make you physically invisible. Sorry, but you will have to put off your plans of Magical bank-robbing. That is what we call an impossible goal. Likewise, there is nothing I can do to change your physical appearance to look like Don Draper, create a girl for you like in Weird Science, manifest $100,000 overnight, turn you into a vampire that lives forever, or grant you telekinetic powers. You might be rolling your eyes or laughing at this, but I have been offered money to do all the above by people who believe that I can do them. Money that, of course, I did not take.
These are what we can aptly term impossible goals. It is not that miracles never happen or that paranormal phenomena do not ever manifest, but you shouldn't ever bank on them as a life plan. I don't care what the Grimoire says — it's probably not happening how you think it will. I think that most of you reading this probably understand this right at the outset, so I don't want to dwell on it.
Impossible goals are not the only problem though. Highly improbable goals are also crappy. Now, I am not talking about hard goals. I am talking about very highly improbable goals. The biggest and most common one is, of course, winning the lottery. When I assigned that goal-setting homework to students the first time, six out of 10 first submissions were some variation of wanting to win enough money in the lottery that they never have to think about money again.
The problem is that winning the lottery, while certainly possible, is highly improbable. At the time of this writing, Powerball estimates your chances of winning the jackpot at 1 in 292 million. Your chances of winning even just 1 million dollars are 1 in 12 million. To put this into perspective, you have a 1 in 9 million chance of being struck by lightning ... twice. Your chances of being struck by lightning once this year are 1 in 960,000. This means, from the perspective of Magic influencing events, you are 300 times more likely to be successful with a spell to make someone get hit by lightning, than you would be at winning the Powerball jackpot.
While casting a spell to get someone struck by lightning is totally bad-ass, it's still highly improbable and not worth spending a ton of time on. So if winning the lottery is even less likely, maybe it's time to move on to something a little less difficult?
The Lame Goal
This is the opposite of the improbable goal. It is uninspiring and barely worth the effort. When students tell me that the thing they want to work on is becoming assistant manager of the paint store, pay down a $3,000 credit card bill, or, worse, tell me that they want to make more money but not too much money, it breaks my heart. Goals like this are fine as a stepping stone to somewhere else, and spells to get them done are absolutely in play, but as a goal that drives your Magic, it's kind of lame.
A good goal is inspiring. It lights a fire in the belly. It is a reason to charge into the temple at dawn, or head to the graveyard at 3 a.m. Just because we are not going for the impossible or highly improbable doesn't mean that we can't strive for greatness. Otherwise, what the hell are we doing?
We should not limit ourselves. Every now and then, someone tells me that they want to make more money, but not up in the six figures. Or that they want to make it as an actor or actress but not become a major celebrity. Why? Is there some benefit to others to not do these things? It is a matter of being afraid of success. That is never a good fuel for Magic.
Worse than that though, it cuts us off from our potential. What if the only way to make it at all is to make it big?
This is not true only of material success, either. It's also true for spiritual goals. We may think we are being humble by saying we only seek modest attainments, but examples of great people exist to inspire greatness, not just to be worshipped. In stories of the great Sorcerer turned Saint Milarepa, his attainment and wisdom seemed so far beyond his students that they insisted he must be the incarnation of some powerful Holy Man or Buddha. He scolded them and said that to insist that they were incapable of the same results that he achieved showed lack of faith in the teachings which promise enlightenment to any who dutifully practice.
Even if we do not become millionaires, or celebrities, or great Wisdom Saints, deliberately cutting ourselves off from that right at the start is no way to live your life. Yet all the time, people feel unworthy of great success and even uncomfortable at the thought.
Vague and Immeasurable Goals
The next type of crappy goal that we need to avoid is the vague and immeasurable goal. Things like "I want wealth," "I want to be healthy," and "I want to be enlightened." All are noble, but vague and immeasurable.
Let's take being rich as an example. If you evoke Tzadkiel, the Angel of Jupiter, and say, "My goal is to be rich," what is the metric that he is going to use? Maybe Tzadkiel looks at the world and sees that people who make over $40,000 a year are in the top 1 percent in the world, and then looks at you and your $60,000 a year and says, "You look pretty rich to me already." However, if you ask Tzadkiel to help you get promoted to a position where you are making $100,000 a year, as well as boost sales on your side web business by 30 percent this year, this is something specific that he can grab onto. It's also something you can measure yourself against.
Do you want to be "healthy"? Hey, me too! But what does that actually mean? If you are sick, do Magic to get rid of the sickness. If you are overweight, then you need to know how much you need to lose. What is going to be lost weight and what is going to be fat to muscle conversion? Should you do a spell for your long-term goal, or maybe a shorter-term goal for the first 20 pounds? However you do it, you should be able to measure it.
Enlightenment or "being more spiritual" is perhaps the hardest example to pin down, but even more important because if we don't at least try to determine what we mean, it just becomes meaningless fluff. Are we measuring our spiritual growth in terms of calm? In terms of insight? In terms of how well life goes for us as a sign of favor by the Gods? In terms of how many people we serve? In terms of our own happiness?
Whatever it is you are looking to do with your Sorcery, you should be able to measure it somehow. This is scary. It's putting your Sorcery where your mouth is. It is looking at the possibility of failing and having to admit that failure, but that's the only way we progress.
Setting Goals Is Not an Accomplishment
Did you set a good goal? That's awesome; I am happy for you. Do you feel like you accomplished something? Sorry, but you have not done squat! A few years back, I wrote a few posts about goal-setting on my blog and within the next couple a weeks received the following feedback:
"I worked really hard to set my Magical goal. I am going to hang this goal up in my temple. I feel like I have really accomplished something here."
"Thank you for writing that. I feel like just reading it I have accomplished a lot!"
or my personal favorite,
"Now that I have taken stock of my life and set some realistic goals for my success, I actually already feel successful. This is what I have been looking for! Thank you."
These quotes are presented in this book anonymously but with permission from the people who wrote them. All three people have one thing in common: After I checked back with them several months later, they all did exactly nothing to get closer to accomplishing their goals. This then is the last type of crappy goal: The one that is not acted on.
Goal-setting feels good and can feel like an accomplishment in and of itself. This is understandable; if you really take the time to examine your life, discover a lot of the self-sabotaging and negative inner scripts that you have been running, and take the time to figure out where you really want to be spiritually, materially, romantically, or socially, it can be a hugely satisfying and uplifting experience. It provides direction where formerly there was none.
It feels good.
It feels really good.
It feels as good as the day you first signed up for the gym membership and promised yourself that you would go three times a week. It feels good like the day you opened your Roth IRA. It feels good like the time you signed up for the dating seminar or the day you signed up for Weight Watchers.
Excerpted from "The Elements of Spellcrafting"
Copyright © 2017 Jason Miller.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Setting Up the Spell
Key 1 Know What Magic Actually Does 21
Key 2 Stop Making Crappy Goals 27
Key 3 Make Sure Your Life Is Enchantable 37
Key 4 Everything Matters 45
Key 5 "Matters" Does Not Mean Necessary 53
Key 6 Make Skillful Statements of Intent 61
Key 7 Emergency Magic Is Bad Magic 71
Part 2 Execution
Key 8 Embrace the Power of Offerings 81
Key 9 DIY Is Over-Rated 95
Key 10 Use Macro- and Micro-Enchantment 103
Key 11 You Are a Spirit Too 111
Key 12 Check Your Links 119
Key 13 Practice Sane Eclecticism 129
Key 14 Magic Is a Rhizome 139
Part 3 Advancing Your Craft
Key 15 Judge Success Skillfully 151
Key 16 Enchant for What you Don't Deserve 161
Key 17 Work Outside the Columns 171
Key 18 Failing Without Flailing 181
Key 19 Know Where Your Scarcity Lies 189
Key 20 Trade In Goals for Trajectory 195
Key 21 Maintain Sovereignty 205
Parting Words 213
Appendix 1 The Seal of Manifestation 215
Appendix 2 7 Keys for Successful Divination 217
About the Author and Illustrator 223
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm glad to have purchased and read this book. I'll be re-reading it to get the most out of it, and that doesnt happen with every book I read.. Jason Miller is an excellent author of what I'll just call esoteric subjects. The insight of so many years of experience alone is well worth the book, and those of you new to the work/practice are well advised in avoiding many common mistakes, as well as given, once again, the insights of long years of experience. If you're looking for lucid, well-thought out material for furthering your own knowledge and experience, it's right here.