I Hate Ugly Magic (So Stop Telling Me to Use It!)

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply /

Okay, strap in.  This will probably be the most aggressive post I've done so far.  Some of you may be offended.

So now that that's out of the way...I really hate ugly magic.  That's what I would call it, but its proponents think of it as "genius!" and "creative!" and "so practical!"  Well, it's not.  It's just awful and ugly and classless.

What I'm talking about is cheap goods used in a haphazard, distracted way and calling it
magic.  Magic wands wrapped in nylon yarn and decorated with plastic pony beads.  Mojo bags out of paper towel.  And, of course, I'm always being let in on the secret of forgoing full-length tapers (or even the popular chime candles) and using birthday candles instead.  And why would I do this?

To me, magic should be a reflection of your best.  It is your most beautiful work--your most focused, your most invested creation.  Don't brag that you've found a way to slide by on something easier and faster.  You wouldn't share tips on how to put in less effort into your relationship with your partner or children, right?  If anything, you should want to add more, do more, be more.  Same goes for magic; be present in your practice.

When you give less to something that is supposed to mean a lot to you, the endeavor seems suddenly less worthy, less brilliant.  It's as though you don't really care, aren't trying, and don't much mind if you see results or not.  Is that the way you want your work to go?

What You Give You Get

Magic requires an investment.  When you invest time and curiosity, you learn new things.  When you invest energy and desire, you create new things.  So you have to put in something you possess that is of value in order to receive outside value.  That means you either put in straight cash, goods, or one helluva lot of directed energy.  

Money has an obvious value.  We can respect things that cost money and understand that the higher the price, the greater the importance of the thing being offered.  We also show great respect for our own money and only spend it where we'll receive the most for it.  This is why I'm such an advocate for casting spells for pay--clients trust that when a witch gets paid, she knows her stuff.   Giving money to the Gods for favors (in the form of donations to organizations in their honor) and paying for spells is often seen as coarse to modern casters but it holds a lot of power for attaining your desires.  Give money and you give a gift that everyone understands and accepts.

Goods and objects receive a more subjective value--that of the individual.  How much you charge for the things you sell and how much you are willing to pay for the things you buy are largely based on your personal tastes.  Use components that are worthy according to your personality.  Here's where you can work magic with a private set of associations and strong feelings from memory.  For example, you might opt to cast a prosperity spell using a coin from a country you were fortunate enough to visit or an object given to you by a wealthy acquaintance.  It's not necessarily traditional in its associations, but it contains plenty of emotion for you.

Beware the idea that you can just put in tons of visualization and directed power to make a spell work from scratch.  Sometimes you'll be on the top of your game and it will work well.  Other times it will flop.  Too many flops and you'll become discouraged.  Too many spells calling on only your energy and you'll become drained, depressed, and possibly ill.  Use the power found in herbs, stones, colors, words, your natural environment, and other elements to fuel your spell.  That's why components are found in spell instructions at all--you don't have to go it alone.

Objections I've Heard and Will Hear Again

"Not all of us are rich!  I don't have money to waste on fancy things so I use what I find around the house.  If that's tacky then that's fine.  I guess I like tacky magic!"

First, I doubt you do.  You simply have decided to work with things that don't require anything extra from you.  However, just grabbing something and saying "This is good enough" will not get you much in return.  You're choosing to put in a teaspoon of energy when you could have a gallon.  If your spell works, it won't be much.

"Early witches didn't have expensive things.  They were opportunists and used whatever worked."

They also made nearly everything by hand, giving plenty of time for the object to be infused with their desire.  Using an herbal teabag is not as good as learning about the wild plants in your yard which could do the same thing.   That's what early witches would have done.

Spells don't have to be done a certain way.  Don't tell me how to practice!"

You're right, spells don't have to be done in a way that others agree upon, but ideally, they will look like nothing else.  Think back to any accounts by outsiders encountering magic that you may have heard.  They talk about seeing strange objects put in strange places, items they don't understand and arrangements that seem to mean something, however foreign.  That's good magic.  It doesn't look like a shoebox full of plastic charms that may have been left behind by a little girl.

It's not the looks that matter.  It's the effort!"

Then put in some effort! Do that and your magic will be instantly elevated to the level of art.  It doesn't matter what your tastes or talents may be; if you give your all to a spell, it will be a unique expression of your desire.

Take the time to pick just the right components, not just what you find around the house.  Learn new things in an effort to build a better spell: discover uses of local herbs and stones you have found; work with natural items that have classic associations, like bones; find instructions and tutorials on making things by hand that can be used for spells.  This will ensure that you are always growing and becoming stronger in your practice while also not succumbing to the lowest common denominator.

To protect you from ugly magic, remember these tips:

Take a few extra dollar and get the good stuff that your spell deserves.  Your work is important and it deserves your full attention, your full devotion.

Get the right goods for the job, not just what is easiest to obtain.  A little time and sacrifice is good for boosting your magic.

Once everything is assembled and has become a unique kind of beautiful, give it all the energy you've got in you.  There is nothing stronger than the work you feed from start to finish.

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About Me

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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