Tired of not sticking to your resolutions? Have you considered using magic?
Reading through yet another article on how to keep your resolutions and form new habits, in an attempt to get really (properly this time!) motivated to improve myself it suddenly dawned on me that the only resolution I have stuck to is one I cast as a sort of spell.
I started smoking cigarettes when I was 14 and smoked on and off until I was 25. When the smoking was on I smoked at least a packet a day and when it was off I bummed cigarettes off of whoever I was with that was smoking – always with the guiltily mumbled apology “I’m sorry – I’m quiting” as I gently pulled out a cigarette from their pack. Or I’d say “Thanks. This is my last one.” And every time I’d mean it. I’d take the cigarette thinking “This is it my very last one – ever”. But it wouldn’t be. And while I completely believed me – I am quite gullible – I was aware that my words possibly sounded a little hollow to the generous donor – who had probably heard the same line umpteen times already.
But on the evening I quit I’d gone to meet a friend in the pub because something had happened – the details aren’t important. Anyway I felt lousy about bumming cigarettes off her, but at the same time I really believed I’d quit this time and I was just going to have one – just to keep her company with the smoking, as you kinda do sometimes, right? And if I bought myself a pack I’d have chainsmoked them – and chainsmoking is a pretty clear indication that you haven’t quite quit smoking really.
So I was feeling pretty low about scrounging and wanted to make sure the apology didn’t sound quite so hollow so I said “Thanks. This is my last one. And I’m quiting for your luck.” Simple little sentence. She wasn’t even listening, knowing it was the same old ding dong “Stop, stop, help yourself.” But the words meant something to me because deep down – deep deep down – there’s this teeny weeny tiny part of me that … believes in magic. Not fully. It’s just a speck of belief really – so so small.
As I sat there listening to her talk this little, infinitesimally small, part of me went into overdrive screaming “DO YOU REALISE WHAT YOU’VE JUST SAID!?! DO YOU?” And the rational part of me calmly replied “Nothing. I’ve said nothing. And anyway I’m quit for good after this cigarette. And I don’t believe in magic so shush we should be listening right now. Stop being irrational.” My irrational side completely ignored this reply. Of course it would. I find it difficult to convince myself to be rational when conscious existence is itself an inherently irrational experience. It is though. You can’t really argue with that.
So my irrational side completely won over any argument on the issue by pointing out that if I ever smoked a cigarette again and something – anything – bad were to happen to this person – and bad things always happen – my irrational – and infinitesimally tiny – belief in spells and curses and omens – and all that malarky – would produce termites of guilt that would nibble away at my conscience until … I’m not actually sure what happens with a gnawed conscience – but I suspect it’s … unpleasant.
I had accidentally cast a spell – not that I believe in that sort of thing – and if I broke it I would end up creating a curse – and I definitely don’t believe in them. And still I’ve never smoked a cigarette from that day to this.
Years of knowing that smoking will likely give you lung cancer, increases your risk of stroke and loads of cardiovascular and respiratory disorders couldn’t make me quit smoking completely. Good, sensible, rational, happy-to-own-up-to reasons for quitting were something that I somehow could ignore or forget. While a bunch of nonsense, that honestly I really don’t believe in (well, apart from that itsy bitsy speck) has prevented me from either buying cigarettes or pulling one out of someone else’s packet since I uttered those simple words. And I’m glad it has.
Magic, Magic, Magic. Everywhere
I have actually been thinking about magic and doing something with magic and spells on twimii for the last couple of years. Just for something daft and fun. So another good thing about realising that the only resolution I’ve managed to stick to permanently is one I feel forced to because of some ridiculous speck of belief in curses is that I’ve realised that it’s probably not a good idea to mess with this sort of thing. It reminded me that regardless of how small the belief is it’s there so it would be a mistake to mess around with magic – unless it concerned something without any possible downside to it at all. Hmm. And it does sound like it could be some daft fun. Maybe.
My curiousity was sparked watching a documentary about Aleister Crowley. It wasn’t exactly a hard-hitting, let’s look at the facts, examination of the man. It described spells and rituals he performed with little detail, lots of mystery and no question but that these were real acts of magic. The thing is Aleister Crowley practised dark magic. And not that I believe in it. But I definitely wouldn’t want to mess with that stuff. Though it did make me want to learn more about light magic afterwards because part of me – yes the deranged speck – wondered what if it’s really possible to cast real spells and what if could they be good? I even looked up some books on magic and for at least four days I was really quite taken with the idea.
I didn’t find the samples of magic books I downloaded very convincing. But I probably had just picked bad examples – or things that just aren’t suited to me.
Eventually I decided that I already knew a form of light magic – prayer. I do believe in prayer – I don’t mind admitting that. But I was hoping for something that involved burning little feathers in a bowl with some incense and … mumbled words … and maybe some snatches of old poetry – which can be perfectly suited to spells. Special outfits. Maybe some drumming sounds. Bells.
I already said it was a deranged speck.
I bet you’re feeling better about your goals for 2018 now, right?
Anyway, earlier this year, after watching documentaries about witch trials in Europe in the late middle ages and seeing an odd parallel between the world then and now; they were experiencing freakish weather, they had suffered natural (e.g. plagues) and man-made (e.g. war) disasters, and the structure of their societies was changing in fundamental ways. Change was occurring in a way that seemed uncontrolled, it was being visited on people and people were highly suspicious and suspected that some others were a lot more in control and than they were. Oddly similar, isn’t it? It seemed so to me – and I decided it’s maybe not the best time to try my hand at witchcraft. Not that I believe in it at all really.
And just to be clear yes I do believe that we humans are having an affect on climate. The weather can be freakish from time to time but we appear to be heating up our world and it’s worrying. We don’t even know how our planet will handle it. I think the debate about whether climate change is real or is caused by humans is pointless at this stage. We need to be looking at what can be done to possibly reverse the damage done and what can we do to prepare for disaster. But what can we do when our world is so divided and uncoordinated – other than engage in magical thinking?
So I let thoughts of messing with magic go until a month or so later when I found out about the Voynich Manuscript. It dates from the Middle Ages and it’s written in some “unknown script”. I was very excited about it. I thought it might be the real deal. A real magic book. Not that I believe in magic really. But I thought that the people who wrote the book did. And it seemed like it might be about all the good stuff – like healing and understanding life.
It’s not just mysterious text either; it’s filled with illustrations. Not fancy illustrations like in the Book of Kells. More like a medieval version of John Lennon’s style of drawings. I thought it might be the real thing because – of course I’d found out about it watching a documentary – looking at the pages they showed in the documentary I thought that the script didn’t look like it could possibly be a language but the letters repeated in such a way that I thought it might be something that you would just sound out and the repetitive sounds would provide a rhythmic background to the spell being cast. Magic insensible mumbling. I really thought it might be a real magic book.
So I downloaded it. And for the first few pages, for the first section really, I was quite hopeful I was right. And I was definitely going to use it on twimii.
But then I went on and realised that … no, it wasn’t the real deal. At least all my deductive reasoning (working together with the deranged speck) told me that no this was a very clever hoax probably committed by highly intelligent but illiterate peasants who somehow had come into possession of the expensive materials that went into making the book and decided to use them create a mysterious text full of secret knowledge that some fool of an aristocrat would pay handsomely for. So they filled it with the sort of things that they imagined interested the well-off; secret properties of plants and nature, naked women bathing, plumbing, and knowing the secrets of the future and everything through astrology.
That’s just my gut feeling on it. And I know longer care what its true history is. I was really hoping it was the kind of magic book I thought it was. But it obviously isn’t. Part of me wants to create one. Just for fun. If it’s nonsensical surely it can’t do any harm. And anyway that sort of magic isn’t real.
I really don’t believe in the magic of spells and curses. But there is a real magic. Isn’t there? You can feel it. In the world. In nature. In the way we experience things. In the way this planet is teeming with life experiencing things. In the wilder parts of the world there is a raw magic there. In everything. Well, I think so.
A Spell for New Year’s Resolutions
But you didn’t start reading this post to hear me rambling on about nature and magic. You want a spell. Right?
Hmm. How to create a spell that couldn’t have an opposite negative effect if, with the best will in the world and not really wanting to, you break it?
I think another reason I’ve been thinking about magic over the past couple of years is that, as I’ve started paying more attention to the news, I’ve been feeling like hate is on the rise, like it’s a dark magic weaving through people’s thoughts and speech obscuring obvious truths, convincing people that the enemy is out there and among us and must be crushed – our whole way of life and our very survival is dependent on it. Now that’s real nonsense. Of the most dangerous kind.
I guess part of me, maybe the child in me, is hoping for some very light magic, some miracle, to come along and help us all see that we’re probably in for very turbulent times and the best way to get through them is for everyone everywhere to unite and work together. Feels like it would take a miracle, doesn’t it?
OK. I think maybe I’ve got the makings of a spell…
The opposite of a miracle is simply no miracle which means nothing’s different. You choose the miracle.
Yes it’s daftness but hey if you’re having difficulty sticking to resolutions then maybe magic is the answer. And if you stick with your resolution then maybe, just a very unlikely and blatantly ridiculous maybe, you may cause a miracle to occur.
Light magic. I’d like to believe in you.
But I guess sticking to anything, even when it is just short term, regardless of whatever techniques you’re using, you do it because you decide to do it and I guess fundamental decisions are a sort of magic.