Quacksalver! Quacksalver! Quack me a salve!

With a quiet day off Monday I spent the afternoon with Hutton enjoying a plate of nibblies and a glass of wine.


The food was light, yet rich. I wanted something nutritious without it being filling since Monday was an in-between day of a double moon. Sunday night’s work was the heavy lifting, but I wanted my blood in my brain rather my stomach for tonight even though it’s “only” a tea brewing evening with the full moon as company.

This month seven years ago I cast my first job spell. A couple of days later I got a call, had the interview the same day and got hired right then. Definitely a confidence booster. So this Sunday night was another go at it, since I could use a little shapeshifting in my favor.

Whether or not I’m successful for myself is one thing, but a couple of months ago a friend was laid off and I casually commented I would throw some magic her way. She seemed pleased, but she’s not a believer. At best she sees what I do as something “based upon feminism and nature-worship and with a benevolent and life-affirming ethic; at worst, harmlessly idiotic.” (pg. 386 Hutton, 1999) Well, she’s still unemployed. I failed, in a sense. So how useful is magic to others? Do we sell snake-oil (if not an actual spell, at least as a way to foster a certain reputation)? Are we quacksalvers whose slight of hand and a few candles make for a good show?

I’m on good terms with the notion that magic is as much (if not more) about showmanship than it is about bending arcane forces to my will and manipulating the space-time continuum like clay. Even the solitary wielder of arcane forces will benefit from the pomp and regalia of ritual to set the mood, not to say anything of how such theatrics effect a group attempting to harmonize moods/energies/goals. I have a decent record for spells cast at myself. I’m in the circle. I’m the sender and the receiver. I want it. I’m a pretty big target. It amazes me my spells don’t get me more often! I have monstrously terrible eye-hand coordination, but it’s not like I’m throwing them that far. But a non-believer, respectful or not, is an evasive target. Perhaps if I had her tied to the altar with candles melting down on her abdomen while I chanted above her and wildly waved a censer of acrid smoke around I would get her attention. Perhaps she would be moved enough by the spectacle to feel a shift in the shapes around her. Perhaps the magic would bulls-eye.

That’s why I think paying for magical services should be required. Even if it’s only symbolic payment. The petitioner might not want to be tied down and have melted wax all over their body (which missing out on soooo much fun! Or so I’ve heard…). The spellcaster might not want to go through the trouble of coordinating their spell time with the petitioner and finding something with which to tie them down. But payment of some kind goes a long way in the minds of people in that they’re expecting to get something in return. Paying up means they’re a less mobile target. Suddenly a spell knows where to go. Certain shapes in magic need to be stationary before the shifting can start. I think of payment less as a bridge between the spell and petitioner and more as a means of encouraging the petitioner to be receptive to becoming a target.

Naturally I didn’t charge my friend anything. I mentioned it offhandedly and maybe, just maybe, I performed the spell with an equally cavalier attitude. In magic there are many shapes to take into account, motivation being one of them, and unless strongly motivated some of those shapes are just too nebulous to expect success.

As far as success is concerned, I expect a call back sometime this week.