Tag Archives: spell

Ingredients for a spell – a poem

One face. Apparently good enough.


One body – sore, awkward

Also dancing, creative

Recently re-imagined.


One heart, much scarring

Bloody, raw

Easily broken.


Hands, two, open.


Words. All the words

To write a new life.


Love. (This is not a love spell)

Love is a key ingredient.


Time, trust, courage.

A spell to change everything.


I cannot tell

If I am making this spell

Or if it has been

Cast upon me.

Bard Magic

We tend to talk about the modern bard path purely in the sense of creativity, inspiration and performance. If you start from the belief that magic means transformation, then bard craft has an enormous potential for magic.

In creating a piece, be that poem, song, sculpture or cake, a person is using their will to manifest something in the world. Something new. Like any manifestation of will, what you create as a bard has the power to change things.

Bards usually commit (if they undertake any of the Bardic initiations I’ve encountered) to working for the good of the land, their tribe, their gods or however else they may express their sense of sacredness. To be a bard is to set out to be inspired by the sacred and to share that inspiration. In essence, you offer to be a doorway through which things can enter the world.

When you put yourself forward as a bard, you can have an immediate impact on how other people feel – a bard can uplift, cheer and inspire, create empathy and understanding, foster a sense of the scared, of magic and possibility. A bard can change how people think about themselves, each other, the culture they live in…  In practice the lines between spells and songs, poems and prayers, is not a clear line. A story can be an invocation. Art can heal, it can make sayable what was unsaid.

Bards can challenge how we conventionally think about things, can satirise politics and mock the ethically bankrupt. It is a path that enables subversion, radical reimagining and changing the stories that shape how we think and act. We can give voices to the voiceless, we can empower, uplift and enable others.

You don’t have to think anything supernatural is going on for this to work, but if your world view includes that kind of magic, the bard path remains relevant. Bard craft can make a good focus for spell work. When we set out to enchant and inspire each other, the world is a much better sort of place.

Magical thinking for logical people

The trouble with magical thinking is that it can look distinctly irrational. Why would a few whispered words, a candle or a sprinkling of herbs change the outcome? And if there’s reason to think it did, there’s no way to prove it did.  However, to write magic off as irrational, is also to hold a set of assumptions about what reality is and how it works.

Cause and effect are not simple, mechanical procedures and we know this because the future is not predictable. Intention – human and other – is part of the mix. How we feel about things informs how we experience them. There are elements of unpredictability – weather systems being a fine case in point.  It’s the uncertainty that creates the feeling that other forces beyond our knowing could be involved, and with it the sense that we could take control.

We can take control of the insides of our heads, although most people don’t. Knowing what we want rather than being buffeted about by repressed desires and unconscious urges gives us a shot at being deliberate co-creators of our lives. We are shaped by our environments – to the degree of switching on and off genes. The person who deliberately shapes an environment has control of themselves and a significant influence on others. We become our choices. The more knowing and deliberate the choice is, the more control we have over who we become, how we feel, and how we experience life. Obviously the less control you have over a dreadful environment, and the less scope you have to escape it, the less true this becomes.

Intention shapes action. The clearer our intentions, the more able we are to deliberately follow through on them. The more open we’ll be to the things that take us in the right direction because we’re better placed to recognise them.

There is every reason to think that a spell operates inside the head of the caster – shaping, affirming, defining intent, clarifying, focusing, making way for possibilities. There’s nothing irrational about thinking we can use our thinking to change our lives – the conventional mental health intervention – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – is no different from this.

If we start from the belief that physical matter is the essence of reality, then the application of willpower is only relevant in so far as it lets us direct our bodies to interact with physical things. If you think about the nature and behaviour of atoms, the way forms of energy move, there’s certainly an argument for saying that energy and not matter, is the primary thing. Does matter lead to consciousness, or does conscious lead to matter? We can’t prove it either way, at the moment. Matter is certainly influenced by consciousness – you only have to look at what placebo effects (belief) and depression do to the body.

Of course if you do a spell, there are no guarantees, but that’s just as true of launching a marketing campaign or propositioning someone you fancy. Ours is never the only intention in the mix. Other intentions, other energies, other balances of probability are involved. If your magic aligns with a lot of other intentions and probabilities, your odds are better. The more unrealistic your magic, the less likely your chances. Again, this is just as true for the marketing pitch and the chat-up line.

Perhaps sometimes magic is better understood not as forcing your will upon the world, but being able to fit in with the world well enough to get what you want out of it. Akin to creating a product people may want to buy – always the easier sell, and chatting up the person who was already interested in you.

A magical spell

After some deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that I do indeed have a favourite magical word. It is a charm against abuse, ludicrousness, greed and exhaustion. It has the power to protect the planet from human predation if only we use it properly. As a charm it works in a number of ways, layered with meaning and possibility.

That word, is ‘enough’.

To recognise that we have enough, is a powerful thing. Many people in the world are out there grasping after bigger piles of stuff they cannot use, because they lack the magical insight an ‘enough’ charm will bring. The flip side of the same issue fails to recognise that far too many people in the world do not have enough, do not have food, clean water, shelter or peace. They too need the magic of ‘enough’ to lift them out of misery.

“Enough” is the magic word that enables a person to walk away from bullshit, time wasting, crappiness. It’s taken me a long time to learn how to say it, and not to let people who just enjoy giving me a hard time get their jollies. I have learned to say no, and not to show up. I have taken enough already. I will take no more. It is a final, potent ward when used in this way. It can be said fiercely, and with feeling. Enough! No more time wasters, no more needless dramas, no more pointless misery for no good reason. I will be where I am needed, I will look out for the people who do not have enough in some aspect of their lives, but I will not stand around to be kicked.

Using the word ‘enough’ I will undertake to find out what that means in the context of my own life. I have not had enough peace, but I may have some hard fights to win it, because peace for myself alone would not be enough. I need more rest, and more time off, and more things that make me happy, and I need to learn how to say ‘enough’ to the work and the striving and the trying to make things better. I do not believe that the ends can be assumed to justify the means. Treating myself in ways that I find wholly objectionable when they manifest elsewhere, therefore does not work. I need to learn to say ‘I have done enough for now’. There are things to work on.

Words are power and magic, they are intention given shape and directed into the world. We do not need long and elaborate spells in order to make changes. We need focus. Sometimes one word is enough.