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Now, with 45% more sleep!

I think I got a good eight hours last night. The dreams weren't even too bad. By yesterday evening, round about sixish, I was so ill from lack of sleep I lay down and drifted in a gentle sort of delirium for a time. Neither dreaming nor awake, too dizzy and achy to sit up, constantly on the verge of tears. Fortunately, I have Spooky, and she chased me off to bed at a halfway decent hour last night and gave me stuff to help me sleep. I feel much better this morning. I'm hydrated and my thoughts aren't crumpled.

Yesterday, I read the new vignette, "pas-en-arrière, " aloud to Spooky. It's the first time she'd heard the whole thing, and she loved it. I love it, too. Though Sirenia Digest was born in October on a lark, and was soon thereafter pressed into servitude as a means of staying solvent until the next book is sold, I think I see it now as a blessing in disguise. It's allowing me to stretch and flex and grow in ways that writing for editors and their needs has not. I'm very proud of some of these pieces: "Pony," "Untitled 17," "Untitled 20," and now ""pas-en-arrière." I love these pieces, and they would not have happened without the digest. There are new facets of voice I'm discovering, which will change future novels and short stories, and I'm grateful for that. Anyway, I did a few corrections to the vignette yesterday. There are still a few left to do. My head's clearer today, so I'll trust myself more. One should never, ever edit oneself when half-awake and ill.

Anything else about yesterday? We visited the two trees in Freedom Park, as planned. I wrote two Wikipedia entries, on the ankylosaurids Talarurus and Nodocephalosaurus. Likely, they are infested with typos, and I shall have to edit them today, unless someone beats me to it. Last night, Spooky and I watched Capote, which I genuinely adored. It may be the best new film I've seen since The Aviator. Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance is brilliant, and the cinematography is almost perfect, making it the sort of film I savor frame by frame.

Thanks to tagplazen for pointing out that the quote I attributed to Naomi Klein's No Logo was actually something that Utah Phillips said that she quoted. Which is what I get for trusting my addled memory.

Here's a Wicca question I've been grapping with: Is it not obvious to everyone the problematic nature of the "Rede"? And you harm none, do what you will. This line can't be traced back farther than Gerald Gardner and the 1950s and is likely an invention of his. Same for the "Threefold Law." They both suffer from the same flaw, which is a generally simplistic and short-sighted understanding of cause and effect and the domino perpetuation of reaction following from any action. That is, simply stated, it's impossible, in any case imaginable, to commit an act which one can be certain will cause no one harm. Personally, as I've said, I don't see magick as a means of tipping the scales in our favour and begging the universe into coughing up something we need. But if I did, and if I also believed that should my magick harm another that harm would be visited upon me threefold, I would certainly never cast a spell, as I could never insure someone would not suffer unintentional harm. Here's an example. Let's say I needed a job, and I prayed to Rosmerta, since she's supposedly good with prosperity, and made offerings to her that I might get the job. Now, let's assume the universe works that way, that there are sentient, autonomous superbeings like Rosmerta who are also willing to pull strings for mortal organisms. So, she's pleased and sees that I get the job. The magick works. But. What about the dozens, or even hundreds of other applicants? What if some of them needed the job much more than I did, but were not so clever as to say the right prayers and make the best offerings to Rosmerta (or whomever)? What if one of those people needed the work so desperately that my getting it leads to the loss of her home and the disintegration of her family? What if she's so distraught by not getting the job that she commits suicide or harms someone else? Is it not obvious that my actions have brought harm upon her, and if the threefold law is to be believed, that harm will be visited upon me threefold? And never mind the issues of freewill involved, that I've asked Rosmerta to intercede and influence the thoughts of the person/people doing the hiring. Is that not also a terrible sort of harm, depriving them of choice? In truth, I suspect the "threefold law" and the "rede" both arise from sloppy misinterpretations of the concept of "karma." My problem here is the same one that I have with any form of prayer which seeks to actually exceed veneration/celebration to become coercion and begging, the problem of magick as a sort of Cosmic art of persuasion. It's common to most religions, but it doesn't have to be. We need desperately to divest ourselves of this image of magick as some sort of super-technology or the ability to influence the course of history. Or so I believe.

I do think that the Rede is salvageable, so long as we view it merely as a rule of thumb or a reminder that we should always act with the best of intentions and not mean to do another harm. That is, we should act in the spirit of the Rede, when possible. I can't however, find any use whatsoever for the "threefold law," which I must discard as a modern superstition.

Okay. The day's getting old. I want to try to begin a new vignette today, and I've started to think very specific thoughts about the next novel, which I've given the working title Joey LaFay. Stay tuned...

Comments

( 58 comments — Have your say! )
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sovay
Mar. 22nd, 2006 04:30 pm (UTC)
and I've started to think very specific thoughts about the next novel, which I've given the working title Joey LaFay. Stay tuned...

Is this the YA novel set in the Other Place that you mentioned some months ago, or something entirely different?
greygirlbeast
Mar. 22nd, 2006 04:32 pm (UTC)
Is this the YA novel set in the Other Place that you mentioned some months ago, or something entirely different?

Something different, though it may turn out to be a YA fantasy.
(no subject) - sovay - Mar. 22nd, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
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blakesrealm
Mar. 22nd, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC)
Well I consider myself Pagan, not Wiccan, but I figured I'd throw my two cents into the mix. To me it all comes down to intentions. If you're invoking magic, through whatever rites suits you, and your intentions are not directed at harming someone, or even involving anyone else directly, then I think the threefold law need not be worried about.

In the end it all comes down to intentions, if you willingly invoke magic directed at someone in particular, then I think you're going to have to deal with the consequences.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 22nd, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
In the end it all comes down to intentions, if you willingly invoke magic directed at someone in particular, then I think you're going to have to deal with the consequences.

If you accept a karmic system of checks and balances, which I don't. But since I also don't believe that magick alters reality, exactly, that's really neither here nor there.
(no subject) - blakesrealm - Mar. 22nd, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
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greygirlbeast
Mar. 22nd, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
Three-Fold Law seems like it would just allow for a perpetual motion of energy, in a seemingly entropic universe.

But there's no need for a magickal law here. Though the general trend of the universe and all systems within it is towards entropy, there are plenty enough observable energy sources to permit localised systems to work contra entropy. The sun, for example.


If, however, current thoughts on DarkMatter and Dark Energy are correct,


I'm not entirely sure what you're saying here.

i see magic and science as two smaller parts of a unit whole.

I would say that I see magick and science as two different, but related, reactions to the same stimulus, the stimulus being the universe.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Mar. 22nd, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
robyn_ma
Mar. 22nd, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC)
My feeling about 'An it harm none, do what ye wilt' is that it's meant to focus one's energies on the positive, the healing, the productive. (It's also consistent with Buddhism's karma, the Xians' 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' — if only more so-called Xians actually believed that — and the physician's 'First, do no harm.') 'If one's spell is consciously negative, one will get that negative energy back threefold. Unless one is a masochist, one wouldn't want to put negative energy out there, because the premise is that one will get it back cubed.

What you attempt to bring about with a spell says more about you than about the spell. To take your example, my take is that it would be perfectly fine to do a spell attracting positive financial energies. I wouldn't do a spell directly trying to influence someone to hire me; I would burn a green candle to open things up, and that might involve not getting that specific job but getting some other, perhaps better job. It would be wrong to do a spell wherein one's goal is to block someone else from getting the job. Wicca isn't a competitive sport, or shouldn't be. If you're stuck on a story, you'd do a spell to unblock yourself; you wouldn't do a spell to give Dean Koontz writer's block (tempting as that may be).

So the Rede and Threefold Law are simply there to advise people to use energy wisely, and to consider the consequences, as you say. That's my Buddhist non-attachment take, anyway.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 22nd, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
To take your example, my take is that it would be perfectly fine to do a spell attracting positive financial energies. I wouldn't do a spell directly trying to influence someone to hire me; I would burn a green candle to open things up, and that might involve not getting that specific job but getting some other, perhaps better job. It would be wrong to do a spell wherein one's goal is to block someone else from getting the job. Wicca isn't a competitive sport, or shouldn't be.

But, see, here's the thing. Resources are not unlimited. My gains are inevitably someone's loss. So even if the spellwork isn't so specific, it still amounts to the same effect in the end. If by magick I gain, then by my magick someone else has lost.

you wouldn't do a spell to give Dean Koontz writer's block

I would if I thought it would work. ;-)

Unless one is a masochist, one wouldn't want to put negative energy out there, because the premise is that one will get it back cubed.

The root problem I have with this is that the world, as we observe it, doesn't look like a world where the evil that humanity does is visited upon itself threefold or otherwise. If there were any sort of functioning karmic principle, I should think it would act to effect a balance, one that over time would be consistant and observable. If A is true, then the world should have the appearnace of X. It doesn't. Evil actions have shaped the world and continue to do so, and there's very little evidence that most of these people suffer in any signifant way for their actions.
(no subject) - robyn_ma - Mar. 22nd, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
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loveday
Mar. 22nd, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
You are 100 percent correct in your rede ponderings, imo. Gardner stole most of the phrasing from Aleister Crowley. He just cozied it up a little, or rather, Doreen Valiente did when she wrote the prose. I look at the rede as a modern superstition, same as you--on par with not buying your own tarot deck, etc.

Lots of new Wiccans and those who follow the blind-faith mode of religion will never look at the details and ethics of these things. The rede was one of the major reasons I started calling myself witch instead of Wiccan. (That, and the fact that I haven't been initiated into a traditional Wiccan coven.)

And magick...that's bending circumstances in conformance with your will. Has nothing to do with persuasion. Done right, it's pure power. Some would argue that the only thing you can change is yourself. Many times that includes the ability to receive.

Good thoughts. Love to hear people really think. It's why I enjoy your journal. Read Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton.
loveday
Mar. 22nd, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)
Replying to myself...I'm a loser.

Someone above said just work positive magick. Not if someone is threatening my family or some other heinous thing. You better believe I'm going to lob the nastiest thing I can find at them (as well as call the police and protect my family physically.) It all boils down to responsibility. For what are you willing to be held responsible? If banishing someone saves my daughter from harm, hell, yes, I'm going to banish. But then I hold the responsibility myself of dealing with any spiritual repercussions. And there will be some. You have to not let this stuff go to your head. You have to control your impulses...it goes on.

I was drawn to paganism because I felt I didn't need an intermediary. I accept responsibility for my own actions. That's being a witch.
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regenzeit
Mar. 22nd, 2006 05:07 pm (UTC)
offtopic, and sorry for that:
http://www.boingboing.net/2006/03/20/update_on_subgenius_.html

Have you heard about that?
It sure could use some publicity..
stsisyphus
Mar. 22nd, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
Re: offtopic, and sorry for that:
Oh, that pisses me off. Consider it linked when I update my journal. Not that I think a Dallas or Georgia judge will be more reasonable, but WTF?

You think an impromptu guerilla Devival in the foyer of the Courthouse would count as black or white magick?
stardustgirl
Mar. 22nd, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
I tend to agree with what's already been said: it's intent that counts. There is nothing wrong with trying to tip the scales in your favor jobwise by enhancing yourself in whatever way you can: great interview, knowing the right people, or praying to Rosmerta. On the other hand, exterminating the competition and burying them under your house would definitely be a "harm" issue.

I think of magick as having the potential to change yourself. If doing the rituals gets your head in a certain positive spot, then you are more likely to do more actions that will help you in reaching your goal. In that way it can change things, but I don't really picture a magickal being sitting somewhere granting wishes.
thingunderthest
Mar. 22nd, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
I've always had a bit of a problem with "And it harm none" as well as the whole not for personal gain ideas.

I don't think you can take any action without personal gain, even if it is a good feeling from self sacrifice or helping somebody you usually gain something.

And I don't believe you can walk the earth without harming someone/thing. Plants, animals, people. It is usually a case of rating myself above an animal or plant. You can try and honor the things you kill to survive, but everyone kills.

I believe that there are a fixed amount of resources available and by taking more, there is less available for others. I wonder if it is the same way for good/evil. If, as in the super hero tradition, great forces of good rise to combat evil, then perhaps forces of evil will rise if there is too much good. Perhaps by doing good, I thereby force others to do evil to compensate and maintain the balance.

It gives me the idea for an ascetic sect, or perhaps some sort of reverse sin eating. A group of dedicated bastards wandering the land, eating fatty foods for the health of others. Committing evil acts wherever they go so that others may do good. Promoting the cause of good through scum and villany.

Then again, I could be on the crack again.
reverendcrofoot
Mar. 22nd, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
It gives me the idea for an ascetic sect, or perhaps some sort of reverse sin eating. A group of dedicated bastards wandering the land, eating fatty foods for the health of others. Committing evil acts wherever they go so that others may do good. Promoting the cause of good through scum and villany.

Somebody has to make sure that Karmic wheel keeps rolling, why not the sect you speak of? Of course I always imagined someone being more directly involved then the generic evil you speak of maybe a specific strike. Firebomb the tractors of logging companies, rape the rapist, that sort of thing.
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mellawyrden
Mar. 22nd, 2006 07:42 pm (UTC)
I have a tendency to take the "Rede" and "Threefold Law" as workings within oneself. "And you harm none, do what you will"... in my interpretation, this means you owe it to yourself and everyone around you to make every step of your life as genuine and as much "your own" as you can make it. The key in that statement, to me, is the word "will". A similar thing is true in the Threefold Law. If you're not genuine to yourself, it'll come back and kick you in the ass at least three different ways, and there'll be only you to blame. There's another phrase I've heard quite a bit: "As above, so below". I think this means the mind (above), and the physical world (below) need to be seen as linked. I really do believe we influence the world around us and it's all within the realm of nature, and requires no intermediaries. The saints and deities are actually parts of our minds that we need to access.

This is not to say I don't think the teachings of paganism and buddhism etc are important... I actually think they're crucial. It takes discipline and practice to learn what your own truth is.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 22nd, 2006 08:20 pm (UTC)
I really do believe we influence the world around us and it's all within the realm of nature, and requires no intermediaries.

As do I. We are elements of Nature and elements of Nature interact and influence one another, for good or ill. I don't call this magick, just cause and effect. If I want something done, and it's within my sphere of ability/influence, then I'll do it, directly or indirectly, but I won't expect some supernatural entity to act on my behalf.
(no subject) - mellawyrden - Mar. 22nd, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
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stsisyphus
Mar. 22nd, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
I know I don't really have much of a say or good footing in any of this, but I tend to operate by a different "three fold law" which pretty much runs:

1. What goes around, comes around.
2. Turnabout is fair play.
3. Don't shit where you eat.

Like any valid belief, I don't do a great job of adhering to it ("I never said I was a good Buddhist"), but I find that it operates fairly well in a material vision of reality. Were I a pagan, Wiccan, White/Grey/Black witch, I rather doubt that that any metaphysical law would stop me from doing some serious evil if I really wanted to. Worrying about prison sentences and such would. I don't think that there's any less magick in slashing tires, throwing bricks, or pushing someone in the mud than in casting circles, saying prayers, or performing spells (ditto for a nice batch of flowers, a thick milkshake, or an unasked-for backrub while playing hooky from work). But that's how I am. By this point, I'm totally lost in all these discussions and think I probably just need to shut up.

Also, to clarify, doesn't karma have to do more with following one's assigned dharma rather than being a virtuous person? I dare say that GW Bush's cosmically assigned duty is to be an utter asshat and he is succeeding marvellously. Our collective karma as citizens of democratic republic is being damaged by the fact that we all should be doing more to either: A) get him out of office, B) oppose his agenda, C) support local officials and national organizations to promote one's ideals, or D) all of the above. Trust me, we'll probably regret it in our next life if we don't, no matter where we reincarnate.

Nar', did you anticipate this much feedback when you started journaling your spiritual practice? Is it still welcomed?
greygirlbeast
Mar. 22nd, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
Nar', did you anticipate this much feedback when you started journaling your spiritual practice? Is it still welcomed?

I didn't expect it, really, but yet, it is very much welcomed. It helps a lot, even when I disagree with what's being said (as I usually do). What's said here is often much more thoughtful and articulate than most of the occult books I read, which are often barely literate. One of the greatest disappointments I've yet found in my Wiccan studies is that most Wiccan authors seem inarticulate and lack any sort of scholarship about them.
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mevennen
Mar. 22nd, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
It's rather like Utilitarianism, when you start breaking it down.

I tend to be an empiricist: does it actually work? (and what does one mean by 'work'?) It's fairly obvious that slapping a curse on someone does not, in fact, invoke three times the amount of harm upon oneself, but at least, enough people believe it that it's stopped the notoriously, ahem, 'individualist', members of the craft indulging in curse wars.
greygirlbeast
Mar. 22nd, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
I tend to be an empiricist: does it actually work? (and what does one mean by 'work'?) It's fairly obvious that slapping a curse on someone does not, in fact, invoke three times the amount of harm upon oneself, but at least, enough people believe it that it's stopped the notoriously, ahem, 'individualist', members of the craft indulging in curse wars.

Which, I think, is where its actual value must lie, if it has actual value. It at least helps to keep things civil. :-)
(no subject) - mevennen - Mar. 22nd, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
hewet_ka_ptah
Mar. 22nd, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC)
my two cents
I have heard from a few traditional Wiccans that the Rede is meant for novices as a tool to help them think of the possible ramifications of magick before they start casting. I have no idea how accurate that information is.

I like the idea of a ripple effect, where the spell is like a stone dropped into a still pool of water.

suspect the "threefold law" and the "rede" both arise from sloppy misinterpretations of the concept of "karma."

Agreed.

My problem here is the same one that I have with any form of prayer which seeks to actually exceed veneration/celebration to become coercion and begging, the problem of magick as a sort of Cosmic art of persuasion.

So a spell is the same as prayer? What are the similarities and what are the differences?

Magick is something that comes from within. Your Will affecting your world (internal and external). Many spells that call on gods or goddesses usually aren't prayers because the gods or goddesses aren't seen as being divine but rather as a symbolic representations of what is desired. There's no sense of worship or belief that would take the spell to the level of a prayer.

In ancient cultures there's usually not much, if any, separation between religion and magick. "He (the sun god) created for them magic as a weapon, to fend off the blows of the happenings." From the Instructions of Merikare, translated by Jan Assman.

It's common to most religions, but it doesn't have to be. We need desperately to divest ourselves of this image of magick as some sort of super-technology or the ability to influence the course of history.

Can it influence history? Maybe. I'm not counting it out. Is it super-technology? No, I think it's a fundamental part of humanity. I don't see it as being some "other".


greygirlbeast
Mar. 23rd, 2006 12:33 am (UTC)
Re: my two cents
Re: my two cents

Magick is something that comes from within. Your Will affecting your world (internal and external). Many spells that call on gods or goddesses usually aren't prayers because the gods or goddesses aren't seen as being divine but rather as a symbolic representations of what is desired. There's no sense of worship or belief that would take the spell to the level of a prayer.


There's something in this comment which seems very odd to me, though I think I'm too tired to put my finger on exactly what it is.
morganxpage
Mar. 23rd, 2006 12:05 am (UTC)
"An it harm none, do what ye will" was actually derived from Aleister Crowley's "Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law," and was Gerald's way of attempting to instill a common morality in Wiccans that he didn't feel was present in Thelema. Taken figuratively, to mean "don't intentionally try to unnessesarily hurt people," this is a fine guildline to follow, but if taken literally, it simply impossible to live up to.

Wiccans who take "An it harm none, do what ye will" literally are just as annoying as Christians who don't realize that the Bible was meant to be taken metaphorically and situationally. Most of these same Wiccans are converts from Christian denominations, and it seems more than likely that their taking of the Wiccan Rede as literal is porbably just a hold-over from the belief structures put into place by their previous Christian faith or upbringing.

That, and Westerners are notorious for taking things too literally. Phil Hine likes to point out one Western guru who said that he had counted the petals on the lotus flowers of the Chakras and found out that there are actually only 960 petals, not the traditional 1000 petals. What this man didn't get is that in Indian culture, to say something is a thousand, is to say that it's a lot or uncountable, not that it's actually 1000.

~Morgan
greygirlbeast
Mar. 23rd, 2006 12:37 am (UTC)
Phil Hine

Phil Hine was what finally soured me entirely on chaos magick. The man is a master of sloppy thinking, writing, and scholarship. Sorry. He irks me.

Wiccans who take "An it harm none, do what ye will" literally are just as annoying as Christians who don't realize that the Bible was meant to be taken metaphorically and situationally.

Agreed.

Most of these same Wiccans are converts from Christian denominations, and it seems more than likely that their taking of the Wiccan Rede as literal is porbably just a hold-over from the belief structures put into place by their previous Christian faith or upbringing.

Perhaps. But have you actually seen any studies or data to back this up?
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tarots
Mar. 23rd, 2006 03:21 am (UTC)
That is, simply stated, it's impossible, in any case imaginable, to commit an act which one can be certain will cause no one harm.

I use spells (casting spells, writing spells, contemplating spells) as a meditative tool. I go through spurts of intense reading and researching spells but usually end up with the same bag of tricks and those spurts now stretch into 3 or 4 years between them.

I have cast 2 spells in my life that had the express purpose of stopping someone from doing something to me or a loved one, both spells would be considered malevolent spells: do I think what I did caused my desire to manifest? do I think what I did had the slightest affect on anyone other than myself? did I think my casting would impact anything or anyone other than myself when I did it?

I mention the 2 spells only because I have never met or spoken with another witch that would admit to having cast a spell that would come back and bite them in the ass painfully. Or maybe they won't admit it to me since I am known (as much as I'm known in the [now pretty much defunct] online witch/occult world) as a or the agnostic witch.

When I first read 'all the books,' I thought the repetition of the rede and threefold was for dramatic effect to be exact. Like the author(s) guessed that the reader might not read skeptically so they put that reminder in there so no one would get their head blown off and try to blame them.

Doesn't every religion have a stated moral code though? Because we, the members of the herd, can't be trusted to know better?

tactileson
Mar. 23rd, 2006 03:44 am (UTC)
Doesn't every religion have a stated moral code though?

Over the years I've come to firmly believe that it's all in your intentions and your own heart. Religion is merely the middle man. There is a huge difference between people like Fred Phelps (just typing that name almost makes me spit) and Martin Sheen. Both use Christianity to justify their beliefs and actions, yet one person preaches nothing but hatred, and the other gives of himself to help better the world. It's all in the intentions.
__hecate__
Mar. 23rd, 2006 10:12 am (UTC)
Another 2 cents
Most of what's been said of the Read is good and I agree.

From on of Mellawyrden
"When I'm reading texts about any given system, I have to translate their terms into mine... entities equalling psychological focal points and so on. I pick my way through these books. So far I haven't found any that reflect exactly what I'm feeling about this."
This is probally the only way to go, sins the reason why there are so many
books on the subject is that people want to share (hopefully, though money is probally another cause) their subjectiv take on the topic. The problem is when they try to pass it of as objectiv truth and make dogma of it.

Remember that when he (Gardner) formulated the texts in the 40's the witchcraft laws where still in effect in the UK and the books was'nt published for another 10 years. So the langauge reflects the time.

As too if magik works, in the magikal reality it does. A bit like your dreams, they are real to you when they happen. Same with magik in the magikal reality setting and one of the reasons there are so many "kooks"
in magikal/occult circles, they try to live in the magikal one without any regard for the "normal reality" and its consequences. Instead of trying to bring the "normal" and magikal together into a reality where magik works on a personal level.


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