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Tools and Magick

Time for the next installment of….


Before I go too far in this, let me ask a question. Why did you come to this site? Was it to read about what a Druid feels? To read some about Wicca? Maybe see what is in the classes on High Magick and Astral Projection? To learn how to cast spells for fun and profit?

Was it to do research on Magick?

Now, let me ask another question: Do you really think that the plastic dropcloth that you bought at the local Martmart actually has a mystical power when combined with a candle and a piece of string? The string is any string you could find anyplace, including the gutter, and the candle is just gasoline leftovers with a wick in it. Do you honestly think that getting these three things together and saying some words over them will give them magickal powers?

Ceremonies from the actual grimoires of the Middle Ages, things like the “Key of Solomon” and so on, had entire rituals just to make the tools that another ritual called for. The spell would usually call for the magickain to get the components of the item, cast a magickal circle and then to scribe the medallion (or whatever) with the symbols and so on, pray over it, cast spells on it, dedicate and consecrate the medallion, name it what it was supposed to be (The Seal of Hiytoieha;ln or whatever) and THEN, and only then, could it be used in the ritual it was made for.

But the item was utterly changed at that point. Magickally it was a new thing, different from what it was before. It had been cleansed and infused with new energy, given a purpose and a “pattern” to be that was different from what it had been. But this process took sometimes days and a great deal of effort on the part of the magickian.

Did this give some sort of special virtue to the item? Well, yes and no. If the magickian in question didn’t go through this process, then no, it would not have. It also did not change the tool from what it was to something else. In other words, it would not change the silver dagger to plastic. But it did change the item on a spiritual/metaphysical level.

These days, however, with $RW and many others, we have “insta-magick” where we don’t have to go through making our own tools. Go out buy a dagger off the K-Mart shelf and voila! Instant Witch, just add athame and stir.

Because of that, no one wants to go through the long processes of making tools for use in spells, just buy it off the shelf and make it work. Well, it can, but there is something that needs to be substituted. Will and desire and visualization needs to be substituted for virtue of tools at that point.

See, this is where we get away from Ceremonial Magick and into Chaos Magick. Chaos Magickians do not use tools very much, they use their mind. In the ChM view of things, it’s the willpower of the person and the attitude they bring to it that makes or breaks the spell, not the tools they use to actually cast the spell.

For instance, a ChM (Chaos Magickain) casts a spell to call their true love to them. This could be done in a variety of ways. First is sitting and doing a meditation in which he sees himself and his true love together, doing something. He could write all the qualities his true love will have down, sigilize them, chant something like “Thou and me, become WE” 50 or 60 times to set the spell and then burn the paper to release all that energy. He could do a poppet spell (ala Wicca) to bring that person to them. He could go on dates and send out a set of personal vibrations to bring someone who “resonates” to that vibration to them. He could ask the Angels, demons, Gods, Sylphs or whatever entity to push the perfect person to them. Or any number of other things. He could do a Cabbalistic tree path (the true meaning of “pathwork”) and trace the route from one place to the other where he is, bringing her closer to him.

See, to the ChM, it’s not the tools that are the real deal, it’s the willpower and HIS energy put into it that make the spell. If he puts no energy or willpower into it, then there will be no return, no matter if he follows an ancient spell or one from Llewellyn. It’s that willpower, his DEMAND that the universe order itself THIS way that is the key.

Unfortunately this is what SHOULD have been written down in all those spellbooks with the pretty covers and the crescent moon on the spine, but most don’t have this basic information. They don’t say “these pieces of wax in the shape of people have no meaning, it’s the meaning YOU give them to represent the people in your life that is the key”, so you are left with the impression that all you need is a few pieces of candle carved into the shape of a person and that’s the object of your hatred, and it just isn’t so.

I mean, come on, it’s just a candle, so what if you scotch taped a picture of your worst enemy on it? It’s still a candle. It’s your BELIEF and your WILL that makes it special, not the words you recite over it.


If the spell calls for a 30″ by 30″ piece of plastic tarpulen, and all you can find is 18″ by 36″, then use that, it’s your WILL that makes the spell, not the tools you are told you need.

The only tool you absolutely need is a sharpened, intelligent, creative, visualized, stubborn mind. That’s it. Nothing else is necessary.

(addenda 4-26-03)

While driving home the other day, I discovered the perfect analogy to explain this to you: Music.

Let’s compare two different musical styles to two different magickal styles. We will associate Top 20 music to Ceremonial Magick, and Acapella music to Chaos Magick.

In Top 20, you have a group of singers, instruments (usually a lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, various precussion instruments, and possibly in some cases an orchestra), producers, a studio, vocal coach, mixing board, microphones and so on, and the musical score that someone has written. Now, each of these peices took time to produce, from the training going into the singers themselves, to the skill of the players of the instruments, the time to design and make the instruments, the time of the producers and mixers to get the balance of the parts together and the time to make those parts, plus the skill of the makers of the various electronic pieces (microphones, amps, recorders and so on), and finally the skill of the person who wrote the music in the first place, and his creative vision.

If we relate these to the Ceremonial Magickian, each of these parts could be considered one of his consecrated tools, and each of the people involved may be one of the other participants in the actual magickal ritual. There were up to 4 other particiapants in a Ceremonial Magickal ritual from the Key of Solomon (the basis for most Western Magick as we know it) at various stages of learning. The point seemed to be that the Master took his students into the rite to teach them and get them used to the other entities that would be shoping up.

Now, given this, a lot of flaws in the singing (or the spell) could be covered up by the other parts of the song (or rite). A fuzzy voice (near larengytis) could be masked by a guitar playing a bit louder or another singer’s volume being increased slightly. A dropped microphone could be re-recorded over, called overdubing, and edited out of the performance. Finally, any part was interchangable with an identical part from someone else. If the flute player was sick one day, for a performance, another flute player of comparable skill could be hired to take the place of the sick one. As long as they had the same sheet music, their performance should, for all intents and purposes, be identical.

The downside to this is the complexity of the music. For the band, going on the road and performing this live to an audience does not allow for many mistakes, and they have to take ALL the original members and instruments with them. They may even have to hire more people to sing things like backup (which could be handled by studio performers but not necessarily on the road) and road crew to pack up and set up. All of which takes time and effort. Once they have recorded a song with all these elements, they cannot do without them.

The Acapella singer, by stark contrast, has less complexity in their singing, but has a LOT more depending on their performance. If you put the acapella singer into a studio situation, with a song they wrote, they can improvise around the song as they see fit. They may have a metronome to keep time, and possibly a recording of the song that only they can hear so they can keep track of the tune in their mind. The song, however, rises or falls on the strength of the singer’s voice, and the skill they bring to the song. They cannot correct small flaws later, they cannot depend on another instrument to cover a choke, and so on and so on. All the advantages the Top 20 band has vanishes in the mist when the acapella singer takes stage. They ONLY have their skill in singing to depend on.

Which means that they also have to have a LOT of native talent as well. A perfect example of someone who should not be singing, but who actually sounds good when recorded due to electronic tricks is Nancy Sinatra. According to my understanding (and I was not able to find any verifcation to this online, so it may not be true), Nancy sang “These Boots are Made for Walking” the first time, and her father (Frank Sinatra) had a special synthicizer made to filter her voice and make it sound better, and she wound up with a pop hit out of it. I can only assume that she learned to sing later.

But had she not had the electronic stuff, that song may never have seen the inside of record stores.

So, relating this to the magickian, the Chaos Magickian has only his willpower to rely on. The tools are there to focus the will somewhat, but there is only so much they can do. The Will is the key, first, last and always. With the Chaos magickian, because the tools and helps he uses have no inherent virtue or spells on them, as they are nothing special, he has only his trained will to make the spell come to pass.

To counteract this, the Chaos magickian is the master of improvise, they can do a ritual with TONS of tools (enough to make a High EpiscoPagan blush with envy) or they can do it with none. There is nothing to set up, nothing to tear down, spells of the Chaos Magickian can be done while driving down the highway, hundreds of miles from their ritual implements, in the bathroom, with their street clothes on or in bed even. I have even heard of one Chaos Magickian casting a spell underwater.

By contrast, the Ceremonial Magickain must drag out all the special tools from their storage locations, summon his helpers (the time has passed when the apprentices lived with the Master), check the configuration of the Stars, and make a ton of preparations before they even think of casting a spell.

However, the Chaos Magickian must come up with a new spell everytime. They may be able to use a successful framework that was used in the past, but more than likely, the framework they have is all there is, the specifics change from casting to casting along with their state of mind. If they are having an off day, or if they have a headache, they must go past that and still cast the spell anyway. It is more likely (in general) that a spell done in such a way will fail because of all the multiple factors that can affect the outcome.

By contrast again, the Ceremonial Magickian has greater leeway and the spells tend to be more forgiving of flaws. A mispronounced word, a tool in the wrong place, a helper who is afraid can all be forgiven because of the magick of the tools. They set up a resonating field that multiplies the power of the spell, and which the willpower of the magickian only adds to and directs.

It’s not a question of one being better than the other. It’s a matter of taste and ability. It’s also good to have a knowledge of both systems, simply so that if you do find yourself (as a Ceremonial Magickian) without tools, you are not completely disarmed, or when you have the time to do a full ritual (as a Chaos Magickian) it will be that much more powerful.

Because, think of it, the willpower of the best Chaos Magickian, added to the framework, strength and resonance of the Ceremonial Magickian. That’s a spell that could change the world.

Originally posted 2015-09-27 15:53:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

One Response to “Tools and Magick”

  1. Michael Thomas says:

    Thank you for this insightful article. Although not a Chaos Magickian, I agree with their viewpoint. At one time I agonized over my tools. But that was back in the day. I haven’t used a tool in over thirty years, even when I was a practicing pagan witch, i.e, doing spellwork, as well as religious rites. Now, as a strictly celebratory Seax Wican, I still don’t find the need for tools. I think your most important tools are your Will and Intent. Both are as necessary for communicating with the Gods as for spellwork.

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