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Why is accuracy the first victim?

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Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby HopefulChild » Tue Jan 19, 2016 11:36 am

For the purposes of disclosure, I don't really do workings often at all.
This post is an expression of my opinion and an invitation to hear other peoples opinions and nothing more.
It is certainly not a passing of judgement.

The more I lurk these forums the more posts I read from people who want to learn, want to understand, and they undertake spells and rituals and feel that there is no effect and then they turn here for guidance or advice and that is wonderful and awesome and I personally can't thank the mods and operator enough. Truly a labor of love and worthy of praise in my opinion.

A theme that I have also noticed is support and encouragement. Give support, encourage people to try again, to keep trying.
Along with that is often times a dismissal of what could be considered errant practice or "sloppy" craft, and I personally assume that this is part of the support and encouragement idea.

My question as expressed in the thread title is "Why is accuracy the first victim". My reason for asking that is based on reading and theory of course, since most of what I talk about is. If a spell being attempted requires, X, Y, and Z components, but the practitioner, being young, or with less resources at their disposal for whatever reasons, comes to the forum and states that they enacted the spell but substituted J, in place of Y, since they couldn't find or gain, Y..and they want to know if that is the reason their spell isn't working...invariably the response to them is supportive and they are told "If you had intent, and tried your best, then trust in what is happening, using different components isn't as important as it is made out to be"..

That is accuracy as the victim in my opinion. Alchemy, and witchcraft, are the basis of modern science, and really modern thought. Accuracy is really important.

A simple example from my own experience that some may have already read about in another thread. I read a thread here about the new(ish) form of sigil magic, and like with so many things I did more research and took a swing at 2 spells using this sigil methodology. One went off without a hitch and I can say that the spell is continuing to work. Not Exactly as I had hoped, ( I was inaccurate in my writing) but it is functioning. I'm going to have to modify my lifestyle a little to accommodate the results that came from my inaccuracy in casting.

The second spell in the same test never had a chance of working. But I didn't know that at the time. When I went to burn the sigil, it wouldn't burn. As soon as it happened, my spirit spoke to my brain and told me to let it go since it was an obvious sign that it wasn't going to work. My brain, like so many other instances, would NOT let it go...so I kept at it until I finally got that sigil to burn all the way. I went with the encouragement model and try try again.

3 weeks later I found out that circumstances had changed without my knowledge so the effect the sigil was intended to influence could never have happened.

In this instance of practice I was given an answer and my spell was rejected. But dogged perseverance or just blatantly being stubborn, meant that I went ahead anyway and then spent time and energy thinking about an event that couldn't occur.

So my overall reason for the discussion is to ask, "Isn't there a responsibility by more experienced practitioners to be not only supportive, but also corrective?"

I understand the reality that constantly telling someone they are doing something wrong, doesn't always make them try to do better. Especially with individuals who already may have esteem and confidence issues, but isn't there a way to point out that accuracy can't always be the first thing to throw out the window.

Doing it wrong, just to get it done...may not have any result, or worse, unintended results.

"I didn't have any pine-sol so I used sulfuric acid to mop with"....I mean... who would turn around and say, "Way to go, one solvent is as good as another, the triumph here is that you mopped at all...keep it up"..

Why can't convenience be the first victim? That just teaches patience, and from everything I understand about magic as a theory and a practice, patience is a really really important virtue to nurture and cultivate.

What do you think?
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Siona » Tue Jan 19, 2016 1:13 pm

HopefulChild wrote:"I didn't have any pine-sol so I used sulfuric acid to mop with"....I mean... who would turn around and say, "Way to go, one solvent is as good as another, the triumph here is that you mopped at all...keep it up"..


Because when it comes to things of a more "folk" magic nature, such as many workings which include herbs and the like, there is no ONE single way to do it. It's not like replacing your pine sol with sulfuric acid, but more like replacing it with any other brand of floor cleaner. I've never used pine sol in my life, but my floors are clean.

What I mean is, if one wants to do a protection spell, and the spell calls for frankincense, it's not like frankincense is the only protective ingredient one could use - there's also angelica, ash, rosemary, and lots of others. Look at the ancient world, it's not like the only people doing protective magic were in areas where frankincense was available, right? These spells are written by people who use what worked for them, what they had on hand, but it doesn't make their way the only way. This is why people, any one of us, can simply just write our own spells once we are familiar with the process. Same with most other workings. There are tons and tons of ways to purify, call for love, increase prosperity, and so on. There's not just one way to do these things, and these types of workings aren't restrained by some strict step by step that needs to be followed.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Ivy » Tue Jan 19, 2016 1:35 pm

So my overall reason for the discussion is to ask, "Isn't there a responsibility by more experienced practitioners to be not only supportive, but also corrective?"


I think that there is. Although Siona explains one aspect of substitution and the fact that there are many ways to skin a cat, it is also true that when something would be wrong it needs to be pointed out. I am not a fan of the 'everybody wins a prize' ethos. Coming from a generation of witches, way before Wicca was wiccan, I get frustrated by this aspect of accuracy. But, it is not dictatorship it is or rather was master and pupil. Forums however often take correction as criticism.
Now if accuracy is not raised then surely we are depriving futur generations of the truth and how things work?
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby blue_moon » Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:55 pm

Witchcraft isn't only witchcraft - it has so many variations and developed on every continent in every tribe and families.

To me witchcraft is like cooking - if I want to bind a sauce I can choose; there is the most typical flour or cornstarch, but I can also use almond pulp or tapioca, even sour cream can help. They all serve the same purpose and I'll get the result. Sometimes it won't work (and I hate when that happens! I wanted a nice sauce - and end up throwing it out because nobody wants to eat it).

The magick comes from within and works through the universe. You can actually do magick with nothing but your energy - or use what's around you - or use what you've bought for this special purpose.

That’s why we're not Harry Potter - we don't need this one specific ingredient to make it work.

In Germany we have a saying "viele Wege führen nach Rom" which means there is more than one road to Rome.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Siona » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:14 pm

Ivy wrote:Now if accuracy is not raised then surely we are depriving futur generations of the truth and how things work?


The thing is, deciding what is wrong and right, or accurate, is really hard on a forum where so many different traditions come into play. How one individual/tradition does things might be completely different from another, and it doesn't necessarily make one wrong or right, there are just different approaches. Unless someone is following a specific tradition where it is very important to do things a particular way, and such traditions do exist, telling them they're doing something wrong because of a substitution doesn't really mean much, because who is to say it's actually wrong? The substitution may have nothing to do with what went wrong.

That said, yes, it is a good idea to guide people who are new to their path, but often this is less about strict "well, you didn't do it this way," and much more about exploring the why of their choices, their actions, and so on. Why did they chose that particular spell, why did they chose a particular substitution, why did they do this action, and so on. And from there guiding them to something that might work better for them - even if that something is not necessarily what works for you, personally. Because while we see people saying their spell with a substitution didn't work, I have also seen plenty of people complaining that a spell they followed to the letter didn't work, because they didn't actually understand what they were doing, the energy and intent behind the work. So it is important to guide them though the same sort of process.

blue_moon wrote:In Germany we have a saying "viele Wege führen nach Rom" which means there is more than one road to Rome.


We have the saying in English, too, all roads lead to Rome. :)
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby YanaKhan » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:22 pm

Sometimes what seems obvious to one, isn't as obvious to another.
What I mean is, in different cultures and traditions the same ingredients can be used for different purposes. Like black pepper for example - in the Western traditions it's usually used for banishment, while in the Eastern traditions, black pepper is often an ingredient of love spells. Now, who am I to say either is wrong?

Besides, many of us are eclectic witches who don't follow a particular path and therefore may find different purposes for herbs and other ingredients. There is no right or wrong in creating spells. While an ingredient may seem right for one purpose to a certain witch, to another the same ingredient may have a different purpose and meaning.

But most of all, usually tools are what concentrates the energy you put into the spell. You could use an athame for a spell, but your index finger may do the exact same job. And while I for one like using tools, so I can focus better, I know of witches who don't use tools at all or maybe use words for tools and their spells work just fine.

This to me is the reason why witches should create their own spells and most of their tools - they need to put their energy into the tool, their intention into the spell. Yes, there are basics, especially if you follow a certain path, but to me "craft" means you need to put a part of you in it, you need to create it. Long before I started even researching Witchcraft and magick, I knew if I truly wish for something to happen, especially if my wish was for another person (but only if it was something good), it did happen.

There may be many many reasons why a spell won't work. In my view it's rarely the ingredients of the spell. Usually it's just not supposed to happen. Or this is not really what you need, or about a million other things.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby blue_moon » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:22 pm

Hey I wasn't too wrong then ;)
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby HopefulChild » Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:30 pm

I agree with everything stated by all of you.

At the same time it creates for me a paradox in effect. I acknowledge that a majority of the function of ingredients in spells is psychological symbolism... This ingredient represents the greed of my request, so I'll temper that with this ingredient for balance, and this flower is a symbol of "blah" so I'll put a pinch of that.. and so on. I get it.

Unless it isn't.

And yeah I understand the challenges of helping eclectic witches learn in an open forum..."Herding Cats Into the Bathtub"... That is what we would call that in Kentucky.

Ingredients used differently based on geography is also a big thing. I don't think that is essentially a big problem though.
Especially the example given by YanaKhan. Which is really perfect for this discussion.
Black Pepper. Why would you choose to use it at all? Because it is an "essence" of an idea you want to capture right. For a love spell, it is hot..it builds up over time and it generates warmth and stirs fires...but it can also have the same effect in a love spell, that you would want it to have to banish. Too much heat, becomes a little painful, then really painful, then you are burning and you want to run away.

In a regular recipe how can you correct for too much black pepper? Any counter-fats can do it as long as they are saturated fats right. Yogurt. Sour Cream. Heavy Cream.

Or you can dilute your mix to lessen the effect right? Or use a flavor that is stronger than black pepper to balance it.

Using terms associated with cooking, seems to fit so I'm gonna keep on it.
The problem that's being expressed is that "If it tastes good, it's ok, just do it".... But we have long long traditions and standards associated with food and food safety, and without a Master Pupil relationship in a coven or apprenticeship, you just don't see that in most of the writing about spells and practice right now.

At least not that I've read, of course I went from reading Aggripa and the Lesser Key to Scott Cunningham and Silver Ravenwolf.

I'm not dissing those authors, I know I went backwards. It's just how things turned out. What I have noticed from that is the rather drastic difference in attitude toward magic practice in general.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Siona » Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:37 pm

HopefulChild wrote:At least not that I've read, of course I went from reading Aggripa and the Lesser Key to Scott Cunningham and Silver Ravenwolf.
I'm not dissing those authors, I know I went backwards. It's just how things turned out. What I have noticed from that is the rather drastic difference in attitude toward magic practice in general.


To be fair, Silver RavenWolf is an author that has received a ton of criticism from large parts of the pagan community. Scott Cunningham is still fairly well liked for some of his books, but his works are all also over twenty years old at this point, and there are more recent books which go into more depth than some of his works. There are many modern authors who do take a more middle ground approach in explaining why things are done a certain way, but also explain how to form your own spells/rituals/etc, too, and why it can be important to do so. To know and understand witchcraft isn't just to be able to follow a 'recipe' but to be able to make your own, and understand why and how things work - much like, as you say, baking.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Ivy » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:21 am

In cookery, there are simple health and safety standards that have to be followed or we run the risk of food poisoning or burns or worse?
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby HopefulChild » Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:45 am

Ivy is making my point for me, much more concisely.
I'm chatty pants.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby YanaKhan » Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:52 am

Ivy wrote:In cookery, there are simple health and safety standards that have to be followed or we run the risk of food poisoning or burns or worse?

That's true. Yet, there is more than one way to bake a cake and different people like different flavors. Improvisation is allowed in both cooking and magick. ;)
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Ivy » Wed Jan 20, 2016 10:08 am

hahaha love that Mr Chatty Pants!

Cookery is chemistry.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Vendredi » Wed Jan 20, 2016 10:12 am

YanaKhan wrote:
Ivy wrote:In cookery, there are simple health and safety standards that have to be followed or we run the risk of food poisoning or burns or worse?

That's true. Yet, there is more than one way to bake a cake and different people like different flavors. Improvisation is allowed in both cooking and magick. ;)


That's true, too. But it definitely helps to have an understanding of why you use certain methods and ingredients. I mean, when baking a cake, I can use different flours, but I can't substitute the flour with cornstarch or baking soda. Even though they look very similar.

And I'm eclectic; I do what works for me. I also understand the point of the first post. To continue with the cooking analogy, I've been part of enough cookery forums that a near-universal complaint is people reviewing recipes, and giving them poor ratings, while explaining that they actually didn't follow the recipe at all on account of all the substitutions they made.

And part of learning is failing. It's not shameful, and I don't feel there's any reason to avoid the truth.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Siona » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:08 pm

Ivy wrote:In cookery, there are simple health and safety standards that have to be followed or we run the risk of food poisoning or burns or worse?


Of course, but how does this translate into magic? There are very few hard and fast rules which can be found across all traditions, so which tradition is right? I don't think it's really that simple. While we must often follow specific rules while cooking, but in magic I think we follow more general principles with tons of different variants.

In other words, something like purification spells are common to many, we know why and when we would do a purification spell, but the how... well, that's going to have a ton of variation. Birch, salt, sage, barley, frankincense, natron, lustral water, flame cleansing, sound cleansing (using a singing bowl, rattles, pots and pans...)... well, you get the idea, the list can go on and on. So yes, purification can be something we follow to keep from "food poisoning" but how one does it can have a ton of variants.

I'm not sure if I'm making sense here... Basically, I think we should be teaching people the general method behind spellwork, having them understand why they use whatever ingredients they use (regardless of what they are), have them understand why they take the steps they do (regardless of what they are), so they can understand where they went wrong and have more knowledge of how to do their own workings. To me, this is the exact opposite of saying you must follow a spell to the letter, and if it went wrong, it's because you didn't follow it to the letter - especially since there are a lot of spells out there that won't make sense in particular practices, so following them to the letter still won't get results.

(Although again, that is more for "eclectic-y" forum advice... when following a specific tradition, that can be an entirely different matter, so I won't get into that.)
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