Charm and Context

Morgan presents this very interesting and informative piece on Justice Charms:

These are charms from the Carmina Gadelica that have been modernized and made pagan. They can be used to help gain justice or to win in court, or to otherwise overcome legal difficulties. The person wishing to perform these charms should go before dawn to a place where three streams meet. Just as the sun is rising the person should make a cup of his hands and dip them into the water where the stream meet then wash his face with it, saying the prayer below. Afterwards he should proceed to court and when entering the building should look all around the room then say silently or quietly “Gods bless this place, from floor to roof, my word above every other and the words of all others beneath my feet.” (Carmichael, 1900).

I think that this demonstrates a few interesting considerations regarding magic.

  • It is entirely possible to translate spells or magical workings between systems, given enough preparation. Granted, it is much easier to translate between systems with similar cultural or existential beliefs and assumptions in common, and as with energy conversion, there will always be something lost. But Christianity has so much in common with classical paganism that it could easily classified as a classical pagan religion, and shifting between the two isn’t that hard. Qabalah translates pretty well into Greek. (Latin is a little trickier because the numerology doesn’t add up.)
  • There is Christian magic, and it can be very effective.
  • Christian magic is often appropriated from non-Christian sources, and that doesn’t seem to impact how well it works.
  • Magic evolves. Sometimes the cultural context of a modern practitioner will make it easier or more potent to connect to a more modern form of a ritual or spell than the older one. The primary source is not inherently better. The rite from the Stele of Jeu the Painter of Hieroglyphs is not necessarily more potent than Crowley’s version of the Invocation to the Bornless One because it is the older and “purer” version. It depends upon which version you have a better developed context for.
  • Magic for enlightenment or spiritual growth is dandy, but let’s be real: most people turn to magic because they want to make things happen in their favor, especially when odds are against them. The casual manner in which many modern magical systems in the West dismiss effects magic is a pretense, and a rather annoying one at that.
  • You can find material for building spells from interesting sources. Be on the lookout for what may inspire you.
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