Once upon a time, a young foolish teenager cast a spell.
She cast a spell at one of the many power sites in the world, where all the elements meet in one place. Air, water, fire, and earth … where the land meets the ocean. She found a pure white stone, and asked the Gods to bring to her a true love. She was tired of waiting, so she sought out a way to bring him to her. She held the stone in her left hand, and cast the love spell in the way that she was taught to cast it: without envisioning a specific person and without being unduly specific, because magic follows the path of least resistance, and magic often does not work in ways that humans understand or can anticipate. She held the stone firmly, and when she felt ready, she threw the stone out into the ocean, into the crest of a huge wave, and determined that the waves of the oceans constantly coming into shore would eventually bring love into her life.
It took three years and many relationships and coincidences for him to arrive.
How did she know that he was the one she asked the sea to bring to her?
His name means “from the sea.”
I wrote this little “fairy tale” story back in 2007, when I still was with the person in question whose name meant “from the sea.” Yes, that young foolish teenager that cast the love spell was me, and yes, the story above (though flowery in language) really happened. Why am I writing about it now? That spell taught me very valuable lessons in how spell-casting really works.
When I started teaching my “Using Tarot for Spell-Work” class, I used examples from my own life of spells I had cast. The first time I taught the class, I didn’t really have to use many examples, because I was teaching tarot to an audience that was already familiar with spell-work mechanics: they already had plenty of examples in their lives of spells that went right and spells that went wrong, and I was teaching them tarot to go along with their spell-work. Mainly, I was teaching how to use tarot as a divination method prior to spell-work to ask the questions: “Is now the right time to do this spell? Should I do this spell? If I do this spell, what are the possible outcomes? Do I have the correct vehicle for my spell?” I was also teaching how to use tarot as a diagnostic tool for further insight into what went well and not so well with a particular spell after it was cast and the results apparent.
When I started to write my class for presenting at Readers Studio 2013, I used my prior class as a starting point in what I should be teaching, but I had to take the class notes I had already and turn them on their ear. I was now going to be teaching a different audience with a different working knowledge, and I had to keep this in mind. It wasn’t the tarot I had to explain to them; it was the spell-casting. The examples of my own spell-casting must be brought out to use for the class.
Often, the spells that went wrong became my greatest teachers. Sure, I had a few cute stories of spells that went right purely and thankfully by luck, but there was very little to be gleaned from them. It was also hard to find a good example, because I’m a bit of a coward when it comes to casting spells… I rarely do them because “they work: and that’s the problem” (as my HPS Courtney Weber often says). And when they work, the outcomes are often far different than we may have anticipated… which is why I like to bring tarot into the mix when I do decide to cast a spell!
Time and time again, I realized the greatest lesson I learned in spell-casting came from that little simple spell from a time when I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing. That “fling a white stone into the ocean” trick I never read in any book… I came up with it on my own, as I was walking the beach. Because I never took it from any book, it was powerful, simple, and MINE.
As I was writing the revised version of the class to teach at RS, I created a powerpoint presentation. While doing so, I wrote myself little crib notes on the slide printouts to mention certain examples, such as combining universal symbols with personal symbols to cover 2 different layers of spell-casting, such as using both green and gold for money/prosperity spells (because paper money is green in the U.S. and different colors in other countries, but gold is universally associated with wealth across country divisions).
It was when I was writing about the vehicle (the physical representation of a spell) that I got a wake-up call about that little itty bitty spell that I thought was so simple and uncomplicated. I was writing all about how often we must consider what the vehicle (the physical representation of the spell in the world) will be for a spell, because when a spell manifests, it usually manifests in a way that is associated with the vehicle or bears a strong resemblance to the vehicle. In the case of the ocean spell, my vehicles were both the small white stone and the waves of the ocean. With a start, I realized what waves do: they roll in, and they roll back out again. At that same moment, I realized the fabric of my relationship with that person took on the vehicles’… because my relationship with him was an on-again off-again dance that took over seven years to finally resolve in the off-again position: permanently. Whoa nelly. My cheeks stung with the force of that realization.
When teaching at RS, the class used this particular spell as an example. One of the attendees wanted to use my example of the stone into the sea spell to try out a spread I had created for the class, “What Went Wrong?” (a spread based upon The Tower card created for diagnosing a problematic or “failed” spell post-spell). From what I remember of the cards, it was nothing but waves, waves, waves all over the cards. In almost every single position. A definite sign that THAT was one of my big no-nos in all of it (besides the whole not knowing what I was asking for!). The vehicle wasn’t thought through, and I experienced a tumultuous yo-yo relationship because of it. Silly teenage witch, trying to find love without knowing what love really was/is!
I used this powerful example again when I taught Tarot and Spell-Work at the Brid’s Closet Beltane Festival this past May. This class evolved yet again as many people that attended were familiar with both tarot AND spell-work… but hadn’t considered using tarot as a diagnostic tool for spell-crafting. As I came to the story of the stone in the sea, I heard people hiss in their breath audibly for the keywords: “love spell” and “teenager”… they knew where this was going, and that it wasn’t going to be pretty!
During the question/answer period I had set aside at the end of the class, one of my students asked me hypothetically if I were trying to cast that spell now what I would do differently. I replied that I would strongly rethink my vehicle and do divination on what kind of vehicle would be best for that kind of spell. But truly, my answer was that if I had the opportunity to go back in time and change what I had done (a different question than was asked, to be sure), I wouldn’t change anything. There are strong lessons that are learned when we aren’t successful and when we think we failed.
Where do you learn your life lessons from? Ever cast a spell or have a wish come true only to find it manifest in a different way than what you intended? Leave a comment below and share!
Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
This post also appears at WitchesandPagans.com.
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