I was listening to Gordon White & Jason Miller’s talk yesterday, and one of them mentioned that ‘magic’ comes from the same root as ‘machine’. I have always liked this idea, and while it is one that I have spoken of a length before, I’ve never written much about it.
A long time ago, I learned a bit about Yantras. In Sanskrit a Yantra is a machine or instrument. Thinking of this I began to see my working spaces- sigils, tools, divinatory tools, shrines and altars, candles, oils, incense- as an engine of sorts. As a machine, more accurately, like a bicycle or motorcycle, that could aid me in various ways. I could use it to travel to visit friends, to buy groceries, to just ride around and explore.
Perhaps the working table or shelf was the frame, the things consumed -candles, oils, incense- both fuel and lubrication. The offerings themselves further fuel, as well as perhaps impulses in the nervous system of this machine. The sigils and rites provide direction, heading, steering. Divination a map or GPS perhaps.
Gordon spoke in the mentioned talk that ‘doing more sigils’ was a cure for sigils not working. Which sounds perhaps absurd at first. However if our overall magic is viewed as our machine, specifically our vehicle, then it makes perfect sense. I generate a heading, a general direction- “I want to go HERE” to some point on an internal (or external) map. This may be the first sigil, sigils, or working. As I proceed, I hit slowdowns, traffic jams, dead ends. So I change direction, turn around, ride my machine around them, yes? This is the next batch of sigils, the next ritual, the next candle spell. Does reaching this dead end mean I have failed? Only, perhaps, if I cease to move. If I remain stuck in that moment when all I see is the wall in front of me, and forget that I can turn left, right, backwards and continue onwards via another route. This is far more effective in the long run than deciding to build a new machine from the ground up.
In time, this choosing a direction and then fine tuning it, changing it, deciding Florida is much nicer in the winter than Maine, all of these things feed more information into the machine. I can, if I pay attention, learn to read the machine. Am I straining and struggling because I have determined to travel the most arduous route? Am I forcing myself up the steepest mountain because it is indeed the goal, or only because I cannot see that the most open road is perhaps the more winding? Do I force myself along on the Crow’s path when I have no wings?
Some will use divination to map their progress, some will hear the voices of the wind & it’s spirits while other simply trust mood and impulse. The method is always personal, as is the machine itself. The machine may be star-craft, skateboard, RV, chopper. We learn the fuel, soundtrack, steering method that suits us and our machine best We learn to read the road. In time these incremental adjustments move us onwards towards out ever-changing goals, if we let them.