The impression I’ve always gotten from magic books when the subject turns to the charges one gives spirits — i.e. the demand/request you express at the point of the ritual where you’re pretty sure all the things you’ve done up to that point have gotten their attention — is that they should be really tightly expressed with little room for misinterpretation and no loopholes for them to play games with (the latter, I assume being more an issue with “demons” moreso than with entities of a more benific nature).

I work in a law firm, and though I am not a lawyer, I have to read an awful lot of contracts to assure that they are logical, unambiguous, and really say what the lawyer intended. So, I tend to think “contract” when I write out my charges, and I do really almost always write them out carefully. Then I look at them several times over a period of hours to make sure they really say what I want them to say.
One of the key elements of any contract is the deadline for performance. And the magic textbooks also tend to tout this element of a charge. It ensures you get what you want by the time you need it, and a metric to determine if your spell really worked.
Or so the theory goes. But,… well… I’m not really seeing it work out that way. I did a series of invocations of all seven of the Olympic spirits in 2009. With some of them I did not actually give a very specific charge. For instance: Aratron is said to teach magic, so I just asked to be taught magic. But from others I asked for specific things, and I said by when I wanted to have them. None of the of the things I requested by a certain time happened by that time.
Now, this might have something to do with the (much-debated) nature of the Olympic spirits. One school of thought says that they are actually very lofty spirits, all the way at the deity level. I’m leaning in that direction in my own interpretation of their natures, but I have to say that the jury is still out. But if that is their nature, it would figure that the changes they bring about would be subtle in the short run, but very thorough-going in the long run. And that seems to be how it’s working out. Over time, I’m noticing that I’m getting what I asked for, but the process is incremental.
But that isn’t at all what I expected when I asked for help from St Expedite. I mean: the guy has some impressive PR: Got a pressing desperate problem? No worries! Call Expedite and he’ll fix it up lickity-split.
So, when I recently petitioned St Expedite, and gave him a hefty down-payment for his services, I included a date by which I needed the deed done. The date passed, and our problem had still not been solved. What’s more, the binding I did to keep someone off our back didn’t seem to be working either.
At this point I was considering handing in my Sorcerer’s Union card, or turning myself in to the police for impersonating a sorcerer. OK. It wasn’t that bad, but I’m sure many of you people out in readerland know that sinking feeling you get when you’ve done what you thought was a clever and powerful spell, and then the time comes when you have to say to yourself, ” Well, shit! That didn’t quite work, did it?”
I didn’t really doubt Expedite. I mean all those happy customers out there can’t be wrong. So, I figured it must have been my execution. I got to thinking that my mistake was relying too much on other people for the work in the physical world. There are other people working on these problems in the mundane world, and I thought my magic would give them a boost. But then I decided that I had to get into the mundane-world action myself.
Around this time is when I read Nora D’s posting about working with lwa. She essentially says that in her experience they don’t just solve your problem while you sit back, read novels and eat bon bons. They make you work for it. So I put myself to work.
I went to an experienced and powerful associate and asked for advice. He said this called for a well-connected lawyer. He recommended me someone. I wrote an email. I called the next day, and not getting a real person, left a voice mail. I followed up with a text message to make sure he had my phone number. Nothing. I called again the next day and left a voice mail. Nothing. I went back to my associate and asked for another name. He thought it over and mentioned a name. I could have been knocked over with a feather. It turned out to be someone I see every day and have a good relationship with, but never knew this person was knowledgeable and experienced in what I needed help with. Things started happening.
When the date I’d given Expedite had passed, I decided to take a page out of Gordon’s book and start shoaling. At this point, as far as magic measures go, I had: worked with Expedite, buried an object from a binding ritual in front of our main harasser’s door, and set up a Michael altar in the kindergarten to act as protection. Oddly, they just didn’t seem to be working.
The morning of the day that I was given the good contact, I decided to do a bit of chaos-style sigilizing. I was at my desk at work. I haven’t really done this much. I’ve read some of the core works by the Phil Hine and Peter Carroll, and taken a few of the ideas on board, but also recognized that a lot of it was sort of past its sell-by date. But sigiling was something I occasionally played with, with mediocre results. But this time I really got into making the sigil, and it had a wonderful “witchy” look to it (as Grant Morrison puts it). This I put under a folded napkin, on which I placed a decadent buttery, sugary oat cookie, and placed it in front of a Ganesh print I have on the pin board attached to the back of my desk. It sat there and “cooked” all day.
That day is when I had this gut feeling, and this sense of “energy” flowing through my reality, that said the spell shoal complex was suddenly heating up. But why nearly two weeks after I’d said it should happen? I was so energized I had a hard time sitting at my desk and concentrating on work.
At the end of the work day, I wrapped the cookie in the napkin and stuck it in my jacket pocket. I started chanting (silently when there were people within ear shot, aloud when I thought it was OK) the mantra for attuning to Ganesha: Om Gum Ganapateiya Namaha. I chanted it the several city blocks to a nearby park. This park is essentially a fenced in city block of downtown Budapest with tall old trees, paved paths and squares, benches, and a few tables where old men play chess. There’s a quiet-ish corner where I sometimes do discrete ritualistic stuff, and occasionally do tai chi during my lunch break, when I need to calm down, or energize, or both (and sometimes gypsy kids laugh at me… from a safe distance).
Once there and seated on a park bench, I switched mantras to the one addressing Ganesh’s role as breaker of obstacles: Om Vigna Nashanaya Namaha. I closed my eyes and pictured Ganesha and thought of the problem I want solved, all the while breaking off pieces of the cookie and throwing them out to the pigeons. Then I took out a lighter and burned the piece paper with the sigil while chanting the mantra out loud. When I was done, I stood up, stamped my feet hard three times and walked away without thinking about the ritual any more.
On the way home I saw some nice candles in the window of a florist’s shop and bought one on a hunch that I could use it for further work on this project.
So I have lots of questions to answer about timing. It seems that even when you specify the time, it won’t necessarily happen then. Could it be that spirits don’t quite savvy our insane calendar system? Maybe there are better ways of expressing time to spirits, i.e. in terms of universal phenomena, such as: “This should happen by the next time the sun enters the sign of Scorpio,” or “This should happen within three full moons.” Who knows? Maybe that’s more their context.
At any rate, I’m truly becoming convinced that whenever you do magic with resolve, fired up emotions, and sufficient links, something happens. The what, the how and the when are a bit harder to control.