The Daily “it popped into my head” is that one could design and cast a spell for a broom closet. I have wanted one next to our fridge for years, yet have done nothing. Do you have projects around the house like that? Do you suffer from lack of motivation, or procrastination? Or is it lack of pecuniary resources?
Well, I have about fifty projects like that. Little things I need to paint or fix. Bigger remodeling ideas regarding the improvement or installation of cabinets, drawers, the linen closet, my daughter’s closet. And even Bigger remodeling projects like adding a sun room, or a second floor to the house. Having spent the last week looking at houses in Paris, I am painfully aware of living in a one-story house! Think of the possibilities! Why stop at one more floor? Why not two more! And a garret! True European style.
But, of course these are pipe dreams.
Yet, aren’t pipe dreams the very stuff that one needs magic to realize? Why not, I said to myself as I wrestled the brooms and mops I had upset, why not a spell to manifest a broom closet? Most spell books on the market, being aimed at young people, focus on spells to find true love, to find a better job, attract money, or curses to get back at the girl that stole your boyfriend. A spell book for older wizards would focus exactly on not such beginning of adulthood problem-solving, but such problems as remodeling the house, moving, improving the lawn, protecting the house from burglars and axe murderers, and rendering it invisible to door-to-door salesmen. How about a spell to prevent your property tax from going up. Or — even more daring — to make it go down?
Thinning hair is an obvious one, or grey hair, but that’s one of those things you have to spell before it starts. Otherwise you have a devil of a time manipulating the probability. Rekindling romance, defusing explosive teenagers, protecting teenagers — finding teenagers who have gone off without telling you where and aren’t answering their phones.
Averting or controlling a mid-life crisis or menopause. Yes, there are a lot of possibilities.
But from where I sit, it is procrastination and wherewithal that are most attractive as objects of spelling. A spell for a broom closet would affect several things. First, your time. You would find that you had the time to install the thing after all. Second, skill. It wouldn’t take hours and three or four painful mistakes before the job got done. Third, money. You would have the money to pay for the project. Fourth, your attitude. Instead of forgetting about the project, you would remember and find yourself strangely excited, motivated, and organized. It might also affect your circumstances in a different way. You have the money and you find the perfect contractor to do the work on budget and on time.
Indeed, the Contractor Perfectionis spell is another generally powerful spell that most people in their late thirties to fifties would find very exciting. I mean, you could put an ad in the local newspaper for that one.
Just this last week, I applied to teach and be Dean of Wizardry at the Grey School of Wizardry (www.greyschool.com). I am surprisingly excited about it. Even being a dean doesn’t faze me. So, long as I don’t have to be the Head. I have demonstrated to myself that being the man up front and in the limelight is not my strong suit. I’m the man in the dungeon that nobody knows about and they keep wondering “Now how the heck did that happen?”
But not only does it put my back into the teaching profession and give me the title Professor which has always been my dream (well, at least since watching Gilligan’s Island as a tot). There was a time when I wanted to be a Captain — you know, a ship’s captain — but, um, I digress.
Now, many people would say, “don’t be silly. Grey School isn’t a real school, and teachers of young adults don’t get to be called “professor” no matter what they do at Hogwarts. But, I’ve watched this school grow and it really is quite serious. Fun, but perfectly serious. It is aimed at 11-17 year olds but has a long-term vision of serving its graduates with college-level work someday. No matter what my more straight-laced friends would say, the magical world is really quite a substantial underground culture in America (and throughout Europe and the British Commonwealth). We are dealing with students who loved Harry Potter and want to learn real magical arts. Not the stuff of fiction and fantasy, but the great Western Magical Tradition (which has many threads but resolves into a tapestry if you step back a few paces).
It isn’t about religion. Wizardry is about practices and attitudes and beliefs. And, true it does usually include some religious ideas — existence of spirits or divine entities, for example — but that is chiefly because until recently there weren’t any wizards who did not have some religion or other as their primary worldview. They may have pushed the envelope on it, but religion was part of their cosmology. And that’s the first great step of the wizard — to get a grip on a new cosmology.
That is why a lot of religions consider wizards to be heretics. They aren’t authorized to change the cosmology, or even elaborate on it. But some religions are more accepting of wizards than others. Indeed, in many cultures wizards are honored and respected as important professional persons who help and assist the people of their community. In the past two decades, “community” has taken on a new meaning — it now includes “virtual” communities online. We have become so accustomed to this new type of community that we have dropped the “virtual.” Inevitable really. Just as in a few more years no one will call a mobile phone a “cell” phone. It will just revert to “phone.” At least that’s my guess. In Britain calling it “my mobile” has become common, and Americans do say “my cell” but that has bad connotations. “Call me on my cell, man.” “What did you say? Call you in your cell? Are you in jail again?” No, I think it will just be phone. But I digress…
Where was I? Oh, the expanded idea of community. Yes, that makes the wizard capable of serving a much wider clientele. What I find interesting, though, is the possibility that wizards and cunning folk will move out of the little metaphysical bookstores and put a brass plate outside their front doors. Obviously, this is less likely to work in a rural town where there is still a lot of religious enmity towards magic. A rural hedge-witch or wizard would have to get under the radar in much of rural America — perhaps by providing “home remedies,” “advice and counseling,” and “imaginary proscriptions.” It is a great double entendre, because most people think of “imaginary” as something that doesn’t really exist. But of course wizards know that “imaginary” just means “relating to the power of imagination” which is to say belief.
But anyway, I was day-dreaming today of being a neighborhood wizard and handling everyone’s little problems. Especially remodeling projects that won’t get done. But there are lots of other little problems that cannot be even addressed by a physician, pharmacist, or psychologist. The wizard is a sort of psychologist, true. But the methods are a little different. Psychologists nowadays will prescribe mantras (positive affirmations). I wonder if they know they are doing magic. Perhaps some do.
But the affirmations are so much more effective with the rest of the apparatus of ritual and with some help from nature through the medium of a stone or herb.
I suppose I should have to get a pet owl to be really respectable.
Someday perhaps. People just can’t get over the robes and pointy hats. Except at Halloween. Hmmm. A grand opening at Halloween. Now that would be interesting.
Recently I added some marvelous new wand makers to the Fellowship of Wandmakers page at Bardwood.com my Wandry web site and web home of the Bardic Institute. Bardwood Wandry online has a lot of lore about wandmaking and galleries of my own work. It also has a “community” section which isn’t really a “social networking” thingy — you know a message board and whatnot. If I had a web master, I suppose I would include some place for tesimonials, questions, and stuff. Anyway, the main component of the Community section is the Fellowship of Wandmakers page. I started it with the idea that it would be neat to have a place where all the wandmakers on the web could be listed together. I’ve recently added photos so that it provides a place for wand customers to actually (well, virtually) “window shop” for wands. The styles are marvelously diverse.
Some of the wandmakers I have found (or who have contacted me) do better work than I do, in my humble opinion. If I had the money to be a collector of wands, I would love to buy from them. It is heartening to me to see that wandmaking is becoming once again such a fine art and that there are enough wizards and witches about to purchase wands that have been professionally crafted. Don’t get me wrong — I am a strong advocate for magi making their own wands. The act of making is such a profound work of magic in itself that it will create a very strong bond between wand and wizard, if it is taken seriously.
Wandmakers are all different. Some of the larger makers, like Alivan’s, cater to the Harry Potter fans mainly, but they make lovely wands in the classic lathe-turned style. I like that sort of wand and would make more of them myself if I had ready access to a lathe in my own shop (I’m too busy to go to a shared shop and use their lathe, though I have done in the past). I do not know how serious these wand makers are as wizards. They may just be toy-makers; yet, the art that goes into one of those turned wands is still magical and with proper enchantment and dedication such wands can be perfectly serviceable.
The wands that are really impressive, though, are the ones that are carved and adorned with stones and are each a unique creation. There is something about a wand that is produced from a pattern or a mold that doesn’t seem quite right to me. Such wands can be made your own, but knowing that perhaps scores of people have identical wands does detract somewhat from the magic. Nor do I know how many wandmakers in the Fellowship enchant their wands and give the client the details of the wand’s nativity as I do. Do they treat wands as living entities? That is the key question.
Here is the Link to the Fellowship Page. Visit it even if you are not in the market for a wand, just to see some of the beautiful work.
I have been toying with the idea of a wizard’s professional association of some kind. I played with the name and came up with two ideas. One is OWLS — Omnithaumic Wizards and Laboratory Sorcerers. Joining would make one a Fellow, and so you could put after your name the initials F.O.W.L.S. Or, one could become a Companion and put the initials C.O.W.L.S. after one’s name. It’s modelled on vetrinarians in the UK who put F.R.C.V.S. after their name (for Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). Another idea is Companion of the Imaginary Royal College of Enchanters. I like this one because the initials spell C.I.R.C.E. The Imaginary Royal College is nice because publishers and other sticklers about reality cannot complain that it isn’t a “real” organization. Once it gains membership and owns its own country house in Yorkshire, it can still be Imaginary in honor of the central place of imagination in the Ars Magica (not to be confused with the Arse Magica, which is an entirely different thing).
However good an idea it might be, I don’t have the time to administer it. Or the organizational ability, shall we say? I imagine the association (college) serving not as an educational institution so much as serving professional magi like the Modern Language Association serves professors of languages. An annual conference, papers delivered at sessions, panel discussions, and perhaps even job interviews. Would-be apprentices could interview with professors of magic and professional enchanters for positions. In time, the college could become a teaching body or an accrediting body.
I get these fits of ambition after my second cup of coffee in the morning. Usually if I lie down, they go away.