magical tools

Do the tools define your practice?

Recently I asked people if they thought components such as herbs or candles were necessary to work magic. This question was prompted by reading some of Draja Mickaharic's work. He offers a variety of spells in his various books and all of them inevitably have some physical component. The responses I got mostly agreed with my own perspective, in that they weren't absolutely necessary to work magic, but sometimes using them was more useful than not using them, and just as importantly, it was good to be able to improvise, up to and including not using the usual tools. All seemed to agree that the various tools aided in the focus and concentration needed for working with magic. However all the responses did get me thinking about whether or not the tools defined the practice of the magician. One person offered a quote that the tools don't make the blacksmith, but rather the blacksmith makes the tools, and in thinking about and applying that perspective to magical work, the same principle applies. The magician makes the tools, and what that ultimately means is that the magician decides what tool is significant and why and most importantly s/he realizes that what empowers the tool is not anything necessarily inherent to the tool, so much as the meaning and connection that the tool represents. One person pointed out that as he worked with a specific type of tool, it helped him align with the energies he was seeking to connect with, and consequently brought about changes within himself that aligned with the forces he was working with. Another person shared an example of how using tools allowed a member of her family to connect with spiritual entities that in turn helped him heal the person sharing the example.

To some extent tools do define the practice in terms of what they enable or allow a person to do, but first they are defined by the person, specifically in terms of the actual function they serve in order to focus the person and/or represent a connection with something else that can help them. This recognition however is useful on an improvisational level, because it allows the magician to adapt an item in his/her immediate environment into a tool for use in magical work. Chaos magicians have demonstrated that principle a number of times, as has anyone else that had to improvise on the fly in order to pull off a magical ritual. In the end, our tools can be as flexible as ourselves, provided we have the right mindset when using them.

The Wand chooses the Wizard, or some thoughts on magical artifacts

I just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series, and one of the phrases that stands out in my mind is "The wand chooses the wizard". Yes, I know it's a fantasy series, but you can always find some truth in such writings and HP is no exception to that rule. I have, over the years, created a number of magical artifacts, and had a few gifted to me as well. Some of my necklaces are magical artifacts, as is the elephant bracelet I was given. All of my paintings are magical artifacts, and the memory box, and several others tools I have are other artifacts I created. Yet all of them also have what I would consider to be a distinctive identity and feel. I wouldn't go so far as to say personality, so much as I'd say the magic marks the artifacts in its own way. Certainly, I can tell quite a difference between the tesseract board I have and the memory box. The tesseract board, being the concept of another magician is something I can use, but it doesn't feel quite as responsive as the memory box is, which is one reason the memory box has become my preferred tool for space/time magic.

Magical artifacts, and even the concepts behind them hold at least some of the distinctive signature of the magician(s) who created them. And some of it is the distinctive purpose the tools are used for. A wand is a wand or is it? I wouldn't know, because I've never used a wand, but I do know that the various artifacts I have all have a distinctive feel and I work with some better than I work with others.I've also noticed that when I've been gifted an artifact, it tends to respond more favorably, than if I've just co-opted one, as I did when I created my own version of the tesseract board.

Now we could argue this is all in my head, and maybe it even is, but I also know I've created specific features in my own artifacts to limit who can use them, so it certainly seems plausible that other artificers could do the same with their own inventions and even copies of those inventions made by others.

Magical artifacts aren't discussed too much, but I think there's a whole level of subtle magic that often can go ignored because of that lack of discussion. Certainly, I treat even books as artifacts, under the right circumstances, and have noted, as have others, that some of the books seem to have a more distinctive feel to them, than others. Did their authors create or leave something in them? Certainly seems plausible.