Magick Is What You Make Of It
It is common wisdom in the pagan community that “The best Magick is that which you make yourself.” For those of you who are new to the path or have simply never heard that phrase before, I will explain:
The phrase has at least two distinct meanings. The first is simple and follows the same premise as another famous saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” (For those of you playing along at home, this is a mistranslation, the original phrase was penned by Charles-Guillaume Étienne in 1807 and the proper translation is “One is never served so well as by oneself.” Which, honestly, matches our phrase better.)
The second is, unfortunately, a tad more difficult to explain on an existential level in our modern world, due to the prevailing influence of materialism and the pomp and circumstance of the centralized mainstream religions. This isn’t to say that the message is hard to understand but, instead, that it is hard to force yourself to physically comprehend it. The second meaning lies in the relationship between yourself and your possessions, especially those you use for ritualistic purposes. This second meaning is the subject of this post.
The easiest way to explain this concept is with a visual. Let us say you are standing in a Metaphysical shop. Everywhere you turn there are ritual objects that you’ve craved for months, even years. In the display case are pendants, stones, rings, and all other sorts of items that you could want. On the walls, shelves upon shelves of relevant metaphysical books for any occasion, along with hand-bound notebooks and ornate altar cloths on display. In the back there is a huge selection of oils and incense for various purposes. Then you begin looking at price tags. Nothing is within your price range. None of it. However, this is perfectly fine, because the best magick is that which you make yourself.
Do you see now? It is not unlike when a child makes a present for their parent. It’s not the price tag that counts, it’s the thought and, more importantly, the intent. Such is and should be our relationship with the Gods/Spirits/Elements/etc. Sure, something store-bought will work and will look nice, but if you can make it yourself, it will work even better regardless of how it looks.
For example, my fiancée and I recently were in a metaphysical shop, I won’t see which one or where. She was seeking an oil-based incense to offer to The Morrigan on our altar, but the one the store had for that exact purpose was too expensive for us. So, instead, she mixed a variety of cheaper oils together until she created a scent that she thought would work. Not only did it work, it smelled much better to all parties concerned than the original scent from the shop. For around half the price. And, when it came time to use it, it worked wonders.
This does, however, bring up a secondary question.
How much of Magick is which ingredients you use, and how much is your intent in their use? Can a stone that is typically used for healing be used for other purposes? An herb? A scent? A color? Even a symbol?
The answer to this is, of course it can! These usages were, for the most part, arrived at via experimentation. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t experiment with different uses for established items. Most will work, just to a lesser extent than what a “proper” ingredient would. The worst that can happen is nothing. With three notable exceptions:
The first is anything involving volatile ingredients that react a certain way as a part of your ritual. You go changing anything in that and you’re not dealing with the realm of the metaphysical anymore, you’re playing with chemistry. Than can end badly.
The second is any symbol with a widely known meaning which contradicts your intent. That’s just rude.
The third is the way certain symbols are drawn. The best example of this is the pentacle. Drawn one way and it attracts energy, drawn another and it repels. This one is the least common problem as most symbols don’t require a certain method of drawing.
The moral of this post simple. Do what feels right, but do your research and do it cautiously.