Practical Magic: Glamoury and Tealight Hearths

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Everything Is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless

My circle sister, Donna got hit by a car while she was taking a walk down a residential street with her husband.  She died on Wednesday, February 5th.  How do I make sense of that?  How does Donna taking a walk with her husband + Jason Lutz not paying attention for a moment = we will never see Donna again?

I don’t know.

If we perform magic, shouldn’t we know?  Shouldn’t my circle have been able to save Donna?  What is the point of this if we could not have saved Donna? I think it’s very easy when things are going well to say that if you are alert enough, canny enough, good enough at magic that you can lessen the pain of all situations.



Sometimes, some things are bigger than you.  Bigger than your magic.  Bigger than your magic with others.  Sometimes, even gods make mistakes.  Sometimes, you’re pissing in the ocean.  Sometimes, there is the matter of the Moirai.  Can you charm Them, beg Them, plead with Them, work magic to reweave bits of Their tapestry?  Of course.  But even the gods Themselves had to answer to Them.  There are some knots and breaks in the yarn that cannot be undone as I’ve learned as a Spinner and as a Witch.  Sometimes, the Moirai’s threads are unmovable.

What magic is about is numbers and odds.  If you want to not go crazy when terrible inexplicable things happen, it’s much better to imagine yourself at a casino.  You’re standing there at the craps table.  You need to roll a six for your point in this particular round for everyone at the table to win and be happy and jump up and down.  There are five ways to make a six with two dice, it’s a good number.  You have a good chance.  You roll a couple times but you roll a seven before your six comes up.  Everyone loses.  Just because the odds were in your favor doesn’t mean you always win.

If we’re not careful, it’s easy to find ourselves as Workers of all stripes to wind up stuck in a Secret trap – that if you were just better – a better Worker, a better manipulator, a better planner, a better everything ­ you wouldn’t have found yourself in the situation that is causing you unmitigated grief and despair.  You could have prevented this if you were better.  You deserve these terrible things that have happened to you because you didn’t work harder to prevent these situations.


Bull.  Shit.

If my sister and I were fighting as only sisters can, with one hand on the nuke button, the other at each other’s throats and my husband’s sister needed a triple bypass heart surgery and Donna died because she took a walk in her nice, quiet neighborhood, did we all deserve what we got? Did I deserve feeling awful because I didn’t do enough magic to prevent my sister and I from rubbing salt in years long wounds?   If Jow had prayed harder, could he have overcome his sister’s DNA when his dad had three heart attacks before he succumbed to cancer?  Because I didn’t reiki or say enough prayers to the Goddess or light enough candles in Donna’s name or better corralled the forces of live and death in a woman who was perfectly healthy and looking forward to her son’s wedding a week ago? No.  That’s crazy talk.  That is some seriously for real crazy talk.  I refuse to believe that all of these incredibly painful events could have been mitigated if I just tried harder as a Witch.  You think I wasn’t praying as hard as I could pray?  You think I wasn’t crying as hard as I could cry?  You think I wasn’t Working as hard as I could Work? I changed the dice roll as much as I could change it.  It wasn’t enough.  Sometimes, even the Gods Themselves can’t change a situation, even the Gods roll craps on the first roll sometimes.  It’s terrible and awful but it’s the way things work in the universe.  Not everything can be changed.

Older pantheons address this issue much better in my opinion, probably because awful and inexplicable things were happening to everyone every day.  A nebulous “this is God’s plan, suck it up and trust Him” was not going to cut it.  In Hinduism, it’s said something more along the line of, “God* takes pleasure in creating beautiful and wonderful things for you and equal pleasure in destroying that which you love most.  It is Her/His way.  It is the way of Leela, the divine game that everyone plays.”


A traditional Leela game board.  Snakes and Ladders has been played for thousands of years, it’s now played in the States as Chutes and Ladders to children to show the importance of responsibility and acting correctly.

Take Aways From This Lesson No One Wants to Hear, Especially When Your Life is Sunshine and Roses:

  1. Magic is a numbers game.  It’s why you should still try your hardest at it. Back at the craps table, odds are slim that you will roll a two on two dice before you roll a seven, it’s still possible.  Unlikely, but possible.   Your goal as a Worker is to try to hit your number before you crap out.
  2. Because magic is a numbers game, it also means you will not always succeed in your dice roll.  Even when you do mundane work too.  Even when you try your hardest.  Everybody loses sometimes, no one likes to talk about it.
  3. Losing does not make you a terrible Worker with terrible karma.  It means that you are involved with playing the game of Leela just like every other being (including the gods) in the Universe.  Sometimes it’s a snake, sometimes it’s a ladder.  You have to take what you’re given.  No matter how much it hurts.

We’ll always love you, Donna.  You deserved better than this.  May there be justice for you.

* Known by many names, genders and forms in Hinduism

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Tagged in: fate loss magic probability
Deborah Castellano's book, Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (Llewellyn, 2017) is available: . She is a frequent contributor to Occult/Pagan sources such as the Llewellyn almanacs, Witchvox, PaganSquare and Witches & Pagans magazine. She writes about Charms, Hexes, Weeknight Dinner Recipes, Glamoury and Unsolicited Opinions on Morals and Magic at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her craft shop, The Mermaid and The Crow ( specializes in goddess & god vigil candles, hand blended ritual oils, airy hand dyed scarves, handspun yarn and other goodies. She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their two cats. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.


  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake Wednesday, 12 February 2014

    I am so sorry for your loss. Blessings on you all.

  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia Thursday, 13 February 2014

    I am sorry for your loss too. I hear your anger and confusion; I felt the same when my husband was in a horrible, life-threatening and crippling car accident (though he did survive minus a limb and a half.) I came to many of the same conclusions as you did. Magick is a numbers game, and sometimes the odds are just so far out of your favour you can't hope to make a dent. All of our lives are tragedies eventually and the gods can indeed be cruel; or just roll craps once in a while. Thank you for a thought-provoking blog post and I will share.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Friday, 14 February 2014

    I feel your pain, too. There doesn't seem to be any religion, whether mainstream or far out, that can keep its practitioners from suffering. As Shakespeare says, One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.

    Why must sweet, beautiful creatures grow sick, suffer pain and die? We will never understand the necessity for that, regardless of all our philosophy and religious poetry. There will always be something within us that feels it is unfair. The best we will ever manage is to accept the world as an ever-changing place where sad things happen. We will never be able to say we like that fact.

    If there is any consolation in numbers, know that your post resonated with many hearts.

  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ Saturday, 15 February 2014

    So sorry to hear about your friend. The loss of my baby brother when I was 13 (and a Christian) led me to doubt that any such losses are the "will of God" (or Goddess). Of course war and the holocaust and slavery to name a few of the injustices of a social world lead to the same questions. For me the only answer is that we live in a world in which many wills are operative, yours, mine, divine will (or wills), and millions of other wills. If we accept this it we can see that it is wrong to think you or I could have averted personal or collective tragedies. I also view the divine will as one will among others. So even God She or He cannot make everything "turn out for the best." I view Goddess as She who is always there (omnipresent) while recognizing that the idea of divine omnipotence means that the power of the other actors in the world is zero. I don't know if this will help, but such ideas have helped me.

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