Spells are closely related to prayers, asking for intervention on the part of a higher power (sometimes our higher selves), to achieve a desired outcome. Spellwork involves ritual actions and setting an intention. Even something as simple as guided meditation can be regarded as a ritual. Unconsciously, we cycle through common rituals throughout our day, observing without thinking about how they shape priorities, perceptions and inner lives. Encountering certain objects in the course of a day triggers prescribed actions: a coffee maker, a car or computer triggers a cascading series of events, one leading logically to the next. In this way, we are like fleshy liquids flowing around the built environment through time. So, can we reverse-engineer pauses or breaks to check our intentions and actions at regular intervals?
“A spell is a spoken or written formula that when used in an act of magick is intended to cause or influence a particular course of events. Belief in and the use of spells are universal and have been an integral part of religious practices since ancient times. Methods vary according to culture but all spell work is based on ritual.” Definition borrowed from George Knowles.
Above: Symbols for ‘Resist’, ‘Radical Acceptance & Self-Love’, ‘Freedom from Want’.
These enameled talismans and ceramic wall tiles are part of a series of objects that I’m exploring as a means to trigger energy control and the practice of inward looking reflection. Like a spell, the symbols employed here embody an intention to achieve a desired outcome. They were initially conceived of as a way to address widespread feelings of needing protection and healing, but I see potential to use them as a way of addressing outward social change in a quiet but persistent way. The first requirement of change being that each of us perform the inner work necessary to be able to recognize the problems endemic to the system. From there, we may need courage to speak up to authorities, colleagues, friends or family, and to accept that at times we may be the ones in need of a talking to. All of these things are helped along by simple visual reminders along the way.
Starting with Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (not as a historical success so much as an example of positive intention), I started working with his ‘freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear’ to create unique pictographs representing those ideals. Then I remembered the symbol for ‘Resister’ that I had sewn onto my jean jacket years ago, while protesting the war in Iraq, so that seemed natural for inclusion. Last, I moved on to generating ideograms for the reigning social issues of the day, including for racial justice, protecting refugees and immigrants, for environmental justice, to protect against nuclear annihilation, against corrupt officials, to end the white supremacist patriarchy, protection from gender discrimination, to protect against sexual violence, empower the disabled (especially close to my heart, as I have a daughter with disabilities) and then some more.
Energetic protection: A political ‘Resister’ House Warding tile.
I’m still weighing in on the subtleties of each sign, when to relate them to historically recognized pictographs used within relevant social movements, and when to abandon precedent in favor of generating something entirely new. It also occurs to me that it makes little sense to impose my ideas about what those symbols look like. How much more meaningful would it be to work within a community to identify signs from each respective demographic, so that the associations were built from the roots up and therefore more likely to be intuitively understood. Then, there must be a way of seeding the local environment with these visual ‘spells’. Large collaborative images painted in a public place? Stickers, buttons or tee-shirts? Lawn signs or bumper stickers? Is it silly to want to appropriate the same printed tools used in canvassing for political ends, since these are political aims?
I can envision some really interesting work stemming from this line of inquiry, but that will take time and resources I hope to gather from the sales of these smaller, easier to digest pieces. Paving the way for this adventure, I can say that I’m offering both ‘Craft and Craft’ (pun intended). Catering to a lifestyle niche based around imagining what’s still possible to achieve, despite whatever the dismal probabilities are perceived to be in the present. How is any of this supposed to help anything, you may ask? Well, I’m operating under the assumption that while we often can’t control what happens outside of ourselves, we can control our own energy and the energy we contribute to the world. So by that reasoning, minute changes to our hearts and minds also influence the greater picture. By growing and feeding our internal sensibilities about social equity, we are learning to be the change we want to see.
As above, so below, you know?