If change were as simple as a witch’s ladder

Witches ladders are made by tying a series of knots in thread, yarn, or some other material and that include, at each knot,  a feather, a strand of human hair, leaf, jewelry, pine cone or object that symbolizes the purposes of the ladder. The purpose is generally the creation of a spell or a meditation.

The ladders are known to have been around since the 1870s, but I suspect practitioners of the craft have used them for centuries. Typically, one sings, chants, or recites a specific of general spell element with the tying of each knot. A “simple” ladder often has nine knots and often uses this chant:

By knot of one, the spell’s begun.
By knot of two, the magic comes true.
By knot of three, so it shall be.
By knot of four, this power is stored.
By knot of five, my will shall drive.
By knot of six, the spell I fix.
By knot of seven, the future I leaven.
By knot of eight, my will be fate.
By knot of nine, what is done is mine.

Anyone with patience or the slightest affinity for arts and crafts can make a witch’s ladder, though the example shown here from the Wikipedia article probably shouldn’t be the first one attempted. However, a properly done witch’s ladder is not really simple because for the spell or meditation to manifest, the creator of the ladder must have strong faith/conviction the spell/mediation will work, must maintain a powerful focus upon each knot, and then do nothing to doubt the power of the ladder and the intentions behind it once it’s been completed.

Those who have read this blog for years know that I’m not a big fan of affirmations, statements one repeats daily with the belief that this repetition will bring changes into their consciousness and then into our consensual reality. Émile Coué (1857-1926) was a proponent of this so-called “self-suggestion” and is probably best known for the affirmation “Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”

Yes, I think affirmations–like the steps in a witch’s ladder–can work if they are not recited more or less by rote and if we live the affirmations after making them. That is, we activate them by doing something in our lives (even symbolically) in support of the statements. That is, if–in the moments before you fall asleep–you say “Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better,” then you aren’t really living that self-suggestion if you continue to smoke a pack of Marlboros and drink a quart of whiskey every day while thinking little or nothing about what you would look like or act like or think like if you became better.

So much of what we say and do when confronted with the need for change–as protests around the nation are bringing to our attention–is often (as people have said) little more than lip service to new ideas or a BAND-AID® applied to an old and festering problem.  Saying to the protesters (in person or figuratively), “my thoughts and prayers are with you” is meaningless unless you focus your intent and will power on those thoughts and prayers and then take positive action to back up your intentions.

The real witch’s ladder is not simple, though it need not be considered too complex to utilize effectively. Yet, the ladder is simple if the alternative is doing nothing. The trick, if there is one, is living as though the spell/mediation has come to pass even before you see it with your physical eyes.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s novels include magic because that’s how he sees and lives in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Affirming tomorrow

I’ve been going ’round and ’round with a few people on Facebook who believe New Year’s Eve marks the beginning of a new decade. I say it doesn’t. They say it does. But, no matter.

Whatever is being marked by New Year’s Eve can be marked with a symbolic step toward your hopes for 2020.

My symbolic step was to open a doc file containing the first two chapters of a novel I’ve been blocked on for the better part of the year. My symbolic step was writing a new beginning. Now, my mind sees the book as underway again rather than stalled.

I still don’t know whether my radiation and hormone treatments got rid of the cancer. Tests near the end of January may give me a clue. But using a Cancer Navigators program called iThrive, I’ve taken steps to improve my diet, my supplements, and other things that should have a positive effect on my health.

Perhaps most of us are in this boat at the end of a calendar year with plans for the texture and ambience of the following year. Affirmations work best when we take symbolic steps to jump-start them. Those who want to quit smoking, throw out their last cigarette. Those who want to quit drinking “too much,” throw away the last inch in a bottle of booze. There are a hundred ways, perhaps a million ways, to add power to the affirmations we’re making for tomorrow.

They need not be earthshaking because small steps can lead to large results. Whatever your hopes are for 2020, I hope you realize them.

Malcolm

According to some insane professor, New Year’s resolutions are due December 31

Fortunately, I’m only auditing the course. That means I don’t have to do the assignments or take the tests. It also means I don’t get any CEUs, much less college credit, for taking the course. I don’t mind because, really, I don’t need the grief or the deadlines.

The course is called “Fixing Your Life for Fun and Profit.”

All of us are shunted through the course because it’s part of our general education requirements. Compared to grad school where grades lower than As and Bs don’t count, you can skate through the GE courses with a C average.

According to the syllabus, the criterion objectives include: (a) the student will learn how to write affirmations that speak of a better life than s/he had at the beginning of the course, and (b) how to write New Year’s resolutions that, while powerless, impress all who hear them.

Do you see the flaw in the course?

Resolutions and other affirmations don’t accomplish diddly squat unless those who write them or say them or proclaim actually want to change. So there it is. If they wanted to change, they would have done it already–no need to write it down as an action step.

Since I like pulling people’s chains, I usually say that my New Year’s resolutions include “Killing fewer people than last year” and “Fighting the urge to throw fools under the bus.” If I say this in “real life,” there’s a lot of silence in the room. If I say this online, I get a lot of laughing smiley faces like the whole thing’s a joke.

Do you notice that when people post heartfelt resolutions on Facebook and in their blogs that they do so with an expectation of praise? You know, like they’ve already accomplished something? Studies show that most New Year’s resolutions are broken or forgotten before February.

Of course they are because they’re all for show and/or for a passing grade in the smoke-and-mirrors “Fixing Your Life for Fun and Profit” course. It’s all snake oil and very expensive. Like patent medicine, it cures everything from gout to malice to bad breath.

Every once in awhile, placebos cure people. Perhaps January 1 is your day, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the satirical mystery “Special Investigative Reporter.”