2022 as an adventure rather than a prospective purgatory

Tilly’s morning: following the trail into a new year full of myth, magic, and adventure. We wish you a gentle transition from the old year to the new, with plenty of enchanted pathways to mosey along…. – Terri Windling in Myth and Moor. (Tilly is Terri’s dog, running along a trail.)

After 2020 and 2021, it’s not surprising to see that New Year’s Eve brought out a caterwauling of cynics. Understandably, they echo the sentiments of people who’ve been punched, kicked, or slapped so often they cannot see the world as anything other than more of the same.

Sylvia Lindsteadt has written that “Humans are storytelling creatures. We need story, we need deep mythic happenings, as much as we need food and sun: to set us in our place in the family of things, in a world that lives and breathes and throws us wild tests, to show us the wildernesses and the lakes, the transforming swans, of our own minds.”

I believe her and I hope that as we mosey along through 2022, we’ll be drawn more to more stories of hope and success than the noir rales that are now in vogue. It’s hard to switch from noir to hope because there’s been so much darkness that hope somes across as impractical and naïve.

My view of the world often matches that of Marianne Williamson–her spiritual writings more than her politics. But it’s dangerous, so to speak, to quote her sentiments today because, well, then people look at you funny–and we don’t need that!

Much better to tone down one’s words to “stay well and be safe” even though they fall short of helping hands what are really needed for a wondefully enchanted 2022.

Be safe,


Listen to the story that started it all (the Florida Folk Magic Series), and and AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award winner.

‘Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.’

I’ve always liked this quote from Satchel Paige. I’m sure he applied it to many situations, though folks often say he was speaking of fear in general or worry that one isn’t doing the task at hand properly. In baseball, of course, looking over your shoulder probably helps the competion more than anything else.

A similar point of view applies in conjure. As Catherine Yronwode writes in her online overview of hoodoo practices, “One of the basic aphorisms passed along from teachers to students is, ‘Lay your trick, walk away, and don’t look back.’ Looking back can have the effect of undermining the careful deployment of curios meant to set the trick to working. It demonstrates as lack of faith or will.”

Personally, I think what’s gaining on a person who constantly looks back is doubt and that those who look back, literally or figuratively, have fallen into an obsessive compulsive (OCD) set of habits in relation to their faith–whether it’s magic, nondenominational spirituality, or a mainstream church approach.

“Faith” implies that a person trusts God and/or his/her spiritual practices. All of us may experience doubts about the way we have chosen from time to time, but generally faith–for me–implies a general certainty about one’s methods and practices (to borrow a phrase from the intelligence community).

For a baseball pitcher, doubting that one will throw a successful pitch is probably going to make it less likely that he/she will do so. This has nothing to do with jinx thinking; it’s more like saying one needs to smoothly throw the ball without clutching up while doing it.

Can we say the same thing about making the law of attraction work? Perhaps. Personally, I think one’s thoughts are vibrations and that negative, unfocussed, and uncertain thoughts produce results we don’t consciously want. 

Practitioners of positive thinking and meditation approaches suggest relaxing and meditating several times a day. If you do that with a high amount of belief in, let us say, an “every day in every way I’m getting better, better, and better,” outlook, then all of that gets rather undone if one takes a negative approach to his/her life during the time between meditation periods. I don’t mean to be flip, but if one is positive about his life and health for 30 minutes twice a day and negative and doubtful the rest his/her waking hours, what kind of emphasis results? 

In a mainstream religion, does one “undo” a prayer by praying for something more than once? I don’t know. However, I’m supersitious about going so. One time a minister asked if I was praying for my mother’s recovery again. When I said “yes,” he responded, “Do you think God didn’t hear you the first time?” Oops.

I tend to believe that thoughts are things and that constantly thinking something one way olr another way is going to manifest in the way one has chosen. I often think a general universal wisdom keeps us being so powerful that one thought would ever work like a Harry Potter spell. If so, we’d think something nasty in anger and see an entire city blow up. Can our faith move a mountain? Probably, but thank goodness it doesn’t move the mountain all at once or we might find a mountain sliding out of control onto the prairie.

What a trangled business all this is: understanding how life and our thoughts actually work. Maybe real life his actually real or maybe it’s an illusion. But either way, looking back and letting doubt take over our thoughts and actions is probably not going to serve us well.

So, I try to follow Satchel Paige’s wisdom and that’s to avoid looking back.


My conjure woman in “Conjure Woman’s Cat” definitely knows better than to look over her shoulder to check on the trick she just placed on the ground.



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.


The Power of Multiple People Thinking the Same Thing

An egregore (pronounced egg’ gree gore) is a group thought-form. It can be created either intentionally or unintentionally, and becomes an autonomous entity with the power to influence. A group with a common purpose like a family, a club, a political party, a church, or a country can create an egregore, for better or worse depending upon the type of thought that created it. – Wikipedia

The concept is ancient and found in esoteric literature and in the practices of mystery schools. With the thoughts of many people thinking the same positive affirmation simultaneously at the same moment, or at planned times during the day, there can be beneficial outcomes, often indirect, in the world or the community. I especially like Rummer Godden’s description of an abbey in her 1969 novel In This House of Brede as a powerhouse.  The nuns’ meditations impact the world via an egregore in addition to their value as prayers.

Mystery schools create egregores intentionally and create meditative ways for achieving a “higher level of thought” at specified contact times to enhance the power of the group’s intent of manifesting something positive for humanity.

Many groups have used this technique, asking members to meditate upon positive outcomes based on the groups’ philosophy/goals–world peace, the end of discrimination, the feeding of the hungry, and other causes. Since the benefits are usually indirect, it’s difficult for groups to persuade their members to hold their meditations for a long period of time. So many people become discouraged when they don’t see immediate and overt results.

When this happens, the egregore fades away like a fire starving for oxygen. As it begins to fade, participants are less likely to see positive change, and so they stop meditating and the whole thing becomes like a helium balloon with a leak in it.

Some of the nasty things we see in society, I think, occur when multiple people think of the same criminal, hateful, and spiteful things simultaneously–it’s like mob rule but on a thinking/speaking basis. Recent increases in white supremacy, racism, and Nazism may well have begun from overt causes–events, speeches, books–but they sustain themselves via the power of multiple people thinking the same thing. None of these people realize they have created an egregore, a thought-form that multiplies the power of the individuals many times over: they simply think what they think.

The results can be catastrophic. They can lead to more books, more unseemly events and speeches, and violence on the streets, all of which serve to create more people thinking in concert with the mess they’ve been creating.

Sending “thoughts and prayers” has become rather a joke when people suggest doing it as a response to street violence, school shootings, terrorism, and genocide. Most people believe thoughts have no impact on events, so the first thing they do instead is to ask Congress for more laws, advocate sending in SWAT teams and the National Guard, and jailing the leaders. The last thing they believe is to believe that–rather than sitting at home frustrated as they read the latest news–they can have an impact on events through their church, club, website, or other community groups. If an anti-Nazi/racism website went viral with the idea of meditating for peaceful times, then what would happen if a million people thought about a positive alternative to white supremacy and racism simultaneously, we would probably see a positive outcome.

Doing this is counterintuitive. So we lose the powerhouse of good people doing their best to counteract the bad people.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the three novels in the Florida Folk Magic Series, “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman,” and “Lena,” all of which show the power of the individual (or group) in combatting the evils of the times. 

You can save on the e-books by buying this set.

Doubt is the magic killer

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

― Frank Herbert, Dune

I agreed with a lot of the sentiments in Dune. I also extrapolated upon them.

I tend to think we create wherever it is we’re going. If fear is a mind-killer, then I step forward from that thought and think that doubt is also a mind-killer. I’m not against being prepared–as we were taught in the Boy Scouts. Yet, I can’t help but think time spent with negative negative concerns such as fear and doubt is not an example of being prepared. Instead, those repeated concerns not only demonstrate to the universe we have no confidence in what we’re doing (praying, casting a spell, intuiting a situation far away, transmitting healing energies), they also create the very conditions our fear and the doubt are focused upon.

Experts in the I Ching, the book of changes that many use for divination, point out that doing the same reading twice because you doubt the first answer you received will often bring a chiding response from the oracle. I’ve seen that happen. I’ve also seen it happen with Tarot cards.

If I send (serve as a channel for) healing energy multiple times to help a sick friend, what does the second time say about the first and what does the third time say about the first two times? I believe it suggests that we doubt our ability to allow a flow of energy or that we wonder if the first energy we sent knew what it was doing.

Prayer is like that, too, I think. If we ask God on Monday for a certain thing, what’s the result of asking God for the same thing on Tuesday? Does it mean we think She/He didn’t hear us on Monday? Perhaps we are suggesting She/He was too stupid on Monday to know what we were talking about, so we have to offer a wordy explanation on Tuesday? Or, maybe we think God screwed up so we need to give Him/Her another chance to get it right.  Out worst doubt is negating our best efforts.

In conjure, we say that when you cast a spell, don’t look back. Why would one look back anyway? There’s no reason to look back unless one thinks s/he crewed up the spell the first time. The double whammy here is that thinking one screwed up the spell only serves to screw up the spell. As in, say, foot track magic, the magic isn’t just the powder one places in the path of the intended target, it’s his/her intentions for that powder. Looking back weakens your intentions.

I’ve seen people fail when trying to use the law of attraction, first because they say they are trying to use it rather than using it, and second, because after their positive affirmations, they go through the rest of the day filled with doubts and other negative thoughts. If one works to attract money and then worries about getting evicted from his/her apartment for non-payment of the rent, the negative thought becomes a stronger affirmation than the positive thought.

The worst that can come of all this doubt is that one ends up believing prayers and magic and positive thinking don’t work. Oh, they always work. It’s just that one’s lack of belief has become the strongest spell they are using.


Malcolm R. Campbell writes novels about magic.






Positivity is the world’s saving grace

“I’d like to invite you to join me for two days of pure positivity. Forty-eight little hours of looking for and at only the good stuff. Of ignoring what isn’t beautiful. I’m not asking you to give up misery forever. Forty-eight hours and one minute from now, you are welcome to seek out all the stuff that makes you angry, sad, frustrated, and worried, but for two days, let’s sweep all that under the rug and then dance atop it. What do you say, are you in?” – Beth Grace in Your Voice Within

Focusing on the good stuff ain’t easy.

positivveSeems like the world throws a lot of curve balls at us and our friends–and at other good people as well. Getting depressed or angry is probably a very human response.

Plus, many of us have “hot buttons,” issues that almost automatically bring fire-breathing anger and personal issues that upset us so much we lose our cool and say words we can never call back.

I’ve spent a lifetime working on controlling negative emotions, damping down what I jokingly refer to as my “volatile Scots’ temper.” My temper doesn’t flare up  as often as it used to, nor as forcefully. For one thing, the logical side of myself realized years ago that anger primarily hurts the person who’s angry unless they haul off an hit, shoot or bully somebody with words, things I hope I will never do.

My logical conclusion is: anger is a waste of time. The person or group I’m angry at doesn’t even know it. Yes, if it’s a social matter or a political matter, I can join others in protesting it or expressing my beliefs about the issues involved, but anger won’t help me do that. Meanwhile, the anger is hurting me, causing anything from indigestion to a preoccupation with fuming thoughts that distract me from the things I’d much rather be doing.

The Silva Method

Years ago, I took a two-weekend seminar that was developed out of the research of a man named Jose Silva that focused on positive thinking, mediation, improving memory, and on techniques that helped bring dreams into reality. Few of us could match the adeptness of our instructor in any of these areas. But we all reported a similar benefit: for many months after the course, we all felt like we were walking on air. We were simply completely happy and confident.

Unfortunately, most of us didn’t spend enough time in the years following the course to maintain such a high level of bliss. The world gets to you after a while. It not only throws those curve balls, but it mocks you if you maintain a peaceful and nonviolent approach to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Like the martial arts, sports, music, learning another language, and almost everything else we may wish to master, mastery of oneself and one’s emotions and negative mental chatter requires constant monitoring and practice. Life gets in the way, doesn’t it? We get up at 6:30 a.m., commute to work, get home early in the evening, have supper, and then fall into an easy chair and watch TV until it’s time to go to bed. It just too darned easy to skip meditation and practice. So, without vigilance, even after one takes a course or listens to an inspiring speech, it’s easy to slip back into the old habits.

Rosicrucian Order

I have been a member of the Rosicrucian Order for almost half a century. I’m embarrassed to admit this because I’ve probably spent a tenth of the amount of time required to fully take in the wisdom of this mystery school and apply it to every day life. I apply it more to my writing than to myself. I’m grateful for the magic and mystery that ancient wisdom brings to my writing. However, I have–it appears–chosen to bring less of it into my day to day living than I should have. Like studying Kabbalah  and other ancient “big picture” approaches to the universe and how it works, the order takes a positive, non-judgemental approach to improving one’s life while making Earth a better place for everyone.

So it is that I am pleased when I read posts like Beth Grace’s “48 Heart-Centered Hours.” Beth, and others, remind me how dangerous to oneself negative thoughts can be, and lead us back into the fold where positive thoughts are more the norm than an anomaly. Sheepishly, I think, “Well, I knew that, so why haven’t I been more dedicated in living a life based on a positive focus?”

Beth’s invitation to two days of heart centered hours came at the same time that I’ve been doing the final revisions on my latest book. What a wonderful experience this has been! The words fell into place because I was staying away from negative thoughts, thoughts that really have no value whatsoever no matter how “right” we think we are about one issue or another. And yes, I have felt more bliss and energy during the last 48 hours than usual!

I have an edge, perhaps. Age has brought me to a point where getting angry is just too much trouble. I tend to look for other ways of addressing issues that need to be fixed. But I need reminders. There are many positive blogs around that help me find my loving center again. Beth’s is relatively new and one that has helped me ind my bliss again.


Malcolm R. Campbell writes magical realism because he believes in magic.