Coping with Causes & Conditions (by Jason Miller)
On Christmas Eve 1914 British and German Soldiers stopped fighting and lit candles in the trenches. The candles were followed by the singing of Christmas carols, and because trench warfare was so close quarter, the other side could hear the carols and started joining in. As dawn broke on Christmas day, soldiers trusting that the other side would not fire on them started meeting in the no-mans-land between the trenches. Presents were exchanged, and fallen soldiers who had laid in the trenches for days or weeks, were removed and given proper burial. It was a rare bit of Christmas Spirit. Some have suggested that angels were at work and that it was properly magical.
Sadly, by Boxing Day the fighting resumed. Following this event leaders took measures to make sure it never happened again. A few soldiers were even court martialed. What I want to point out is that whether it was Humans or Spirits that were able to pause the conflic, in the end causes and conditions were such that the war resumed.
Yesterday I was talking to a Sorcerer friend of mine that has been having difficulty getting traction on some of his goals. “The magic works” he said. “It shakes things up and gets things in motion, but it doesn’t last.” I told him that I have faced this challenge many times. It’s a matter of underlying causes and conditions. Magic can create favorable events and bend minds for a while, but if the rest of the world is spawning new causes and conditions that run counter to his aim, long term gains are difficult at best.
A few years back I read about a drug dealer who used magic to protect his business from the law. After the dealer was arrested a reporter joked that the magic must not have worked. The officer in charge disagreed. He had to admit that he investigation took twice as long as it should have because they kept encountering very odd obstacles and mishaps that couldn’t be explained by chance alone. He kept at it though and didn’t give up. The investigation was the underlying causes and conditions that eventually overcame the magical protection.
Why am I writing about this?
Because part of being a strategic sorcerer is knowing what causes and conditions you are dealing with and accounting for them. There are numerous strategies for this.
The Endless Patchwork Strategy: When I was young this was my strategy. Rather than seek a better job, I kept doing money spells to draw what I needed to make the rent or get the things I needed. Rather than clean up my act and work at a relationship, I kept doing love attraction magic. It was exhausting but it worked most of the time. I got by. If you are really good at Sorcery you can keep this patchwork going for decades, enchanting your way into a status quo that you probably should have abandoned long ago.
Window of Opportunity: That Christmas eve in WW1 was a window of opportunity. The soldiers took it to bury their dead and remind themselves of their own humanity. As the war dragged on for three more Christmases perhaps it was helpful reminder for some of them not to let horror turn to hatred. The drug dealers magic delaying the investigation created a window of opportunity that they could have taken to quit or change their operation, but they didn’t take it. Every time I magicked my way into extra money or a new girlfriend, I had a window of opportunity to work on myself and create more stable underlying causes and conditions. It took me a long time to figure that out though.
Angle of Influence: Occasionally all you need to do is change your angle of approach. The best way to do this is step back for a moment and assess what you are really after. Is your goal really to run a store, or was that just the way you decided you could make money as an entrepreneur? There are a lot of ways to work for yourself and make money. Is your goal to enchant the judge, or win the court case? Maybe you would be better off cursing the oppositions lawyer. Is your goal really to spend two weeks at a Caribbean resort, or is that the way you decided that you could best relax and decompress? Maybe driving somewhere warmer would work better than somewhere that you fly. There are countless factors impacting every moment of our lives. On the one hand this means that there are countless factors our efforts are competing with. On the other hand it means that there are countless angles of influence that can be taken with your magic.
Meta Enchantment Strategy: I talk a lot about Macro and Micro enchantment – Magic for an overall goal and magic for individual steps on the way to that goal – but I haven’t written as much about Meta-enchantment. Meta Enchantment is the magic you do to change yourself in accordance with your goals. While the world presents a lot of causes and conditions that we can’t do much about, we can always work to change our own habits and patterns. It is work though, and magicking away these deep seated habits is often more of a challenge than making it snow in July. Spells for self-improvement work best as a catalyst for longer work you are undertaking, or as a seal upon work you have done. It’s important to remember though that we are the biggest single underlying cause and condition we have to deal with, and the one we have the most control over.
Accept and Move on: Quitting is under-rated. Especially if you can quit while you’re ahead (see window of opportunity). Sometimes the causes and conditions simply cannot be overcome long term and you have to change with them. My family owned a hardware store that was open since 1908, but closed down in 2004. It survived two world wars and all the wild changes of the 20th century, but it could not survive the era of the box store. By the time we closed there were three Home Depot’s and two Lowe’s within 10 miles of our location. Magic and ingenuity kept it running long past its expiration date, far too long in fact. If it closed earlier, my parents would probably have walked away with money from a sale rather than crippling debt. In the end they were able to pivot from Hardware to paint and sell that business off to a larger one, but still, I wonder what would have happened if they recognized the causes and conditions and quit while they were ahead.
Whatever you are trying to do accomplish with magic, its your job to respond to the causes and conditions that underlay the goal. Sometimes its stronger magic, sometimes its cleverer magic , sometimes its just accepting that you tried, and now need to move on.
I can hear some of you thinking “But Jason! What about re-writing reality! What about changing the causes and conditions!”
Sure. Great. When you can do so, the strategies above help you do it, but you are not an all-powerful being that can wave away systemic poverty, social media, or global recessions with a wave of your wand. It’s great to work on solving long term problems like these, I know I do, but these are the slow moving mechanisms of the world. They change, but we can’t control then directly, and shouldn’t wait for them to take action.
A Strategic Sorcerer knows how to play a long and a short game at the same time, and knows that their magic doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but amidst an infinite array of causes and conditions that have real consequences.