I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “That’s not a real spell” or “You can’t use that spell from Charmed” or my personal favorite “You need to use a spell from a real spell book not one that you made up or stole from TV.”
Some of my followers are laughing. You should be. The sad part is I’ve actually been told these things by other witches. I’ve heard them from actual people actually saying and believing this.
So I’m going to say this straight: this kind of thinking is illogical, infuriating, and bullshit.
Someone had to write those spells. Even in your precious “real spell book” (whatever that means because what separates a spell book from other books except intent and instructions?). I’m not even going to touch the fact that some actually people believe you shouldn’t write your own spells (or that you need a particular skill level or talent for it). Nope, I’m not going there. But I will go to that place where I can rant about the other stuff.
I’ve used spells from all sorts of places. TV shows, movies, books, poetry, video games, songs, instrumental music, even humming. I’ve used it all. None of the spells have failed because they were written for a video game. None. If they failed it was because a) Turning into a dragon is a bit out of reach at the moment (but who knows in the future?) b) I didn’t actually put effort into the spell and/or was just fooling around c) I didn’t power or empower the spell properly (look, unicorn horn and dragon teeth are kind of hard to come by, OK?) d) spells sometimes fail.
Let me give some examples of the cool shit I’ve done with spells from media forms:
- Hair support spell – TV, slightly altered to turn from a curse into something more useable on myself
- Attraction spell – a mix up of two songs with selected and slightly altered verses.
- Short-term construct (created familiar) – song, verbatim
- Mirror scrying spell – children’s book
- Curse – based on a curse from a spell book, re-adapted for my novel, then re-adapted to be less vicious and used in real life.
- Protection spells – general idea used by thousands of media forms AND witches
- Harvesting spell – humming
- Blessing for the dead – movie
- Water boiling – a play
- Annual festival ritual opening – poems
- Annual festival ritual closing – anime / manga
- Healing spell – Disney movie
- Faerie conversation opener / spell – video game
All of these, by the way, worked as they were intended to. All of these were used in the same year.
Why is a spell written for a video game is less… whatever than one written by a magical practitioner from a hundred years ago? Why are words of a dead person considered more valid? They aren’t casting the damn spell. You are. So it doesn’t really matter where the spell came from because you’re casting it. You. You can turn anything into a spell. Even humming.
(The only exception I’ll make is if the spell itself is a living spell that gains power the more you use it. But that’s the only exception and I’ve never actually seen a spell like that in any books or ever used as an argument so we’ll put that exception aside.)
I really don’t understand the logic of a person who says “that’s not a real spell”. When they are asked to explain why that example isn’t a real spell they never say “because there’s no vocalizations, so it’s really just a working” (which, in my opinion, would be a valid argument and then the word choices would change for the rest of the discussion appropriately). They never say that. They just say “you can’t use a spell from Final Fantasy! You just can’t.” When asked to further explain, they’ll simply keep saying “Because it’s not a real spell.” It’s a circle of fallacy.
What people mean when they say something’s not a real spell is that it was not written by a practitioner for a practitioner to be used as a spell. That’s what they’re saying. And that’s bullshit. It’s also poisonous thinking.
No spell is valid until you do the spell and verify it for yourself. I don’t care that Sparkly Pony Butt the Greatest Witch There Is says the spell works. You. Didn’t. Do. The. Spell. If you didn’t test it, then there’s no it’ll work just because Sparkly Pony Butt says so. If you do the spell and it does work? Great! Even if the spell doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean the spell still isn’t valid just because it didn’t work for you. You are one person. You can’t invalidate an entire body of work just because it didn’t work for you. You might not like Game of Thrones but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid entertainment to other people, right?
On that idea, you can’t invalidate a spell from some media form just because it was written for a character. The character used it, didn’t they? The spell most likely worked for them too. So… why can’t it work for you? What? Because magic is different from their fictional world? The results might be less flashy and different but you’ll probably still get results. Using media forms for spells is brilliant. I’ll give you some example:
You broke up with your now ex-lover. You really still hate that asshole. They cheated on you, kicked your dog, shit in your cornflakes, called your art ugly, whatever. You want to curse them. Your ex-lover once charmed you by reading their favorite poem to you. Use that poem against them. Curse them by turning that poem into a weapon. Don’t change the words, change the intent of the words. Make it so every time that ex-lover utters a line from that poem they become entangled further in the curse. Make it so their shoelaces are never tied, their bread will always spoil, they’ll develop an uncontrollable bladder, or they’ll feel your heartbreak every time they read that poem. Every. Time.
Another example: You ran across an amazing healing spell in a video game. It is literally the most beautiful thing you’ve read and it strikes you in ways you can’t quite articulate. Use it. You feel a connection to it. That person you’re healing doesn’t care where you’re getting that spell from. All they care about is their flu going elsewhere.
Example Three: You’re watching Doctor Who and the Doctor said something that struck a cord. After thinking about it a little, you realize you can make it a spell. You’re excited and tell your Whovian friend who says you can’t use it (the the snarkiest way possible). The Doctor doesn’t believe in magic and blah blah blah. Now you’re a little heartbroken. Re-watch a couple of your favorite episodes (I’d avoid Doomsday) and do it anyway. Also yes, your Sonic Screwdriver can be your wand. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.
Example Four: Harry Potter. Use it. Love it. Ignore assholes who make snide comments. They aren’t on the Quidditch team and they’re just jealous. Seriously though, Harry Potter is often cited as an inspiration for many. Some of you probably came to magical practices from Harry Potter. Why shouldn’t a spell from the series be used as well? You might not be able to make something float as well as Hermoine, but you could probably use Wingardium Leviosa to lighten a heavy bag or box.
Words are just words until they are given meaning. Given intent. We are the ones that ascribe emotional meaning and intent to words. Because words are just words, you can give them any intent you want. Turn that blessing into a curse, if you want to. It doesn’t matter what others say. Your spells are valid for you. They don’t need to work for anyone else. They just need to work for you. Tweak that song verse to fit your desires. Make it your own. And use it.
You’re a witch. Manipulating shit to our wishes is what we do.
Adapted from my original tumblr post here.