It’s A Start

To a new site – after trying to sort out how to fit together the Suggested Rituals and the basic magical practice info, I decided they weren’t destined to fit together and that the info about magical practice needed to be separate from Quadrivium Supplies. The suggested rituals and the info on the history and practice of oil use will live at Ritual Oils and the intro to lots of things will live at Magical Basics.

We used to learn magic from books, and orders, and individual teachers. Basic info – how to prepare a candle for burning, how to ensure it burned correctly, how to use resin incense, how to use a table of correspondence – was taught before the more advanced ideas. There’s less of a path now, it seems. Information on magic is available from any number of sources, but it’s easy to jump into the middle without learning practical fundamentals.

The practical stuff is often skipped over because so many of us consider it instinctive – but it’s not. At some point, everybody had to learn how to prepare a candle for a first burn that wouldn’t result in tunneling. We had to figure out that the charcoal used for resin incense isn’t the charcoal used in the grill, and that it’s often available in smoke shops. We just don’t remember that we had to learn all these things. The Magical Basics site is supposed to be where you can find answers to basic questions. Fundamentals like how to prepare a candle, what’s behind the idea of sympathetic magic, why we use a table of correspondence in magic, and how to burn resin incense.

Everything on MagicalBasics is a draft, at this point. Questions and suggestions welcome.

New Project

When you’re a wholesaler, you only get orders from retailers. When people are under stay at home orders, they don’t go to stores. The stores close. And their wholesale companies are also closed, because there’s no point in making a bunch of oils when there’s no one buying them.

My kids are doing “distance learning” through Chicago Public Schools and are pretty self-directed. They don’t need me hanging around looking over their shoulders and it’s not like I can help with math homework.

In the interests of not watching too much news and not mainlining Netflix and AcornTV, I decided to pull out all the lecture and research notes that I’ve collected over the last…..well. However many years. I started Quadrivium in 2013, I think, but started the background research for it in 2012.

I also pulled out the suggested rituals and uses for the oils that used to be on the original Quadrivium Supplies page, back when it was a retail website.

There’s a website where the suggested rituals live, now. And there’s essays going up (and down, and back up again) on the same site.

There’s a bunch of sites that talk about oils, and how to use them, but there’s not much on WHY. That was one of the targets of my research, so there’s an essay up right now on tables of correspondence, which are really important tools in oil work.

Ritual Oil Basics is up and running, but only the oil uses and rituals are static. At the moment, it’s running on a Quadrivium Supplies subsite (like this blog), but will eventually get it’s own URL.

As Above, So Below: Tables of Correspondence

Anyone who’s practiced magic for any length of time has heard the phrase “As above, so below.” It sums up quite neatly an idea called sympathetic magic, first widely discussed in George Frazer’s The Golden Bough.

Sympathetic magic is based on two principles: first, that “like affects like,” and second, that two things that have been in contact with one another can continue to affect one another when separated.

It’s the first principle that I’m concerned with, the idea that like affects like, that making a change to one thing will affect something that may appear entirely unrelated.

Basic sympathetic magic is concerned with the physical realm – if I make a poppet of someone and anoint it with money-drawing oil and bury it in a pile of dollar bills, the principle of sympathetic magic says that the actual person should receive a financial benefit. A physical act produces a physical result, albeit through metaphysical means.

More complex sympathetic magic relates to the unseen, connecting metaphysical attributes and powers to things as varied as gemstones, colors, sun signs, days of the week and – most importantly for my purposes – plants. Depending on where you ask and WHO you ask, what a particular plant or herb represents in magic can be very different.

This is especially true if you practice in North America, where we started off with entirely European tables of correspondence. Some plants that are very common overseas didn’t exist here, so practitioners made substitutions through trial and error.

Slowly, North American plant tables of correspondence developed and became widely available. They’ve never been standardized, as there’s no central authority, but there’s many attributes that are generally agreed upon across traditions and in all different parts of the country.

Tables of correspondence can be found in every magical tradition, and it takes trial and error to discover which herbs or scents work best for YOU. After all, if the table of correspondence says that pine is a cleansing plant and the scent of pine reminds you vividly of the fourth grade lunchroom and makes you feel queasy every time you smell it, that plant isn’t going to make it into your personal table of correspondence.

Every single piece of literature and documented folklore on the topic could say that pine is absolutely essential to use for cleansing, and it still wouldn’t work for you.

I believe every witch, every magical practitioner, who works seriously with sympathetic plant magic needs to develop their own personal tables of correspondence. Take the published correspondences as a guide, but note what works for you and what doesn’t, and what you might want to substitute instead. In time, you’ll develop a tried and true correspondence that is yours alone, and all the more powerful for it.