Saturday, February 9, 2013

Love spells- some thoughts before V-Day

This time of year, hearts and flowers are in the air.  From watching Pagan and metaphysical advertising this month, love spells are the hot ticket item. I have also been having some interesting interactions with friends and family about love, as well as series of funny, stupid love stories I've been consuming via art and literature.  I couldn't resist putting in my two cents about why love spells do and don't work. This is also an opportunity to tell you about my silliest spell work moment that happened to change everything. Leave it to me to have an epiphany years later over something silly. Heather and I also almost set my house on fire one night doing another (which is why my husband, our beloved kite string, insists we spellwork with a fire extinguisher handy.) Love spells, in my experience, don't work very well.  I did one nearly twenty years ago, and it worked, but I think it worked more because of a bit of stupidity and a dash of unintended wisdom on my part. I don't want to rain on anybody's parade, but there needs to be some honest conversation about love spells.

Picture me, at age 16 or 17 (I was so cute then, so add that to your mental image), with my little shelf top alter, a bunch of lit candles, my fish and Loreena McKennitt drowning out my family's noisiness. That night, I lit candles, burned herbs, and the energy from that spell blew a hole through my fish bowl (poor Kali never trusted my candles after that) when the candle flames jumped from an inch or two in height, to pillars of fire nearly a foot tall. I was startled, ecstatic and more than a little afraid that I'd just done something I shouldn't have.  Not long after that, I realized that I was more than a little in love with one of my closest friends.  We got married a couple of years later, but I came to realize I was stupid to have done a love spell at all, but I happened to ask for the right the thing.

You probably want to know what I did right, so that you can try it.  I'll tell you, but first, I want to make sure that I tell you what I did wrong.  First, I didn't think through what I wanted most from a lover.  Second, I failed to understand that desire and need are two different energies, and what I needed wasn't really what I wanted. I set a time limit (not until after I finished college but before I turned 30).  My worst mistake was focusing on superficial traits- appearance, success, education, fantasies of my future with this person, romantic gestures.  To my amusement, I got a few of those superficial traits in the deal, but not the ones I most wanted then. I'm sure that was a message from the gods that came packaged with the gift.

I did get something really right, but I didn't understand it until much later.  I asked for a partner who would be compatible with my life's purpose.  I asked for someone to grow with and someone who could accept who I am.  I asked for what I needed, even when I was too young to understand how much I needed it.  I also managed to ignore my stupid time limit when the opportunity arose far earlier than I had intended.  I also accepted that I was worthy of the gift of love.

Most people I know haven't had any luck with love spells.  Some people try and try and try, but still they don't find love. I have a few thoughts on why this happens:

  • Many people are afraid to accept not only gifts from the gods, the Universe, the Divine, but love in general.   There is an unwritten part of every spell: in order for a spell to be completed, we must accept the outcome of the spell (this seems self explanatory, but its often overlooked). If that step is skipped, love spells, in particular, won't work.  The reasons for not accepting love often come down to our own sense of worthiness.  Until we accept that we are worthy of love, not matter what our past, no matter who we are, we cannot have love if we won't love ourselves enough to accept it. The idea that you aren't good enough for a particular person or happiness will defeat love every time.
  • There are some people who are always holding out for something better. The problem with this is it assigns values to a love in a moment not over a lifetime.  It assumes that there is always something better available, and it ignores the beauty and strength of love already received. If you are forever on the prowl for something more, you will never be able to be present in the moment and fully in love with anyone.
  • "Not my type" is another sabotaging motif in romance.  Many people ignore potential partners because they don't fit a pre-established criteria.  Let's play a game of fill in the blank.  "I won't date anyone who is ________."  Now, what did you fill in?  We all have our hang up in this department, but some people make their criteria for a lover so restrictive that it is impossible to deal with.  It also excludes people based on traits that have no bearing on whether or not the person is capable of being loving, nurturing, supportive, authentic, mature, or happy.  It also forces people into unnatural boxes in our minds which flattens their personalities and prevents us from seeing them for themselves only.  It dehumanizes them and molds them into an image we want to see.  I actually have a funny example of this mentality from "The Decoy Bride" which I watched recently.  The main character's mother says "There is somebody out there for you.  Somebody who's sensitive and faithful and kind, but you'll never meet him if you're here hiding."  Katie's response is both funny and horrifying, "Good!  I don't want to meet him, he sound like a twat.  Anyway, I'm like kryptonite to men. Kryptonite wrapped in cellulite."  Not the healthiest attitude towards love or herself.
  • Prepackaged, fast, and convenient are words better left to fast food, yet many people expect them to apply to love.  If you've read the book "Practical magic", then you are familiar with how toxic a love that has been magically altered could be.  The woman who asked for the love spell got everything she asked for but she hated the result.  It's a good cautionary tale about why would should always be certain we understand what we are asking for and why we shouldn't use magic for influencing others (see below). While it is possible to fall in love in a moment, it is not possible to build a lifetime love without some preparation, some patience and a few missteps.  Nothing worth having comes without the responsibility of maintenance   Time is not your enemy, especially in love.  Time is what makes love valuable, trust me on this.
  • The love of your life will not suddenly appear before you wrapped in a big pink bow or sparkling with glitter or even a tasteful sign.  It's up to you to pay attention, to be open to whatever comes to you, and to be grateful for it.
  • Living with the love your life is work.  It can be very rewarding work, but it is work. You probably won't be in love everyday,  but that doesn't negate that you can love your partner everyday, even when you don't think you do.  Everyday life is hard on us all, and it is hard on our closest relationships, but everyday life is also richer and more satisfying with those relationships.  Romance is wonderful, but we all must accept that candlelight and flowers and incredible sex aren't the same thing as the love that sees us through the darkest moments of our lives, that sees us through the mundane, through triumph.  Many people leave relationships because the romance is gone, but that doesn't always mean love is absent. Balance between the vocal and silent gestures of love is important.
  • It's not ethical to cast a love spell of a particular person with the intent to influence their behavior.  It's not good Karma, so just don't.
  • Love comes in many forms.  Your soul mate might not be a lover. That person may be your best friend, you parent, your child, your mentor.  Love is still love even if it doesn't satisfy us sexually.  When you perform a love spell to find your soul mate you must be aware that maybe what you need is a lover, because your soul mate already exists in your life in a different sort of relationship.
  • There is no limit on love.  Just because a relationship ends, it doesn't mean that you can't be loved.  Many people have deep and wonderful loves with multiple people.  That doesn't make any of those relationships less valuable or negate the love that was shared. Some of us will have one love for life, and some of us will have many.  As long as love is there, why shouldn't we bask in it?
So, as Valentine's Day approaches, and people are thinking about love and romance, you now know why I think love spells don't work.  In reality, they are also the reasons love doesn't work out.  Before you ask the Universe, for love, ask yourself "Who already loves me?  What type of love do I want?  Am I open to all possibilities?  What limits do I put on my love?"  Once you have those answers, you might find you need a totally different spell.  My advice is to start with loving yourself and welcoming Love, as an energy, into your life.  From there, you'll find that everything falls into it's right and perfect place.


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