I don't think anybody makes changes in their lives due to what I call the "One Thing." That's when one thing happens and your life changes. Rather, that "One Thing" is a catalyst to change. Usually, events that lead to the change have developed over many years.
That's what happened to me. First, there was my name. "Seymour" is a fine name. It comes from Saint Maurus (a follower of Saint Benedict), who is known for his prayer of healing. Many fine men have this name. But when I was quite young, there was a silly TV show with a host using the same name. He would always be introduced with the first syllable exaggerated as it fell in pitch, sounding like "Seeeeeeeeeeeeee-more." I was mercilessly hounded with kids calling me by that name. I hated it. Finally, I took a nickname based on my last name, but I never forgot the anger resulting from being mocked. Children can be so mean.
So as "Tram" I went to school. And I wasn't too good at it. I studied hard just to get passing grades. I was a flop at athletics, always the last one to be chosen for games. And my complexion wasn't very good, so I didn't get any dates, either. My youth was a terrible time for me, and it will probably always stay with me.
My grades weren't good enough to get into college and my family didn't have enough money to put me through a trade school, so I went into the Navy, where I was drilled and drilled until I learned some computer stuff. When I got out, I ended up with a job at a computer development firm. Hiding in my cubical, I was able to do computer quality assurance without people making fun of me.
And then there was the computer slump. Sales were down and layoffs were endemic. I fell victim to the electronic downturn as my company "rightsized," leaving me out of a job. For seven months I tried to find a decent job that would pay more than flipping burgers. After six months, my unemployment insurance ran out and the little money I had saved was almost gone.
I don't think anybody takes really big chances until they have no choice. It was late afternoon and I had finished two unsuccessful job interviews. Frustrated, I took a walk. A long walk. I wandered to places I had never been before, past small clothes stores, an electronics repair shop, a pawn shop, a pet store, a Thai restaurant, an auto parts store, and a beauty shop. But the store that stopped me was a curious shop, almost overgrown with ivy like an east coast college.
It was an occult shop!
That might not be anything special to many of you reading this. But for me, it was different. You see, I was, and am, a Christian. I'm a Southern Baptist. I go to church every Sunday. I guess it's one of the more "liberal" Southern Baptist churches, because the message is always about peace, love, and forgiveness rather than hellfire and brimstone. My church has been one of the few things which has given me solace and comfort in my life. Frankly, I was terrified because of what I had learned about the occult in church. For a moment, I couldn't walk past it. I wondered what horrors might be behind those doors.
Suddenly, out came several people. They were my age or younger. They were laughing, smiling, and talking. It was as if they were coming out of an ice cream store drinking malts in paper cups. They didn't seem so horrible. In fact, they seemed kind of nice.
I'd been praying hard for help over the last six months, but I was still without a job. My mind started to wonder if I might find help inside the door. Tentatively, I opened the door.
My expectations went unfulfilled. There were no spider webs, grinning skulls, or old hags in long robes. Instead, it was a well-lit shop. Bookcases were filled with books. The glass counter contained all kinds of jewelry (mostly in silver), and there was a small selection of clothes (mostly tee-shirts with images on them). There were also incense burners, small cauldrons, statues, and more. Two people, also smiling and laughing, brushed by me as they left the shop. I was alone with one woman who stood behind the counter. "Can I help you?" she asked.
"Huh?" I said, feeling shocked that she was talking to me. "No . . . no thank you. I . . . I'm just looking."
She smiled. "Is this your first time in an occult shop?" she asked. I nodded. "It must be pretty bad," she said.
"Bad?" I asked. I didn't know what she meant.
"Yes, there must be something really bad in your life to allow you to break your personal taboos against going into an occult shop." My eyes widened in shock and horror! How could she have known? What powers did she have? Was she in league with Satan?
To my surprise, she smiled and started to laugh. "No," she said, obviously guessing what I was feeling, "I don't have any powers like that. I haven't made a deal with the Devil, either. About once a week someone comes in, looking somewhat tentative or scared. In every case it's because they feel that something from the occult might be their final chance or last hope at something." She looked me in the eyes. "It's okay," she said. "You're not alone and no one is going to harm you. Look around all you like. If you have any questions, let me know. No purchase necessary." And then she winked at me.
I laughed and we started to talk. I was very relieved to know that I wasn't the only one who had come in to a shop like this as a last resort. I asked her if she was a Witch. She didn't give a simple answer because, she told me later, a simple answer would only verify any erroneous beliefs I might have. Instead, she told me of her faith. Although I didn't agree with it, I didn't hear anything evil in it. In fact, it sounded reasonable and rather nice. It was only after she told me what she believed that she said, "That is the religion of the Witch, and that makes me a Witch."
There was a period of rather awkward silence. Finally I asked, "Do I have to become a Witch to do magic?"
"No more than you'd have to become an automobile designer to drive a car. Magic is simply a technology we use to make changes in our lives. You can stay a member of whatever religion you belong to and still practice magic. Would you like to know where to start?" I nodded. "We just got in a new book that will tell you a bit more about Witchcraft and show you how to do magic. About all you'll need to do is replace the phrase 'Goddess and God' with 'God' and you should be okay." I thanked her, purchased the book, and went home.
The book I purchased was The Sacred Round: A Witch's Guide to Magical Practice by Elen Hawke. I read, no, I devoured the book that night. On page 164, I saw what I needed, a "Spell to Bring a Needed Sum of Money." Rent was coming due and I could use another $1200. I made a list of all the things I would need for the ritual. Here's the full list from the book in case you'd like to try it:
The book also says, "If you want, you can place yellow and orange flowers on your altar during the working, and burn gold candles."
The next day I went out and purchased all I needed. I found some shiny gold cloth and metallic gold thread at a yardage store. They had some craft paints so I got some metallic gold paint, too. The cinnamon I got from the grocery store, and the incense, gold candles, citrine, charcoal, and burner I bought at the occult store. That afternoon I painted a dozen dimes with the gold paint. By that evening, everything was ready...except for the time.
The book says, "You will need to do this spell on a Sunday..." (p.164), but today was only Thursday. This gave me plenty of time to go over the book for more information. The instructions said I should do it during the waxing moon (which, thank goodness, it was) during the day. Hawke says you could also do it with the Moon in Leo and during the Sun's planetary hour, but it sounded like this wasn't necessary.
It was a good thing that I had time before the ritual. The rite also requires that I consecrate everything. "How do I do that?" I wondered. In going through the book I found the answer on page 141. Here the author warns that if you don't consecrate the objects "through the elements . . . unwanted energies may spoil your work."
In order to do the consecrations I needed to have incense (have it), a candle flame (have it), water (don't have it), and salt (don't have it). I got out a nice glass for the water and a small plate for the salt. I also returned to the occult shop for patchouli oil, which, the book says, is good for "prosperity and money spells." (p. 142) Further, the book describes using a pentacle in the ritual, so I got one at the store, also.
Finally, Sunday arrived. I went to church and silently prayed that Jesus would help me in the ritual. I know this sounded odd, but it felt right to me. After the service I headed home, anxiously ready to start the ritual. On the way I stopped at a florist shop and picked up some bunches of orange and yellow flowers.
Step one was simple. "Light any candles and get the incense going, then consecrate all the noncombustible ingredients for the spell through the elements and bless the others." (p.164)
I had already cleared off my kitchen table and washed it with soap and water. I put all of the ingredients for the ritual on my table/altar so that they formed a nice pattern. Then I followed the instructions for the consecrations. Take all the objects and "pass them clockwise through the elements in turn, three consecutive times each: first the lighted incense for air, then a candle flame for fire, then sprinkle with water, then with salt for earth. Say, in turn, 'I consecrate thee with air (then fire, water, earth).'" (p. 141)
I did this with the cloth, thread, other candles, and everything else I could think of. But I couldn't do that with the table itself, so I modified the instructions (which the book says you should only do "something like" anyway) and said, "May God bless and cleanse this altar that it may be fit for my purpose. Blessed be." I also put patchouli oil on the candles according to the description in the book.
The next step was to put the gold cloth on the altar, on a pentacle. This was easy so far. The book goes on, saying, "Put the 'coins' on the cloth, then follow with the citrine and the cinnamon." (p.164) That was easy to do, too.
The Sacred Round goes on: "Pick up the cloth and its contents and draw the edges up to form a bag or pouch, then hold this in your hands carefully, concentrating on the image of the sum of money you need as you do so, putting all your attention and effort into 'seeing' yourself receiving that money and paying for whatever it is you need it for." (p.165)
I did exactly that, seeing myself having the money and paying rent. I then modified the book and said the following prayer:
The money I need for rent will come to me,
in the name of Jesus
and with harm to none . . .
The book gives "in the names of the Goddess and God," for the second line, but I felt more comfortable with what I said.
I continued with the instructions from the book. "Twist the gold thread round the neck of the pouch three times, knotting it each time, and with each knot, say, 'So mote it be,' willing power and determination into the knots as you do so." I strongly focused on the money, thinking about it with all my power as I made the knots.
"Hold the pouch in your hands and say 'Blessed be,' and then put the spell away." (p. 165) I did this, putting the pouch in a small wooden box that has been in my family for ages.
The instructions for the ritual conclude, saying that "when the spell manifests, untie the pouch and disperse the ingredients." And that was it.
That's all? It was over? Like that? No demons coming up to say, "Your wish is my command," while plotting to take me to hell? It all seemed so simple, so basic, so safe. Also, it didn't seem like something that could possibly have any effect on my life.
Three days later I received a letter from the state unemployment insurance agency. This was a surprise, as my benefits had run out. I read the letter, which said that there had been a miscalculation in determining how much I should have received. As a result, they were sending me more money. Attached to the letter was a check for $1300.53, just a bit more than I had requested in the ritual!
I got out the pouch, took it to a wishing well where the money was collected to help the poor, and cast the coins and stone into the well. As I did, I said to myself, "I will that this bring luck and good fortune to all who use it for the benefit of all."
I don't know if the ritual I did resulted in the money coming to me. Were they really able to recheck my benefits, issue a check, and get it to me through the mail in a mere three days? I don't know. Maybe I'll never know.
But I'm not worried about that. I got the money and that's all that matters to me. I feel that God is with me. I can breathe easier for another month. I have several job interviews next week and I have a good feeling that I'll finally get the type of job, at the pay I deserve. In fact, I have a little "help" on my side, because on page 167 of The Sacred Round is a "Spell to Work on Career."
I feel good about myself for the first time since I was a child. I have a secret for getting ahead. I'm also looking at other people's faiths with less prejudice, disdain, and fear. I'm still a Christian and don't want to change, but now I know that Witchcraft is a positive, life-affirming religion. It's not my path, but I don't think people who follow it are cursed, evil, or damned. That may not be standard Southern Baptist belief, but I think I'm strong enough now to have my own opinions.
I wrote at the beginning of this article that I didn't think anybody changes because of one thing. I don't think doing this ritual and being successful at it caused me to change. However, I think that I was ready to change and getting The Sacred Round and doing the ritual were the catalyst for me making a rapid change in my life. I'm not in a great situation yet, and my self-image could still use a lot of improvement, but I'm getting there.