Let’s Read: Notes on Chapter 1 of Aidan Wachter’s “Six Ways Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic”

So, as I mentioned on Instagram, I’ve been meaning to work through some books and I decided to create these “let’s read” (get it?) to motivate myself to engage with these works in a thoughtful way, and maybe generate something useful in the process.

I held an informal poll and Six Ways — Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic by Aidan Wachter won! So here we are. Also, this chapter is actually available online on Wachter’s website, so if you want to read along and take a look at the chapter yourself, go for it!

My very loose goal is to crank out a “Read Along” once a week or so, when I have the time to really sit and engage with what I’m looking at. So, let’s jump in.

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • A two-page first chapter is very sensible and I love it.
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing “magic” without a “k.” This is purely a personal preference to me, but I have always disliked “magick” — reminds me too much of a lot of the New Age nonsense floating around in the mid-2000s which really turned me off from trying to find magical community for so long.
  • I’m going to comment here on a footnote, which remarks that the term “shamanry” is something picked up from Marcus R. McCoy. Folks who know me know that I am extremely skeptical (to the point of hostility) to white people who use the term shamanism and adopt/steal Indigenous practices as their own. (Which reminds me: I do eventually need to write a post about hedgewitchery as I do it — my attempts to do spirit work while being extremely respectful to the spirits, land and people around me who have their own traditions I have no claim to.) “Shamanry” is only mentioned in passing here, so I don’t really know what to think. I’m not familiar with the term, it might be something to look into.
  • I love the emphasis on the iterative process, as I am the same way. Every thing is trial and error. Emphasis on “try it and error.”
  • Magic is not a religious practice for me either. I do sometimes wonder if people might look at my practice from the outside and disagree.
  • Quoted because I love it: “Magic and sorcery are ways of being in the world. (…) It is an art of total responsibility, careful attention, and reciprocity. ” YES. YES. YES. FUCK YES.
  • The chapter does emphasize that a lot of this book is based on the author’s own internal logic, which may not resonate with other people’s own internal logic. This is something that really resonates. I have had people ask me for help designing spells, and I am usually at a bit of a loss, because I basically only know how to do magic in (and out of) my own body. I’m not really sure how to create magic for others.
  • Another good quote: “These magical techniques and ideas will only be useful in actual practice.” I like this, because all my daily magical practices are essentially rooted in action (essentially: breathing, speaking, singing, walking).
  • He wraps up his introduction about how this book offers a window into the internal logic behind what he does, and maybe that window will be useful for other magicians.

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