Everybody says they want to lead a more magical life. You don’t often hear people remarking that the amount of magic and wonder in their lives is just right and they don’t want any more of it. No one ever says, “This is it. I can’t allow my life to get any more interesting and magical.” If you’re a witch or some other kind of occultist, you’re always in search of more magic, more meaning, deeper truths, more mystery, more profound connections to the divine, and more powerful experiences with the hidden side of things. It comes with the job description. Even so, for many witches and magicians, there is an even deeper, more compelling motivation in their lives: getting paid.
If you follow my online writing, you know that I’m always advocating having a mundane day job if you want to function in society. Having income and financial security to maintain the life you want to lead is so important. It frees your mind. It allows you to focus on what matters in your spiritual life without making compromises. And it gives you a sense of emotional stability, a peer group, and a degree of self-confidence you can’t get in any other way.
It doesn’t matter to anyone but you what you do. Your day job might be as a tarot reader in the town square—I know a few—making less than minimum wage. But if that is enough to support the life you want, you’re doing what I recommend here and you are ultimately free. You may want more. You may want to support a family or own a big nice house. If that is the case, then you have to adjust your activities to produce that sort of life. The point is that you have a day job in order to survive the way you want to survive and acquire the level of resources you need. Moreover, if you like what you do, even if you can just tolerate what you do, you’re a very fortunate person. But one thing you should never do is try to give your mundane day job a witchy makeover.
This morning, I read a blog post from a self-professed “spiritual entrepreneur” advocating exactly that. I’m not going to link it here because I don’t want to harm her with my criticism. Instead, what I’m writing here is more about the ideas, not so much about who I think she is or whether I think she is misguided. But I’m going to use some of the things she wrote as an example of what I’m warning against.
She says, “You don’t have to leave your magic at the altar. Magic should go wherever you go—your magical practice is a living, breathing extension of you, something you create with your hopes, dreams, and intentions as you interact with your environment and the universe.” This sounds good, right? It’s what we all believe or at least aspire to in our spiritual lives if we’re magical people.
But how we do this is the issue. And her suggestion is possibly the most damaging I have seen. She talks about turning your cubicle or office into a “witchy retreat.” Essentially, she is proposing ideas for giving a pseudo-magical-emphasis to a non-magical-emphasis space by manipulating light, including subtle magical tools, herbs and teas, essential oils and candles, etc.
Imagine a cubicle farm: the gray nub carpet, the florescent light bars in the ceiling, the sound of people tapping on their keyboards or cell phones, muted voices, the faint whir of the air conditioning, the cloud of human despair. Do you seriously think that putting a crystal on top of your paperwork, putting herbs in your desk drawers, and making a sigil on a Post-It note is going to dispel the feeling of “dull workplace”?
What’s stronger, the overwhelming physical presence of the mundane environment or the few magical thought forms you might be sprinkling around your tiny corner? In a playhouse, what’s stronger, the energy of a place where many dramatic performances are enacted or the energy of the cell phone in your pocket? In a prison, what’s stronger, the energy of many prisoners packed together or the energy of the tree outside the front gates? In a school, what’s stronger, the energy of a lot of kids sitting in desks or the energy of the cleaning supplies in the janitorial closet?
Beginners with no sense of proportion, who may not be able to see that everything is energy, may think that this witchy makeover idea is wonderful. But the truth is that because everything is energy, the energy of a workplace will be very strong, probably stronger than that crystal on top of your stack of reports and your cup of witchy chamomile. These things will not transform your cubicle into a “witchy retreat.” They will be transformed instead. This is how to ruin magical tools and how to ruin your magic in general.
Here is the part where I reveal another magical secret: there is a reason the “sacred mysteries” are hidden. The sacred and the profane do not mix. Forming sacred space is one of the key activities in most beginning Wicca and witchcraft books because it is essential to make a division between everyday life and the sacred.
We know that everything is energy. We also know that everything is ultimately sacred because everything is one. But in another sense,we also know that creating sacred space helps us push out the distracting soul-deadening intrusions of everyday life so that we can focus on the energy of divinity and magic. This, incidentally, is why grimoires require protective circles; it’s why “casting a circle” is often highly recommended in craft books; it’s also why banishing and meditation are also taught to beginners. By giving your work space a superficial witchy makeover, you are blurring the line between the sacred and the profane and actually hurting your ability to create sacred space.
Back to “everything is energy”: the magical items you bring in to do the makeover will seem witchy for a short time and will then become very mundane because that is the dominant energy in your workspace. You are trying to swim upstream against the current and eventually the current will prevail. Those items will lose their magical charge and then you will have to take them home and either cleanse them or toss them. Every time you do this, you will be reinforcing the power of your workspace to kill your magic. Moreover, you will be weakening your ability to create sacred space.
In the end, the witchy makeover idea serves a different purpose than leading a magical life. It does exactly the opposite by making your magical life seem flimsy and ineffective. The power of that cubicle, reinforced over you 5 days a week, 9 hours a day, will be far more prevalent than the magic you do on exhausted weeknights and occasional Saturday evenings.
It might make you feel slightly better to try to blur the lines between the sacred and the profane, but this just serves as a coping mechanism, making your day job a little less boring for a short period of time. As such, it serves your need to get paid at the expense of your spiritual life. And if that is the point, just invest in some good meds and leave the occult life behind.
Don’t play with magic like a toy. At best, it will leave you. At worst, it will mess you up. Definitely do job magic and workplace magic at home when you’re in your magical space. But when you’re physically at work, be completely there. Work hard. Make peace with your mundane life. And see your day job for what it is: the way you support yourself. If you can do this, you won’t have to come up with some scheme to bring witchcraft into your cubicle. If you can’t do this, you won’t be completely at work and you won’t be completely in sacred space. And that’s a shame.