usually involve ritual centering on pictorial representations (These
days, generally photographs. A few Yuppie Wiccans are moving into
holograms...) or models, dolls (gasp), or sculptures of the person
requiring the Working. And what sort of Working? Well, nearly always
healings as they're about the safest. The main danger in image magic
lies in the bonds it makes between sender and receiver. It could
be quite feasible to manipulate another person through image work,
but the catch is that once the link is there, both parties are locked
into a tight relationship, as potentially restrictive to the sender
as the puppet on the string. It becomes a much more intimate form
of magic than most, so it's patently silly to use it on anyone with
whom you're not already very close. And you're unlikely to want
to stuff such a person about with unasked for manipulation, yes?
(If you answer "no", to that question, please go away
and never darken our doormat again).
A loving connection is
needed to kickstart image magic, so the idea of doing the Hammer
Horror bit with matches and needles recedes further into the land
Making a Poppet: While
focussing on a sketch or Polaroid of one's subject will often give
the necessary added oomph to a spell, there are times when the effect
of fashioning a poppet can repay the effort more than somewhat.
Wherever possible, it's not at all a bad notion to blend a bit of
contagious magic with the law of similarity - a little of the subject's
hair, nail clippings, blood (don't go overboard on this one), clothing
or bedding (used, nudge nudge) will strengthen the link. (Really?
Or just in the mind? Discuss.)
The poppet itself may
be made from clay, wax, plasticine, cloth (perhaps filled with an
appropriate herb), wood, marble (if you're really keen) or virtually
anything else that comes to hand. A lock of hair can be used on
the head; a photograph for the face (if your sculpting is really
bad), some raw egg may be included as a "living sacrifice"
(a nice innovation in these mercifully squeamish days) or else a
drop of blood, saliva or sexual fluid; a wad of cotton wool or the
like soaked with a planetary fluid condenser or herbal infusion
may also be tucked away in there. Any number of more elaborate preparations
may seem attractive (cf. - the traditional no-good-doers affection
for graveyard mud, stagnant water and other gothic messes) - use
of imagination is to be encouraged. The poppet should be designed
naked; typical clothing, jewelry, tatts, or whatever may be added
later if desired. All of this will, of course, be done within a
Circle, 'though not necessarily the one of the actual spell-casting.
I was, at this point,
intending to give a very simple, effective healing spell I have
tucked in by B.O.S. but, upon looking at it, I realize that it had
been taken almost verbatim from Starhawk's Spiral Dance and
I'm sure you've all got a copy of that invaluable tome to
hand (if not, this can give you added incentive), so I'll just refer
you to page 125 and draw special attention to the need to "unmake"
the poppet when the work is done.
Starhawk's consecration, the poppet is given a breath of life, a
sprinkle of salt water and a naming; in some more Traditional circles,
there's a slightly more elaborate approach...After the poppet has
been blessed and named, it is set to rest on the pentacle or altar
while energy is raised ("Raise the Cone of Power". "Oh,
Max, not the Cone of Power!" "I insist, Chief; it says
right here in the Control B.O.S that...") The energy is channeled
through the HPS or any other Priestess, who will then lie down,
head towards the earth quarter and body held in the Goddess position
(a hopefully, elegant, spread-eagle) while her working partner ties
a single red cord about the waists of each the image, his partner
and himself. The couple will now "conceive" and "give
birth to" the image. Alright, class, settle down. Obviously,
in a Circle involving other folk the "conception" would
be purely symbolic. This sort of ritual can lend itself to any degree
of vividness, depending on circumstances. For Working Partners alone
in a Circle, the Great Rite would be very apt in this type of consecration.
After the "birth", the ritual will progress along the
line of Starhawk's working. Fairly clearly, this variation would
really only be appropriate when the subject is someone toward whom
one is, to put it mildly, fairly well disposed, taking in, as it
does a type of magical foster-parenthood.
Lots of other types of
Workings can be quite easily adapted from all this, but look to
your ethics, not out of merely wanting to be a nice person, but
out of self-preservation. Manipulation of others against their Will
has to be ultimately self-defeating. Lovespells sound tempting
sometimes. One traditional piece of image work (dating from the
long-lost days when Ethics was simply a county between Suffolk and
Hertfordshire) has the thaumaturgist fashion the poppets, which
are bound together with blue or red cords and kept so, for as long
as desired...Which might have a certain validity were human beings
as uncomplicated as lumps of clay.
Anyone that deeply into
"walking, talking, living doll" mentality might do better
with the type of dolly sold by the more bizarre bookstores down
Image magic is to be
treated with respect - if you're very clear on your intention (and,
to repeat, healing is far and away the least murky motive) it may
be very effective. The danger is that it may also be effective if
your motive is not clear. People are fragile. Handle with care.