Everybody in the magic game has at least one pet theory about why it works and what the “rules” are. Here are a few of my own theories on the subject (standard disclaimers and UPG tags apply, do not swim for a half hour after reading, yadda yadda yadda).
Hedgehog’s Theories of Applied Statistical Aberrations
1) Do not aim for the sky, for you may shoot God in the buttock.
There is a very good reason why spells for world peace and such are generally big flops. You can only influence what you have control over. Unless you can honestly say that you can influence every single person on this planet RIGHT NOW, stick to influencing what you can truthfully say is within your sphere. Boss being a dick? Nail that sucker. Politician being a dick? Be sneaky and build influence. Get a group together. Enchant that the truth reaches one of several tabloids and snowballs faster than it can be put down. One person can move the world, but they need a really big lever and a point to turn it on. And, of course, they need some elbow grease, because all the rainbow peace candles in the world won’t change anything if you accept things as the way they are and will always be.
2) No man is an island, even when he really really wants to be.
How many witches, pagans, sorcerers, etc. do you know that actually have won the lottery, hmm? Now, how many do you think TRY to win it? (We aren’t going to try to count all the people who try to bless tickets because, frankly, I’d run out of fingers in about .2 seconds.) My point being, you are not the only person trying to work your nefarious will upon the outside world (or the inside one, for that matter). We apply our will to the world each and every day, just by living. Those who walk a magic, mystic, or spiritual path may have a few more options for applying their wills, but other people are still a factor.
Here’s an example: You aren’t the only person in the world who wants a new car. Lots of people would happily run over you to get the title and keys to a brand new Porsche. But the amount of Porsches being given away is very small compared to the people who would want them. So, you have 2 choices- either impose greater will upon the situation and beat out the competition, or widen your parameters. Give your will some more room to work on. The total number of free cars given away is larger than the number of free Porsches. The total number of sound cars of reasonably new vintage being given away is higher still, while those being sold for a decent amount, in good running order, lemons excluded, is even higher. It all depends on where you, personally, draw the line. (Good luck on the Porsche. Hopefully you get it before you’re 368.)
3) Even Superman is vulnerable to something.
You can craft shields, wards, and personal protections. You can enchant, empower, redirect, petition, and spell cast until you’re blue in the face. SHIT WILL STIL GO WRONG. Sometimes its because you did something wrong, or because your spirits squashed it for some reason. Sometimes, though, its because you aimed too high. You cannot prevent every single thing ever from going wrong. Actually, let me rephrase that- you can’t prevent every single thing from going wrong forever. There will come a point where things must change, even if change hurts, or you court disaster.
So, say, for example, you make a generalized luck-bringing charm. Three days later you are fired from your job without cause and start cursing your poor little charm. But, you literally have NO IDEA what would have happened if you had stayed. Perhaps the lawsuit you bring against them for wrongful termination will correct some nasty business practices they’ve been running for a while. Perhaps there is a new job out there that you will like better. Maybe you should go back to school for a while. Maybe you were an insufferable bastard and need a bit of a taking-down to make you bearable to be around. Don’t assume that “bad luck” = “bad for me”.
4) Outsourcing is your friend.
Rare indeed is the person who is perfect in all things. Maybe you are really good at divining, but money spells from you suck. Perhaps you can hex testicles off with the best of them, but healing? Not so much. There is no shame in asking someone with different strengths to use them on your behalf. I’d rather pay someone to run a message 3 miles away than do it myself, and would gladly lift heavy shit for someone who has a bad back. If you learn to recognize your strengths and your weaknesses, you can compensate and correct for them. Acting like you are impervious and impenetrable is foolishness.
But, say you have no one you trust to do something for you, or are alone in a sea of nonbelievers in things woo-woo. What do you do then? Call in the SUPER specialists- saints, gods, Lwa, ancestors, spirits, angels, demons, fae- the spirits that you connect with and care for. In my view, a spirit that you have a loving, caring relationship with is better than even the most specialized “stranger”. So what if healing isn’t “classically” under Venus’s purview? Do you think she’d say “sorry, can’t help you hun, too busy granting love” to a devoted follower? Or would your ancestors turn away from you after years of care and mutual devotion if you asked them to send a small money-making opportunity your way? Even if you don’t have a relationship to such a degree with any spirit, there are always those that will help for the right “price”. For saints, the proper prayers can be enough (though a donation to a good charity probably wouldn’t hurt, either). Demons… well, that may be a bit more “expensive”.
5) You will not shoot fireballs out of your ass without proper preparation.
(And probably a tube of Preparation H for afterwards.)
There is a balance of energy versus experience in all things, including magic. If you are going to force your will upon the world, you either need a lot of oomph, or a proper application of oomph. Kinda like how you can hammer with your hand or a Craftsmen hammer. They’ll both work, but the hammer does it faster, better, with less damage, and less force needed. The experience comes with doing it blind (without the benefit of a premade structure), learning it from someone/somewhere (books, people, coven, etc), or a mix of the two (that’s where I am.) It doesn’t really matter what the shape of the tool is (i.e., which tradition you train in), so long as it fits well in your hand and you are comfortable in it. You can force things to happen if you have enough raw power, but a bit of finesse can go a long way.
6) Perfection is not always to be desired.
Sometimes not-perfect is better in the long run. Perfection is a relative term, anyway; my “perfect” man is different from Kim Kardashian’s “perfect” man (and may only have testicles in common with each other). My idea of a perfect home most certainly differs from the average white picket fence and 2.5 children model. This is another instance where your point of view doesn’t encompass the entirety of the situation. You are restricted to the information you have, which isn’t complete. You may think you want a husband that has a six-figure monthly income and a Porsche, but you don’t know about the mistress and 2 kids on the side. You may want the job that grosses $1 million a year, but you’d be happier, spend more time with your family, and not have a heart attack with a “lesser” job. This is where magic loopholes become really important- “May I get such-and-such, or something even better for me”. Flexible spells tend to “hit” more often because of that flexibility, because they are not rigidly “perfect”. They have the wiggle room to manifest.
These are working theories, of course, and will most likely be revised and updated and added to at some point. Make of them what you will; I hope it helps ^_^