Category Archives: Wishing and Magic

A Samhain Treat for You

Just a Smidgen of Magic - Five encounters with the arcane in the mundane.
Just a Smidgen of Magic – Five encounters with the arcane in the mundane.

Just in time for some spooky reading

Download your free copy of Just a Smidgen of Magic from Amazon Oct. 31 (today) and Nov. 1 ( tomorrow). Five flash fiction encounters with the arcane in the mundane!

I’d love to make the top 100 freebies on Amazon this weekend, and you can help. Download the book, tell your friends to download and spread the word. It’s a treat for everyone (though these are not really written for younger kids–no graphic sex or violence though.)

Artifacts: Heed the Mother's Warning
Artifacts: Heed the Mother’s Warning
Not Even One Wish; Be careful whom you wishi to
Not Even One Wish; Be careful whom you wishi to
Zen of Cool: a festival, a full moon, a fool & a fiddler
Zen of Cool: a festival, a full moon, a fool & a fiddler
Taffy's Tale- A high price to pay to be fed by the Fae.
Taffy’s Tale- A high price to pay to be fed by the Fae.
Just a Smidgen of Magic: Free 10/31/14 & 11/1/114 Scan or click now
Just a Smidgen of Magic: Free 10/31/14 & 11/1/114
Scan or click now

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Use of of these suggestions to put my book on your device.

Reflections on where you’ve been

Reflections in early springHow do you know where you are
if you don’t know where you have been?

As I look at the people around me to grant their wishes, I need to know where they have been and what stories they are telling themselves to know how  and even whether to grant their wishes.

We don’t realize that we change, and in some cases, we’ve made big changes, but we don’t notice the progress we are making because we are not where we want to be. It’s hard to know how far you have come on the interstate when there are miles and miles of landscape between you and your destination. Much of it looks the same, unless you take the time to reflect on where you were six months, a year, a decade ago, and see where you are now.

If you think that you should return to the weight you were at 22, think about what you were doing at 22 and think about how much of that you want to do now. I don’t want to go back to walking everywhere I go, and only going to class. But I’m sure I’d be thinner if I walked that much and had to stretch 100 of grocery money to last a month.

What do I have now that I didn’t have then…a reliable car, a house, a computer, a smart phone…car payments, mortgage, phone bills, internet service, a yard to maintain…there are tradeoffs.

Reflection is not just looking back, because the winds of time distort the images, but looking in the mirror to see who is looking back at you.It’s a hard discipline, but learning to smile at the person in the mirror is a lot healthier than frowning and making that person wrong.

I’ve collected a lot of experiences, some story-worthy and some just mundane, but each one has made me who I am through the choices I made and continue to make.

What are the stories you tell yourself about  your past. What if you considered those stories all lies, and started looking at them from a different angle?

You might find that the party never ended, and while the road goes on forever, you took the best side trips and found the places the tourists never went. You might find that what you left behind gave you the freedom and courage to go on, and that what you have carried with you may not be supporting your dreams.

May you see clearly in your own reflection, for you are the fairest in the land, in your own landscape of life.


Three Wish Stories

The first rule of granting wishes is “Be careful what you wish for–you might get it.”

Three themes exist in the make-a-wish stories:

  • the one wish that sets the machinery of the universe in motion
  • the unthinking wish that must be corrected by the last wish
  • the no-matter-what-you-wish, it will turn out badly–the monkey’s paw wish.

Cinderella and Aladdin are able to wish for what they want, and having put a wedge of magic into their lives, their circumstances change.  Cinderella has only the one wish, and she must do what she can to make things work out,  at least in the Perrault-Disney versions. In older variations, she and her many sisters, such as Catskin, must appear to the prince three times in ever finer finery,  and still resort to trickery to get around the evil of her enemies. But there is no problem with the wish itself. She gets what she asks for, and the story goes from there.

Aladdin gets sucked into a evil plot and by his own trickery manages to get out of it with the help of the genie. All he really needs is the wealth to get the girl–a mirror opposite of Cinderella. In the Disney version, he must choose between what he desires and what he has promised–to let the genie out of the bottle for ever.  Giving the genie back his own life seems like the obvious choice, if the genie can be trusted to be his friend, but Aladdin does not know that.  He does honor his promise, however, and the genie is then able to help him much more than would have been possible with one last wish.  This is one of few stories where the modern version shows more moral fiber than the traditional story, and it shows the genie as a character (Robin Williams!) rather than a plot device.

More traditional stories show a  man finding the genie’s bottle and only escaping with his life because he tricks the genie into going back into the bottle. The genie has vowed to kill the person who releases him, ostensibly so that he will be free of a master,  but his arrogance and pride get him put back in the bottle, which the man throws back into the sea.

Another variation, both of the wish and of the magical animal helper variety, has a fisherman being granted a  wish because he releases the magical fish he has caught.  The fish grants a number of wishes for the fisherman’s wife, each time to be more powerful and grand.  Each time the fisherman is more uncomfortable with the changes in his life as he must behave as a more and more powerful person, and he begs his wife to be content. But when his wife is not satisfied being empress and wants to be a god, the fish makes them go back to being poor, and the fisherman is happy again.

The wishing-for-too- much-story is reflected in the stupid wishes story. A person is granted three wishes for doing some kindness to a magical being, but when the person and spouse try to decide what to wish for,  they get into an argument and waste their opportunity.  In one variation, the man only wishes for a better dinner than he usually gets, which makes the wife angry, so she wishes that his dinner–usually a sausage–would be stuck to his nose. The last wish, of course, brings them back to where they were, no richer and no wiser.

The darkest version of the wish gone wrong is the Monkey’s Paw story,  where the magical token is given to the person, with a warning that it is dangerous, but without explanation of how it is dangerous.  In each case the  wish is granted, but under terrible circumstances. The man wishes to have a sum of money, but it is the death of his son that results in the money coming to him. The wife is in such grief that she wishes her son alive again, after being buried for two weeks,  and only int he nick of time, the man wishes the son back in his grave and at piece, while the zombie corpse is hammering on the front door to be let in. While the initial wish was not particularly foolish or greedy, the consequences leave the people worse off than before, a cautionary tale. Be careful what you wish for.

While the fairy godmother story usually only tells of the first kind of wish,  most of the stories do not tell much about what happens after the wish. At most, three days go by, and then the prince is able finally, to recognize or find his princess, and all is well, happily ever after.  But few stories really tell the tale of what happens after midnight when everything goes back to what it was, or discusses how the person is different for having had the wish experience, how the rest of the prince’s household deals with the new princess or what happens after happily ever after.

That’s what fiction is for.  And that’s why the realm of Fiction is such a threat to Fiona. Faery is being swallowed up with the elaborated tales that explore what happens when you get what you wish for.

Good wish or bad witch?

What’s the difference between a wicked witch and a fairy godmother?

Cinderella and her (rather witchy) Fairy Godmother
Cinderella and her (rather witchy) Fairy Godmother

A wicked witch, as opposed to other witches, works magic to have power over others, to force them to do her bidding against their will A good working definition of evil is power over others, making others do what we wants against their will whether by magic or at gunpoint.  In many stories, such as Snow White, the witch appeals to the vanity or innocence of the victim in order to kill her, but to do it in a way that is a result of the victim’s action: Snow White accepts a comb,  a corset, and a poisoned apple from her disguised stepmother. The stepmother gives up the last of her beauty in order to kill Snow White, but she is unable to do so, showing the limits of the power of evil. Sleeping Beauty does not die, but only sleeps, and her family with her.  Cinderella’s stepmother is no match for the good luck her fairy godmother brings her. Cinderella does the rest on her own.  Baba Yaga does no evil against Vasalisa because Vasalisa’s doll tells her how to behave.

A fairy godmother changes the conditions so that the people who are wishing can do what they want to do.  The fairy godmother does not take action to make the wish come true, but only gives the wisher the items that are missing–a dress and a ride, all illusion– and sometimes only advice. The fairy godmother does not make the prince fall in love with Cinderella–that is Cinderella’s job, and it comes from her being who she is. The dress got her in the door, but then she had to play her role.

Evil Stepmother from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Evil Stepmother from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

The magical helper often tests her client with impossible tasks to see if the client will use the magical abilities–or friends–she has acquired.  Even the requests for a pumpkin, mice and lizards required some creative resources from Cinderella.  The fairy godmother does not create anything, but only changes the appearance.

How many of us have evil wishes–I wish he would fall in love with me, I wish she would lose her job, I  wish they would act differently?

Not only is forcing others evil, it is ineffective: a man convinced against his will is unconverted still.

The key to granting our wishes is to change ourselves. When we provide our own conditions-changing magic, it looks from the inside like we are doing all the work of making lifestyle changes, learning patience, taking the longer view, giving up outrage and powerlessness so that we can take action.

Baba Yaga
Baba Yaga from Vasalisa The Beautiful

It is our work, part of becoming who we are meant to be, of creating our own destiny. Cinderella’s patience and good humor while she was forced out of her rightful place as a daughter in her father’s house was her choice. It made her life bearable when others were doing their best to hurt her. She built her own magical power by doing the work, even mundane housework, by keeping a positive attitude and doing her best.

Snow While on the other hand, succumbed to evil because she did not listen to the warnings of her advisors and she did not pay attention to her own experience. Innocence is always lost, and the loss of instinct for danger is a bad sign.  It is interesting how male characters often appear as rescuers, but they are seldom if ever able to keep the wisher safe from herself.

Consider the father of Rapunzel who is forced to give up his child because of an imprudent wish made by his wife. I wonder what might have happened if they had just asked the witch for some of her greens?

Magic and miracles are not events, as they are portrayed in fairy tales; they are the results of process, of changing perspective, of making response-able choices and keeping hope strong–all the qualities of a good witch.

Are you a good witch or a bad wisher?