Complexity puts desired magical outcomes at risk. Hence the previous post covering why you may need to collapse your spellcasting and start over.
Because complexity can often be short circuited. It all comes down to target selection. When choosing a magical target always aim for an Alexandrian Solution.
“We are, remember, talking about complexity. The Gordian Knot is the archetypal metaphor for mind-numbing, reason-defying complexity; Alexander’s triumph over the knot is the archetypal metaphor for triumphing over complexity.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, military strategy has a lot to teach us about target selection. I mean, that’s pretty much the business they’re in, isn’t it?
How to choose a target
Asymmetric warfare is basically a fancy term for terrorism. It’s when a much smaller force achieves its objective by disrupting a larger one through attacking strategic targets rather than facing off for a pitched battle. (Versus ‘symmetric warfare’ where two armies line up and pick each other off a la World War I.)
So the key to successful ‘Big Magic’ would be target selection based on asymmetric warfare because it is more likely to deliver an Alexandrian Solution.
Let’s take an example we can all get behind: The current global plight of bees.
Bees in peril
You may already be familiar with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). If not, you should really get up to speed because it’s the biggest risk to the global food supply in centuries.
“The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute some £26bn to the global economy.”
You can (and should) read the rest of the article here.
Now, I’m a chaos magician. I like knowing about the impact of complexity and randomness in wider systems. (Step back, ladies, I’m taken.) And CCD has been on my mind because it feels like something that can be affected by magic.
So, on my recent trip to the Isles of Scilly, I decided to ask the bee in the above photo (click on the image to make it bigger) what was causing it. The answer? “No fucking idea.”
Don’t really know what I was expecting. It’s just a bee, after all.
But it got me thinking about adjusting my magical target. If they don’t know the answer, perhaps the bees themselves shouldn’t be the target?
What’s going to be more effective:
- A ‘pitched battle’ against a mystery disorder that will be won one bee at a time?
- An ‘asymmetric warfare’ approach where inspiration is whispered into the minds of the researchers working to find a solution?
An asymmetric bee spell
Fortunately, there’s a being out there who pretty much has this area covered: Aristaeus. He’s the Greek God credited with the invention of beekeeping but -more importantly for this spell- he also possesses magical skills relating to animal husbandry… And these are what we need.
I’ve kept this free form because the result we are aiming for is diffuse rather than concrete: We want Aristaeus to deliver the solution to CCD into the minds of the researchers looking for it.
- You could use a simple prayer and an offering. Honey springs to mind for some reason.
- You could include him in your daily devotions.
- You could reach out via pathworking and personally ask for assistance.
- I suppose you could sigilise it but this one ‘feels’ more like a personal petition rather than an anonymous ‘results now, please’ kind of spell. Maybe that’s just me?
Really, anything along these lines is going to be more effective than trying to heal the group soul of an animal that doesn’t appear to understand what is happening to it.
Which of course brings me to a more contentious issue:
This Black Swan is covered in oil
You have probably got here before me but what do you think the implications of asymmetric warfare are when it comes to that pesky oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? (Sidebar: Why do the words “Gulf” and “Oil” always seem to lead to disaster?)
Remember the definition of a Black Swan:
- The event is an outlier: in that it lies outside the realm of regular expectation. Nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility.
- It carries an extreme impact.
- It looks perfectly explicable after the fact despite absolutely no one predicting it would happen. The author calls this “retrospective predictability”.
This oil spill is a classic Black Swan. Which is why we are all falling over ourselves to allocate blame. How could this have happened? It seems outrageous that BP isn’t prepared for this. Well, yes… Outrageous in retrospect. That’s what a Black Swan looks like.
Galina has a truly excellent post about this over at Gangleri’s Grove. I don’t necessarily agree with allocating the blame all on BP (because they were out there getting oil for us. We’re all to blame.) But the sentiment is bang on. And the invocation is beautiful.
However, I think there may be an additional, more suitable magical target:
- Are we all going to try and push the oil from the wetlands molecule by molecule like so many Jedi apprentices?
- Or are we going to use any skill we may have to get the answer from the akashic library into the heads of the people struggling to find the best solution in as little time as possible?
What I am saying is choose your target well because the best route is rarely the most obvious one.