5 Shoaling Examples To Improve Your Magical Results

If I had a resurrection ship I would park it at home and shoot myself at the end of every workday.

Adama (senior) says a number of times during Battlestar Galactica "sometimes you gotta roll the hard six."

Most of the time, however, you don't.

Most of the time, the 5/6 chance will do just fine. Because unless your race is battling for survival against an unlimited supply of killer robots you were foolish enough to create in the first place then you can just keep rolling those dice and adding the results up to six.

The easiest way to walk through a wall is to use the door. So enchant to find the door, rather than to physically walk through a solid barrier. The results are the same either way, so what do you care how you did it?

We are talking probability again. Probabilistic thinking is the best way to conceptualise magical results. Note that I didn't say it's the best way to explain how magic works. Because you will never know how magic works. Ever. Talking about it is just air that could be better used to cool down a steaming mug of mulled wine.

Enchantment enhances the probability that a desired event will occur. I'm not calling you ugly or anything, but let's say there is a one in six chance you will get laid if you hit the bars tonight. Magic will bring that down to a one in three.

This neatly gets around the curious phenomenon of when spells don't work. When you think about it, magic is weirder because it doesn't work all the time, not because it actually works.

If you consider your results probabilistically, they did work. They all worked. Your lottery spell worked. It dropped your chances down from 1 in 328 million to 1 in 24 million. You still lost. You chose a silly target.

The key to any magical target selection is to find the components of your objective that can be pushed. Willpower, for instance, can't be pushed very far. It's a wall. Stress reduction is a door. Sometimes this is just a matter of timing. Other times it's about adjusting your aim.

For it to work best, you should look at running concurrent enchantments. I mean, they're not toll calls. The only perceived limits are the ones you have put on them yourself.

That being said, this approach works better with sigils or candle magic or anything in the allegedly 'low tech' sorcerous range. My personal preference is to combo candles and sigils but both space and flatmates means it is most commonly sigil-only. (With a couple of candles for a 'wizardy' ambience. But it's likely that that's where the majority of their effectiveness is located anyway.)

So below are five examples of how you could potentially turn big rocks into little rocks.

1) Wealth

Wealth isn't turnover. Wealth is profit. Neither is it 'the maximum amount of profit anyone could ever achieve'. Wealth is simultaneously easy and difficult because you ultimately define what wealthy means for your life.

  • Don't have a job that gets bonuses or offers the potential for massive payrises? Then pick a side business/investment that does and work your magic on that. There needs to be enough chaos in the system to spit out desirable magical results. I recommend technical trading. There are courses everywhere. Property investment doesn't have enough chaos, either. But I am anti-property-ownership of all kinds. (<rant> Because it's a scam. Rewind a couple of years before you object. They just want your debt. Spend twenty years paying more than a million all up for a house that moves from -if I'm lucky- £200K to £600K? All the while having that enormous debt restricting my movements and other investments? And if I need money for surgery, what am I going to do? Sell my kitchen? Pass. </rant>)
  • Focus on profit. Enchant for better deals in everything: interest rates, utilities, food shopping. This is how business works. If you can't move the amount of money coming in up, then you move the costs down. That way you're still increasing profit.
  • Enchant for guiding synchronicities. Want a better job but you don't know where or doing want? Have the time to invest in a side business or investment but you don't know what? Well don't fucking force the issue! Enchant for extremely obvious signs and synchronicities. The level of wealth you want is actually a lot closer than you think, because as previously mentioned, we overestimate how long big things take.

The overriding theme here is to focus your enchantments not on the end result -which is money in your hand- but on creating the engines that generate wealth in the first place. Because -if you're playing along at home- this increases the probability that the desired amount of money will reach your bank account.

2) Job

Two thirds of all available positions aren't advertised.

While that's technically illegal in most places it's just how it works. To reiterate: fully double the amount of available jobs you see online are moving through the social graph of employees at the companies who are hiring.

Of course, this means that the best way to expose yourself to these opportunities is to be part of the extended social graph of these employees.

  • So enchant for chance meetings with old friends, old colleagues and acquaintances. This would be in addition to scanning your own social graph for any available positions, of course.
  • Enchant to rapidly grow your social circle through community/group activity. (Be careful if you are receiving unemployment payments. There are ridiculous rules around not being able to use your down time for volunteering.)

Obviously you need to be applying for advertised roles but from a probabilistic standpoint the best way to improve your results is simply have more friends.

3) Love

It's you. Even when you think it isn't, it is still you. The good news is, it's probably not the things you think. It's not your appearance, it's not a lack of money... It's nothing horrible. It's things that are much easier to fix.

  • You're living in the wrong place.
  • You're fishing in the wrong ponds. ("I go out every night and I never meet anyone." Then go to different bars or use different websites.)
  • Your esteem is fucked so you are giving off the wrong signals.

See those three bullet points? Been. There.

  1. Make sure you're not crazy. Have you thought of enchanting for cheap/free counselling? Or -if you like to live dangerously- "psychological breakthroughs leading to improved mental health". But you have been warned on that last one. Hope you don't mind crying in supermarkets. (I don't. Just put your sunglasses on.) A note: crazy isn't actually debilitating in itself... Untreated crazy is. I have periodic depressive episodes but I'm aware of that and manage them as best I can.
  2. Fix your self-esteem. Sorry for the Oprahness of point two but it is as simple as that. It's a weird irony that you only get what you want once you've worked out how to live without it. The quickest way to self-esteem is to try a bunch of new things and discover something you're really awesome at. There's a knock-on effect from that. It's also spectacularly easy to enchant for.
  3. Treat it like an ad campaign. If you're not getting results in one area/dating website, then move to another. I encounter so much resistance from people to the idea that they may have to go somewhere else to meet someone. If you don't want to do this, then you have decided that living where you live is more important to you than finding love. Which is fine but it means you're going to have to haunt the airport bars from now on. Again, this is about having enough chaos in the system. A man-catching sigil is going to work a whole lot better in London than in Barrow, Alaska.

4) Glamour

Ahh glamour magic. Can you think of another spell category in which so much shit has been spouted? (And in magic that is really saying something.)

It all seems to boil down to:

  • Saying something to yourself in the mirror before you go out.
  • Sequestering a charm somewhere about your bosom.
  • Something something eye contact something something.

Yeah, fine. But if you show up to the restaurant in your sweat pants then that little charm you are wearing better be carrying enough DMT for every single patron that's there that night. (Not that I have anything against sweat pants. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm wearing them right now. But it's cold and I'm in my house.)


  • Enchanting for amazing, cheap clothing finds.
  • Enchanting for clear skin and a good hair day. Your organs respond amazingly well even just to simple psychology. Imagine what could happen if you kick that up a notch with a little ju-ju?
  • Enchanting for silver ears, not a silver tongue. Everyone you meet is going to think you are an amazing conversationalist if you just shut your pie hole, only breaking this rule to ask the occasional open question.

Yes, I'm aware you will feel a little ridiculous enchanting for a good hair day -especially the hetero males among you. But it's something that can be pushed and I remind you that your other option is to dangle a little purple cloth bag under your top.

5) Career

This one is a little different because it requires strategy beforehand.

If career growth is important then you need to read up on it and settle on a critical path between you and the top of the ladder. Then you need to break down every rung onto that ladder into objectives you can shoal for.

Here are some counter-intuitive tips for that:

  • You may think skipping the gym to stay late at work is good for your career. It's not. Overweight or unfit people are paid less. You won't get to the top if you are unfit, so spending time on fitness is better in the long run than working harder. Again, I must stress that you don't have to be a polished ebony god. You just need to radiate a bit more 'fit-ness', in a literal sense. Incidentally, health magic always works better for me when I banish something, rather than try to change something. That's just an observation.
  • Learn smarter. At least 300 people apply for every single good job. There will always be someone with better college results than you on that list. But there may not be someone who is learning 'Mandarin for business' or 'agile project management for non-technical projects'. There are all kinds of targets there.
  • Get better at politics. Oh my, if this isn't ever a time to be good at divination. I can't tell you how many times I've been alerted via the cards to a bit of office machination. And as I have grown up I've moved away from the infantile 'revenge reaction' and have incorporated that into my own plans. Regardless, career growth relies on mastering politics.
  • Quickly eliminate haters. If you go up the ladder, you're going to get haters. Bind! Bind like the wind!

The hard six

Hopefully there's some value in these examples. One way or another, they all come from personal experience -more often unsuccessful than successful. (You learn more from your mistakes, after all.)

The underlying idea is a value decision you have to make: How much do you really want something?

Is it enough to turn one spell with a low chance of success into five with higher chances of success? Because the die has five other numbers. You don't have to roll the hard six.

Except, of course, when you do.

And then things get really interesting.



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  1. Love this post, Gordon. You’ve been doing a great job expanding on these themes and tying them together.

  2. Awesome, Gordon.

    This series has been so helpful and i thank you!


  3. Oh the haters, brings back fond memories. So easy to climb its a wonder why I went into nursing. It truly is dead end.

    Trying to convince myself 36 isn’t too old to start somewhere “climbable.” Then work on getting out of wrong place.

  4. just a little observation: stating publicly that ‘i will do whatever it takes, risk all, to have what i want, those standing in my way are an irrelevancy’ scares people into a cold sweat. 🙂 great post, btw. you have such a talent for stating/explaining clearly.

  5. I haven’t laughed so hard — or nodded in agreement so much — in a long time.

    Brilliant post, Gordon!

  6. Love this, I’ve loved this whole series. At the risk of sounding v. 101 and/or asking for trade secrets, what do you mean when you say “to enchant”? What kind of mechanics do you use?

  7. Another fantastic post! At the risk of sounding like a twelve year old, I love that you said “shut your pie hole”.

  8. Profile photo of

    @Deb nothing in particular. I’m just looking for words that aren’t

    – “Magic” which is too philosophically dense.
    – “Spell” which doesn’t seem quite right, either, given the context.
    – “Conjure” which doesn’t really fit sigil activation (at least how it is done here.)

    Basically I’m choosing a word that means “perform some kind of occult action designed to bring about real-world results.”

    There are surprisingly few words that suit, when you really stop to look at it.

  9. I am getting a lot out of your blog and strategic advice. Many thanks. Any such thoughts on binding?

  10. Nice post, very good tips.

    Though I alway wonder, how to really apply the “career advice” . Those seem to be suitable for people who have some kind of an office job in corporate world. I, for example, am an academic – and in that world very different rules apply. For example: a raise is not very probable. What you can hope for is, that you get funding and/or that it continues. And in those cases you are most often in the hands of some committees who just have you application and do not know anything about you as a person.


    I think extrapolating from Gordon’s advice is worthwhile in academia too: shoaling, and finding the tipping point situation for tenure, politics, funding/grants.

    True, not much chance for things like bonuses as such. But there are other possibilities in advancing one’s career in academia that do lead to more money, visibility (which leads to money), etc. For example, public lectures, workshops, consulting, publishing (not just books or articles, but media: videos, documentaries, television like History Channel etc.) All add up to money, opportunities. and depending on one’s field, even academic advancement.

    And you can use Gordon’s thoughts and techniques on any of those.

  12. Enchant is a cool term: “to put a song into something.” I am very interesting in place magic, and re-enchanting places, the land, fertility of crops etc.

    “Glamoury” is another term not used much. “Workings” is handy and direct. I just say I “do things.” Like that old song, “make it happen, make it happen, make it happen…” twist and bend and curve and tweak…

    I don’t do overt magic very much. I use it like a card up a sleeve, a spare tire in the trunk,…or a pistol in one’s pantleg, only when I need it in certain situations. That specialness helps focus me.

    Other than that, my philosophy is sort of like a surfer… I just try to watch and catch the waves of life, watch the ocean, catch the ones that seem to be most promising, dive through the wave when I’m about to get pounded by a breaker.

  13. Now I’m trying to imagine a restaurant full of customers on DMT. You have no idea how much I’d pay to see that.

  14. Excellent excellent! I’m currently wrapping up our 2011 Program (family and personal project plans with magic and mundane tasks for the coming year*) just in time for protective / banishing / predictive magic tonight (and then attractive magic on the New Year).

    Couple of thoughts:

    Wealth — protect what you’ve got. Spell against loss and breakdowns in all your equipment.

    Job — you don’t need more friends, you need more acquaintances. Research indicates that these weak connections are better for finding opportunities because, unlike your close friends and family, they know other people and situations that you don’t.

    Connections — you’ve commented that reducing stress is a good core item to work and spell toward. So is increasing connections. Knowing more people not only means increased opportunity and information, but also greater happiness and contentment.

    Nourishment — since most of us will never be food insecure, we often don’t think about this kind of magic. However nourishment can go beyond just getting enough calories. Spell for nourishing people / experiences / household.

  15. I’ve been playing around with shoaling and I just want to say that I’ve been having great results.

  16. *you only get what you want once you’ve worked out how to live without it.* – Loved it!

  17. So my goal doesn’t *exactly* fit into the above categories…maybe sorta-kinda under “Wealth.” I am finishing a novel and want it, and hopefully subsequent writings, to earn me enough money to quit killing myself at unfulfilling, underpaid day jobs. Before you say it, I have already had a small publisher look at my first draft and say he likes it; he suggested revisions and said if I resubmitted it, he’d “enthusiastically reconsider it.” So the probability of getting published isn’t as low as if I were, say, shopping it with the Big 6. (or is it 5 now? I lose track). I’ve gotten my expenses as low as they can possibly get and still be able to function in 21st Century America. I’ve got the forseeable steps written out. Here is my question (and sorry for taking so long to get to it): Should all statements of intent be simple sentences (one subject, one verb, one direct object)? So would “Publisher loves my writing and publishes it” be OK, or would it need to be split into two statements? Or something else I’m not understanding?
    Thank you again!

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