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d.i.y. magic *~quinn milton~*

~*zine 1: do it yourself magic *~ this zine is a beginner’s guide to creating a magical practice out of (seemingly) nothing, from within a culture that does not believe in magic. this zine contains recipes, anecdotes, and proposals. this zine will not play ethnographer / this zine is against cultural appropriation. there are many cultures that practice “magic� but this zine is not from one of them. practitioner: someone who does magic. witch: a practitioner of any gender identity or gender display, but that may lean towards femme / feminist / anti-patriarchal. coven: a group of practitioners; or a group of folk who play makebelieve. ritual: a prescribed series of actions connoting significance / transformation magic: ??? quinn milton: artist / writer based in Brooklyn, NY // oneironaut // //

*~everyday magical components~* mark making: - chalk - sharpies - string - lipstick - concrete - paper & pen - tape containers: - empty glass bottles - small vessels - boxes - vials objects of power: - candles - flowers - twigs - coins - dice - rocks - beads - necklaces - plastic dinosaurs - cardboard - deck of cards - trash - glitter keepsakes / tokens - eggs -

I’m in second grade, hanging from the monkey bars with my friend C, and we’re trying to determine who is older. C is a few months younger than me in our corporeal forms, but she is also an ancient spider queen who is just under 800 years old. I concede that, as a cat-witch, I am only 596 years old. she’s more powerful than me rawmagic-wise, but I tend to lead our coven. it’s a complicated power dynamic to explain, but it works for us. all kids do magic. or at least, all kids that I know. and then they grow up. C was growing up faster than I, in the sense that she was starting to get bored with make-believe. I knew it was all over one playdate in her grandmother’s garden. among the lemon trees and ivy, we teleoported to our fantasy world using a liquid motion bubbler. then, through an elaborate and deadly narrative, C made me chose between magic and my friends. I chose magic. It was the logical choice: all my friends were magical creatures. so, no magic = no friends. and I didn’t want to live in a world without magic. C nearly died in the fantasy world that afternoon. I had to repent for making the wrong choice, begging the powers that be to save my friend and punish me instead. C, and the fantasy, forgave me, and everything was alright in the end; except that C slowly stopped playing in our fantasy. I never stopped. I was never playing in the first place.

as kids, we made up a system of magic out of seemingly thin air, and it served our particular needs. magic allowed us to settle disputes between our friends, develop our morality, hex mean kids, and create a world controlled by us instead of the adults. we thought we created it from scratch, but of course we stole from the culture around us (90’s Berkeley). we used what we were given. cultural appropriation is very tempting when trying to rediscover magic as an adolescent and adult. don’t do it. old traditions, religions from around the world, and practices of “shamanic”, “tribal”, “primitive” cultures look like powerful tools to add to your magic toolkit. don’t do it. use what you were given. practitioners in positions of privelege (white, cis, male, etc) should be especially cautious when “borrowing” from other cultures and covens. even if you are invited into a magic practice, or taught by an “expert / ambassador” from another culture, bring a grain of salt with you (besides what you need to draw a rune circle). magic is largely about power, and empowering those who are marginalized in society. don’t take power that isn’t yours to take. bsides, we don’t need established religious and social traditions to do magic. we just need crayons, tape, and our childhood suspension of disbelief.

*~d.i.y. symbology~* use the chart below to create your own system of symbols. the outer four circles are the base symbols. the circle between two corners is the combination of those two symbols, and so on into infinite complexity. some classic base symbols are: earth, fire, air, water / coins, cups, swords, wands. feel free to mix and match the symbols provided on the other page, or make up your own!



*~d.i.y. altars ~* anyone can create an altar! at its most basic, an altar is a delineated space that contains important objects and symbols. an altar can be temporary (a piece of pink cloth thrown over a rock in the woods) or permanent (a box on your shelf). an altar can be filled with magical tokens, but it can also just be a collection of things you like. altars are a great place to imbue objects with significance. (1) take a token (a special stone, a memento, a cool object you found on the ground, and empty vessel). (2) decide what the object contains (good vibes, protection, a memory, an intention, a magical power). (3) imbue the object over a period of time (repeat your intention to it every day, surround it by objects connected to the power, bathe it in moonlight, touch it regularly). (4) you now have an object that represents something to you! use it in your magic.

*~my altar~*

(1) handmade black velvet box (2) fox fur (3) ceramic house (4) bag of tokens (5) lavender oil (6) my hair (7) 100 year calendar (8) a secret note I wrote to myself 4 years ago (9) cat sticker (10) sword token (11) vintage cigarette cards (12) tokens: stones, marble, lock, ring, charm

*~magic & labor~*

based on what we know of the universe, it is impossible to create something out of nothing. then what is happening when practitioners perform rituals and cast spells? the skeptic’s answer is that nothing happens - no blessing is conferred, no special powers obtained, nothing is healed, or gained. the other answer is that something is created, but not out of nothing: out of what seems like nothing.

magic is to create something out of what seems like nothing.

work goes into magic: physical work, emotional work. magic manifests things unseen: communal or individual pain, narratives of the disenfranchized, experiences seen as invalid or trivial, the imagination of children. magic can be said to happen when these invisible forces are made seen. our society devalues and erases labor, particularly the emotional labor of women, femmes, and people of color. magic can be a redistribution of value. take the witch charm market, where selfproclaimed powerful practitioners sell objects of power. these objects are not simply valued for their decorative qualities but for the practitioner who made them and the power they contain. many of these charms come out of traditional women’s crafts, or crafts we currently associate with women. (jewelry, herbs, handmade paper, bath salts, tea, candles, paintings, magic kits, etc). by purchasing from small business witches, we place value on their crafts beyond their material utility and repay some of our debt to emotional laborers. many of these witches are self-identified empaths and healers, who have always been drawn to using their energy to help others. they have most likely given away emotional labor for free. we have all taken advantage of free emotional labor: from that friend who is always the emotional support, from underpaid childcare providers, from minoirties who we insist share in the burden of our privelege, and from our unreasonable demands of kindness and nurturing from femmes. whether or not we believe in their magical properties, buying blessings, healing, or tokens from witches redistributes value to their invisible labor. that’s why it’s important to seek out witches of color, trans, femme, or disadvantaged witches when doing your shopping.

*~d.i.y. portal to another world ~* (1) find or create a threshold (a special door, a tape circle, a mysterious well, two trees, holding hands in a circle, a chalk door) (2) step through the threshold in a specific way (chanting, lighting four candles, swinging hands, skipping hopscotch, burning flowers, roller blading, shining the light of the sun with a mirror, eyes closed.) (3) pretend to be in another world. if you are traveling with companions, plan out the world beforehand. expert covens can just make it up as they go. move instinctually, reacting to everthing as an omen of great significance. alternatively: repose with your eyes closed and travel mentally.

*~hexes~* I can’t recommend using magic to hurt other people. there’s already enough pain in the world, and everyone needs to work to be less harmful. it’s so easy to be harmful.

but what if the goal of the hex is not to hurt someone, but to empower someone who has been hurt? what if the hex is a performance of pain, anger, and all rendered invisible through the ways we hurt each other? there’s value in those hexes.

a part of me thinks that condemming “black” magic is just more fearful oppression of angry / hurt dissidents. “evil” magic has both been a tool of marginalized witches and a designation used to oppress them.

magic isn’t all good vibes and the omnipotent power of love. sometimes it’s painful. sometimes it’s funny. regarding hexes, violent femme magic is undoubtably powerful. we should be cautious, and humble, when using it.

a hex is like a wild animal – once released, it’s out of your control. even if you have the best intentions for a fair exchange of pain, you have no say in the end results. the stray magic comes back to you – be prepared for claw marks.

the ideal hex doesn’t have a clear consequence. it doesn’t matter if your intended target is harmed. it’s far more important for you to reclaim agency, and to perform anger and pain.

halloween. I arrange to hex someone on behalf of a friend. we’re both nervous about it. there’s no question that [X] deserves some bad magic, but we wrestle with the morality of taking revenge. what if something actually happens?

I’ve been wanting to do a ritual like this for some time. I need to perform vengeance as much as my friend needs to reclaim their agency. I lay my tools on the concrete outside my apartment: chalk, water, and a dangerous mask I made out of a deer hip bone.

I am flagrantly disregarding my own well-being. (not something I recommend.) I’m ready to give whatever is asked of me. I begin the steps. magic happens. I become aware again while hitting the ground over, and over, and over again.

I wish I could go back in time and put myself between my friend and harm. I need to communicate that. that’s all I need the hex to do. everything else is inconsequential.

*~d.i.y.~* magical staff walking stick leather twine string sandpaper beads feathers etc when I was a kid, my dad showed my brother and I how to make wizard staffs. we would go on a hike into the woods to find a good walking stick. then, back in his garden, we would rub the staffs with sandpaper until they were smooth. he taught us how to wrap leather around the staff so it would hold, and how to string beads through with feathers.

*~d.i.y. ritual~* take it from a larper: rituals get boring fast if all you do is hold hands and hum. rituals need substance. rituals need to be difficult. as with other recipes in this book, create your own significance. ritual activity suggestions: carry a bowl of water uphill in the dark without spilling a drop. draw chalk runes around smashed eggs as your coven dances around you. play cats cradle while speaking in tongues for ten minutes. switch costumes and roles with another practitioner. sing discordant hymns. bury a token in the knot of a tree. build elaborate nests. braid ribbons with a different spell at every fold.

Profile for arcana zines

zine 1: d.i.y. magic  

"based on what we know of the universe, it is impossible to create something out of nothing. then what is happening when practitioners perfo...

zine 1: d.i.y. magic  

"based on what we know of the universe, it is impossible to create something out of nothing. then what is happening when practitioners perfo...