Do Not Fear Mistakes; You Will Know Failure (PBP).

(The title of this entry is a quote from Benjamin Franklin.)

So, I was reading a blog entry this morning about spell failure and spell success. (The link is at the bottom of this entry.) And what really got to me was the very first sentence to the post, “Everyone loves to talk about their spell successes, but what about failures?” And he raises such a valid point with that question alone. How often are you perusing your blog roll and read about how this spell came true or a petition to X-OTHER™ ended up working to the petitioner’s advantage? How often can you say, honestly, that you’ve sat down and read a blog entry that went on about what the spell caster or petitioner felt ended in failure?

I’ve been wracking my brain since reading his post and have to say that I can’t think of an instance where failure was mentioned.

Personally, I know I’ve mentioned it. I’ve talked about my spell crafting failures whenever I’ve gone on about the desire to do any type of spell work. In actuality, it is because of those failures that I find myself shying away from such things now. I’m so used to having things not work out for me that I don’t want to be disappointed again. I could go on and on about how many different spells have failed, my reaction to it, and what my ultimate desire to end this cycle is. I could go on and on about how I need to work on this, this, and this in the hopes that things will stop failing whenever I cast spells. But you know what? That’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to write about is the fact that, like the Fallow Times, it doesn’t seem to be discussed. And then, I’m going to talk about it in detail because, you know, that’s the whole point here, isn’t it?

Now, secrecy is actually a big part of witchcraft and paganism. I think a lot of this stems from having to live in the broom closet for so long because of backlash in some venue or another. I can understand the need behind the secrecy, but at this point, I can’t respect it any longer. I can’t sit down and say to myself, “Well, not everyone feels this way,” or “people won’t understand so…” I’ve had a big back and forth with myself, with other pagans, and with my gods about keeping things secret. And the whole point in this blog was to not keep things from other people.

I’m writing this journal based on the fact that, as a newbie pagan, I had no one to turn to via the Internet because things were still so dark and quiet (and being snottily accused of being a fluffy bunny when I asked questions). And while I can sympathize and empathize with those who were practicing quietly, I can’t do this myself. I’m loud; I’m obnoxious; I say shit without thinking. And that’s what this blog is about, too. Sure, it’s all about me, me, me (I’m also pretty narcissistic) but I’m also trying to help others who are going through problems that other pagans haven’t thought of discussing in their blogs or don’t think that they should mention said topic in their blogs.

Okay, so my soap box is away. And maybe we’ll find me talking about secrecy is another future PBP post. In the mean time, let’s get back to the subject at hand: FAILURE.

I’m talking about that moment when you realize that what you wanted isn’t going to happen. I’m talking about that second in time when the spell you worked, the hopes you have, the petition you had for/with X-OTHER™ doesn’t end up panning out the way that you wanted it to. Maybe you had a little bit of an answer, but it wasn’t the end result you had in mind. It’s that moment when your gut sinks in resignation and you feel like you suck at life. It’s that moment when you know that what you had desired above else isn’t going to happen. It’s that moment when you say to yourself, “Well. Shit. What the hell is going on here? I did all that I was supposed to!” That’s what I’m talking about.

I think failure is a lot more common than we give credit for. We fail at a lot of things in our mundane lives. I can’t bake cookies to save my life unless I’m obsessively following a recipe. We fail at completing a task because of a time limit or because we aren’t as skilled as we had assumed we were. We fail at explaining things properly to our children or to others with questions because we don’t have all of the information necessary, or maybe we’re just shitty teachers. It happens often in our mundane lives, so why in the hell doesn’t it happen as often in our witchy or pagan lives? And I think that the overall look and feel is wrong: it does happen just as often in our pagan paths as it does at home/work/school/life. We’re just less reticent to speak about it because we’re so focused on being the best that we can be or we’re so focused on keeping our lives in the broom closet that discussing it has suddenly become a pagan no-no.

You know, to be completely honest, I can’t say for sure why the hell failure isn’t as commonly discussed as our successes. Maybe it’s human nature. Maybe it’s the need and desire to put our best face forward at all times and escape the nitty-gritty details. Maybe it’s just the fact that you already feel like such shit about failing in the first place that writing about it will only make it worse. I don’t know. All I do know is that I’ve written about my failures, both on a spiritual path and as a spellcaster, and I will continue to do so because it’s not fair for me to say, “I’m awesome at all that I do,” because I’m not. I fail and I succeed and I fail and I succeed. It is what it is. And it’s just something that I, as a pagan and a mother and an unemployed woman and a Tarot reader and and and, will have to accept.

Now, I’m ending this post and I feel like it’s choppy. I feel like it doesn’t answer all of the questions and I feel like, it’s possible that it will fail what I intended for it to do (alert others that failures happen and it’s quite all right). But, if that’s the case? Then it really just goes to prove my point in the first place, doesn’t it? Failing is all right, too.

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15 thoughts on “Do Not Fear Mistakes; You Will Know Failure (PBP).

  1. I’ve discussed some amount of failure before, but I don’t think I do so in a very obvious way. I no longer practice a lot of magic because when I first started out, I tried to do spells, tried to change things, and I nothing ever happened. No matter what I tried to fix, it’s like the timing wasn’t right, and so nothing happened.

    It’s also where I started to develop the idea that things are pre-planned to an extent.

    And other times when dealing with unemployment, I petitioned the gods, checked my tarot daily. And nothing happened. I cried to the gods about how I needed money, needed a job… etc. And they kinda said ‘too bad’. Or just stared at me blankly.

    So I’ve experienced failure, I suppose. I just figure it’s part of the fallow, part of life. Not everything is going to turn out how we expect. And the gods have better fore-sight than us. So what we sometimes perceive as failure is really success in waiting.

    • Now that’s a POV that I can get behind. And since I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing one of my patented Q&A sessions with this at a future date that will DEFINITELY be a point that’s made.

      Thanks, Devo, for being awesome.

  2. So many don’t admit failure due to looking like a failure, of course you look better if you only talk of successes. But I like putting out failure, maybe not on my blog publicly, but at least in written form so I can keep track of what I did and why. The end result sometimes is not failure for me but a lesson….the result may be different than what I intended or the outcome isn’t what is supposed to be for me, or I may find myself being redirected to what is supposed to be.

    • I think you’re right. We’re all so worried about looking badly in the eyes of others that talking about a failing isn’t done. I think it should be changed, though. Failing is just as necessary as succeeding.

  3. Just quietly applauding you for putting words to what I’ve experienced time and time again. I’ve more or less given up on spells designed to change my circumstances – they simply don’t work. Now I use ‘spell’-ish things more for affirmations/self-focusing.
    Thanks,
    Stardancer

    • Thank you!

      I did a petition lately for healing. It worked out! The next day I was feeling loads better. I was back to 100% by the time I went to the cemetery to scatter the offerings. So, there’s that.

  4. I was talking to a young guy on FB who is just starting out, pointing some of the better-quality sites to him. He found one of those magical ‘say this prayer and you’ll instantly get what you want’ things with lots of testimonials. He was really disappointed when ‘the Powerful One’ didn’t come through with it. We chuckle and shake our heads. The world doesn’t work that way. If it did, everyone would do it. And yet, several steps removed, we all believe the same damn thing. ;)
    My thinking on it is that the NTR can give little quantum shoves to things here and there. Anything more is ‘disturbing the balance.’ When a snowball is just starting to roll down the hill a light touch could divert it. By the time it’s an avalanche and an arms length away it’s too late. Egypt got invaded repeatedly and went through the intermediate periods. They didn’t seem to have a guaranteed sure-fire method either.
    I seem to do pretty well with some of the things I’ve done for other people, but things for me fall flat. A cool musical project showed up not long after I started including Ihy in my bribe routine (not anything specific for him, he was just invited to hang out.) It has apparently crashed and burned, and if I had an icon of him, that Golden Calf would get kicked to next Tuesday. XD So it’s probably good that I don’t have an Ihy icon.
    I agree on the secrecy thing. Maybe it’s partially the broom closet, but I think a lot is ego, or defense of ego. The secrets can make you feel like a grand ascended master. Or revealing them can bring scorn: “I’m doing this cool thing where I write what I don’t like on a piece of paper, rip it up, and burn it!” “Haw haw! That is sooo kindergarten!”
    We are ill-served by this secrecy stuff.

    • We seriously are. Is it any wonder that so many people come looking for quick fixes when most of what is out there focuses on success only?

      Aubs, this is yet another post that inspires introspection…and will most likely prompt me to post about failures. And, that’s awesome.

      • It doesn’t help that whenever you do a search for spells and spellcraft, you get a thousand and one websites with testimonials like, “THIS REALLY WORKS!!!!111111oneOMG” all over the place. It gets hard for a young newbie to practice discernment when all they ever see is how everyone always succeeds and no one bothers to recognize that it took them 27 trials before they actually succeeded.

        Thank you! You do me a great honor by saying that I’ve inspired you. :)

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