One Small Thing
All said about using glamour for more than trivialities, it’s important not to discount glamour’s usefulness in acquiring desirable trifles. After all, if you can’t manage to be hand-fed bits of home-cured duck prosciutto like a tiny dog, how do you expect to unravel a kingdom? Make the beautiful boy behind the counter fall just enough in love with you that he puts extra pain au chocolat into your bag. Be witty enough that the person tending bar buys you a violet confection full of rose petals and crushed herbs. A sudden flirtation from your closest friend’s wife. Suddenly all of your exes are eager to help you move. Your piano. Up and down three flights of stairs. Get the contract you need signed along with a wine-soaked dinner paid for by your client.
Your most secret, most coveted hungers aren’t for anything as banal as a promotion with a minuscule pay bump or a slightly nicer car. You aren’t employing forgotten cunning arts to accomplish something you could accomplish by merely paying slightly more attention to your surroundings. Figuring out how to be treated like a very low-level scene queen isn’t your end game, your Great Work is.
However. Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli did not write Il Principe while living in his mother’s house, eating sausage, and working for a bakery. He needed to be an advisor to Cesare Borgia, lead an army against him, lose the battle, be tortured, and then exiled to his country estate to complete his Great Work. If that small depiction of the whims of the Moirai frightens you into inaction, then perhaps your Great Work isn’t as Great as you had thought. In the words of Machiavelli, “It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.”
Let us move on.
The First Piece of Your New World Order
Our first rite in actual glamour magic must be small. We must start with small things because without command over the small, there is no hope of ever gaining command over the grandiose. We will then weave together a tapestry of great and small acts of glamour until it is strong enough to become cloth. What may appear small on first reading may be enormous and vice versa.
Esoteric Experiment No. 5
Objective: Enchant an object to receive small favors.
You must select your object carefully. It should ideally be something new, something you can wear, something without previous energetic resonance on it. It does not have to be expensive, but it should be something you find beautiful. Something that makes you feel a sense of wonder. An evocative fragrance. A decadent lipstick. A shirt that fits you perfectly. Whimsical cufflinks. A flawless pair of shoes. Underthings that are completely flattering. A necklace with a sacred stone.
Once you have chosen your object and purchased it, select the date for your ritual. Chose a date that’s powerful to you: A Friday because it’s Venus’s day. The date of the full moon because you feel your power swell during it. Saturday, July 23, because no one will be home in the house for the first time in months. Mark it on your calendar. Distill the favors you would like to receive into one sentence: I would like boys to flirt with me. I would like strangers to buy me cocktails. I would like shopkeepers to intentionally give me more than I purchased. I want to be praised for my beauty everywhere I go. I want others to tell me that I am witty and charming.
It must be simple, it must be a trifle that is easily parted with, though not always easily given. Whisper the date and your intention to your object every night before you go to sleep. Hold your object in your hand and stroke it as you would stroke a lover while you whisper to it.
When your chosen date has arrived, ready yourself for your ritual. You should be alone, which will allow your power to ebb and flow undisturbed by others’ energy and pre-existing egregores. Every decision about your ritual should be approached mindfully as each decision will affect the outcome of your intended enchantment. Ritually cleanse yourself in your candlelit bathroom. Draw a bath full of rose petals, jasmine petals, and wild pinkster with frankincense essential oil. Use your most luxurious scrubs and washes to cleanse yourself of previous energies. When you step out of the bath, anoint yourself with warmed olive oil and myrrh. Consider whether you would prefer to be nude for your ritual or dressed. If you choose to be dressed, what will you wear to demonstrate your intent? What jewels will you adorn yourself with? Your feet should be bare.
Decide where in your home would be best to have this ritual. A room with a door that closes makes it easier to draw up energy. Contemplate which ritual tools would be best for this rite. A dual-bladed dagger. A chalice filled with cherry juice. Elemental representations. Images and offerings to your goddesses and spirits. Bee propolis incense on a censer. A spirit board. Heaps of roses. A cordial glass full of St. Germain. A teacup full of dirt from sacred places. A small decanter filled with your blood, your spit, your vaginal fluids, your semen. Your chosen object.
Seal the door shut with rose water, using a sigil that is protective to you. Seal any mirrors or windows with the same sigil. Arrange your selected objects. Begin to raise energy by chanting, singing, drumming, or dancing. Once you feel that you have raised enough energy for your Working, invite in your goddesses and spirits if you so desire. Tell them what offerings you have selected to give to them and why. Ask for their presence and assistance. Hold your object close to you. Breathe into your object until you feel your object’s spirit stir and awaken. Anoint your object with your chosen fluid(s). This will be what you feed your object’s spirit regularly, so make your choice carefully. Whisper your desire to the object’s spirit. Put on your object. Look for an omen if you wish. Dispel the energy you have raised if you are inclined to do so by putting it back into yourself, into your object, into the earth or by unsealing the room, otherwise it will naturally dissipate over the coming days.
Wear your object regularly and continue to feed it and whisper your intent to your object’s spirit until your intent is filled. Be prepared that it may take several weeks or even months and it is much like how a watched kettle never boils. The more you watch it and obsess over it, the less it will work. Watch and observe out of the corner of your eye and brain—that’s where most glamour takes place. Do not move on to the next experiment until this experiment is fulfilled.
Once you are able to successfully regularly complete this experiment, it’s important to remember not to get completely sidetracked by it. Being petted and fêted can be distracting to even the most intensely focused of us, as many of us are unused to it. Keep your eye on your Great Work and move forward.
Glamour is used to subtly influence situations. Nothing demonstrates this more than examples of historical riot grrls. These women weren’t even considered people during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, which meant that owning land and having money and agency over their bodies was incredibly uncommon. While most of these women weren’t likely actually practicing Witchcraft, it sure didn’t stop most of them from getting accused of it, and it didn’t stop some of them from dying for the Craft.
What would you do if you had a Great Work burning inside you and you weren’t even considered a person? You would use glamour, of course. It would be the only method available to you to accomplish anything. It would have to be subtle, it would have to be delicate. These women couldn’t directly start epic field battles to accomplish their Great Works. Their options were limited and they knew it. That never stopped any of them. Throughout the book, I will use examples of these women so you can see how women without direct means found their way to their Great Works.
Lest you think that all these horrors were committed hundreds of years ago and we are fully entrenched in a brave new world where we don’t have to worry about these things, in America in 1972 women without husbands still couldn’t easily take out loans, have their own credit cards, or have car insurance. Women in general couldn’t have legalized abortions until 1973. People in general couldn’t be in same-sex relationships easily until the last twenty years, and mental health issues were still often treated with involuntary institutionalization until the early 1960s.
While the current world we live in is far from perfect in civil rights and economy, we have access to far more rights (if not money) than these historical examples. If they could accomplish their Great Works using the subtle influence of glamour with no actual rights, what couldn’t we accomplish with glamour in this place in history, even as Other?
Rose Red, Rose White
The question for the aristocratic families during the War of the Roses was never an issue of Are you a Good Girl or a Bad Girl? The War of the Roses would provide ample opportunities for you to be both in equal measure. Bloodied hands, conspiracy, accusations of Witchcraft, marriages of opportunity, betrayal, loss of fortune, house arrest, stripping of title and lands, uncrowning and recrowning, fleeing for sanctuary in Westminster Abbey not once but twice, claims of Witchcraft, a bastard lineage with royal blood, a single son birthed by a child bride in the wilds of Wales who was so far from the throne he was almost in another solar system, a secret alliance between enemies, and two dead child princes. It would be an excellent soap opera. But it’s an actual history between two women, Queen Elizabeth Woodville and Lady Margaret Beaufort, and it’s a tale of two frenemies who together founded one of the most legendary dynasties in Western European history, the Tudors.
Elizabeth Woodville was a very unlikely candidate for queenship. She had been married once and widowed with two small boys in an age when virgins were generally preferred for queenship, which is sort of hilarious given how obsessed with succession the Renaissance era was. You would think that having a proven track record is a plus, but I digress. Also distinctly not in her favor: while she was gentry (of noble birth), she was not of royal blood (family had been kings or queens for generations). Only one woman without royal blood had married a king before in the entire English history up to Elizabeth’s time and she was not crowned queen consort. Jumping over the moon likely seemed more possible. She also came from a family of turncoats, which was also not popular, but it was hardly uncommon during this particular war.
Nonetheless, she was living in gentile poverty when she petitioned King Edward for her allowance that her mother-in-law was keeping from her. The legend says she did so by waiting under a many-boughed tree for the king and his men to pass by her. She must have known she would only have a very short time to plead her case. She was renowned for being a great beauty, which likely didn’t hurt her cause, but she must have had a good bit of glamour to boot to get as far as she did. Perhaps she wore her best dress, perhaps she plaited love knots in her hair, perhaps she had a jug of wine to offer the king. Whatever strategy she actually employed must have been carefully thought out, making the best use of her wits, beauty, and glamour. The king was very much taken by her, so he secretly married her in her family’s small country estate.
That part is actually not terribly impressive as he had a reputation of doing so (likely in order to lure women to his bed with the promise of not just respectable marriage, but a queenship as well) and is known to have done it at least once before with Lady Eleanor Butler.
Several months later, it was far more impressive when the king publicly claimed her as his wife and made her a full queen consort, despite plans to have him marry French royalty. Elizabeth Woodville’s star ascended so quickly that it should be no surprise that she was soon surrounded by jealousy and envy.
In the ongoing battles for kingship, Queen Elizabeth’s husband lost, forcing King Edward to flee the country and Queen Elizabeth Woodville to seek sanctuary in Westminster Abbey with her children. During this time, Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s mother, Jacquetta, stood trial for the first of several times against accusations of using Witchcraft. She was accused for using the Craft to make King Edward fall in love with Queen Elizabeth. Whether or not Jacquetta was actually a Witch, if she had been found guilty at any of her trials, she would have been put to death in a brutal manner. Luckily, she always managed to be found innocent.
Eventually, King Edward returned and was able to regain his crown and rule for thirteen years before dying from a sudden illness. Queen Elizabeth Woodville had two sons with King Edward. She and her family attempted to retain rulership, but King Edward’s brother, Richard, had her eldest royal son locked in the London Tower and quickly executed key nobles who opposed him. The queen must have known that her options were bleak at this point, but she did not sit on her hands waiting for someone else to tell her what to do. She fled in the middle of the night with her children and once again sought sanctuary.
It was only a matter of time, however, before the new King Richard took her other royal son, though Queen Elizabeth Woodville and her daughters remained in sanctuary. Soon, it became clear that both boys had been murdered in the Tower, though it is still a mystery to this day as to who ordered it done. Most likely, it was their uncle, King Richard.
In quick order, King Richard had Queen Elizabeth’s marriage nullified as her husband had been pre-contracted with Lady Eleanor Butler. Pre-contract was considered as legally binding as a marriage at the time, so he could not be married to Queen Elizabeth while being married to Lady Eleanor, making all of her children bastards. Her lands were rapidly redistributed to King Richard’s favorites, leaving her bereft of her royal sons, her husband, and her wealth.
For some, this is where the story would end. Living in disgrace in sanctuary, no longer politically relevant, powerless, and helpless. Queen Elizabeth Woodville knew better.
While Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s story was playing out, there was another story unfolding in Wales. Lady Margaret Beaufort was of royal blood, pious, and educated. She was married off at twelve to Henry VI’s half-brother, Earl Edmund Tudor, who was twenty-four. After being wedded and bedded, the battles for the War of the Roses broke out, and Earl Edmund Tudor was taken prisoner and died of plague when Lady Margaret was thirteen and pregnant. She gave birth to Henry Tudor but it was a difficult affair; she would not become pregnant again. At fourteen, she was married to Sir Henry Stafford. The marriage lasted for thirteen years until Sir Stafford was killed in battle. During this time, Lady Margaret’s son fled the country with his uncle Jasper Tudor and lived in exile in France, as he was a (distant) contender for the crown.
While Lady Margaret was not known for her beauty, she was known to be very charming and intelligent, which is a glamour of its own. For Lady Margaret’s final marriage, she strategically selected Earl Thomas Stanley, who had the biggest private army in England at the time. During her marriage to Earl Stanley, Lady Margaret conspired against King Richard and assisted in a rebellion. Shared hatred of King Richard was likely the tie that bonded our two frenemies together, at least to begin with. Lady Margaret’s husband managed to convince the king that somehow, despite living in the same house together and being married to Lady Margaret, he had no idea about her rebellious plans and was totally ride-or-die for the king. Once the king was convinced of Earl Stanley’s loyalty and his lack of complicity in Lady Margaret’s plotting, he took all of her lands and wealth and gave them to her husband and placed her under house arrest. It is very likely that two savvy politicos like Lady Margaret and Earl Stanley were intentionally playing both sides to better their family’s fortune.
During this time, all of the other likely heirs to the throne were slowly dying one way or another, from sickness, battle, or execution. While still under house arrest, Lady Margaret saw her opportunity to put her son Henry on the throne. Since she and her new bestest frenemy, Queen Elizabeth, had been bonding over how much they hated the king’s face through secret letters exchanged by their mutual doctor, Lady Margaret took that moment to say something like, Hey new friend! We both agree that King Richard is the worst in every way. Say, since he killed your sons, maybe we should try to get my son on the throne? Because then! He could totally marry your daughter and we’d be officially royal (well, royal again for you, of course) and of course best friends forever. Queen Elizabeth was no fool; she knew Lady Margaret was crazy like a fox and her husband had a huge army, so she replied with something like, What a great idea, new friend! Let’s do it!
Shortly after that, Lady Margaret’s son Henry managed to finally land in England with a decent military force (though smaller than King Richard’s army), thanks to his doting mommy’s plotting and planning. The final significant battle in the War of the Roses was to be played out at the Battle at Bosworth. Lady Margaret’s husband had a military force of his own that was large enough to sway the battle either way. Earl Stanley, a grizzled military tactician himself, refused to commit his force one way or another on the battlefield until he had decided who would be the winning side, even though King Richard was holding his son for ransom, threatening to kill him. Once Lord Stanley made the decision to commit his troops to Henry’s side, the battle was a decisive blood bath, with King Richard killed alongside many of his men. King Henry VII’s historian claimed that King Richard’s battle crown was found in a hawthorn bush and Earl Stanley crowned King Henry with the circlet.
Lady Margaret was then known as Milady the King’s Mother and signed all her documents as Margaret R. (Margaret Regina), and Queen Elizabeth Woodville got to be the dowager queen; they married their children together as planned. Were it a story and not history, it would end there with everyone happy again and all loose ends neatly knotted. But really it ends with Margaret R. opting to have her bestest frenemy exiled to an opulent convent so she would not have to compete with her anymore.
Lessons from Liz and Marge
These two women would wreck a current presidential election, they were such political beasts. What’s important to note for your Great Work is that they got as far as they did due to two factors: Using their respective completely different kinds of glamour to influence situations as much as possible and to gain and regain favor when they were in disgrace. Glamour does that—you can regain favor by the sheer force of your glamour. They spoke sweetly when they needed to, they expressed regret where it was needed, they committed espionage on an as-needed basis, and they made sure they always had people who were sympathetic to their plight and could help them out of crazy situations. It would behoove you to figure out how to incorporate those practical aspects into your Great Work should it go off the rails. Also, they always had a plan but kept it loose. Queen Elizabeth would have never expected her brother-in-law to (likely) have casually slaughtered her two legitimate heirs. Lady Margaret’s son’s claim to the throne started out so distant, it may as well have been on a different planet. They both had a long history of passionately despising each other. There was no reason to ever think they would be able to plot their two children taking the throne together, founding a new dynasty, the Tudors.
Let’s Get Uncomfortable
For your Great Work to achieve actual greatness, you need to get good at forecasting potential outcomes to any action you take to move your Great Work forward. Not simply likely outcomes for each action, but unlikely outcomes and unforeseen outcomes as well. This requires strategic thinking and glamoury. Let’s start with strategic thinking. Before you take an action, do your research. Research is a broad word here, it can mean actual book research and it can also mean talking to people about their experiences and gathering verbal intelligence. Let your research first inform potential outcomes to your action. Next, you want to use this information to create a cohesive strategy, noting to yourself which information seems the most solid to the least solid based on the sources. Then, prioritize what needs to happen for you to take action.
Let’s say your Great Work is to play music professionally. Your research in this case would be: Finding a venue that is friendly to the kind of music you play and then asking around about the owner of your first chosen venue. You’ll want to know what the owner is like to work with, what the owner’s reputation is like, and how and when they pay. Then, once you find out a little bit about the owner, you would start to go to the venue to gather your own impressions while starting to develop a relationship with the owner, using your glamour to make the owner interested in your music. Once the owner gives you an audition, you need to make sure you prioritize your actions leading up to the audition: you have a great piece to play for it that you have practiced, you have a style that reflects your glamour, you’ve been doing magic to push the audition to go the way that you want it to go, and you did all the practical work to ensure your piece goes well (enough sleep, resting your voice or hands, not becoming distracted by outside events, etc.) and then following up after with the owner. Potential outcomes of this could be: becoming famous, becoming famous for all the wrong reasons, blowing your audition, getting the gig but not getting paid, getting the gig and getting fired from your day job, landing a contract for your work, getting the gig and never getting another one, playing the gig and then blowing it due to a social faux pas, getting the gig and falling in love with someone you met there and then being sidetracked from your music, and so on. You need to have a general idea about what you would do in these situations that you can predict, and become proficient in predicting potential outcomes, as that will give you the most opportunities in your Great Work.
So what do you do about outcomes you can’t predict? They could be desirable outcomes that you haven’t even thought of or they could be terrible things you never saw coming. No wonder everyone wants to be a control freak about their magical workings! But tightly casting limits you from opportunities that you want but don’t even know you want. So let’s work on keeping it loose enough to give us as many options as possible while working on our strategic thinking skills.
Esoteric Experiment No. 6
Objective: Cast a net wide enough to catch unknown opportunities.
Choose a night when the sky is clear. Outside, make a small shrine using items that make you feel clear headed. Coffee. A spare pair of glasses. Running shoes. Your yoga headband. Your journal. Bring out a clear bowl filled with drinkable tap water. Draw sigils of protection onto yourself. Consider your Great Work and all of the outcomes you would like to come out of it. Imagine outcomes that you haven’t considered that could be possible. Look up at the stars and draw lines between them using your finger to create a net. Think of this net as where your Great Work will catch positive unforeseen outcomes. Draw the net down from the sky into your bowl, either using a physical motion to do so or whispered words. Drink the water. Repeat this ritual until your net feels strong.