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Author Topic: Universal vs. Personal Correspondences  (Read 1274 times)
Torkie
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« Topic Start: April 09, 2011, 09:39:01 pm »

I've noticed that many spells (that you find online, at least) have a very heavy emphasis on proper correspondences. The proper colors, herbs, and incense /must/ be used, or else it's all for naught.

As a personal example, cinnamon is given "wealth and success" on one list, and another one lists "Psychic Powers, Spirituality, Success, Healing, Power, Lust, Protection, Love".

Unfortunately, if I ever used cinnamon, it would mean quite the opposite. In the 7th grade we dissected a frog, and the teacher lit a cinnamon candle for the smell. Ever since then I associate any cinnamon smell or taste with sickness and death (so a love spell involving cinnamon might turn out a little... strange... for me).

Do you believe there are universal correspondences, or do you believe people should build their own based on their experience and tastes?

Also, how important to you are correspondences? Do you use them often or not at all?
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« Reply #1: April 09, 2011, 09:49:07 pm »

Do you believe there are universal correspondences, or do you believe people should build their own based on their experience and tastes?

Also, how important to you are correspondences? Do you use them often or not at all?

The biggest ingredient of magic is intent. If you honestly believe that the moon phase affects your magic, than your interpretation of each moon phase will color your spell. If you believe white is the color of death, you're going to wonder what the heck is up with American weddings. Within most magical systems, there usually is a little leeway - and even then, emphasis on personal experience and taste.

I use my own correspondences - a lot of gut feelings and intuition going on, particularly when working to honor deities. Some are obvious - like Persephone getting pomegranate oil - and some not so much - like her getting rose petals and Latin music. Tools and magic supplies are like cooking ingredients. You can go out and buy all the Rachel Ray cookware and the super expensive important cooking oils, but if you /hate/ the taste of eggplant, that eggplant parmagian won't taste good no matter what.
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« Reply #2: April 09, 2011, 10:35:17 pm »

Do you believe there are universal correspondences, or do you believe people should build their own based on their experience and tastes?

Also, how important to you are correspondences? Do you use them often or not at all?

My take on them is that some correspondences are cultural, some come from specific properties of the [whatever], and some are personal. (And that if there's a conflict between them, personal ones should probably win for personal work, though that gets more complicated in group work.)

So, for example: in the United States, money is green (well, when it's paper.) For folks living here, green is a pretty strong cultural correspondance for prosperity/abundance. But for people living in other places, that's not as true (though green still might be abundance for them, because of the natural connections.)

A lot of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc.) have strong prosperity overtones, because for a long time in Western Europe (where people were writing a lot of the grimoires and correspondences), they were really expensive to import.

In terms of properties, a lot of magical correspondences of herbs come from their medicinal effect. For example, rosemary is a herb that helps rebalance certain parts of the body, and that's also antibacterial (so will help with infection and some kinds of illness. So it's magically also used for purification and cleansing.)

And then there's all the personal stuff - that a particular shade of green evokes a specific friend. That I dislike most shades of pink, and therefore don't use them in ritual because it makes me go "ugh".

The trick comes in when you're working with other people. If we all used our own correspondences, we might all have different ideas how they fit together. For some things, like if everyone is making an individual talisman during ritual, that doesn't matter. But if you're doing things like elemental altars, or you're designing things that everyone in a group is going to use to focus a particular goal, then you need to come up with agreed-upon correspondences.

What I think complicates things is that people are not very good about sorting out the "this is a cultural thing" (or a related one: "this is a regional thing", which is particularly true with plants) from their personal preferences, from stuff that does have some actual roots in physical properties of some kind. And when you add a couple of generations of stuff getting passed down, it just gets more complicated.

There's also the other part, which is that since corresondances usually have some flexibility, it's possible to go at it from the other end in many (not all, but many) cases, and determine what thing you want to have correspond to what, and 'program' your brain to respond to it in a certain way. (This is what a number of traditions do, by selecting, say, colors or directions associated with a given element.)

I usually go at it by taking the stuff that's tradition-standard (which I'm not inclined to change unless there's a really compelling reason, because it involves negotiation in a bunch of directions) and then after that, looking for what makes sense to me, and has a reason I could explain to students/groupmates/etc. (And then for anything I can, I try to build in chances for people to do what works for them - having a variety of color choices and herb options when we're making magical items, for example, so that if I hate pink, I don't have to use it, but if someone else has strong positive associations, they can.)
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Torkie
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« Reply #3: April 10, 2011, 01:30:52 am »

Thank you both! You were most helpful Smiley
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