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Sarenth requested that I rant on: “What are the limits to Pack Magic? What are the things it does really well? What are the things it does really poorly? Feel free to rant on this all at once, or you can split each question up into its own rant for the next few months if you feel that’s the way to go.”
Soooo….this is gonna be a big topic. I’m gonna break this up into at least 2, probably 3 posts. It might be one per month, it might all be this month. I’m not sure yet. Such is the nature of the rant.
Also. Sarenth. You’re a bastard like your Father and I love you. Thank you for this question. Also you really like making me work.
So. This question covers…a lot. And I think it’s best to cover like so: What Pack Magic is good at now, what Pack Magic is bad at or missing right now, and what I think will be coming down the line that might affect that.
As of the writing of this, there are 2 people who are initiated into this system. There’s several others who are in process, but have not finished the process yet. So, in a very real way the answer to this question is going to be colored by the skill sets and affinities of the people who have and are initiating. It’s a system that is still in its infancy. There’s power here, and depths yet to plumb, but there’s so much yet to explore. I want to come back to this topic in a year, in 5 years, in 10 years. Because change will have come by then, and I have little idea what that might look like yet.
So preamble done, let’s jump into what Pack Magic does really well:
As the name might suggest, Pack Magic does magic pretty well. Now, for a good breakdown of various kinds of spiritual specialty, please check out Sarenth’s post here. Now, I might have a quibble or six over some stuff in that post (though I think that’s largely because it’s an overview and there’s always issues with an overview), I think it’s quite good. And one of the specialities Sarenth defines is Operant, a person who does magic or fucks with reality to accomplish various goals. And this is a thing Pack Magic does pretty damn well. Now, I’ll grant you that a lot of this still needs to be explored and is definitely still being actively worked on, but I’m pretty confident in saying that as a magic system, Pack Magic works pretty damn well.
Breaking this down a bit further, Magic is often broken down into several categories. The basics categories as I see them are blessing, healing and prosperity magic, aggressive and defensive magic, and information gathering. Now, arguably that last one doesn’t fit the definition that well, but I’m gonna run with it for now.
Now I cannot go into full details about everything, for a number of reasons, but I’ve been exploring most of these areas using Pack Magic, and this is what I’ve found so far:
Aggressive and defensive magic come pretty naturally and easily in this system. This should not be very surprising. Wolves are predators and are territorial to boot. I will say though, that the defnsive magic tends to not be like “walls” or passive defenses and more what I would term active defenses. Though, that’s not entirely accurate. There’s plenty of more passive defenses, but they don’t tend to be what my human brain thinks of as defenses, and I don’t think about them actively, so they sometimes slip my mind. Things like territory markers, warning signs, etc. Things that say to unwelcome guests “come uninvited and you’re liable to get eaten.” And then there’s the active defenses, which are myself and spirit allies backing up those claims by eating intruders. Of course, no defense is perfect, and sometimes shit goes wrong. But overall, for keeping a space safe and clear of intruders and unwanted influence, when used appropriately Pack Magic does a damn good job. As for aggressive magic…that’s not getting described in any detail on the internet. You’ll have to deal.
Now as for blessing, healing, and prospertity magic. This is an area I’ve explored less, but what has been explored has been, I think, rather effective. A lot of this magic tends to focus on helping to give a person the tools they need to do the things they want, or about healing spiritual wounds that prevent them from achieving their goals. One example has been a Senses Opening Blessing. Basically opening up a person’s senses one at a time, clearing out blockages, opening their eyes, clearing out their nose and ears and mouth. This contains elements of both cleansing and blessing, giving people back their powers of perception that might have been lost or clouded for various reasons. I’ve had people report that their physical senses were temporarily heightened afterwards, especially their sense of smell, after this. As with all magic, this isn’t likely to perform miracles or completely change your life overnight. You still have to do the work. Again, blessings like this are about giving you the tools to get things done, not doing them for you. I’ve made some experiments of bringing prosperity directly to people, but that has been less successful it seems. Perhaps a matter of chance, perhaps a matter of my own lack of skill or experience, and perhaps just a weakness of the system, time will tell.
Then you’ve got information gathering. I’m going to save a lot of this for the second and third posts in this series, because divination is an area being actively worked on, and not something I would call a strength of this system yet. Though I will say that journey work seems to be a strength of this system. It may be a matter of sample bias, but then, it might not be. Canids in general are pursuit hunters, built by evolution to travel long distances at speed. It’s not very surprising to me that Pack Magic as a system might be a system that features a lot of journey work. But I do want to save most of the breakdown of this for the next 2 posts, where I think this mostly belongs.
In a way you might accurately describe a lot of the magic of this system as personal metaphysical empowerment of various kinds. And I think that’s genuinely one of the great strengths of this system, empowering people to be who they are and who they want to be. But the key strength of the system, the place where it shines brightest and the source of that strength and power, is in community. In Pack.
This also shouldn’t be surprising. It’s called Pack Magic after all. Not Wolf Magic, not Hunt Magic. Pack Magic (I do think it might be time for the name of this tradition to change to more accurately describe it, but that’s a topic for later).
Most of the strength of this system lies not in what I would call magic, but rather in what I would term spirit work.
I had a discussion at one point with a practitioner of more “traditional” type witchcraft, and while it was a wonderful discussion one of the points of contention was that there’s no real point in Pack Magic in casting a circle. Casting a circle is a perfectly valid thing, and a major part, even a necessary step, for many traditions, but it just doesn’t make a lot of sense in Pack Magic. Because Pack Magic is pretty much always relational. To my understanding casting a circle serves 2 purposes, to serve as a boundary and ward, and to act as a container for the power being used before it can be released to purpose. Which all makes perfect sense in a human-centric system. And you could probably make a case for casting a circle in Pack Magic. Hell, thinking about it now, I could probably make it work. But there’s little point. When Pack comes together, we are the boundary. We keep ourselves and each other safe. We are the ward and the enforcement of it. I’ve seen what happens to things that decide to stick their noses into Pack rituals. It doesn’t tend to be a thing they enjoy. And in the same vein, we are the container, we are the drive and purpose of the power being raised. Say for example that the power of a ritual is too much for a mortal body to comfortably hold; this what Pack is for, to help you carry that weight. Wolves don’t hunt alone (this isn’t strictly true, there are examples of wolves hunting alone but those are pretty much always matters of necessity and not by choice).
This…relational quality of Pack Magic is also apparent in the number of gods and spirits that started coming out of the woodwork immediately. Including gods without an apparent wolf or canine association. Freyja and Freyr are prime examples of this in my practice. In my final initiation into Pack Magic, Freyja and Freyr, two gods with no extant wolf associations in the lore (to my knowledge), played integral roles in initiating me. Despite not being an apparent part of the system, both of them undoubtedly ARE (there’s reasons for that, and those will also possibly get explored in a later post). And it’s these kinds of connections that are truly the strength of this system. Indeed, this is integral to the nature of Pack itself, in many ways Pack is the spirit of these connections.
And much of the healing and empowerment, personal emotional and metaphysical, of this system comes from the renewal, reforging, and beginning of these connections. What is more healing than coming home, and finding that there is family, Pack, waiting there to welcome you? Of course, it’s not always that easy. There are complications, trials and tribulations. But when aren’t there with people we love?
This is of course not to say that connectivity is unique to Pack Magic. That would be ludicrous. Merely to say that connectivity is Pack Magic’s strong suite.
Part of this is the fact that Pack Magic is not founded in any established tradition. It’s not directly beholden to any particular human culture, and intentionally so (I’m going to elaborate on this more in the next two posts. This is both strenghth, weakness, and a point of active work and expansion.) Part of this is because of the nature of the Pack as a being. For what is Pack but the spirit of the bonds in, among, and between?