My employer, Vivienne, has a dark sense of humour, and ever since realising that my love life was patchy, has periodically sent me looking for love spells.
The witchy logic is that having a personal interest in love spells, especially spells that work, would help me find them.
Love spells are part of her business portfolio, and working for her, I know how lucrative they are.
As I recall, it was a wednesday, when she said to me:
"The online spell business is the future. Everyone uses the internet".
I thought that was a bit rich coming from her. She can barely switch on a computer, but maybe as a witch, clairvoyant and sometime seer, and with employee like me, it isn't particularly important to her.
I kept my mouth shut.
"We want a larger on-line presence", she continued and glared at me. I loathe management speak, and prefer the mystical language that is usually used in our office. Since leaving the bank, 'presence' usually describes things I can't see or hear, or to be perfectly candid have any desire to see or hear.
"I want us to start with free love spells".
"Free love spells that work?" I mused, wondering where and how to find these, and whether anyone ever had any success with them.
"Set a thief to catch a thief", Vivienne added, unnecessarily in my opinion. The voodoo love spell issue still rankled.
"They don't need to work. This is the internet. Nothing works on the internet. If you want love spells that actually do something, visit a practitioner". She huffed.
"This will be a loss-leader". More management speak, but where there's magic there's cash as the saying goes.
"Do some research. Check out the competition. Start with the book group".
Several members of her coven along with other witches of various hues and colours attended a book group, and I could only guess that the subject of on-line love spells had been discussed or more likely argued over.
Cards with website addresses?
These wouldn't have been freely handed out. The level of rivarly between this particular group was frighteningly intense, and she must obtained them on the sly.
Some of these business cards were truly hideous. Horrible riots of colours, tarot cards and all sorts of magical motifs. If their websites were designed in the same vein as the cards, the competition would be toast with a decent word-press template and some on-page SEO.
I have met some of the coven/book group since working for Vivienne, and to amuse myself, tried to put faces to cards.
The business card with the cute unicorns would belong to Angela, but what was that?
A particularly graphic representation of the The Lovers, baring no relation to Adam and Eve. That would definitely belong to Macia. There were hidden depths there, and I wondered if she was single.
"This needs to be finished by tonight. Report on my desk by by tomorrow".
Well, that took the fun out of things. Anyone who thinks that whitish witches are all sweetness and love, should try being employed by one.
Occasionally I fantasise about working in the city again, wearing a suit, eating posh sandwiches and having a career.
I typed the first address of the first website into the browser, bringing up a site that could only be described as sparkly.
"Yuk". I couldn't help myself.
Either the owner was a genius, and the free spell site was perfectly demographically aligned for his or her audience, or a complete idiot with luck on his side.
There was the usual list of free love spells, guaranteed to work and with fake endorsements. I looked at some of the ingredients. These would be more at home in a local Tescos than in any self respecting apothecary.
Pink chalk? Pink candles? What were they thinking?
I've only been in the job a few months, on the technical side of things, so I can't claim to be an expert. But even if these love spells were free, they didn't look genuine, and there is no chance of them being effective.
I searched again.
Milk and tissue paper!
Where were the words of power, invocations and sense of mystery?
Where were the signs of intent needed to power the spells? (I'm told this is required, but am yet to be convinced. A scientific background and the mysterious don't always play nicely together).
My one experience with love spells was a voodoo love spell and that didn't end with success, but at least the spell had proper incantations and harnessed the power of the moon.
I went through website after website, page after page and all these spell sites with love spells that work were identical. I didn't find a single spell, being either remotely demanding or even slightly sinister.
I'm sure that back in the day spells were cast in graveyards, at the stroke of midnight, on the night of a full moon with a stolen item of some description.
Admittedly, romping around a graveyard at midnight is a bit sinister, scary and carries a strong likelihood of being arrested, but at least it looks like magic.
It was late by the time I had finished sifting through love spells of various varieties, and the report would be easy to write. Luckily I know the jargon from my days in the bank. I'd write it in the morning before V. arrived and pad it out with phrases like 'move into this space', 'low barier to entry' and the like.
With luck, I'll' get to design and implement a decent site and maybe negotiate comission.
I have a scientific background, and I found myself intrigued by and analysing the spells, by the fact they are so banal and so similar.
Some of the love spells work immediately, some take 24 hours, some love spells work without candles and some with but there are only a few basic types.
Spells and code. Night and day. Strawberries and cream. The spells are recipes. Recipes can be randomly generated. I have started to wonder whether I could automate the process of spell production?
The longer that I work for Vivienne, the less and less I believe in chance.
If reality can be manipulated only slightly by spells, then I should be able to prove it given time, especially if I can automate spell production. Use genetic algorithms. Get feedback. Keep the most effective magic.
I wonder if V. will approve, if whether traditionalism with win.