Earlier this morning I finished the initial design of the spell page for Viviennes on-line spell casting empire. It has this sort of style:-
Pink and fluffy. >
Yellow and rich. >
I was pretty pleased with myself. I would go so far as to say chuffed. Everything looked good. The pages have everything, including fake testimonials, automated using a daemon, and lists of spells cast (also fake).
On the demo. version, spells are cast by a daemon, but the live spell casting page prints the spells out, and these are handed to Vivienne or one of her witches according to a pre-arranged schedule.
I've even allowed 'real testimonials' to be added for greater authenticity. The important thing to remember about a demo, is that it needs to be as close as possible to the real thing.
And then the phone rang.
Having previously sent Vivienne the link to spellcasting for love, I was expecting praise, gratitude for a job well done, and perhaps an afternoon off.
It was Vivienne.
"Good effort on the website but it lacks authenticity."
"Don't worry", I replied, "it is easy to change the testimonials, colour scheme and what not"
"It lack authenticity because you don't know how to cast spells. You need to learn. I've enrolled you in a two day casting seminar run by Maryanna."
My heart sank. I might work for a witch, but I don't have to believe in all the associated hocus pocus and witchery. The last thing I wanted to do was follow one of the coven around. No good would come of it.
There would also be coven politics to worry about. I would have to be on my best behaviour, mind my P's and Q's, and be very very careful not to let anything slip.
"I'd love to but we have a major server upgrade planned on project X."
"The Black Cat, Finsbury Park at nine o'clock." She continued and hung up before I had time to object.
And so it was that on Thursday morning instead of working as usual on the internet spell selling and casting business, I found myself in the Black Cat.
I'd hoped the Black Cat would be a pub, but it turned out to be a dance studio, which rented rooms to lecturers for seminars of various sorts.
One of the doors had a sign titled: 'spellcasting for beginners', decorated with crescent moons, glyphs and other magical symbols. I sighed, opend the door, went in and sat down.
The room was old, battered and contained around fifty seats facing a podium with a blackboard behind. The majority of the seats were occupied with a cross section from the more eccentric end of the spectrum.
There were more men than women which was a surprise. Spellcasting has always struck me as something more important to witches than wizards, but then I'm a geek not a practitioner.
I sat on one of the empty seats towards the back, picked up one of the leaflets on the chair and glanced through it.
It outlined the topics for the two day seminar. Explore the use of spellcasting to bring belssings, money, love, friendship and more into your life using simple spells and rituals suitable for beginners.
I sighed and read further
You will learn the key aspects of successful spellcasting: intent, grounding, astral projection, timing, along with the use of candles, crystal and associated charms to increase the efficacy of your casting.
I looked around at the audience in more detail. My earlier assessment of the audience was not entirely accurate. Although there were many of the usual suspects, purple hair, piercings and so on, scattered here are there were people who could only be described as normal.
Magic. It attracts all sorts.
I was so engrossed in studying the crowd that I hadn't noticed Maryanna enter and arrive on the podium.
Or maybe she had used an invisibility spell.
I smirked inwardly thinking about this. I am not you see a believer in the arcane (forgetting mirrors and scying for a moment), and at times it shows.
She looked slowly around the audience, smiling and making eye contact with everyone, and presumably reading our darkest secrets.
There was no warmth in her green eyes when it came to my turn, and thinking back at it now, I felt distinctly ill at ease as she was looking at me. I felt like I was being drawn in almost as if I had vertigo and was about to fall.
"You are all here to learn the basics of spellcasting."
"And you all will."
My job as I have explained before is running the internet side of the business, but even though I was here ostensibly to gain an insight into casting spells, no doubt Vivienne would require a full report.
"So what is spellcasting and where should you start" continued Maryanna. "Spell casting is the art of casting a spell but before starting you must purify yourself."
I only half listened, as I am after all a programmer, not a wizard, but is appears the key elements of purification are cleaning your body and clearing your mind. This could be condensed to 'wash and meditate'. As is often the case in lectures, something simple becomes over-complicated.
The space in which the casting will be performed must then be purified. Candles, incense or holy water will do the trick.
Believe it or not, these two startling insights took almost the whole morning, and while purification was being described in depth I mentally calculated the profit Maryanna would be making on this gig. Vivienne would want to know.
I'll tell you what interested me the most. It appears that all conferences or seminars are the same.
Admittedly, this is the first 'magical conference' I've attended, but the similarities to other more mainstream conferences were startling - depsite the difference in subject matter.
People sized each other up, like wary cats, with questions questions like 'when did you start spell casting?', 'how long have you been a witch/wizard'. Replace 'spell casting' etc with programming and you could be in a programming seminar.
But I digress.
After lunch, we were split into breakout groups to discuss purification and meditation, and after an hour or so of discussing the virutes of tantric meditation versus deep breathing, I almost lost the will to live.
This was followed by a quick introduction to tomorrows subjects: seting up an altar or circle, focus, calling on spirits and the use of candels and crystals and so on, and then home at four.
This was like any banking conference except for the lack of free booze in the afternoon and the facilities which were the opposite of plush corporates offices.
"Well what did you think?" demanded Maryanna as I got up to leave. I hadn't notice her approach (again), was taken by surprise.
"I thought it was very interesting and I can't wait until tomorrow." I waffled, missing out the word 'evening' from the sentence. I'm going out drinking. Nuff said.
"Fantastic. Tomorrow will be even more better and we might even have time for crystals and chanting."
She eyed my notes suspiciously. "You do know that all the information is copyright, and I assert my copyright vigorously", Maryanna informed me with a smile.
I don't know whether she was warning me or Vivienne, but it never does to upset a witch (even if you don't believe in magic). The last thing I needed was additional bad luck in my life.
At the same time this was a bitter blow, as I'd taken copious notes. At the same time as working for Vivienne, I am contemplating setting up a fake spell casting business on the side.
I don't know whether her threats are real, but I'm not risking anything, and if you want to spellcast then go on one of her courses. You can find her website easily. Search for it using:
Maryanna spellcasting for beginners in London
Further updates to follow.