Most people spend their time in two places: at home or at work. Not everyone, of course; some of us aren’t employed, and some of us work out of our own homes. Sadly, the number of people in unemployment is rising and will likely continue to rise for quite some time, and I personally hope to see more and more people working home-based jobs for crafting, machining, and engineering as time goes on, but in our society it’s still common and the norm for people to work outside of their home in some sort of environment like an office, a factory, a restaurant, a store, or some other place that provides goods or services to our larger society. Add to it, many people who are employed tend to work long hours, not including commuting to and from work which itself might be nontrivial.
Of the people who work outside the home, a smaller number of people do magic. Myself, for instance: I’m fortunate enough to be employed in a sit-down office environment (which is still a surprise to me and my family), and I’m also a Hermetic magician (which may come as a surprise to some of you). The problem for magicians like you and me is that the things we do typically takes a fair bit of time, and when considered alongside time commitments for work, we typically have to compromise our practices or overlap certain things to maintain both our spiritual development as well as our regularly-scheduled income. For instance, for myself, my commute is about an hour and a half one way, plus seven to eight hours in the office; that’s ten hours out of my day that I’m not at home, and sometimes I work longer than just eight hours, though sometimes I work less, and sometimes I work for longer hours at home so I don’t have to work as long at the office. That’s just my situation, too; I know some people with longer commutes and who also work longer hours on a more frequent basis than I do, so while my situation might seem icky, I know for a fact I don’t have it that bad.
Then again, a good amount of magic is in discretion, secrecy, and hiding things in plain sight. Sure, we might be in a public space, perhaps surrounded by people, but that’s no reason to say that we can’t use our time out of the house to do magic or keep up our practice. Of course, depending on where you work, not all types of practices will be available to you; performing meditation throughout the day at a desk won’t be possible if you’re working on a standing factory line, for instance, nor could you chant mantras repeatedly if you’ve got to do customer service throughout the day. That said, there’s still plenty of opportunity to keep up your practices during the workday with good success and good secrecy.
That last bit is important: you want to be discreet and secret about this. Many places across the US and the world generally frown on magical practices, and you may be subject to no small amount of discrimination if you’re found out to be one who does magic. You might be ridiculed, barred from promotion, demoted, fired, or worse, depending on the type of people around you and their own beliefs, so any way you can keep your practice on the down low is a good way. That is, of course, if you choose to do magic at all in the workplace; given how easy it can be, however, it’s not that hard to do.
I won’t be elaborate and give you details on conjuring angels or demons in the broom closet, but here are some things you might consider:
- Any place where you have a modicum of privacy and time can be used for magic. If you drive to work, use your car on your breaks. Use empty conference rooms or neglected spaces, but nothing too suspicious like a broom closet.
- If you get a break of any substantial length, take a walk to a nearby park. Explore your surroundings for abandoned buildings or other desolate (but reasonably safe) places.
- If you have a desk, set up one of the corners as a modest and incognito shrine; if you’re bold, go ahead and use statues or other explicit representations of your gods, but stick to the more innocuous things like attributes or abstract images.
- If you want to tie your magic closer to your work without having much of your magic in your workplace, use things like business cards, dirt or dust or rocks from your office, and the like at home to do workings there from afar. Similarly, take a bit of dirt, stone, or other part of where you live/do your Work to where you work and make that link from the other side. Even better, do both!
- If you have someone you want to lay a trick on, use whatever you can discreetly in the office or workplace to do so. Any leftover pairs of shoes, cups or drinking-bottles, doorknob handles to offices, the threshold of their cubicles, their keyboards and pens, and all the like are fair game so long as it’s not suspicious for you to be hovering or touching these things without them present.
- Protection in the office is huge; given all the politics and backstabbing and gossip, you want to keep yourself safe magically. Use a protective oil on your desk or office walls to block out things, and reanoint these surfaces every month or season. Set out a glass of water weekly to “collect” the ick passing around you in the office, and clean yourself off every morning into the glass. Set out a Rose of Jericho to keep the spiritual airs clean and to also bring prosperity. Lay out a line of salt leading into your cubicle or office. Wear protective charms under your clothing when possible/safe to do so.
- Set out a small mirror where you can to act as a means of communication or scrying with spirits. Similarly, those ornate blown-glass paperweights can do the same.
- If you’re more of a technologically-minded mage and have access to a computer, don’t forget that using hard disk or server space can be a fascinating and subtle way to spread magical influence. I’ve done this by storing a massive text file consisting of prayers on several server arrays; as the had drives spin, they generate those prayers an unimaginably huge number of times not unlike Buddhist prayer wheels.
- If you’re not bound to a particular uniform, try to color some of your clothes according to the planetary colors on different days of the week to align yourself to different overall workings or bring those planets’ influences into your office. In my informal clothes, I wear a bandanna of a particular color in my back pocket (purple for Monday, red for Tuesday, etc.); on more formal days, I’ll wear a tie of that color. Bonus: consider using Kalagni’s correspondence of tie knots with planets!
- Most workplaces don’t let you have fire, but consider using an essential oil diffuser instead to spread particular smells around a place for a given effect. If you move around a lot, consider wearing them (safely) on your own person or anointing a particular bit of fabric with them.
- If you insist on having a set of magical tools in your office, keep them innocuous. For instance, for the elemental weapons, you might consider a shaved pencil, a letter-opener, a coffee mug, and a CD your wand, sword, cup, and coin. Use small coins consecrated to different gods or planets as their token talismans. Use printouts as altar cloths, if you insist.
- Never forget the importance of astral magic. If you have the ability to doze off, you have the ability to go astral even for a short while (or do a half-projection using the mental faculties).
- If you have downtime and aren’t using it for ritual or doing activity, always see if you can read and study, instead. Hell, I’ve done more than half my occult research in my office between projects and on breaks, to say nothing of my occult writing and planning!
Got any other ideas you’d care to share? Feel free to post them in the comments!
Let me just say, the potential amount of conflicting practitioners in a restaurant kitchen can be a bit excessive.