Saturday, May 9, 2015

Urban Grimoire: Boss Curse

In true witch form, I'm going to make a prediction that this will become one of the most-visited entries on this blog, purely because the title fills a much-felt need. Since this is a blog, I'll just bring my readers up to speed on what's happening with the Hound. I've moved house and bought a ridiculously cheap flat in part of Birmingham called something along the lines of Southgaychinesequartervillageside (delete as applicable). It is right in the middle of my Hedge: I can wander over to the river to have a chat with her, it's not that far from the spot where there tribe of Beorma set up on the river's banks and the city started, it is near to Park Street so I can wander over there to have a chat with some deceased gangsters. It is also on my old cruising ground of years ago – the things I could tell you.
When a witch is settled in her Hedge, things come along to her. They are all gifts. They may not seem like gifts, but the whole point of witchcraft is to change definitions and relationships. The universe gave me a lamp that someone had thrown out on the stairs, just as I was thinking one would be very useful. In this situation the universe also hands the witch the circumstances in which she can develop magically, moving herself and others on through the progression of life. And these opportunities are always traumatic.
For me the opportunity that has come up is related to my work life, which has been stagnant for some time – presumably because there was so much activity in my home life that there wasn't enough of a vacuum for something to come up. We are still stuck with the useless manager, who does no managing of any description but just wants to mother people. If you go to her with a gripe, she'll try to get you to cry on her shoulder, and think it's sorted.
This week the opportunity fell into my lap in that the chief executive of the organisation I work for came to a meeting with our customers. A shortfall in what we are doing became apparent and I tried to identify some of the barriers we need to overcome to offer that, saying that we could change the way we work to free staff up to do this, but that there were a number of other things to consider. He told me I was talking rubbish. Not quite in so many words, but when it became apparent what he thought I was saying, he said openly that I didn't think people had a right to the particular aspect of our service we were talking about, and they should be grateful for anything we gave them. I told him I agreed with all of those things, he looked furiously at me and tried to shush me, and I told him again that I didn't think any of the things he'd said I had.
My so-helpful manager had kittens after this. She was visibly terrified. She kept saying 'you argued publicly with the chief executive'! She told me that I would be dismissed for it. I reminded her (I have one of those voices like Charlie Brown's teacher, I say things but they just don't sink in to people's head for some reason) that my dearest dream is to see my employers in an employment tribunal and that I have so much on that organisation, the chief executive had better be prepared for some very bad publicity. I told her that I considered the attitudes he attributed to me to be defamatory to my professional reputation. Bizarrely she seemed to calm down a bit at this. Anyway, on to the curse.
How to curse your boss the easy way
As always in magic the key to a successful spell is a correct diagnosis of the problem. There is an ancient saying in the Craft of the Wise, going all the way back to the old days of the religion (the 1970s, that is): 'Where there's fear there is power.' So the first step is to identify your boss's use of power. It is essential at this point to forget what everyone else is saying. For example, if I had been thinking, 'I shouldn't have argued with the chief executive,' I would not have been able to identify the power dynamic here, which was very clearly 'Everybody's got to be on their best behaviour because the chief executive's here and not say anything out of turn.' I've found the fear, so I've found the power – he walked in and made everyone fearful of him. Unfortunately he then came up against the neighbourhood witch who made helpful suggestions but wouldn't let him attribute just any old motivation to me. What I don't know at this point is whether he genuinely misunderstood what I meant or whether he was just looking for a whipping boy, which brings us nicely on to the next stage, which is…
Do a divination. Have I stressed enough that a correct diagnosis of the problem is the key to a successful spell? In this case I drew the cards but got a friend to interpret them in case I was overly biased. It certainly seems what my boss keeps hearing, that he's going to go down the drive because of the contract we've lost under his guidance, is true. He really is on his last legs. I feel he's probably got heart trouble. He may even be going off his head, but at any rate he has the sort of health problems that would make sane people slow down. He really thought I would just bow to his authority. That was what was happening. The outcome for me of any action is 10 of pentacles (she actually phrased it as if he made any trouble for me I would end up rich), but the outcome for him of any action is 10 of cups. The friend I asked calls this the weed card, and says that it would send him further off his head. That was all I needed to know. However I still asked next day how he saw me now. I got 7 of pentacles, which of course is always the 'what now' card – the card of being out of depth and not knowing what to do. I asked what he was going to do about me now and got 3 of pentacles. I was minded to interpret this as he would make trouble for me, but another friend laughed and said she would interpret it as Business as Usual. Of course Etteilla gives nobility as a keyword for it, so he may just be gracious and appear to 'forgive' me (which stewed in my mind into an idea for part of the curse).
Get help. Even for the solitary witch there is always help available is we know where to look for it. The first thing I did (apart from enlisting friends' magical help) was to speak to a reputation management lawyer. I considered the attitudes he attributed to me as such that they would lower my professional standing in the eyes of those who heard it, but the lawyer didn't feel I had a case for slander. All acts are magical acts and if the law is the way we have to go then that is a magical act. It was music to my ears when I got this reply, since it reminded me of somewhere in one of Leland's books where he says words to the effect that in many of the most hurtful things that can happen to people the law has no power, and this is where magic comes in. Certainly my experience has always been that magic is its most poetic and ironic when all other channels have failed. So I started the curse.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I tend to dwell on things and therefore prefer magic that uses multiple means, rather than the do it, forget it approach. I have used a number of these. I have wiped my arse on him before offering him to Cloacina. I have gobbed on him, ground him under foot, dropped him in the river, there are two mice nibbling away at him, the possibilities of cursing for the resourceful witch are endless. I looked up the spell with a heart and thorns, but I see that that was traditionally for protection, and while that wouldn't stop me adapting it, of course I don't have a chimney to put the heart in for it to get dried out. I would have to freeze it. Of course the fact I haven't done this yet doesn't mean I'm not going to. But these multiple methods have made me realise a completely new way of cursing someone, which is both easy and very difficult, and is really the purpose of this post.
Give the person a chance to put it right.
This may seem like I'm starting to talk about forgiveness, but I'm not. I'm talking about giving the person a chance to make amends completely (for example, in this case if he made a public retraction and apology I would feel he had sufficiently made amends that I would not be owed anything by him any more, but would merely look on him as a dickhead for ever). So I'm really attributing a 'value' to the hurt he has done me, whether deliberately or by accident. This action will also dramatically revise the power dynamic. It means you wrong-foot the person and seize the moral high ground. It means you appear reasonable to anyone outside this. Magically, it means you are offering the person a golden chance to avoid this. Magic works on a balance, really, which is why the white and the black magicians are both wrong. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if the person owes you, and you give them an opportunity to correct that (in terms of their own life that would also imply they've learned the life lesson and probably won't get confronted with it again), and they don't correct it, they will owe you even more. For myself this is one of the most difficult things to do. I find it very difficult to be gracious to turds. But in this case I did something almost unprecedented. Off my own bat, and on my own personal email address, without discussing it with my manager since she's frightened were all going to get taken out and shot…
I apologised to him.
Yes, that's right, you heard it right. I said that out altercation was regrettable, said that I felt completely wrong-footed by his attributing values and attitudes not my own to me, assured his that I was only trying to suggest ways this particular provision could be eased, and then apologised to him for any offense I may have given.
As it happens, of course, I haven't done anything wrong. I've come up against another of the bullies that litter the world and stood my ground, but I have given him the opportunity to make this right. He won't take it. He didn't take it this week. He could have said that he didn't want to talk in that forum about practicalities or questioned what I actually meant. I have a feeling, though, that the 7 of pentacles means he's slept on it and thought how he lost control of the situation. He also clearly thought I was lying to him when I told him I agreed with everything he said. He will find nothing in what I said that will support that. At this point, he may well want to extricate himself from this. He may ring up my manager to give her what for, but that's fine, if she chooses to accept bullying like that it will just keep on happening until she puts her foot down. I've told her that repeatedly. He may ignore it. He may shove his head up his own arse. But whatever he now does, unless he puts it right, he will owe me. Nature abhors a vacuum, and all the bum-wiping, spitting, stamping and nibbling, will come to play even more. In fact, while sleep is nice, he won't be seeing much of it this weekend because of the number of entities in his bedroom.
I have learned something else, apart from the value of acting like a gentleman. When I sent the email to him, I felt the energy leave me. That was the part of the spell which actually got rid of it for me. I'm quite sure, of course that my pissed-offness will increase again, especially when I go to work and my colleagues are all telling me they'll have a leaving do for me because I bawled out the chief executive. With any luck they'll move the manager, and give us some hard-hitting no-nonsense tank, with whom I will get on like a house on fire. He's run out of time, and the things that are wrong in his life are about to come to a head all at once. He's about to have the most incredible run of bad luck. And what can he say about me? He misunderstood what I said and wouldn't let me stand up for my reputation and then I've been gracious enough to explain and apologise? That'd sound good in a tribunal.