Narrative magic

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(a.k.a. Narrative Hypersigils, Literomancy)

All the world's a story and we are all storytellers.

This is the technique of bringing about change by telling a story. There are many variants and the basic concept could be almost as old as speech itself, there's no way to tell.

Techniques

Simple Personal

The most simple approach would be to tell yourself a little story which you would like to become true. For example Bob tells himself this story: "Bob goes into the interview. Bob is calm and presents himself well. A little while later Bob gets a letter which says he has got the job!" OK, this is just Affirmations, but they are a simple and effective form of magic.

Complex Personal

Keeping something like a diary or a blog in which you tell a parallel of your life as a story. For example, the story could be an on going tale about Sir Darren who quests in a magical land for an unknown goal fighting all manner of battles and dilemmas. (Unless you are Sir Darren, in which case you may wish to write about Bob who sits in an office all day wondering if it's more ethical to leave work to buy some paper or to take some from work.)

Fiction Suits refer to the persona used by the creator to interact with the fictive cosmos. Grant Morrison created the term.

Roleplaying

Roleplay games (RPG's) often got described by the media as dangerous. This was partially because they are a form of Narrative Magic and some people tied their characters (Fiction Suits) into their own lives.

So be careful, eh? If you are deliberately using RPG's as narrative magic then you should make sure that the person running the game isn't going to let something really random and horrid happen to your character.

Hypersigils

A hypersigil is a narrative work which includes the author (and/or other targets of the working). Aspects of the story will tie with elements of the real world targets and their pasts, and also to events and changes that have not yet happened but you want to happen. A hypersigil is intended to be read or otherwise experienced by many people, ideally as a published book.

A hypersigil can also be a work of fiction intended to bring about a change in the mental state of the reader. Beware the Golden Barge by Michael Moorcock. Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott and White Light by Rudy Rucker are both hypersigils in as much as they help open the mind of the reader to the fourth dimension and some of the various infinities.

Maybe all good fiction is a hypersigil at some level.

  • One famous recent example of narrative magic was a comic called The Invisibles by Grant Morrison who wrote himself into the story as King Mob a.k.a. Gideon Stargrave a.k.a. Kirk Morrison. Famously, after he wrote a torture scene of King Mob he experienced physical illness, great suffering and, nearly, death. Did the comic book predict this? Did he subject himself to narrative magic? Or did it happen all by coincidence?
  • Some people from Barbelith have been working on a shared story using another wiki. Currently this is titled the HyperSigilWiki[1].


Altering Shared Reality

The most powerful stories can alter the shared reality of everyone who has read them. They give convenient ways to explain complex concepts. They also have the more negative effect of making everyone think the same way about something, so while they can inspire, they can also limit imagination.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 
A worldview of vampires, other dimensions and magic. Arguably the television series that made Wicca a household word.
Star Trek 
Future Sciences & Technologies, how humanity will be in the future, what aliens are like.
The Inferno (Dante) 
What it's going to be like when you die. A full rich image known by lots of people seems much more real than the varying accounts from different priests.
Mage (Roleplaying Game from White Wolf) 
This game presents a very rich view of how magic works and is very general. But it can still be limiting to think in these terms. The same company also makes games called "Vampire" and "Werewolf". These also present very full, rich views of the way a werewolf or vampire "works", what powers and limitations they have, etc.

These worldviews are all great tools, but you should be careful not to limit yourself by locking into them. Ultimately you've got to use a combination of finding out how the world really works (science) and making it work the way you want (magick).

References