The maxim to ‘enchant long and divine short’ is one of the many bits of wisdom from the work of Pete Carroll. The suggestion is simply that if we want to create magical effects we’re generally better off casting our desires into the reasonably distant future, into situations where there are lots of variables that might be tweaked by our spells. Meanwhile divination is best done ‘short’. As with predicting the weather it can prove reasonably successful a few days ahead for a given region, but long range forecasts (especially over larger areas) are no more accurate than simple guesses. While flashes of insight can and do occur for the skilled diviner, divination tends to be primarily about allowing the querent to reflect on their own situation at the moment of the reading, and to empower them to understand their possible options in a given situation.
If we consider a Left-Hand Path style of magic the injunction to ‘enchant long and divine short’ can result in some interesting ethical effects. Let’s take the example of long-term enchantment. We know that our self changes and, whilst it’s true there is a ‘narrative centre of gravity’ (to use a term borrowed from phenomenology and hermeneutics) our needs, desires and our identities can and do change. With this in mind a long-term enchantment requires the magician to see the problem (their desire) not in terms of the (immediate) self but as part of a much bigger picture. This transforms what can initially arise as a grasping, outcomes-driven personal need, into something greater and more inclusive.
As an example; a couple of magician friends of mine, some years ago, were diagnosed with viral hepatitis. This is a blood borne infection for which, at the time they contracted the virus, there was no known cure. Obviously as magicians we wanted to address this problem; and while sometimes ‘miraculous’ healing does take place (in my experience this typically manifests itself as the patient discovering that they have been ‘misdiagnosed’ and that the illness that threatened has literally vanished), it’s best to take advice from Mr Carroll and learn to play the long game.
In this instance the work that we pursued was not limited to healing our friends but instead focused on finding a cure for hepatitis. As anti-viral technology developed it also became necessary to work on affecting the cultural and financial side of the pharmacological industry (there was, for example, one period when two firms were peddling rival drugs that actually worked best when taken in combination). The long-term result of this work is that both my friends are now thankfully clear of the hepatitis virus and all the health problems associated with that infection.
While it’s impossible to be certain that our muttering of spells, invocation of spirits or deployment of magical Clingfilm (really) helped these scientific developments (we can’t of course re-run the control experiment of this bit of medical history where we don’t do the magical work) the bottom line is my friends are now healthy and well. The bigger benefit is that tens of thousands of other people on the planet are well too, and it’s this process that lifts the ‘narrow’ desire-oriented LHP style magick into something that looks much closer to a Vajrayana path; we use our own personal desires (for specific outcomes or for illumination/enlightenment) and skilfully deploy these in order to achieve an outcome where all beings become liberated.
When you’re doing ‘results magic’ for yourself why not consider how to play the long game and if there is a way of getting not only what you want but helping many others into the bargain? The example above involving healing magic is ideal; rather than working simply for your own (or your clients) health, consider all those others who share the same problem. Conversely when doing divination, rather than trying to scry the actions of complex networks, focus your questions on what you (or the querent) can do in a given situation. Considered through the lens of a LHP approach any divination will emphasise personal responsibility, empowerment and agency.
Perhaps this allows us to expand Pete’s dictum to: ‘Enchant long and global, divine short and personal’. In works of enchantment let go the individual desiring self, consider the bigger context of your magick and, by skilful means, get much more bang for your esoteric buck. In works of divination give up the illusion that you are without agency and discover the most empowering way to adapt to the situation in which you find yourself.