Want to test your magic? Try this simple spell on a train

transport spell

Bored on the Tube? Try some simple magic.

For years, I have amused myself trying to make people scratch their noses and, if you try, you might just be surprised how successful you will be. Here’s how you might try this amusing and innocent game.

Find someone sitting opposite who is bored-looking or lost in thought or maybe reading a book, although if they are reading, they might be locked into the subject matter and that might make them a difficult patient. What you really want is quite a vacant, abstracted or relaxed mind.

And then just imagine that their nose is itchy and then send a gentle suggestion to them to scratch it. Don’t stare or screw up your face or press your fingers to your temples like Uri Geller does. Apart from the fact it will draw the wrong sort of attention to yourself, this is not how magic of this sort works. You don’t want to charge in with your will like some wild-eyed bandit, you just want to slip into their unconscious like a little trickle of warm water or a gentle breeze. And don’t tell them with your mind that their nose is itchy, just offer a gentle ongoing suggestion that it might be. It might help if you made your nose a bit tickly to try to carry across the suggestion.

The reason, I think, that it is so easy to do this sort of magic is because scratching your nose is not done really by your conscious mind, it is just an autonomic reaction done more by your unconscious mind than by your conscious mind. And our unconscious minds are far more akin than our strongly-individual conscious minds are.

And that’s about it. If you wanted to do a more advanced piece of magic, you could imagine yourself resting in their body. Here you might gently notice their breathing and try to tune yours to follow and then just gently slip in and imagine your nose is tickly.

Once I remember tussling with an awkward customer and, try as I might, his hand stayed resolutely down. It wasn’t until I gave up on him that I saw the person sitting in the next seat to him on the Tube scrubbing furiously at his nose. Sometimes the magical result comes in the side door rather than the front door…

I mentioned all of this to a magical friend of mine and she was quite adamant that this sort of thing was wrong and that it was interfering with their True Will. I sort of agree but it not interfering in a really damaging way: it is just a piece of gentle psychic intercourse.

But, anyway, I took her point and the next time I was bored on the Tube, I saw a man reading a Sunday newspaper – the sort with all the supplements and pull-outs and insertions – and I decided that, instead of making him scratch his nose, I was going to make his paper go all over the place. I’m not sure why I thought this would be interfering less with his True Will than making him scratch his nose but I did.

So I started and it didn’t work. Everything was totally under control with his newspaper. He read one section and put it on his lap and started another and everything was tickety-boo. I wasn’t downcast, I just decided I needed another rethink. So I thought I needed to imagine a reason why his newspaper would collapse and, because he was sitting next to a door and because we were on a Tube that was now out in the open air, I decided that a gust of wind from the opening doors would cause his paper to blow all over the place. Two stops passed and then another and doors opened and doors closed and still he remained the master of his newspaper universe.

So I gave it up as a bad job and forgot all about him. After all, you can’t win all the time. Yet a couple of stops later, as I was getting off the Tube, I just happened to look back at him and all I could see was a flailing and desperate chaos of arms and supplements and pieces of tumbling paper. I smiled a little bit too smugly as I stepped into the sunshine.

There is a magical lesson to be learned here. With more complicated magics, you have to treat them like a seed that you plant and, once you have created your imagined outcome, you have to forget it and let it grow quietly on its own. So the fact that I had given up and lost interest in the whole thing allowed the thing to sprout and grow on its own. Until it blossomed like a explosion of glorious newsprint in the Summer sun….