Update 23 January 2017: If you enjoy this story, consider paypal’ing me a few bucks, or buy a copy of my chapbook of poems on Etsy.com.

This occurred a number of years ago.  Alas, I’ve long since given away or disposed of the remaining evidence of the work, and so there’s no proof that any of the following happened. You’ll have to take some of it on faith, which a good many of you will be reluctant to do; but then again, it’s the nature of the work to be somewhat suspect even long after the fact.

I’m going to tell you how I used magic to come into possession of not one, but two lottery tickets of stupor-inducing value on the same day.

You have no doubt heard numerous times from numerous spiritual or occult teachers about how magic is not to be used lightly on such risky endeavors as acquiring lottery tickets with winning numbers. You have heard no doubt that it is a gross misuse of power, or that it is a dangerous overstretch of our ability, or that it is a way of risking your immortal soul. Maybe you have been told that power should not be used for such frivolous games, or that it cannot achieve such results. Perhaps you have told that with so many other people using their own magical powers to influence the lottery, that it is unlikely to result in a successful magical operation.

All of this may in fact be true. However, I wish to inform you, that I successfully used magic to acquire a winning lottery ticket. The ticket was for enormous sums of money. I made back a hundredfold easily what I put into it.

But nonetheless, this sordid tale should be taken as a warning of the way in which magic has unintended consequences, and unpredictable results.

First of all,  though I state it only rarely, I am a magician. I hold with ancient teachings that all is number; that all is one; that everything is due to vibration between polarities within unity; and that that there are three unmanifest powers, seven manifest powers and five elements.  How I ‘believe’ all of this while also remaining nominally Episcopalian is anyone’s guess, but we are none of us perfect.

In magic, the practice of gambling, particularly lottery, are under the province of the god Mercury, or sometimes the Archangel Raphael in Christian cosmology. Gambling and gaming is located intellectually somewhere in the realms of air and fire.  The principles of magic require the use of various symbolism of Mercury or of Raphael in the formal effort to invoke his/its assistance in this effort to bring about the acquisition of a winning lottery ticket — so the first part of the effort was to learn how to do this.

Mercury, in the western magical tradition, has quite a lot of symbols beyond the caduceus and the winged sandals.  The star of Mercury is composed of two overlapping squares, which represent the way in which tumbled evolution results in diversity. This doubled Square results in an eight-pointed star (because Mercury’s number is 8)  which when drawn out touches all of the squares of the kamea of Mercury. He has seals, too, and symbols.  I used the mathematical magic square, or kamea, of Mercury, to construct a specialized paper talisman which I carried my wallet.

Wednesday is the day of Mercury.  So — on Wednesdays, I walked to the nearby convenience store, and there I would purchase eight $1 dollar lottery tickets. I took care to choose a convenient store, which was about 800 steps from my front door. Since one of Mercury’s symbols is the star composed of two squares, I made a point to travel on straight lines and right angles, rather than taking any curves. As I traveled back and forth to the convenience store, I said or sang a song of praise and honor of Mercury. I always made this trip to and from the convenience store during an hour of Mercury— according to the ancient Chaldean formula for calculating the hours of the day by planetary associations, and I tried to take about 2080 steps on the way to and from the store, altogether, since this is also one of Mercury’s numbers.  This walk usually took place at the beginning or the end of the day. And I made a point to ask Mercury’s blessing upon the gift of lottery tickets that I that I bought, which would provide me with the winning lottery ticket.. Since Mercury is a psychopomp, or guide of the dead to their final resting place, I also took the time to plot my path so that it passed through a small cemetery; and as I passed through the cemetery I touched eight gravestones.

Furthermore, I did this for eight days: that is to say, eight successive Wednesdays. All of this — all of this — I did in the honor of Mercury, in the hopes that he would provide me with a winning lottery ticket.  In total, I bought $64 worth of lottery tickets.

On the last of my eight Wednesdays, I laid the lottery tickets out in a grid. The grid was eight lottery tickets wide, by eight lottery tickets high.

This was my procedure for ‘scratching’ each ticket. After asking the blessing of Mercury on each ticket, I carefully scratched off the covered areas with a Mercury dime, and consulted the numbers that I found underneath. True to plan, I did not scrape them off in any sort of random order. No — again I consulted the magic square of Mercury. Thus armed with numbers representing the divinity whose aid I was seeking, I scratched off the numbers in the correct numerical order from the first cell in the Kamea to the last, being careful to praise Mercury after each card., regardless of results.

Mathematically, I think the odds of winning were one card in every 3.47 cards. So eighteen of the tickets should have won something. Eighteen of the cards were likely to return some value, even if it was only a dollar or two.

But only eight cards returned dollar values — literally a dollar. Each time, an eight appeared on a winning card. For a lost $64, I had made $8.

Now… The non-magically-inclined are no doubt thinking “this guy is a fool.” And frankly, I was thinking I was a fool too, and no sort of successful magician. I had included as many correspondences and numeric systems as I could to attract the notice and favor of Mercury in my gambling, and I had failed anyway.

So I thought.

The next Wednesday— the first after the formal completion of my spell, and after its apparent failure — I was at a party. There was a secret-Santa grab-bag, since it was approaching the Christmas holiday, and my gift contained two lottery tickets.

Two //square// lottery tickets. Which someone had thoughtfully taped together into the shape of a “Christmas star”. For fun. Each star had a grid of scratch-off numbers: eight potential numbers on both cards.

I started scratching the first one. It turned out to be a winning ticket! 30,000 dollars. My eyes widened. The winning numbers? A pair of 8s!

The second ticket, a pair of fours, brought me $50,000. Two lottery tickets that I hadn’t even bought, and both had paid out on a platter that it seemed like Mercury himself had set before me. $80,000, or 1250 times the initial outlay.

It is at this point that I realize that all eyes in the room are on me. Everyone has gotten quiet. My joy, my quiet moment of magical ecstasy, is interrupted by my secret Santa letting me in on the joke. The winning tickets are fake lottery tickets. They have winning values but no prize can be collected. They’re for entertainment value only, and in this case, I am the entertainment.

No one in the room knows about the lottery spell I just finished. No one knows how perfectly successful I feel right now. No one knows just how funny I find this — that Mercury of Raphael has played such a stunning trick, and brought me out of this world and back into it with such swiftness. I am amazed. I am transformed.

Everyone thinks I’m laughing with them, at myself, because I have been made into a Christmas fool. But in truth, this is the day I understood, finally, what it is to be a magician.

And it turns out that it’s not so far from being a fool, after all.

But there is a critical difference.  

Nearly everyone in the room is laughing at me because I have been made to believe, however temporarily, that I was a winner when in fact I had won nothing at all.  But I was laughing because I had failed to take into account that Mercury the trickster would gift me with fake lottery tickets as entertainment; and I failed to consider that the winning lottery tickets could come to me as a gift instead making such a big effort to purchase them; and I failed to consider that Mercury, the god of speech and communication, would reward me with a story well-worth-telling, rather than with exclusively-monetary reward.

Indeed, all of these are tremendous gifts, and worth far more than the money in the long run.  There is an extraordinary majesty in awakening to the larger meanings of our lives, even if it means being the subject of one of divinity’s more clever pranks.