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Gaia Bookstore in Berkeley, California, carries a variety of amulets and artifacts in addition to their line of occult and ecology books. In 1995, among these trinkets they stocked a little cousin to the sigil magick of Austin Osman Spare, the gau amulet boxes of Tibet and Nepal, the inscribed charms of Ancient Egypt -- the Wish Box.

(For details on Spare's male-sexuality-based rituals, which involved creating a written sigil of one's desires, placing it in a container, masturbating into the container, sealing it, and burying it in the earth, see "Austin Osman Spare and the Zos Kia Cult".)

The Wish Box is a small hinged brass box, 1 1/2 inches square by 1/2 inch deep. It closes with a simple spring latch. The lid has a raised edge that forms a broad frame, and in the center a brass three-dimensional amulet is affixed. The selection of amulets includes a heart-shaped padlock with a key ("the key to your heart," a conventional Euro-American charm used in love spells), a four-leaf clover (good luck), a sun, and a crescent moon (two astronomical symbols of generally "lucky" import).

Although the Wish Box looks like it was part of a warehouse find of pillboxes from the 1950s, it comes with a wildly post-modern instruction card, designed by someone working at a high level of competency in the graphic arts trade. The card is a fold-over on stiff ecru recycled stock, printed in a custom PMS shade of olive drab. The left side of the text is printed in negative, reversed out to the paper colour and the right is positive. The text is hand-lettered in a bouncy, bouyant, self-confident hand. The wording seems to indicate that this Wish Box is meant for kids, but there is a witty quality to it that a child might miss; for instance, the words "very best penmanship" are written in the round Palmer Script taught in elementary schools, and the word "name" is underlined by a curlique and surrounded by hearts. The captialization given here is as written. The * marks represent sparkles, stars, and hearts and the = marks represent decorative parallel lines.

   =* WISH BOX *=

     This a A *Magical*
     Box to hold Wishes
     FOR Safe Keeping.

 =Here's how to WORK it=

(1.) find a regular-ordinary
     piece of paper. (No Special
     magical paper needed - that's
     the Beauty of it.)

(2.) Write Down (in your
     very best penmanship)
     ANYTHING - A WISH, A worry,
     A *Name*, A GOAL, How
     much weight you want to lose,

(3.) THEN fold up the paper VERY
     neatly And VERY SMALL.

(4.) SQEEZE it in your fist,
     SHUT your EYES real tight,
     YOU DIZZY! (You might want to
     be sitting down for this part.)

(5.) PUT it inside the Box.

(6.) AND STAND BACK, 'cause
     It's Gonna happen!!!

The manufacturer of the Wish Box is Atlas Design, Santa Monica, California (no address or phone number is given on the card). The price is a steep $12.00 per box. I bought the four-leaf clover. I haven't made a wish yet, though.


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Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by cat yronwode: a materia magica of African-American conjure
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
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