Why Petitions Are Not Affirmations or Intentions

under construction

Etymology

Etymologically, you are petitioning (from the Latin word for a request or solicitation), not affirming (affirm comes from the Latin word for assert). You are asking for something. Hoodoo isn’t positive self-talk for your self-esteem and it’s not “setting your intentions.” *You* aren’t “doing” the work. You are asking for something to be done – asking God, the saints, spirits, the universe, however you conceive of things. You’re not asking yourself and you’re not certainly not telling yourself.

New Age Vagueness

And you aren’t setting intentions. Look, I don’t really even understand where “setting intentions” came from. It was not a thing people said – at least not in hoodoo circles – before I went on hiatus. Look, I can prove it.

When “setting intentions” started becoming a thing all the magazines and tumblrs and astrology blogs talked about.

Honestly, I’m not even positive what it means. But it’s weirdly both passive and super self-focused at the same time. I suspect it’s a term coined to let New Age writers talk about this stuff without bringing God or spirits into the equation so as to avoid alienating any readership, especially of the “spiritual but not religious” variety. Which is fine – they do what they need to do. But we aren’t “setting intentions” here. We’re *working magic.* And in this magical system, you’re working with spirits. And you’re asking them for things. Or you’re working on the spirit of a person and you’re telling them to do something or not to do something.

  • May all my works be crowned with success.
  • St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
  • John Smith, pay what you owe.
  • Love me now.

Petitions are not spiritual rat traps or little wind-up toys. The whole implicit analogy is problematic.

Corollary: Petitions are usually not in the present tense (or How Affirmations Can Screw You Up)

to be continued

last update: 6/21/22