When bad outcomes happen to good people (unintended consequences in spell work)

I once took a bath that ended a relationship.

I’ll explain.

I had been involved with a man for two years. It hadn’t been heart-pounding romance, but it had been quiet, nice, and steady. We had only had one fight in the whole two years. And, then, on a Friday a little over two years since we’d begun dating, we had another fight. A dumb one. There was no screaming, nothing too big. Just a disagreement. We parted angry at each other. Then, on Saturday, we agreed to talk about it on Sunday.

It turned out that Sunday was a new moon, a time when I usually perform a cleansing ritual of some sort. Sometimes it’s simple, a quick spritz with a cleansing mist and a short prayer for blocks to be removed from my path. But this new moon, before I went to the man’s apartment, I boiled up all my best road-opening herbs, added my favorite Abre Camino oils, and took a long, powerful bath in them, praying the whole time for the universe to cleanse me of anything that was holding me back, and asking please for my obstacles to be removed. I thought I was asking for the right words to talk to this man. I cared about him and couldn’t believe we’d had such a dumb fight. I wanted to patch things up.

I went to the man’s place. When I arrived, he asked me for hug and gave me some incense as a gift. He knew how I liked incense. We settled down for what I thought would be a nice talk. I was already imagining what we’d order for take-out after we made up, and what movie we’d watch before I went home. Instead, he ended our relationship. No working on it, no trying to see if we could fix it, no consultation as to what I wanted to do. Just a brutal break-up.

It didn’t take long for me to suspect that the bath had somehow precipitated this shocking shift in my life. This man and I had talked about marriage. We got along great. What the heck was up? Why had my working backfired so painfully?

Well, here’s the thing: it hadn’t.

A few months later, a deal I’d been working on paid off in far more spectacular fashion than I ever imagined possible. Suddenly, a six-figure windfall was coming my way. My heart was still smarting over the shocking break-up, and I was talking to a friend about this. She said, “Maybe you needed to leave him behind for this to happen?”

I didn’t like the thought at first. What did my money have to do with my relationship? But when I sat with it a little while, it began to get clearer. The man was unhappy in his job, and often talked about how when I had the success he knew I’d have, he’d be able to quit his job so I could support him. It had sounded like he was being humorous, but the more I thought about it, the more I remembered times when money had been an issue between us. He was the type to always be counting to make sure we were splitting everything evenly. He had filed for bankruptcy and lost a house a few years before I’d met him. There’s nothing wrong with that, no shame in that game at all. Most of us have had some financial struggle. It’s just that we were not aligned in where we were in our abundance work, and my big windfall would make that even more stark. I owned a house and he didn’t, and he often talked about how if we got married he’d expect to have his name put on the deed of the house I’d spent years paying off on my own.

I asked the universe to clear the obstacles to my success, and the universe acted swiftly to give me what I asked for. Like ripping off a band-aid, it hurt. But only for a little while. In the end, I came to understand that I’d dodged a bullet that would have wounded me for a long time if I’d stayed with him. Not because he was a bad guy. But because he was the wrong guy for me at that stage in my life.

Here’s a thing to keep in mind as you progress in your magical journey. Sometimes, change is painful and uncertain. Sometimes you don’t realize that certain things you think you need or want, you actually have to let go of for your highest good. Sometimes, if you let the universe know you’re ready for bold forward motion, that forward motion shocks or disorients you. This isn’t the universe being cruel or unkind. It’s just the fact that we can’t always see all the reasons, or the big picture of things.

So do magical workings backfire? I’m a firm believer that if you act with kindness, for the highest good of all concerned, the answer to that is no. You may get some results you weren’t expecting, or which feel too big to handle. But I don’t think the universe sends anything you can’t handle. If it’s been sent your way, it’s because you’re ready for that level of growth. Seek the wisdom. Try to take the longer view. Spells can make your life richer, more peaceful and more full of the things you want. Expand to the possibilities of the good in what feels like a “backfire,” and open to the better things ahead.