For the past year...I think...I've been on a particular prescription medication to combat insomnia. It in combination with my antidepressants have been a lifesaver, literally. I don't know if you've ever had chronic insomnia, but the kind of madness that comes from sleep deprivation over long periods leads to some very dark places.
The only real problem is that this medication--we'll call it Ambien, because that's what it is--has a rather entertaining and potentially hazardous side effect: amnesia. After you take the pill, if you don't fall over within twenty minutes, you may find yourself the next morning trying to figure out what the hell you did last night. I've known people who ordered things online and completely forgot, only to have a carton of books on fly fishing or astrophysics show up the next week. The most common issue is sleep eating: the subject takes her Ambien and manages to eat the entire fridge without remembering.
A complication of this complication that I'm pretty sure only happens to practitioners of the Craft is sleep casting.
Yes, you heard me right. Sleep casting = working magic and doing ritual that you don't remember the next day. This puts a whole new spin on the "keep silent" leg of the Witches' Pyramid.
More than once I've risen in the morning to find the butt ends of spent candles and the dregs of herbal blends on my altar. If you've ever stared hard at your altar and then asked the cat, "What the hell was I doing with magnesite and fenugreek?" you might be a sleep caster.
I suppose I could be worried by this. I'm no rank amateur--fifteen years in the Craft and I can raise the roof energy-wise even when my brain is having a dirty sexy rendezvous with the Sandman. I can also recognize 95% of the spell components I keep on hand, so when this has happened I have spent a few minutes doing my CSI: Witchcraft routine and figured out that nothing too major went on. Still, it can be a rather unnerving experience. Just after this past Full Moon I went out on my balcony to shake out a rug and found a bottle of water I'd put out to charge, which I didn't remember doing; nor did I remember putting my favorite kyanite in the water and sitting the bottle on the railing where it could easily have fallen to the parking lot below.
I could be worried. Mostly I find it hilarious. It does beg the question, however: how effective would such magic be? Magic runs on intent, after all, and if your intent doesn't last past the next morning, how can you reinforce that intent, much less act in accord? On the other hand, once the energy is unleashed, it's unleashed, and something is sure to happen. People cause change without really meaning to all the time--just look at anyone who's ever driven drunk. Even without sustained intent the consequences are all too real.
I would have to conclude based on observation that sleep casting is, in fact, effective, though it does suffer from a lack of coherence. Luckily all my work in 2009 thus far has been aimed at personal health and recovery, and it would seem that my somnulent dabblings have reinforced that. In a way, it works out, because in my waking life I find I'm still utterly uninspired when it comes to religion and magic. I keep trying to get it up, magically speaking, and find my inspiration petering out before I can even draft a ritual. I suspect this is driving my Circle-buddies crazy, as I have developed commitment phobia when it comes to actually doing anything in a group. Sleep casting seems to be the only kind I do anymore.
My advice to those experiencing a similar phenomenon is: take your sleeping pill and go to bed. Go directly to bed. Do not pass your altar, do not collect the fenugreek.
And for the love of all that's holy, don't get on the internet. Blogging, emailing, and Twittering under the influence is great fun for everyone who reads it, but can lead to some embarrassing situations the next day.