Ask Dr. Eldritch

Don't fall victim to vampires! Don't get slashed by a psycho! Don't get stuck, ASK DR. ELDRITCH!

Dear Dr. Eldritch,
I've had a lot of bad luck lately, but I think I've found a way to turn things around. I met this guy (well, an acquaintance of a friend) who has this tiny magic cauldron that grants wishes. All I have to do is fill it with my blood under a full moon and make a wish, and the wish will be granted before the next full moon. It only works once for any one person, so he can't use it again. That's why he's willing to sell it. It's kind of expensive, but I really, really need some help. My friend said I should ask you about it first. Does this sound like a good way to get a wish, or not?
-- Rick in Oklahoma City

Dear Rick,
I'm really, really glad you asked, because the answer is: Not. It's a bad idea. Sure, it's tempting. Who doesn't want an easy solution to life's problems? Need money? Love? Health? A pony? Just wish! It's not like you're invoking demons to help you, right?

I'm not making light of your troubles. You didn't tell me what sort of bad luck you've been having, and that's fine; I don't need to know. I can tell you that going the magic-wish route to personal gain is fraught with disappointment and peril.

Buying wish-granting artifacts (rings, amulets, tiny cauldrons, etc.) is almost guaranteed to be a waste of money. Nobody will sell you anything with a real power to grant wishes at a price anyone but the very wealthy could afford. You'd make more money betting that your acquaintance-of-a-friend will disappear with the cash before the next full moon and your wish would go ungranted (unless you wished that someone would con you out of your money, but who's going to wish for THAT?).

If your purchased wish-granting artifact is at best worthless, at worst it's a cruel trap. Have you ever read "The Monkey's Paw"? Most people think it's completely fiction, but wishes therein are granted in a manner that is technically accurate, but extracts a horrible price. When the wishes are gone, life is worse than before, not better. If your blood-sucking cauldron works, it's almost certainly in this category.

To be fair, there ARE accounts of benevolent wish-granting objects. People do find ancient rings, or genii-producing brass lamps, talking squirrels exchanging wishes for cigarettes, etc. The problem is, searching for a benevolent wish-granting object won't help; if one is in your future, it will find you. Waiting around for one to show up won't get you anywhere.

So your best course of action may be through prayer. I'm not what most people would consider a terribly religious person, so you may find it surprising that I'd say that. I'm not talking about the "Oh Lord, please give me a million dollars" kind of prayer, or Saint Classified-Ad prayers, or even "If you smite that collection agency I'll go to church every week" prayers. Prayer works best when the supplicant seeks an honest connection with the divine, not requests specific favors or makes bargains. Try asking the god of your choice daily for blessing, protection, and guidance to find your true path. Also, do at least one thing every day to shift your circumstances toward the better. When one has hit bottom, any progress is good, but washing the dishes isn't helpful when the house is on fire. If you're an atheist, you'll just have to bootstrap yourself through committed action and hard work, and hope for a magic squirrel. Keep cigarettes handy.

Even the prayer route has no guarantees; divine beings are noted for their mysterious ways. You may find, however, that even if you don't receive what you expect, you may get what you need. And most importantly, it is a strategy that won't leave you mournfully wishing that you were never granted a magic wish in the first place.

Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!

-Dr. Eldritch


(DISCLAIMER: Anyone intelligent enough to be reading this should understand 1) Satire, and 2) That following the advice given may result in physical, mental, or spiritual harm to beings living, dead, or undead. The author does not suggest that anyone other that the originator of any given letter follow his advice, and cannot be held liable if anyone else does.
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2003 Evan M. Nichols