Personally, I’ve spent much of my time locked up investigating the whole spectrum of religious beliefs. I really dig Joseph Campbell and similar works of comparative religion. I’ve read the Koran. Partly stemming from my obsession with ancient aliens, I’m fascinated by the occult.
I share this fascination with a pretty significant portion of the prison population. An old con declaring he’s a Satanist has, in my experience, become a prison stereotype. (Met with a blank stare, this is followed by a hurried, tiresome explanation of how he doesn’t actually worship Satan but adheres to the philosophy of the ‘left-hand path’ as laid out by Anton Lavey.)
The type of inmate that delves into the occult tends to be nerdy (of which I’m guilty), but no one ‘type’ of criminal predominates. Like anything intellectual, cho’s are overrepresented, but there’s a significant number of drug users&dealers, armed robbers, and even several murderers. (Unlike other crimes, murder/manslaughter has the most diverse perps–theres no definitive type of offender.)
I’ve come across dozens of copies of the Necromicon (a book of spells), works by Aleister Crowley, certain renowned occult texts, and books on Wicca, Theosophy, and other occultist belief systems. While I’ve perused the Necromicon out of sheer curiosity, many guys revere it; they’ll cast spells from that book with a sincere belief in their efficacy.
I’ve also browsed Aleister Crowley’s books regarding, as he termed it, ‘Magick’. Crowley often devised spells requiring a ritual and/or physical action, apart from their recitation, in order to effect them. Infamously, he considered sodomy and masturbation as acts conducive to ‘magick’. (Shit, if jerking off is some kind of wizardry, call me Harry Potter.)
IMO, the dorky felons who practice this sort of witchcraft/Wicca/spell-casting are availing themselves of any means that’ll alleviate the feeling of powerlessness that’s part&parcel with incarceration.
If I could derive the same feelings of consolation or empowerment from the aforementioned beliefs and practices, I’d be the most pious motherfucker.
All my efforts in that direction, though, are stymied by thoughts of phoniness and skepticism, so they have the opposite of the intended effect. Instead, I become painfully self-conscious.
So I just resign myself to learning as much as I can. I send whatever ‘good vibes’ and gratitude I can muster out to the universe. In moments of serenity, I envision a future world much more amenable to my happiness, and align my thoughts and feelings to that end. These are prayers and spells of my own making, but with the same intention: to manifest my reality.