Unexpectedly, I found myself casting my first protection spell last night. Me, the cynic who doesn't believe in magic even as I call myself a Chaos magician.
I worked late again last night, and just before going to bed I took a look at Stickam's "Pagans Unite" video chat room. Lo and behold, there was a bit of drama taking place. It seems that one person there, mentioning no names, was saying how her boyfriend or ex (I was't sure which) was stalking and harassing her. A thought popped into my head, and so I concentrated for a bit, then sent her the following message in IM: "I've recently invoked my first entity, a dragonfly-like spirit. For the past month or so, I found myself repeating this series of letters without really knowing why: XJQNY. [This is true, I really have been doing this out of habit. This particular phrase just popped into my head and I've been repeating it, without really knowing what it means.] Lately I envisioned a name and form for it, and it became Xaj Quny, an insectoid spirit that I've had following me around. He hasn't caused me any harm. I've just cast a sigil and sent him to you – maybe he can help you. If you call his name, he'll come to you. I hope that helps you a little bit."
In effect, I engaged in the pagan and magical version of prayer. Do I expect her ex to suddenly drop dead from a heart attack? Hardly. My hope was simply to cheer her up a bit. Whether or not my spell has any effect, the intent was for her to believe I was casting a spell to make her feel better. That's what magic is - the power of belief. If it helped to cheer her up a bit, then that means I was successful. That's all.