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Gods, Magic and Bending Energy – What Other Oddities Do We Believe In?

Author: Bronwen Forbes [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: December 12th. 2010
Times Viewed: 4,374

You’ve got to admit – to the outside world, we Pagans and Witches believe in some pretty weird stuff. For example, most, if not all of us, actively work with deities that a large chunk of the world doesn’t believe exist; either Apollo, Thor and the Morrigan (for example) were never Gods to begin with since there’s only One, or they were once considered Gods but now they’re just archetypes, or part of our psyches, or both. But to us they’re quite real. They think they’re real, too – just ask them. And the fact that some of us can actually invite these deities to inhabit our bodies for brief periods of time, i.e. draw down? Psychosis, plain and simple. Ask just about any non-Pagan psychiatrist.

And then there’s magic. Say “magic” to most non-Pagans and they’ll assume you’re talking about pulling a rabbit out of a hat, or card tricks, or sawing someone in half. What we call magic is “change in accordance with will” which, if you’ve actually done it, can be as amazing as pulling a rabbit out of a hat for real, but it’s not the same thing. Still, I’ve gotten a lot of derisive and condescending looks from non-Pagans when the subject of magic comes up, mostly because our definitions of the word are so different.

For the record, stage magic has always fascinated me. Whenever there’s a kid’s program at the local library that features a magician, my daughter and I are right there. Magic act at the local renaissance faire? I’m in the front row – at least twice, if it’s good. And one of my favorite adventures when my family and I lived in Wisconsin? Visiting the Houdini museum in Oshkosh. Not only do I find his escape feats to be really cool, but also the work he did to debunk fake mediums interests me. But I digress.

And the idea that we can “play with” natural energy just boggles the mind of those not part of this path. Have you ever triggered heat-activated elevator buttons without touching them? Or sensed lay lines in your yard or town? Or felt a change in temperature once the circle was fully cast? That’s all energy work – and the bit with the elevator buttons is kind of fun. If elevators are a regular part of your life, it’s a great way to brighten up an otherwise dull workday. Plus, it will scare the hell out of your co-workers once you perfect the trick. Trust me.

So my question is, is one of the reasons you and I became Pagan the fact that we have the innate ability to accept somewhat fantastic or “out there” concepts as truth? Or do we have the ability to possibly accept the fantastic as truth because we once made an informed decision to follow a Pagan path? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I suspect, just as with the chicken and egg question, that the answer doesn’t matter much. So I’m going to ask a different question: what other “out there” ideas or oddities do you believe?

Take, for example, the idea that beings from other planets regularly visit ours, or at least do drive-bys from time to time. I think it’s hubris to assume this one small ball contains all the life in the universe, but that’s just me. I also look at some reality television shows and seriously consider the possibility that we are just not evolved enough as a species to handle contact with alien beings yet. Do I think aliens kidnap people? Yes and no. And I’m saying this as someone who spent a very…interesting evening with several members of MUFON (Mutual UFO Network – a support group for alien abductees. Long story.) There are hundreds of folk stories, songs and legends about people who were taken into Faery and weren’t seen for weeks, months, or even decades. Now we have the same basic story, but the “others” in the story aren’t faeries and elves, they’re little grey people with big black almond-shaped eyes. I think the phenomena, whatever it is – actual or imagined – is the same, but the details changed as humans moved into a more technological culture.

And then there are ghosts. I’ve never seen one, although I have seen “paranormal activity” such as lights turning on and off by themselves, shadows moving across the backyard, things like that. When I was about five months pregnant, we moved into a new house, and one day after getting out of a particularly long, hot shower (during which the bathroom mirror fogged up much more than usual) I saw the name “floyd” (ghosts apparently don’t use basic capitalization) written in the steam on the mirror. I did what any self-respecting crazy pregnant woman would do and screamed for my spouse. We tried everything to clean “floyd” off the mirror including pure ammonia. But every hot shower brought out floyd’s graffiti tendencies for the next four years. Maybe Windex should carry a warning on the label “Does Not Work On Ectoplasm.”

Here’s another “out there” idea that some of us probably believe and some of us don’t. Let me tell you my story about it. As of this writing, my family and I live in what I call The Little House in the Little Woods outside the city limits of Bloomington, Indiana. We are completely surrounded by woods that connect, with the occasional break for a road, to other woods for several miles, although we also have plenty of pastureland in the immediate neighborhood. The other night I was up far later than usual, and didn’t take the dogs out for their last-pee-before-bedtime run until about 11:15 p.m. So the three dogs and I were about to come inside when I heard four or five VERY loud, low WOOTS from the woods.

When something like this happens, believe me, the mind tries to come up with all kinds of plausible explanations. My first thought, I swear to Gods, was “We are too damn far south for moose” and then I ran through all other animals I could think of. Thing is, I watch those shows like Monster Quest and Destination Truth on TV. I recognized the sound.

The dogs’ behavior was most telling. The old one did her usual hide behind me, the beagle barked – and the wooter WOOTed back another two or three times. The big German shepherd, though, was seriously considering plunging into the woods to deal with it, but I was able to call him back. The fact that I was able to call him back *immediately* says a lot – normally he chooses not to listen to a word I say.

I got us back into the house and confirmed with my spouse that I did indeed hear the sounds. Only then did my spouse bother to inform me that he’d been hearing them for the past four or five nights (the rat!) . The next morning he logged onto a (you knew this was where I was going, right?) Bigfoot research site and played me some recordings. They sounded identical to what I’d heard the night before.

So I, at least, am convinced I heard Bigfoot last week. I must say I’m handling it much more calmly than the poor people they interview on those programs – the ones who are still freaking out twenty years after seeing or hearing one. I like to think it’s because, as a Pagan, I’m fully invested in the idea “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Or maybe Bigfoot is less scary than ghosts. Hard to say.

What oddities do you believe in, and why? And what does that tell you about your Pagan path? Tell me, I really want to know.


Bronwen Forbes

Location: Bloomington, Indiana


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