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Witchcraft vs. Religion
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Magick is All Around Us
Article ID: 15296
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: December 30th. 2012
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Sometimes I get my inspirations from the simplest things. Sometimes itís just a walk in the woods, and sometimes itís the time of year or the holiday. Other times, itís from interacting with a variety of people or animals, from playing with my dogs to working with native Chinese people. This time, inspiration came from somewhere I wasnít expecting: one of the emails you guys have been sending me (thank you, thank you, thank you, by the way) .
A few weeks before writing this, I got an email from someone with a question I wasnít quite expecting. The writer asked, ďDo you think I can do magic with all this reality around me?Ē I have to admit that Iíve never been asked a question like that before. And, for a little while, I was confused as to how to respond to it. But then it came to me: perhaps the person who emailed me was having trouble sensing the magick in his everyday life and the forces he wanted to work with. This was something that I struggled with back when I first came to Wicca and that has taken practice for me to become good at. Not only that, but for many people coming to Wicca from a paradigm that sees magick as a thing of fantasy, this can be a really difficult barrier to overcome. So letís talk about it a bit, shall we?
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this dilemma is the two different spellings that get used: magic and magick. With just the addition of a simple letter, we can change the meaning of what we wouldíve thought of before as just one thing: a force of fantasy capable of creating great change and wonder but that is impossible to achieve in real life.
Now, you guys may or may not have noticed this, but in my essays for the Witchesí Voice, I tend to prefer the spelling with a k, and there is a reason for this. The main reason for this is to maintain a bit of separation between the magick I work with in my life and the magic Iím used to in role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and video games. When I first came to Wicca, I didnít know that there could be one letter that could, for some of us, differentiate between two completely different concepts. And let me tell you, if you think Iím talking crazy again: Iím pretty sure throwing fireballs and a simple prosperity spell donít fall under the same paradigm. Thatís just my take on it. But I hope the explanation helps a little.
The next problem we come to in dealing with this barrier has to do with where we come from in terms of religion. I think I speak for a lot of us who came from either a Judeo-Christian background or from another religion that doesnít see magick the same way that much of the Neopagan or at least the Wiccan community does. I know that for me, when I grew up, I didnít think of magick in the same way. When I was younger, Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz provided my definitions of Witchcraft and magic. To my young mind, the only kind of magic I knew existed in fiction and wasnít possible in real life.
Not only that, but growing up originally in the Christian faith, magic and religion didnít mix. And Iím sure that, in some areas where you might live (and this is based only on my experience) , magick and Witchcraft are seen in a very different light. Iíve heard about so much about a number of Fundamentalists and some other sects of Christianity who denounce Wiccans and others as being in league with the devil or some such nonsense. Most if not all of us have at least heard of the Salem Witch Trials and other occurrences from what has been called the Burning Times. Now, even though Iíve left my Christian roots somewhat behind, I have a great respect for Christianity and many of its adherents. I have no problem with Christianity as a whole. Itís just some people who become very extreme and hateful about what I choose to believe and practice. I know itís not always Christians who say these things, but itís mainly what comes to mind. And Iím sure itís what comes to mind for some of you, who came to Wicca or another Pagan path from a similar background to mine. And coming from a background and religious paradigm that sees magic as non-existent or confined to fiction (and those who claim to work as, at best, perhaps slightly delusional and, at worst, evil people) , accepting magick into the way one perceives reality can be rather challenging. Believe me when I say that Iíve been there and done that.
(I really hope Iím not confusing any newcomers with the whole magic/magick thing at this pointÖ)
Whatís important to keep in mind is that magick doesnít work the same as how weíve seen it in books, movies, video games, etc. Magick in reality is much more subtle; you donít see people throwing fireballs at each other or calling down lightning from the sky because things donít work that way. In fact, I like to think of how magick works in our world (as opposed to Harry Potter, great though the series is) as something akin to the wonders of a cup of tea. Why a cup of tea, you ask? Well, it may not seem like itís doing much, but there is a certain calming power about it when you feel distressed (or, in the case of raspberry leaf tea, really helps out with bad and painfulóuh, that might be TMI) . That, and it reminds me of something my dad said when I came out of the broom closet to him. While it was obvious (as many of you know from reading my essays) that my dad would see magick as being impossible, he is more than willing to admit the wonders of cup of tea has when Iím having a nuclear meltdown. I must admit that a part of me giggled inside, thinking, ďUh, Dad? That can be magick too.Ē
Itís often in the little things that we wouldnít think of as magick or wouldnít tend to notice. I often find that the magick I sense in the world always gives me a little tingle of excitement or is tied to an emotion. It could be the calming feeling that comes when watching the waves as they drift in and out with the tide. It could be the smell of a rose or any flower. It could be the sun shining down on you on a nice day (or in the midst of a ton of snow) . It could be that feeling you have when youíre with the one you love, that tender moment when you kiss. For me, this magick I sense often comes when Iím swimming, usually in a lake or in the ocean (chlorinated pool water doesnít cut it for this type of experience, too many chemicals) . For some reason, whenever I get farther out into the water or even when Iím in open water with only a boat nearby, I feel this surge of energy and giddiness. One thing to try is to really pay attention to those feelings and sensations. At least from my experience, they can definitely be magickal.
The last barrier I wan to talk about in talking about magick in oneís life is visualization. Some of us come to Wicca or another Pagan path with a lack of practice in visualization. Now, I talked about this in my ďThe Importance of Basic TechniquesĒ essay way back when, but visualization is an essential to magickal workings as well as other aspects of a Pagan faith. For many who come to Wicca or another path from a background that doesnít see magick as part of reality, sometimes a lack of visualization skills can impact their first attempts to work with magick. Believe me, that was I a few years ago when I was first starting out. However, with some practice, Iíve found that this is the easiest barrier to overcome, especially once the importance of this technique has been explained properly. Iíve received an email in response to that essay that thanked me for clearing up why it was so important, as the sender had merely been told to practice these techniques without any explanation as to why it mattered (I really do enjoy some of the responses I get) .
So, thinking back to ďThe Importance of Basic TechniquesĒ and my evening with Max, I want you to try this exercise, if you care to oblige me (you donít have to) . Go ahead and hold your hands a little ways apart from each other and try to feel a ball of energy between them. Nothing yet? Now try it again but try to clearly picture the ball in your mind. It doesnít matter is how big the ball is, but I want you to actively visualize it. Picture a ball forming between your hands. It can be any color you like and can take on any aspect. Are you seeing a difference? Even if you donít see anything (which may not happen; it didnít for me before) , you can probably feel something keeping your hands from coming together. Visualization definitely makes a difference in that exercise.
Iím going to leave you with a few resources that really address some of the questions about magick and visualization for those who are still having trouble. The first one is, of course, the ďWicca First DegreeĒ videos from user MagickTV on YouTube. I mentioned them back when I talked about basic techniques, but I want to give it another mention and a recommendation to check out the rest of the series as well. In particular, the exercises they give in addition to the main lessons are extremely helpful when working on visualization. Along with that, Iíve got a bit of reading material for you as well. The two main books I want to recommend are ďThe Inner Temple of WitchcraftĒ by Christopher Penczack and ďNatural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal and Practical MagickĒ by Ellen Dugan. These two books place a lot of emphasis on visualization and psychic/magickal development for the beginner, and theyíve been a big help to me.
So, in conclusion, is it hard to sense magick in our everyday lives? For some of us, it can be, especially when we take our first few tentative steps down our chosen paths. Is it there, part of the reality around us? Of course it is, even if we donít always notice it. And, to answer the question posed to me by a curious reader, can you work magick with all this reality around us? Yes, you can. It may be difficult at times, and you may find that some techniques may not work as well for you. But so long as you keep an open mind and an open heart, and as long as the work is meaningful to you, I personally see no reason why you canít.
Magick is everywhere around us, part of the reality we live. And, for my part at least, itís one of the things that makes life and spirituality truly special for any young Pagan, Wiccan or Witch.
"You Don't Always Need Magick" by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15186
"The Importance of Basic Techniques" by Luna
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn and c=words and id=15057
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