Articles/Essays From Pagans
February 1st. 2019 ...
Paganism and Witchcraft in the Media
September 25th. 2018 ...
Understanding the Unseen
August 25th. 2018 ...
A Little Magickal History
Men and the Goddess
Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces
Kitchen Magic and Memories
Why the Faeries?
Magic in Daily Life
An Open Fire: Healing from Within
Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light
Gudrun of the Victory Gods
Ares and Athena
La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength
The Lady on the Stairs
The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives
July 26th. 2018 ...
The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity
May 29th. 2018 ...
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
April 20th. 2018 ...
Nazis Made Us Change Our Name
January 25th. 2018 ...
Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion
November 15th. 2017 ...
September 30th. 2017 ...
July 31st. 2017 ...
Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers
July 2nd. 2017 ...
On Cursing: Politics and Ethos
June 1st. 2017 ...
The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions
April 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles
March 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords
January 10th. 2017 ...
The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
September 11th. 2016 ...
The Shadow of Disgust
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
An Open Mind and Heart
June 13th. 2016 ...
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
The Fear of Witchcraft
Magic in Sentences
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
December 20th. 2015 ...
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
May 6th. 2015 ...
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
January 1st. 2015 ...
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
August 24th. 2014 ...
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Magic, Prayer and Props: Symbols of Receptivity and Creativity
Article ID: 11808
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,252
Times Read: 7,218
RSS Views: 33,670
Author: Alison Leigh Lilly
Posted: July 29th. 2007
Times Viewed: 7,218
"Ritual is poetry in the realm of acts." -- Ross Nichols, founder of OBOD
Is magic simply "prayer with props, " or is it something more? It seems to me that there is a fundamental difference between "prayer" and "magic." Let's start by looking first at the common definitions of these words:
- A reverent petition made to God, a god, or another object of worship.
- The act of making a reverent petition to God, a god, or another object of worship.
- An act of communion with God, a god, or another object of worship, such as in devotion, confession, praise, or thanksgiving.
- A specially worded form used to address God, a god, or another object of worship.
- The art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effects, or forces by invoking the supernatural.
- The practice of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects or control events in nature.
- The charms, spells, and rituals so used.
I've quoted only the first and most relevant definitions for each word, though these few uses listed above should give us a general idea to start. Even though the definitions of "prayer" and "magic" reach far beyond these summary definitions, these simplest explanations of each word seem to have little in common.
"Prayer" is a kind of petition or, more generally, a communion or communication with deity; "magic, " on the other hand, has to do with personal will and gaining control over reality.
Of course, these definitions are limited. Many Christians would be insulted to think of prayer as merely groveling at the feet of God, begging for favors like weak but selfish children. Likewise, many Witches and Pagans would object that magic is much less about exerting control over the external world, and much more concerned with working in harmony with the energies and forces that unite the individual with the rest of reality.
Furthermore, both prayer and magic are more generally directed at change--either through the intervention of deity, or by personal will. If we take the broader understanding of "prayer" and "magic" into consideration, we might define prayer as "communion with deity through thought and word, aimed at making room for Divine to act in one's life;" and magic as "prayer--that is, communion with the Divine, aimed at making room for its activity--through the use of physical tools and ritual actions in addition to thought and word."
While some might be content with these definitions, they're not enough for me. I want to dig more deeply into the subtleties and nuances of each word.
Prayer: To me, prayer is above all communion and communication with the Divine. This can take the form of centering prayer or meditation, or it can be something we do everyday, like washing dishes or walking the dog. It is a time to "talk" to deity, yes, but above all it is a time to listen. Prayer is ideally a way of paying attention to that "still small voice."
Often when we pray out loud and spontaneously out of great distress or need, we articulate fears and anxieties we may not even know about consciously. We don't need to tell Spirit what it already knows, but the real benefit of prayer is to listen to ourselves, to find out what we are really asking for and begin to consider if that is what we really need or want.
I often find myself saying things during prayer I would never have verbalized otherwise. Other times, I simply break down into overwhelmed murmurs of "I love You so much!" While I feel a bit silly, I'm also reassured because I can say so and mean it.
Prayer is a way of bringing oneself into a better awareness of and connection to the Divine. Anything can be prayer--it can be verbalized or silent, motionless or a kind of dancing, or even work itself.
When I write poetry, I am praying.
When I laugh, I am praying.
When I eat, I am praying.
Each of these activities reminds me of my connection with the Divine, and reminds me to listen, to pay attention.
Magic: Magic goes a step further. Prayer is largely passive, focusing on listening and paying attention (stilling ourselves and our clamoring desires long enough to make room for Spirit's reply) . But magic is active.
The focus on control and personal will, although somewhat shallow and misdirected, does give us some insight. After all, is our goal as spiritual beings to deny our free will and become mindless robots of Spirit? Or do we accept free will as a gift and exercise it with love and wisdom, bringing personal will into harmony with Divine will?
Do we see Spirit as a cult-leader; or that which wants participation, not subordination?
Magic is how we participate. It is how we manifest the communion of prayer in the world so that it can change us and change others. Prayer is necessary for magic--we must communicate with the Divine and pay attention in order to be in harmony with it.
When we act in harmony, we can be creative and free, without being arrogant or cut-off from Spirit.
While magic in general might be the practice of exerting personal will arbitrarily on the world, sacred magic, informed by prayer (communion and listening), is an act of creation in harmony with Spirit.
What do I mean? I'll give you an example. When I free-write a rough draft of a poem, I am praying--I quiet myself down and listen to what that Divine voice within me articulates spontaneously. But, when I return to the poem, revise it, craft it into a work of art that does something and changes the reader and the world, I am performing magic. Writing is the best example of how magic does not need "tools" or "props."
Magic is about creation and change, not about what tools you use. A great work of poetry changes the world, and the writer knows that the piece comes not from her, but through her--it has her "flavor", but its ultimate source is something greater.
Similarly, other forms of magic change the world, and the individual practitioner, through creative acts. Sacred magic is essentially creative--it brings something new into being and, thus, changes the world. It expresses the Divine Unity in a new, particular and unique way.
Prayer reminds us of our source; magic is the active participation in the paradox that that source is expressed through particulars. Prayer is the necessary foundation of magic, and magic is the natural fruit of prayer. They have many of the same goals, but they are different.
To call magic simply "prayer with props" would be to ignore the active, creative side of our own participation in the Divine. The results of magic are, essentially, miracles. But all miracles require human participation--we plunge our staffs into the sea, we anoint the sick with oil, we bless the shared meal.
We listen, we pray, we contemplate--and then, we act, we create, we participate.
Originally posted in Pulse Like Water, March 15, 2005
Copyright: (c) 2007 Alison Shaffer (originally posted in rough draft form to her Pulse Like Water blog, March 15, 2005)
Alison Leigh Lilly
Location: Seattle, Washington
Author's Profile: To learn more about Alison Leigh Lilly - Click HERE
Bio: A young woman exploring the meandering path of Druidry through meditation, prayer, ritual, magic, poetry, philosophy and "wild wisdom."
Other Articles: Alison Leigh Lilly has posted 8 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Alison Leigh Lilly... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2019 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections
(including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.)
are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc.
TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).