New To The Craft

December 1st, 2008


In the Realm of Magic

For many of us who enjoy a good Harry Potter book or the fairy tales of childhood, there is a special word that draws us to the study of Wicca: magic.  That one mysterious word conjures up a euphoria of wonder and excitement that feels alien in comparison to our daily lives.  Suddenly, anything is possible, and we become more than mere mortals bracing against the tides of fate.  These are certainly the types of emotions the idea of magic can inspire, but daily we are told to keep such notions in the realm of fiction where they belong.  There is the world of reality and the world of the imagination, through which a clear and distinct boundary is drawn.  But is this division as clear as some say?  Is there really a division at all?  These are some of the questions Wiccans open themselves to and ask, allowing for a faith which embraces what others may not even consider possible.

One way to begin to explore these questions is to establish: what do we mean by “reality?”  Many would name the physical world around us as the foundation of the real world.  This is the area accessible to our senses, and we experience it everyday in a reliable manner that gives us little reason to doubt its existence.  Not every aspect of this world can be sensed, which we know through scientific instruments that go beyond our human limitations.  This is the only way we know of ultraviolet light, microwaves, or dark matter for instance.  Even though we cannot see these things ourselves we know they are real when we observe their effects.  Before each of these things was discovered by scientists they most certainly existed, we simply did not have technology suitable to view them.  It is therefore wise to have a healthy dose of open-mindedness alongside skepticism when deciding whether magic may or may not be “real,” as today’s unknowns can always become tomorrows discoveries.

Now let us go back to the separation between reality and imagination.  We have established that reality in common thought corresponds to the material world, both seen and unseen.  Imagination is something altogether distinct.  It is the collection of our thoughts, dreams, and hopes as to what reality should or might be.  I can see a horse and imagine a unicorn.  I can see a problem and imagine its solution.  Our thoughts and mind are our primary way of creating change in the physical world by envisioning what can be instead of what is.  A thought may not be a material object in the way that a chair is, but its effects on the world around us are real and profound in the form of our actions.  This blurs the definition a bit on what constitutes reality.  Is a thought only real if I create it in the material world?  Or is it real because of its affect on my decisions and actions?  A hopeful person may in reality have nothing to look forward to based on the way events play out, but the effect the hope has on the person changes what they do and how they act regardless of the physical reality around them.  Imagination is separate from reality only in that it does not have to conform to the physical world to be real or have an effect, and this is the key to understanding what magic is.

Someone who practices magic in our world does not have lightning bolts shooting from their fingertips and may or may not wear a pointy hat.  There is a certain aspect of romanticism in modern witchcraft that plays to the fantastical and whimsical natures of many of its practitioners.  What all magic shares, regardless of the outer forms, is a disciplined focus of the mind and thoughts aimed to produce an effect.  To believe in magic is merely to believe that thoughts can affect reality, and to practice and hone the craft of doing so.  To a skeptic this may only go so far as to acknowledge that if a person focuses their thoughts with great intensity towards a goal, it would at the very least affect the actions of that person.  If my goal is to find love and I wish to use magic, all of my concentration and focus on that goal would undoubtedly affect what I do and move my actions in line with it.  Most practitioners take it a step further and say that the thoughts you put out affect the energy around you, and that true magic is when that energy is affected enough to bring about your intentions.  That is a harder gap to bridge for those new or foreign to the Craft, but as with all of its aspects Wicca values experience over belief.  It does not require you to believe in magic but rather invites you to experience it and judge for yourself.  As with hope, there is nothing to lose, and everything to gain by choosing to suspend one’s disbelief.  And that is when the boundaries to the realms of reality and imagination blur, uniting to create a truly magical whole.

Journal for the Month of November:

I cannot say that I have yet had a successful experience with a spell.  On the other hand I have had a direct experience with another form of energy work known as Reiki.  A few months back I attended a Reiki attunement for levels I and II.  During this process the student is said to be opened to the flow of universal energy in order to channel it for healing.  I went into the experience very skeptical, but with an open mind.  During one of the guided meditations I experienced a strange sensation, almost as if energy were coursing through my spine at a rapid pace.  The sensation heightened and intensified to the point where I felt as if some torrential waterfall were coursing through me unhindered.  After a time the feeling faded, and as I came back into my regular awareness I learned that our instructor had been focusing on opening our chakras during those moments before.  There was no way I had imagined the experience, and I could not explain it away in rational terms.

Why do I mention this experience here?  For me, it was pivotal in giving the concept of magic a chance.  I firmly believe in the power of the mind and that amazing things can be accomplished through its discipline, but I had a hard time accepting the idea of energy work and its implications.  Magic and Reiki are two very different things, most especially because in Reiki the practitioner never tries to control the flow the energy, and instead focuses on being a clear and open channel for it.  But I can now say that I have literally felt energy working within me, and it has opened my mind to a vast sea of possibilities I may never before have considered.  To anyone else I would say, don’t just believe in something, know it from your experience.  And at the same time you can take the knowledge from others that such things are possible, as long as we are willing to open ourselves to them.

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

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