Currently viewing the tag: "magic"

This morning, on a walk through our neighborhood with our big, black dog, my husband and I came across a fleet of police cars. They’d blockaded the street adjacent to ours, and the officers were all poised in defensive positions. As we walked past the roadblock, we saw a swat team van, and several ninja-like men creeping up toward the back of the corner house.

“Come out of the house and leave your weapons”, a police officer announced over a loud speaker. “Come out now!”

I had no interest in finding out the details. We needed to get out of the area. Something bad was happening, and I wanted to make sure we were nowhere near it.

When Not To Be A Hero

The incident really shook up my husband. Was it a burglary? What if someone was in the house? What if they were being held hostage? This was happening in our neighborhood; it could have just as easily have happened to us.

The truth it, sometimes bad things happen. People do stupid stuff every day. They’re mean, they’re selfish, they’re greedy, and when they get scared they can become violent. Sometimes we’re in a place to do something about it. We can call people out on their bullshit, stand up for someone being bullied, be an example of a person with integrity. When we see that opportunity, I think we should take it.

But other times, we’re called to do nothing. The best decision we can make is to run, to flee, to avoid the conflict, to be discerning about which battle is ours and which is not. Sometimes, you just need to get away from the firefight.

There would have been no sense in either of us trying to intervene with this neighborhood conflict. We couldn’t send in our aging, 8 year old mutt to snag the bad guy. He’s not trained for that, and neither are we. This conflict needed to be resolved by more qualified people.

But what do you do when there’s nothing to do? Can’t you do something?

Active Inaction

When we got back home my husband, still troubled by the encounter, asked me,

“What are you supposed to do when you realize that you have to sit back and allow a bad thing to play out?”

The answer came to me immediately.

“Pray. That’s when you pray.”

It seemed as clear as the Solstice Sun. In moments when someone else is called into action–like the swat team, for example–and it seems there is absolutely nothing for you to do to affect the outcome of a situation, that’s the time to pray.

But Pray Like How?

For me, prayer begins at the moment when I accept that there are things occurring in the world that are beyond my control. In this example, the robbery would be one such thing.

Prayer functions in that moment, at first, as a simple remembrance of the forces working in the world which are greater than myself–be they the Gods, the Spirits of my Ancestors or of the land around me, or even of people who may be in a better position to affect change. The police officers and the burglar, in this instance, are people who I would remember.

Each of those beings has a will of their own, and the way they exercise that will determines the outcome of the situation. Each force, be they human or non-human, is actively changing in the world; they are either in harmony, or they are creating dissonance.

Once that state of remembrance has been established, I express my hopes and desires for the outcome of the situation.

May no one be harmed. May those stupid kids who broke into that house make a better decision in this moment. May everyone remain calm.

I do not direct prayers to any one being. This isn’t exactly “intercessory prayer”. I don’t know who’s going to affect change in the situation, and I’m not about to summon anybody. The cop could be the one to change everything, or it could be a God. Or, the kid with the gun in the house could come to some sort of epiphany (and who knows what/who might inspire that), and he could end the whole thing peacefully.

It isn’t mine to know. The how, or even the who isn’t important. Those things aren’t the point. The point is to become active in my state of inactivity.

Let Go Of The Gun

Central to my understanding and use of prayer is this idea of surrendering control. It looks like this:

I pray, and by doing so affirm that I am but a part of the whole, and not capable of affecting change at every level. There are many moving parts, and it isn’t mine to move them all.

Magic, on the other hand, seems to be more directed towards assuming control. Were I to use magic, it might look more like:

I do magic, and in so doing affirm that I have the ability to create change at some level, if not every level. There are moving parts, and I have ability to change the way they move.

Does that seem accurate?

I don’t wish to speak as an authority on magic. I’m not. Many of you reading this will have much more to say about it, and I hope that you do in the comment section.

But I find prayer to be of great value in my personal practice. I also find it to be a subject that doesn’t come up much in Pagan circles. Why don’t we pray, or talk more about prayer? Is this symptomatic of the anti-Christian sentiment shared by many Pagans? Christians aren’t the only ones who pray, after all.

Tell Me…

I’m eager to hear what you have to say about prayer, magic, and your insights into the two. Do you feel there’s a place for prayer in the Pagan world? Can you imagine a way to reclaim prayer as a part of your religious identity?

Share your thoughts in the comments, and please share this post on Facebook or Twitter!

The new head of the company told me on Thursday, in a calm and steady tone, that we have reached the furthest point we can in our working relationship. We need to accept that we’ve done everything we are capable of doing.

In short – you’re fired.

Ah…THAT’S why he closed the door when I came in here, I thought.

I told him that I understood, and I did. I haven’t been a big money maker for the company. And while the business always considered itself to be more family-run than big-box, money is money. You make investments where they bring returns. Cold comfort to someone who just got laid off, but I can see the logic.

I told him that I didn’t harbor any bad feelings about this. It made sense. On the bright side, I’m leaving the relationship much better off than I was before. I told him all of this, in essence reassuring myself to him. He listened, and he smiled. He was polite and patient with my process. After all, I’d never be coming to him again to ask for support or money; the least he could do was afford me a few minutes of my keep-your-chin-up-edness.

We exchanged a few pleasantries, made note of the details that would require tending to, then bro-hugged and said goodbye. We parted ways.

Just like that, a 4 year partnership is unceremoniously de-partnered.

Every step I took between the office and the car felt heavy and deliberate. Slower than normal. I narrated the next several minutes in my head:

Step, step, step, breathe… This is the world now…. step, step… Everything has changed… breathe…. Everything is different. And you’re ok.

Before This River Becomes An Ocean…

The next morning, during my devotional, I turned over an oracle card that represented Brighid’s Flame. The card had the word “Faith” up at the top, and the message was to trust that things are going to work out.

Faith, huh? So… I’ve moved away from Christianity, embraced a Druidic tradition, accepted “Pagan” as a word to describe my current spiritual and cultural expression, and the message from my patron deity is to “Have faith”? Did a Celtic Goddess just go all televangelist on me?

Or, in keeping with my previous posts written during Pagan Values Blogging Month, am I faced with the challenge of exploring a value that is more than just a pagan value?

Time To Pick My Heart Up Off The Floor…

I got back to my hotel and sought out comfort where I could find it. I made phone calls to all the people who didn’t just break up with me, and I reassured myself to each of them.

This is a great opportunity, I told everyone, for me to have a fresh start. A blank slate.

I wasn’t in denial about it. I didn’t pretend that I was unshaken, or that I wasn’t all lumpy throated and salty eyed. I was just deciding to take the good and take the bad, Facts Of Life style, and to own up to a more holistic view of the situation.

The truth is, this is a great opportunity. I’m poised to begin new partnerships with people who really want to work with me. I have support coming from many different areas of my personal life and my career.

But am I willing to believe that truth? Is that believing an act of faith?

I Reconsider My Foolish Notion

Pagans are so centered around practice. We define ourselves by what we do, not by what we believe (generally speaking). But faith is all about belief, isn’t it? How do we reframe faith as something that you do instead of something that you have?

Could we imagine ourselves crafting faith? Could the act of engaging with a belief — as I’m currently doing when I frame a job loss as an opportunity gain — be understood as a faith-working? A faith-casting? A magical act?

When you do simple magic, like sending a prayer to the Gods on a burning piece of paper, or crafting a sigil to represent a change you wish to see in the world, there’s a moment where you are required to charge that magical working with your energy, and then release it. Once released, you’re supposed to forget about it. The act of forgetting is an important component of the working. It’s the whole, quit looking and just let the water boil thing.

Perhaps that’s what “having faith”, or a phrase that I’m becoming more fond of, “doing faith,” might mean. I decide what this situation is, looking at all sides of it, and then I stop thinking about it; I forget that I made the decision, and I allow everything to unfold around me. I do faith by acting on my chosen belief that a firing, in this situation, is better described as a timely transition between business partners, and that plays out in my conversations with loved ones, with colleagues, and even with my readership.

This post is me faith-ing.

‘Cause I Gotta Have Faith…Oh, I Gotta Have…Faith

There’s no simple conclusion — either to this post, or to my situation. And that’s the point. Its all a process. I get up in the morning, and the world is new again. A blank slate. A new post, still unwritten. The opportunity for a fresh take on my life, using my words and the active engagement with my beliefs as a willful act of creation, is laid out before me.

All I have to do is trust…believe…

Cast faith.


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Close your eyes.

No… don’t close your eyes. That won’t work. Keep reading, but picture yourself in your mind sitting there with your eyes closed.

Take a second. Can you do it?

Well, you have just exercised the first Value in my Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month Series: Imagination.


*** Imagine An Image Here ***


Imagine What I Said Before

As I wrote in my last post, there are challenges to any group claiming a value as their own. The principle that is meant to be a strengthener of group identity can also be used to alienate others outside of the group. After asking a slew of questions, I concluded my post with the decision to write about my own personal values first — The Teo Value System, if you will. Then, I could see if these values resonate with other Pagans, and I may also discover that they are values shared by an even wider community of seekers and critical thinkers.

Purple elephant.

Values are kissing cousins with morals, and I don’t think I want to get into a discussion about morals. I’m probably not the only one, either. Moral-talk has its place, usually within smaller groups of people who share a perspective, perhaps even a system of belief. And we know that’s not really an accurate description of my readership, not to mention the wider Pagan community.

No. Let’s unpack some values first. They’re going to be enough of a handfull.

So, I start here with a Teo Value that is free of any moralistic residue, but that is quite central to my spiritual practice, my creative work and my expression of self.

Imagine It, and It Is There

Was that a siren? Do you hear that?

Imagination is the fundamental building block of all spiritual and magical work. Your imagination is where it all takes place. See a deity? Give thanks to your imagination. Create a circle of protection? Again, imagination.

Note that I do not say, “Those things are in your imagination,” in some dismissive fashion. Rather, they come from your imagination. Your imagination is the origin point of co-creation. You make things exist from and out of your imagination, and so do the Gods. It’s a shared workspace; a common medium.

So, I’m not suggesting that the Goddess you saw when you were standing, eyes closed, in front of your altar was not, indeed, a Goddess; nor do I suggest that you’re ritual is actually not protected from malevolent forces ’cause your circle ain’t real.

To say that something is born of the imagination– The Goddess, the circle, the…

…ball of green, glowing light that has begun moving around your computer screen, slowly at first and then steadily faster, changing form, becoming a continuous beam of color, growing, growing…filling the whole space around you with green light….

…those things totally exist. Just differently.

You Were Once Imagined

Before you were you, you were not you. But, you were still you.

That before-you may have not looked much like the present-you, but it was still kinda you.

Can you think of this thought of you?

Is the wordplay dizzying? If so, try to picture this:

Everyone with whom you have a relationship once imagined you. Not the you-you that looks exactly like you now. But, the essential you. The stuff of you. They imagined your attributes, or your qualities. Or, they imagined that they wanted to feel or experience in their lives, and somehow you help them to realize those feelings in relationship to them. You are, then, helping to bring to them qualities and experiences of the life they once created in their imagination.

Trippy, right?

And if you feel a little like a tool after imagining that, don’t. They’re serving the same imaginative function in your life.

Spare Some Change?

Imagination is the staging ground for all real transformational change. If its going to happen anywhere, it has to first happen in and through the imagination.

Let’s say you’re tired of your job. You’re bored. The routine is stale, and you feel almost robot-like as you go through the motions. You want something different.

Well, what does different look like? It doesn’t look like what you’re experiencing now. It looks like something else. But what?

Turn the key and crank up that imagination. The quickest and most effective, perhaps the only way to build a life that is different than the one you’re experiencing now is to engage your imagination. Transformation depends upon an active imagination.


*** Another Appropriate Image Is Here ***


Suspend Your Disbelief

Imagination makes ecstatic religion possible. For the Catholic, does the bread turn into Christ’s Body & the wine turn into His Blood? If she suspends her disbelief it does, and in that moment she is able to experience something truly magical. It’s happening because she allowed herself to engage in an imaginative experience of her revered ritual.

I realize that the Catholic Mass may not be a useful example for some Pagan readers, but its High Magic nonetheless. Plus, its familiar to me, and I’m writing about Teo Values, after all.

But, this same act of engaging the imagination in ritual applies to all of us in our own traditions. If we want to experience our spiritual lives in a relevant way; if we want to get out of our books, step onto sacred ground and truly commune with forces that are greater than ourselves, we first have to suspend our disbelief in our own imagination.

A Value Challenge

So, I conclude with a challenge. Be a kid again. Let your imagination expand and explode, and remember that doing so is a way to invest in your own spiritual growth. Regardless of how you self-identify, you have an imagination. It’s a sacred tool. A magical instrument that you were born with, created from, and to which one day you will return.

So use it, already.

You can open your eyes now.


If this ideas got your imagination going, please share your thoughts in the Comments section. I’d love to know what you think about Imagination as a Pagan Value!

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