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What is magic? Part 1 - First musings

Magic. Does it work? Oh yes. Of that, I have no doubt. Does it always work out the way we expect? Not necessarily. Do I use it? Yes and no; never and always. But what is magic? The magic I do is all in the mind (no paraphernalia) but is perhaps better described as active prayer. Prayer in the sense of asking a deity to do something for you is what I call passive prayer - and sometimes we get what we ask for, but mostly not, because that kind of prayer generally involves too much asking and not enough listening. Magic is prayer in which we use our imagination as a channel and our emotion as the fuel to manifest what we need. And, most importantly, we listen, we listen with our whole being - we establish a relationship with what is more than our small and illusory egos in order to bring about a particular outcome, through us, in the world around us. It changes us so that we can act in a way that effects the changes we need. Magic is a two-way relationship.

In order to effect those changes through the imagination, it is necessary to connect very deeply with that which is greater than us. And there lies the irony: in my experience, if you connect fully, you realise that things are pretty much turning out as they should! So the magic becomes more a tweak or a polish than a change - more an awareness-raising exercise in ourselves, a re-attunement. (Or it may serve to unblock creative, loving energies that have become stuck, perhaps because of life events that have sent us reeling into retreat or hiding, or plunged us into despondency or defeat - although, if we have not handled challenges as well as we would have liked, that could be because the flow was already blocked - as I have discovered in my own life.) You become more a channel for the natural flow of universal energies than the agent of change. And what really changes is our relationship with/understanding of the world - and by seeing the bigger picture, we start to act in less self-destructive and more beneficial ways, and so effect the changes we need. Through magic, we don't really 'control' anything; rather we become active participants in the unfolding of the universe.

Magic, done honourably, with love and respect, is a joyful participation in life. And how do you know you’ve done it properly? You come away from it feeling relaxed and re-energised. If you sleep, you awaken refreshed; if active, you feel more in flow. If you feel depleted or spaced out, you’ve not been channelling, you’ve been forcing - and consequently using up your own ego-limited energy instead of allowing universal energy to flow naturally through you. (In which case, the only remedy is rest - have something healthy to eat and perhaps go for a stroll, in nature and barefoot if you can, to re-earth yourself, and sleep).

Magic is the art of getting back in touch with the divine nature of everything as it is - our natural state. In fact, in our normal day-to-day lives we are generally ignorant of (in the sense of 'we ignore it') this natural divine state of existence, and are instead caught up in the delusion that our ego states are real and all-important. Non-magic is, in this sense, unnatural - and that's why we humans tend to blunder about, hurting one another and wrecking the environment (Believe me, I know - I’ve done enough of my own blundering to learn this lesson the hard way!). Basically, we spend most of our short lives out of touch with that which is more than ego; magic is the act of getting back in touch.

The gods/angels (being themselves servants of that which is greater than the sum of the parts) - or powers that go beyond our egos and who are far wiser than us and far more finely attuned to the universal unfolding - can only act through us by invitation. Most of the time, we act on our own, do what we want, thinking we know best (and perhaps very occasionally getting it right!). The gods cannot help without our permission. Through prayer, we give permission; through magic, we take part. Through prayer we are acknowledging that we don't have all the answers - that we lack the necessary wisdom; through magic we are also acknowledging that we are responsible - that we are part of the solution. "The gods help those who help themselves" - this can be misunderstood rather negatively, but what it means is: for example, if we want to be healed, we have to participate in the healing. Just as we might go to a doctor when we're sick, we also have to take the medicine and, perhaps, exercise more or improve our diet. Or, if we want to learn a new skill, we can't just ask to be taught; we also have to do the learning by practising what we have been shown.

Magic is re-attuning ourselves with our innate, natural divinity - our relationship with the universe - and, as a channel, bringing about the changes we need through imagination and participation. And being grateful for the help we get.

A personal example: we were made homeless. I was at a loss and asked, with all my heart, the goddess of hearth and home for help. But I also looked for a new home, asked around, and seized opportunities when they arose seemingly out of the blue. She didn’t do everything for us - a house didn’t suddenly materialise out of nowhere - but she did give me the energy to keep going, to be strong for my family, and the awareness to spot opportunities when they arose. It was a relationship. Did we got exactly the home we wanted? No. It’s not a beautiful mansion surrounded by acres of woodland and meadows. Did we get exactly the home we need? Yes, absolutely.

Ultimately, we can ask for stuff, but we'll only get it if it respects the universal unfolding. And what we want is not always what we need - we might want lots of money, but what we need is a lesson in managing our resources better, or learning to appreciate what we already have. We'll only get what we want if it's also what we need and if we're ready (spiritually/emotionally/psychologically) to receive it. Getting ourselves ready is where spiritual practice comes in - and that's the foundation of all magic. The gods/angels/universe can't pour water into a cracked pot (and they won’t - it would be unethical for them to do so) - at best it would just leak everywhere; at worst, crack apart. So we only ever get what we can handle - and that's rarely everything we want. And that, though we may at times find it hard to accept, is a blessing!

To be continued...

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