I think that, with magic, we want proof. We want flash. We want miracles. And when we don’t get those, we wonder what magic is. When we see how magic works, it doesn’t seem very flashy…or, we realize how unimportant the flash really is.
Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to put my finger on magic. Because magic is, at its core, one of the mysteries. You can’t work it til you experience it, and it’s really hard to put it into words.
People try. They write spell books that read more like recipes, they create informational graphics like the Kabbalistic Tree of Life to explain how the universe works…but that doesn’t teach what’s going on beneath. It’s a map, but it’s not the terrain. Nor is it the only map. It’s not the actual underpinnings of the universe, just one map to it that may or may not work for you or for me.
And at the core, I think that word magic has so much bound up in it. It’s a powerful, loaded word all on its own.
I think the word magic has different meanings in different contexts. I think across the board, it tends to mean “the hidden.” Or, things that happen in a way I can’t easily see/unravel.
A related definition might be how I see most people use it in terms of spellwork. “Magic is doing a spell and getting what I want without having to do any work.” I think the idea is that you set your intention, light the right colored candle, and the universe brings you what you want if you’re cool enough.
Obviously there are some problems with that concept. But if you haven’t read Part 1, you might want to go to the previous post and check that out so that this one makes a bit more sense.
I’m currently taking Taylor Ellwood’s online class, The Process of Magic. Largely, I’m interested in this class because I’ve never done any formal training in the Western Mystery Traditions when it comes to magic, and I’d like to piece together what I’ve learned through osmosis over the years.
Probably the more pressing reason for me to take this class is that over the years, my definition of magic has changed a few times.
When I wrote my Hexes and Curses article I got a lot of push-back from people who said I was wrong, that I didn’t understand how Hexes worked, or who even said, “Well, you obviously don’t believe in magic at all.”
The truth is, I do believe in magic–but, my relationship to magic has gotten both more complicated–and yet in some ways more simple–the more I’ve learned over the years. Like many things, I’ve gone back and forth to different sides of the pendulum, and so I’ve been asking myself this question a lot. What is magic? What do I believe about magic?