Author: Phoenix Forestsong
I recently placed myself in a position where I had to “explain myself” to a non-magickal person. Surprisingly, this situation planted a very interesting seed into the fertile soil of my mind. Ultimately that seed has culminated in this essay, minus the offensive title. Without getting into irrelevant details, the conversation essentially boiled down to “I don’t care what you say, Magick doesn’t work because I refuse to believe in it.”
Yup. That statement is one hundred percent factually true. Magick only works if you open yourself to it first, even if you don’t believe but still accept the possibility, then Magick can move in your life. A non-magickal person or, to upset those witches that take themselves way too seriously, a Muggle who “does not believe”, but “refuses to believe” will not be knowingly influenced by Magick. The key here is in the word knowingly. Magick is life and Magick is energy, thus all that lives is filled with the energy of Life; whether it knows, believes, or denies the possibility of Magick, the human spirit is still affected by Magick.
The problem that most non-magickal people have with Magick, aside from centuries of brainwashing by Christianity, is the concept of a binary world. The concept of a binary world is anathema to traditional stratified religions where there is Earth, Heaven, Hell, and only The Creator and The Destroyer can manipulate “Magick” to make things happen. Even then, it is only good and “Holy” when that power comes from God or Jesus, and “evil”, “unnatural”, or “Satanic” when it comes from any other source, for as we all know, that which is not exclusively from the domain of God, comes from the Devil’s own hand.
To Wiccans and pagans there are two worlds that make up our lives. There is the physical and material world that simultaneously and conterminously coexists with the spiritual world, which is the world of energy, the world of magick. When we see the forest, we see the physical world with trees, rocks, leaves, streams, and forest creatures; however, we also see the energies that these seemingly simple physical things are made of. It is natural to see this world and to live in this world; in fact, from the moment of birth we are completely opened up to the True World. As we gradually learn more about the “Real World”, the exclusive world of the physical, we do so ignorant of the natural abilities that we were born with. Thus, the situation creates a disconnect within us where “something” is missing, but we’re not quite sure what.
The Witch, The Wise, A Wise One, or whatever name we are known by, changes neither the responsibilities nor dedication that it takes to become a Witch. When you first began to follow your path, there was a tremendous amount of information that had to be learned, a lot of books to read, and a ton of thinking, meditating, and writing that needed to be completed before you really had even the slightest clue of just what you were doing. However, setting aside your confusion you pressed on, slowly coming to master the basic talents required by the Craft. You can now raise power, know your correspondences for candles, herbs, and gemstones. More than likely you have delved into divination with the Tarot, a pendulum, or Runes.
In any event, you are a Witch and it took a lot of thought and effort to, not only learn and master your skills, but to acquire the right philosophy and spirit to actually put them to use. It is the same as a computer technician who spends long hours in class working for a Bachelor’s degree. Though some of what will be learned may seem pointless at the time, overall it has taken at least four years to learn enough of the basics of Computer Science to be proficient at your chosen field. While you may not be an expert in every area of computer technology, you are pretty damn good when it comes to identifying, troubleshooting, and repairing a computer whenever it fails…it’s all fundamentals to you now.
For the IT Professional, the medium that is best used to faithfully execute their duties is the Internet. Obviously I use this profession for the example because, well, write what you know. I have the B.S. Degree, I’ve had several technical positions, including a management position and a consulting business, and so I have witnessed and experienced the IT field from several different angles. I would regularly run into computer programs that I’ve never even heard about prior to accepting the client. So I would research.
I would hit the Internet, learn more about this new technology, and I would test it out prior to taking any drastic action. I taught myself how to operate that computer program, usually better than the employees who had to use it on a daily basis. The point is that I didn’t know it before, I recognized the fact, did the research, got the hands on experience, and incorporated new, albeit somewhat situational, knowledge into my life. I had to make an effort to grow, to learn, to develop something within myself in order to learn this new skill.
How does this have any relationship to Wicca? Imagine that your sister is in a relationship with one real bad dude. When you do see her, which rarely ever happens, she always wears clothing and makeup that conceal the abuse. When you say something about it she gets worried, not angry, and begs you to stay out of her life. Just this past Thanksgiving she missed the traditional family meal, so you decided to stop by her house and check everything out. She answers the door in tears, blood streaming from her broken nose. She tells you, panic blazing from her eyes that she broke her nose falling down the stairs and that everything is all right. Don’t worry; just go home she’ll be fine.
Sure. What do you do? Right off the top of your head the best solution is to call the police. If they can’t (or won’t) do anything, then call the YWCA, even a local church with a women’s outreach group, someone who is trained to handle domestic violence. So, once you’ve called the cops, and no one presses charges, and the beatings continue, and you see your sister less and less often, in greater agony at each and every meeting. What do you do?
You are a Witch, you know the basics inside and out, you have the Rede, and you have a very desperate need. Using the Rede as your guide, you begin to peruse the Internet and your own Magickal library to research how to safely and permanently get rid of this guy. You find the best way is through a spell of binding placed on him (‘An it harm none…’An he IS harming someone) so that he will be unable to harm your sister in any way followed by a spell of protection placed on your sister. The research completed, you hit up your local craft shop or Wally World and get what you need for the ritual. You create the necessary components required for your ritual, prepare the ritual, work the ritual, raise power, empower the spell with your most desperate need, and fire it off into the Aether, knowing with all certainty that it has already worked.
When a computer guy fixes a computer, he or she knows that it is fixed because there is a very noticeable and measurable change in the machine. Mainly, that change is that the computer now works, however, in more complicated computers, such as Internet Servers, the change may not be drastically noticeable as the computer is not running just one or two applications like your PC, it is executing thousands at a time. An adjustment here and a tweak there will create noticeable results; however, it takes patience and experience to notice those changes.
When a Witch fixes a situation, he or she knows that it is fixed because there is a very noticeable, yet subtle change in the situation. As our “Fundamentals” are not well-documented scientific skills but rather are naturally-born abilities that, once trained, unlock greater levels of perception in the Witch, we notice the change in energy before the event actually moves in that direction. Two very important rules to remember are: “Magick always follows the path of least resistance” and “Energy always occurs before motion.”
Energy occurs before motion is an accepted scientific law. Simply look to the famous Sir Isaac Newton and his three marvelous and Magickal laws of motion. The First Law of Motion, which is the only one we’re interested in, states that an object in motion will stay in constant uniform motion and an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by some external force, with force being kinetic energy.
To simplify even further, things tend to do what they were already doing unless some outside force influences it. Thus, the ball just sits there and does nothing until you kick it, which is the application of kinetic energy. Thus the bastard will remain abusive (an A-hole in motion) until some outside force (emotion, Magick, POLICE) pushes him (and his energy) onto another constant, uniform course, which hopefully leads straight to a jail cell and a karmic reward.
Now, I know all you eggheads out there are just drooling about the big flaw in my argument. I can hear it right now, it goes something like this…Dude, that only applies to an object with constant mass, not to something that can grow or shrink, thus changing its mass and, potentially, its momentum and direction! That is what is so cool about the flaw; the first law only ALWAYS works on things, static things, things that don’t change and people their situations are dynamic.
In the world of spirit, we’re not simply bundles of energy floating around without thought, without direction. Hell no! People are driven, motivated, self-directed, and above all else, highly intelligent and sentient individuals. We steer ourselves through life; our Spirit hops into the driver’s seat, takes the wheel, puts the pedal to the metal, slams on the break, grinds the transmission, and tries to go where it wants to go. Magick, like a sudden gust of wind upon the interstate or two tons of rolling steel smacking fatally into you, still affects your motion. The difference between a gust of wind pushing your car and the horror of a traffic fatality is force, which is energy.
In Magick, it is a disciplined and focused Will that sets the direction of the spell, and it emotion and desire that give our spells force, “kinetic energy”, the kick. Correspondences naturally add additional power to the magick, thus increasing the force of the spell. The energy is raised, the desire for change churns at the heart of the spell, waiting to be let loose, the spell is directed, it’s energy changing to comply with the Will of the Witch, transforming into what it needs to become to do its job. The spell is let loose, it’s aim is true and the force behind the spell is mind-shatteringly intense. You ground, center, thank your Deities, and close out your circle, cleaning up along the way. You listen for the phone.
An hour passes, you near nothing. Two hours pass, still nothing. After four hours you have to sleep, the ritual was too much of a draining process to keep sleep over the horizon for much longer. One day goes by, nothing, two, three, five, still nothing. You stop by her house but she won’t open the door, she keeps the chain latched and hides her face in the safety of shadows. You know. You’re not upset; you’re pissed. “’An it harm none…” as your first thought is to personally explain Newton’s Laws of Motion using the example of his face as the object with your fist as the application of kinetic energy, which would technically violate that whole “harm none” thing. As Plan A won’t really work out, you fall back to Plan B and call the Police who rush out to arrest the guy who, surprisingly, actually gets charged, convicted, and sees the inside of the Pokey for a while.
Oh! I see. You spent all that time worrying and worshiping the Devil, and all you had to do was call the Cops. See! Magick doesn’t work! Tee-hee! Tee-hee! Sure, the Police were called and it was the Police who dragged the human filth out of the house and into a cruiser, but they had already been called before without any result. Now, there is a noticeable result. Notice that the spell took time to work; it could have taken months even! Why?
The Jerk is self-motivated, self-directed, and self-centered, thus instead of a ball of rock floating idly in space, he is a jerk behind the wheel of car and he’s going wherever he wants to God Dammed go! Your Sister, for her own reasons, was attracted to him which drew her closer to him, the distance between them lessened and he began to influence her. The proximity of their paths and the momentum of his desire and his will to be abusive does not simply stop and cease to be because one wishes for it too. It stops because some outside force, some outside energy, slammed full-force into him and pushed him in another direction. The spell of protection cast upon your sister, it too slammed into her life, pushing her away from his abuse.
Now, neither the Jerk nor your Sister were ever aware of your spell, so to their knowledge nothing abnormal ever occurred. However, Magick always follows the path of least resistance. The Jerk, being a physical guy, liked his drink and he liked women, but when he got drunk he would get violent. It was his nature and he followed his nature. Your sister, after having a half-remembered dream about watching some show on TV last week about fidelity and abuse, was growing more resentful and angry the more she thought about things. It took a few days but when you stopped by the house the tension that had been mounting over the past few days, the stress fractures of two lives being pushed away from each other, were the trigger.
Directly, did you Physically do anything to anyone in that scenario? No. What did you do? You gave a situation, two lives, a necessary push and nature took care of the rest, because Magick follows the path of least resistance. This is a completely fictional story, but one designed to show the mechanics of Magick. While situations for your spells will be different, never doubt its power. Even science has proven that Energy comes before Motion, therefore the mechanics of Magick, the First Law of Magical Motion, is a logical and “provable” concept.
In Land of the Blind…
I walk down the street at noon, a gentle breeze ruffles my hair, trees shimmy and shake their leaves, making a cacophony of sound like hundreds of sheets of paper being torn to shreds. The bright golden sun assaults my eyes as it glares angrily from dingy storefront windows and the hot windshields of boiling parked cars. A sea of people flows around me, or I flow amongst them, I don’t really know and It doesn’t really matter, I’m a part of something.
I come abruptly upon the strangest sight, a plaza full of men, women, and children with blindfolds painfully tight upon their heads, dirty thick padding covers their ears, a cloth gag obstructs their mouths, while filthy rags consist of their clothing. Each and every soul in the plaza sits in silence, suffering etched deep into their faces while one lone man cries loudly above the noise of the city. You strain to hear him over the sounds of construction, but eventually his message is heard.
“Fear! Fear my God! For he has declared this world to be an illusion and all upon to be evil and ill. Repent of your sins, surrender your body, mind, and soul unto me, blind yourself unto the evil illusion of this world and you will be rewarded in your next life.”
Out of a morbid sense of curiosity I wandered into the plaza; I had to know what was going on. Ignoring the absolute stench of the place, I located the preaching man and moved swiftly to him. His blind eyes passed me over, seeing nothing. Questions flooded my mind, yet I remained in control and simply spoke to the man. “What are you doing Sir?” I ask him, “What are all of you doing here?” His answer surprised me, shocking me into an absolute funk.
“My God, My God, My most powerful and omnipotent Lord. He has told me that this world is nothing more than a great illusion, a false reality, and the evil of this place is too great and My God demands judgment. Fire and Death shall rein down from the heavens, the earth will crack and the seas shall heave. The blood of the unsaved shall run like a river of crimson Justice! Join me and blind your eyes, deafen your ears, silence your tongue, and feel the full suffering of the flesh. For only through suffering can we purify our souls in order to gain Paradise! Give your Illusionary life to me and My God, and you will receive wealth and wisdom beyond measure after death.”
It just sounded too good to be true! Blind my eyes, block my ears, silence my tongue, suffer in the flesh, but at least I wouldn’t be dead from fire, death, cracking, or heaving. I was confused.
“Sir, how do you know this to be true? Have you any proof?” His grimy hands rummaged through a tattered burlap sack, quickly withdrawing a badly damaged cassette tape player. “God himself recorded his message for me on this holy artifact. Unfortunately even the most enlightened individuals cannot bear to hear the true voice of God without its perfection causing immediate and violent death. For the mysteries of God are Deadly to the wicked and can only be revealed through suffering in darkness and silence. Join Me! Else you will be punished for your lack of faith for all eternity, for my God is a wrathful God!”
…The One-Eyed Man Will Be King
After that exciting excursion into the world of Sir Isaac Newton and his wonderful First Law of Motion, and a quick escapade to an obviously allegorical plaza filled with walk-ons left over from the filming of Tommy, what was the whole point? There is a morbidly humorous saying: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man will be king. When we are born, all of us, are born with two eyes, we see both worlds, the world of the physical and the world of energy.
As our world really is a binary world, we are literally being asked to blind one eye in order to become a part of society. Our society is one that is based upon science and Judeo-Christian values. Magick, and any other current scientifically improvable concept, is not “real” because it cannot be measured and it goes against those long-standing values that are so important to our national identity. Although, just because something is not scientifically proven beyond a shadow of a doubt does not mean that it is wrong.
I work magick, you work magick, and millions of people the world over work some kind of Magick. We believe in it because we can feel it, it may not be quantifiable, yet it exists. We believe in Magick because it works, and it works every time we try it. The situation may not be completely resolved, but it will begin to move, slowly at first, but soon it will be defused in no time at all because you gave it a little nudge to knock it out of the way.
The sun still shines its light of love and heat of hope upon the Earth oblivious to the fact that Jim in Accounting absolutely refuses to believe in the Sun’s existence. It still doesn’t change the fact that the Sun is a star and that Jim in Accounting probably could use a long vacation somewhere with sun, sand, and surf. Of course Jim won’t burn on his vacation because he doesn’t believe in the Sun.
When Jim finally returns from his long vacation, he is as red as a steamed lobster. He begins to explain to you how he contracted this strange skin disease at the beach and how it was strange to be at the beach without the Sun. As a Witch, and since Jim is nuttier than a fruitcake by now, you promise to work some magick on his…rare condition. Jim doesn’t believe in Magick and is violently opposed to it. You decide to work a spell on him to alleviate the pain from his sunburn without telling him. He feels better the next day after discovering an exotic cure for his illness…aloe.
Show Me Da Magick!
This essay has been a bit juvenile in its examples, yet the point was not to provide the very best example of a situation, it was to provide the best example of the mechanics of Magick. If you begin to study your own spellcraft, watch where the energy that you send out ends up by feeling for it. You will begin to learn and eventually understand just how Magick, and Life, flows and brings change where it’s needed most. The one fatal mistake that any Witch can make is to give away their power in the face of a challenge. The idea that “I can’t help with that! It’s too tough!” Well, you’re right; you can’t do anything because you have decided that you do not have the power to…so now you don’t.
But, just like the blind man who ignored the visible world, and the overzealous Christian who demands suffering and pain as a sign of submission, their refusal to accept the real world around them doesn’t change the nature of the world around them. It only changes their reactions to that outside stimulus that they detest. A closed-minded individual who refuses to believe in magick can still be swayed by magick, just as the boy who believes himself to invincible can be knocked over by powerful wave. Their refusal to accept does not change the fact that Magick exists, has always existed, and will always exist. The blindness in their eyes does not change the fact that there are Two Worlds, not one, two. Just because a person refuses to see a painting does not mean that it was never painted, it exists in all its intricate beauty, that person simply refuses to appreciate it.
As Witches we walk the world with all our senses developed and alert, this allows us a greater depth of understanding and perception concerning people and situations. We do not walk our Path with our eyes blinded, nor do we walk our Path with one eye closed. We walk our paths with both eyes open; both worlds, the physical and the spiritual are real and readily available to us, each just as real as the other. We have to remember that WE hold the power to create change in the world, it is not something that can ever be delegated to another, it is our power, our will, and our destiny to develop into the individual who we want to be.
Magick, a natural part of life, will always be an influence even on skeptics, for just as matter moves, so does energy. Regardless of denials, misunderstandings, and flat-out lies, one can no more banish Magick than one could Banish the oceans, it is a natural part Life, just like the rising and setting of the sun and the migration of birds in the Winter. It’s natural, it exists, and nothing and no one can ever change that.