Can a Christian Practice Magick?
For many years, I struggled with a personal conflict. You see, my Christian upbringing didn’t seem to fit in with what I call my “mystic callings, ” that is, my other path of mystery and magick. I kept my magikal pursuits separate from my religious activities. I began my magickal journey more than twenty years ago by studying astrology, because the notion of predicting the future and getting a better handle on my own personality and relationships with others appealed to me. I must admit that my romantic urges were a major driving force in all this investigation and revelation, as were my materialistic ambitions.
So, although I didn’t keep my Astrological studies from my close friends and family, I didn’t advertise it to those in my religious community. When I did divulge to a very select few, it was with a real sense of insecurity and fear that I was being negatively judged. When my Mystic interests branched out into the areas of Magick and Paganism, I did indeed keep it almost exclusively to myself, as I felt that this was even more off the beaten path and frowned upon by society in general and particularly so by my Christian family and community.
Now I am both a mage and a Christian, and I do not feel particularly conflicted about it. Just a fleeting guilt feeling now and again, usually brought about by some external reminder that there are Christians who do indeed condemn such activities. That even sounds funny in the same sentence, you know, Christian and condemning? And although I don’t go shouting my Magickal activities off roof tops, I am comfortable within myself that I am on the right path for me, and have integrated Magick into the other areas of my life, including my religion. I feel actually compelled to follow this duel path and even though I see some inconsistencies, I am confident that this is my calling for now.
I go to Catholic Mass and see many of its rituals and methods to be similar to Magickal rituals and methods. For example, the burning of incense in the Mass parallels Magickal rituals that use incense as a way to carry intentions to higher forces, be they Gods or Goddesses or what ever. The Catholic Mass is full of symbolism and what some would call Magic. Symbols are also a large component in Wicca, Paganism and are used in working Magick. Chanting and singing are other examples of techniques used in both Christian and Pagan rituals and rites.
One major difference I see between Christian prayers and working Magick is that with prayer, a person asks for something and then passively waits and hopes that it is answered in a way that satisfies a need. This is quite different from the Magician who inserts her or his own power and will into the work. Rather than hoping for something to change, the Magician “wills” the change to come about.
I feel that as a Christian Mystic, I have an advantage in many ways. I get to combine both prayer and magick in my rituals. Intuition dictates that with this combination, I should have even better results. I am not too concerned with this for now though. I am just answering the two callings I have in a way that helps me thrive spiritually. I use rituals that incorporate both some standard Wiccan magickal tools, such as a wand and an athame, but also include prayer and a chalice filled with blessed, Holy water from my local parish.
I like to think that I am the kind of person who accepts people from all walks of life and faith, or even no faith. This is not always easy in a world that has people of different faiths and paths, drawing lines and grabbing at power and control, but I think I do it as well as just about anybody. The key has been to nurture an open mind and often examine myself and my motives. Over time, this has lead to a level of self-awareness that allows me to be true to self, and at the same time, let others be as they are.
I remember a small event that took place several years ago, which let me know I was making progress. I realized as I watched a political debate on the television that I wasn’t getting angry with the commentator who was espousing what I felt was the wrong side of the argument. I told my wife that in the past, I would have turned off the T.V. in anger and disgust, unable to handle emotionally my own internal conflict that watching the show produced.
Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t too long ago that the very sight of a Pentagram made me cringe. In case you don’t know, the sight of a Pentagram can send shivers down the spine of many Christians who don’t know better; that it is not a symbol of evil, but of things that are life affirming and good. I look back on this now, and chuckle at my own built in sense of prejudice, especially now, knowing that much of what the Christians practice, borrow from Pagan traditions.
I personally believe that most religions have it wrong in the sense that they tend to foster a kind of ‘us and them’ attitude among their members. I believe, as did Gandhi and many others, that the idea of being separate from each other and even with the natural world is an illusion. We are all one and need to start acting that way. I look at it such that each being is like an individual cell that is part of a greater living being, and when one of us is deprived, sick or in trouble, we are all effected.
The Catholic Church systematically adopted many of the old ways and gave them a new twist, in order to bring more souls into the Christian fold. I think that after some analysis, one will find more similarities between Paganism and Christianity than differences.
I’ve recently begun investigating Hoodoo traditions and have learned how they are interrelated with the Catholic Church. I am excited to follow that path farther to see where it takes me. It is interesting to me that each Catholic Saint is attributed with special powers to help those who petition them with prayer requests. How is this different from one Wiccan praying to Odin and another praying to Diana?
I subscribe to the tenet that all Gods are one God, and that Love is the highest law. But, while I am here on this good earth, I expect that struggle and conflict, whether from external sources, or from internal issues, will always be a part of life for me, just less so as the years go by.