The Three Magic Powers You May Never Possess

 

The Three Magic Powers You May Never Possess
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Author: R.D. Robbins

Magical powers exist in the world of the imagination. Of course, some magical powers spill over into the real world, but you probably don’t have enough imagination to use them. Sorry.

It’s time to face facts: There are mysteries in this world that are beyond understanding, but some mysteries are just beyond your understanding. Now, don’t start crying like I broke your favorite holly and dragon heart string wand. I’m not saying you are a muggle, exactly, or a squib; but frankly, if you aren’t regularly using the powers of transfiguration, Time Turning and charms then you may be a little lacking in the imagination department. Now, to be fair, I come from a sort of wizarding family so this stuff is easier for me. Maybe you just don’t know the magic words yet, but I’ve got to tell you, when you can learn to harness and use these three powers, they will transform your life!

TRANSFIGURATION

“Shape Shifting” has been a mythological staple in cultures all over the world: An Indian medicine man “becomes” a bison to find the heard; Zeus becomes a beggar to test the hospitality of a mortal king. I have yet to see a real person who could physically change their shape and become an animal, or another human being. However, it can be a profoundly moving experience to use your imagination to project yourself inside the mind of someone else, to see an issue from their perspective, to get inside their skin and ask what motivates them.

In real life, detectives and criminal profilers try to get inside the minds of serial killers and arsonists as a tool to understand what drives the criminal’s emotional states, what mistakes they are apt to make and where to find them. The rest of us can use our transfiguration skills to help us understand a teenager’s dark mood, a spouse’s secret Yule time wishes, and how we look in our boss’s eyes. The magic words here are, “I wonder how they feel,” and “I wonder what they think.”

Is this kind of imaginary-mind-reading? Yup. Is it apt to be wrong? Yup. Is it useful anyway? Sure! When our own suffering and pain or joy and happiness allows us to look into the eyes of another person and make a connection, we are using transfiguration to become one with them, to gain compassion for them and for us; and to know better how to care for each other.

Of course, if you don’t have the imaginative chops or skills to project yourself into someone else’s life, well, I’m sorry. Maybe you can learn to be happy dressing up as a Witch or Wizard. Buying some midnight blue robes with little stars and moons inside will probably help.

TIME TURNING

H. G. Wells wrote about time travel in “The Time Machine.” Hermione Granger used a Time Turner pendent in J. K. Rowling’s wonderful novel, “The Prisoner of Azakaban.” Physicist Albert Einstein claimed time travel was theoretically possible. I have yet to meet a single person who can physically travel backward through time, although I have met lots and lots of people who spend almost every moment of their here-and-now time mentally projected into the past or future. I know from personal experience that almost all that time is a desperate waste of imagination!

The question isn’t, “Can you use your imagination to travel through time?” We can all remember favorite childhood friends, horrible job interviews and almost forgotten smells. We can all imagine future conversations, plan vacations and just about taste an ice cream brownie Sunday as they make it. We can all do it. The question is, “Can you stop?” and “Can you do anything useful with your time travels?”

Before you can tell if your mind is in the here and now, you will need some awareness of what’s happening inside your head. For the gifted few, a moment of quiet reflection will immediately reveal your mental state. It’s not like we can get away from our thoughts, but we hear this mental chatter so much that we tune it almost completely out of our awareness. If you try to breath and count mentally from one to ten and keep “waking up” on the number 15, 32 or 63 (!), that is a clear indication that you weren’t mentally present during the counting. You were thinking of something else while you are supposed to be counting. Keep trying. You’ll get it. If you find you can’t count at all because of the constant mental chatter, start naming the thoughts: “Arguing with my mom,” or “Asking for a raise–again.” This is sometimes called Demon Taming because those pesky little thoughts can cause so much trouble in our heads.

When your mind is calm, you can begin to use your imagination to intentionally project into the future and examine the potential consequences of your actions, or reach into the past and hold onto your life with more love and compassion than you were able to muster the first time through.

Unless, of course, counting to ten is just too tough for you! Yeah, it probably is. You are probably afraid that if you stop dwelling on the past or focusing on the future, your whole world will fall apart–talk about superstitious! I’ll bet you don’t even have what it takes to sit quietly in the moment for, oh, say, one minute every day for a week! Best you just get used to drifting aimlessly through the jumbled moments of your life and leave Time Turning to the real Witches and Wizards!

CHARMS

If you still have any sense of humor left, it’ll probably be gone after we talk about charms. By charms I don’t mean pretty jewelry reported to possess a bit of magical power, like pentacles, rune stones or a rabbit’s foot. I mean charms more like enchantments: Those little things we say or do that make other people more inclined to do our bidding. What’s that? You are a “Good Witch” and would never do a spell to make someone “do your bidding?” Ha. Double ha-ha! Let’s see, guy buys girl flowers because he wants…what? Girl bakes cake for guy because she wants…what? Salesman offers basketball tickets to potential clients because he wants…what? Something! We all want something!

The problem is, we often are not willing to take the smallest step toward getting what we want. We want friends, but we never buy anyone at work a soda or cup of joe. We want good marital relations, but we refuse to bring home flowers. We want a new car loan, but we are too good to dress nicely when we go to the bank, to proud to make small talk and to shy to complement the loan officer. There are such things as magic words folks. Here are a few that work like a charm: please, thank you, I love you, well done, I’m sorry, can we try again, just called so you wouldn’t worry, that was the greatest, and let’s do that again tomorrow night!

There is magic in being charming. I would think that if goblin bankers could do it, you could too, but I’m probably wrong.

SUMMARY

I want to thank you for reading this far, but there is just not much hope for some of you poor squibs, er, readers. You’ll never have enough imagination to get inside anyone else’s head and begin to feel the power of compassion or sympathetic joy. You probably can’t count to ten without moving your lips, so you are doomed to sail aimlessly through time instead of harnessing your imagination as a tool for inner peace and self discovery. As for charms, well, a good charm starts with toothpaste and deodorant and I can smell a few of you from here, so there is little chance you will ever build a loving team of companions to help you through life. On the other hand, maybe you are one of the Chosen Ones, a magical thinker, a Modern Magi or a Techno Druid. Maybe all you needed today was a light hearted reminder of the magic power of your imagination. I hope you found what you needed, dear reader.

Pomona, Goddess of Apples

Pomona, Goddess of Apples

By

Patti Wigington

Pomona was a Roman Goddess who was the keeper of orchards and fruit trees. Unlike many other agricultural deities, Pomona is not associated with the harvest itself, but with the flourishing of fruit trees. She is usually portrayed bearing a cornucopia or a tray of blossoming fruit. She doesn’t appear to have had any Greek counterpart at all, and is uniquely Roman.

In Ovid’s writings, Pomona is a virginal wood nymph who rejected several suitors before finally marring Vertumnus – and the only reason she married him was because he disguised himself as an old woman, and then offered Pomona advice on who she should marry. Vertumnus turned out to be quite lusty, and so the two of them are responsible for the prolific nature of apple trees. Pomona doesn’t appear very often in mythology, but she does have a festival that she shares with her husband, celebrated on August 13.

Despite her being a rather obscure deity, Pomona’s likeness appears many times in classical art, including paintings by Ruben’s and Rembrandt, and a number of sculptures. She is typically represented as a lovely maiden with an armful of fruit and a pruning knife in one hand. In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Professor Sprout, the teacher of Herbology — the study of magical plants — is named Pomona.

Planting Seeds at Imbolc

Planting Seeds at Imbolc

By C. Cheek

When I was a student at UW, I walked to class every day from my apartment. Along the way, I’d pass some less-than-beautiful sights; empty lots, alleys, easements, and the crud that gathers near gutters in parking lots. Not to worry, I assured myself, come spring, flowers would grow, filling these ugly spots with bursts of color. But then April came, and May, and June, and the route I walked to school stayed barren. Nature provided the sun, soil and rain, but no one had planted seeds.

Sometimes life just hands us what we need. Sometimes all we have to do is wait. And sometimes we have to do a little helping on our own. An envelope sits in my coat pocket. Inside this envelope are seeds mixed with sand to make them spread farther. Some of the seeds I purchased at stores, some I gathered last summer. Now, whenever I pass a patch of dirt, I’ll sow some of those seeds, and with them, I’ll sow a little hope. Hope is the time between planting a seed and seeing it bloom, or die. Hope is when you hear the phone ring and don’t know yet if it’s your best friend. Hope is the moment between buying a lottery ticket and scratching off that final square. When I was child, my mother often told me that wanting was better than having. It took me many years to find out what she meant. Even if your seeds don’t sprout, even if it’s a telemarketer on the other end of the line, and even if you don’t win the lottery, for a brief moment, possibility shines.

Getting in touch with Imbolc means gathering a kernel of hope. For me, as a writer, this means sending out my manuscripts. I call it “applying for rejection letters.” I read the editor’s requirements, check over my story for loose commas, type up a query letter, double check the spelling of the editor’s name, put the pages in an envelope with an extra SASE, and wait. Query letters have a germination period of about three months. At the end of three months, I’ll usually get a tiny slip of paper, not much bigger than a cookie’s fortune, which reads “Thank you for your submission, but it does not suit our current needs.” These little slips of paper cut me, they wound me, they callously toss aside what I’ve spent months writing. So, I find another name, and send it out again. Why? Why do I keep sending the stories out again and again? Because for three months, I can imagine how great it will feel to get an acceptance letter. In my fantasies, an acceptance letter turns into a three-book contract. My daydreams take root, and soon I’m the next J. K. Rowling, with legions of adoring fans, and respect of fellow authors, and book tours in Europe and then… and then…

And then, most likely, I’ll get a slip of paper, or maybe even a letter written just for me, telling me “No thank you.” But for those three months, the daydreams flourish, as sweet as the bite of chocolate you imagine just before tearing off the foil and wrapper, when the bar of candy lies unopened, waiting in your hand. Hope is rich soil, seeded with maybes.Providencewill decide if I happen to write the right letter to the right editor, and if she’s in the mood to read my work. Nature decides if the wildflower seeds I scratched into the mud will grow into seedlings. Even if my efforts don’t bear fruit, I’m guaranteed a period of hope, while waiting to see what happens as the months pass.

The other gardening chore for early spring is pruning. Trees don’t have many ways of communication, but they “know” that sharp loppers shearing off branches early in the year means that it’s time to send out buds and shoots. Roses too, lie dormant in the winter and need the snip-snip of a gardener to wake them up. “Wake up,” I tell them, as I trim off last year’s growth. Inside the house, I peer out the window at the bare canes and think of the months of fragrant blooms lying under that frost-touched bark. When the weather warms, they’ll send out furled leaves, reddish then green, and buds will soon follow. As an inexperienced gardener, I didn’t trim the roses. It felt wrong, cruel somehow to cut back a perfectly healthy plant. The roses still bloomed, still grew, but the leaves didn’t get as large, and the flowers weren’t as numerous. I’ve learned my lesson now. My shears are sharp and ready.

Sometimes nature takes its course without our help, and sometimes it needs our assistance. Friendships are like that too. When I was at the store, I purchased a handful of postcards. Who buys these things, except tourists? Who sends postcards, except people who want to brag about how far they’ve gone on vacation? Well, I do. I got out my old address book and started writing down names of friends I hadn’t talked to in a while. It seems so hard to call people out of the blue. I’m always afraid of what they’ll think. She’ll think I need to borrow money, he’ll think I just broke up and am trying to flirt, my cousin will think I want a favor. So I write instead. No one, it seems, minds a postcard.

I’ve learned that I don’t have to write much. “Thinking of you,” seems to cover it. Or maybe, “I saw this postcard with a beagle on it, and remembered your old dog Spot. How are you and Spot doing?” People don’t often write back. Sometimes you have to send them four or five cards before they write you, sometimes they don’t write back at all. Sometimes they’ve moved, and don’t get the postcard. And sometimes, sometimes they’ve missed you too, and wondered why you’ve drifted apart. Sometimes they get out their address book, and pick up the phone, and call to ask you out to coffee. A rectangle of cardstock and a twenty-three cent stamp, and you automatically get a week of hope that you’re about to rekindle an old friendship. And even if that old co-worker doesn’t remember you, or if he’s moved and the postcard arrives at the house of a stranger, you’ve probably brightened someone’s day. That’s worth fifty cents.

Every day we pass people whose names we never learn. That pierced, pink-haired barista that you buy your latte from might have gone to your high school. That old woman who sits on the same spot in the bus might have important lessons to teach you about life. Your study-partner in that night class might be looking for someone to share his theater tickets with. Sure, they’re just strangers, people we don’t know, and don’t need to know. On the other hand, if you see the same person every day, or every week, how do you know that person isn’t meant to be in your life? It’s hard to be outgoing, hard to strike up conversations without an introduction or the comforting venue of a cocktail party. Seeds don’t need much to grow, a bit of warmth, a bit of rain, and nature takes its course. The wind changes, and flocks of birds know it’s time to return home. Maybe all it takes to turn “that girl from the coffee shop” into “Tina, who plays tennis with me on Mondays” is an extra smile, an extra nod, an extra moment of attention. We are each other’s sun, we are each other’s rain. We have the power to turn the barren soil of strangerhood into a small connection between fellow human beings. You don’t have to do it all, in fact, you can’t make a relationship develop by force any more than you can make a turnip grow faster by tugging at its root, but you do have to make an effort. Plant a small seed of possibility.

I’ve got a small stack of postcards on my desk, each one addressed and stamped and ready for the mailman. It took an hour, and half a booklet of stamps. I wrote just a sentence, or just a smiley face and my name. I’m already imagining how fun it would be to throw a party and invite people I haven’t seen for years. On my kitchen windowsill, tomato seeds wait in their peat pots. In my mind the tomatoes (which haven’t yet sprouted) taste like sunlight, miles better than any of the icy slices the guy at the deli puts on my sandwich. At lunch, I smile at the deli guy anyway, and comment on his funny button, and call him “Eddie,” from his nametag. He recognizes me when I come in now, and even though he calls me “No Peppers, Right?” it’s a start. A lottery ticket, unscratched, is stuck to my fridge with a magnet. It could win me ten thousand dollars–or maybe not. It’s fun to wonder, and hope. I’ve got my novel in the hands of an editor too. As February turns into March, and March turns into April, she’ll work her way down the stack to mine. She’ll read it, and she’ll send me a yes, or a no. I’m in no rush to get my SASE back with the answer. For now, I’ll just savor the possibility of what might happen. Few things in this world taste as sweet as hope.

Power Objects & Ritual Tools

Power Objects & Ritual Tools

 
When Harry Potter first went to Hogwarts, in the wonderful series by J. K. Rowling, he had a long list of books and tools he needed to take with him in order to practice his “magick.” Many modern Pagans feel much the same way, particularly when they are new to their paths. They want to be sure they have all that they need to do it right. And more than that most Pagans just love to work with beautiful garb and tools.
 
The truth is that we don’t really need any of these things to practice magick. It has been said that magick is the practice of effecting change in one’s life. While this is certainly true and we all do small magicks each day, real magick effects change through the use of ritual action. This may be something as simple as a mantra or visualization done each morning, or it may be an elaborate as a ceremonial magick ritual. For most of us, it is something in between. The energy that goes into magick flows through you. You are the main tool and you provide the desire, intent, and belief that make it manifest.
 
But power objects and ritual tools are most definitely not irrelevant. They hold, magnify and direct power for us. For many people, the power of magick is increased with the addition of ritual tools, and access to the energy of spirit allies is much easier when focusing on power objects. Our relationship with these tools and their uses are not interchangeable, however. As you will find, they are complementary but often very different magickal assistants.