Living Magically

fitwitch

Bearable Monday to Everyone!

I’m very glad to be back at writing on TPL after needing some time to get adjusted to my Ph.D. program, and now that I’m back, TPL will finally have some structure to its posts. Mondays will contain posts about pagan living; Wednesdays will feature Magic 101; Fridays will be a wild card when I write about a surprise topic; and finally, Sundays will feature a new edition to my comic series Country Pagan/City Pagan. Thanks for reading y’all!

One of the things I often find myself regretting is not living enough of a magical life in my day to day existence. Some days, I wake up and think to myself that I really should be practicing some spell or incantation. If I let myself linger on that thought; I will begin to pick out all of the things that I dislike about being a witch in a largely mundane world. From my conversations with fellow pagan friends and family; I find that often my concerns about not living magically enough are shared.

Many practitioners of The Art today do so in solitude, including myself, however, not by my choosing. On occasion, though, my friends who choose a solitary path have told me that they crave a community setting not just to celebrate the high holidays, but also to keep themselves in the habit of practicing. In my path; I find that I am virtually guaranteed to not honor the moons nor the sabbats with more than a few passing minutes of reverence if I know that I will be celebrating alone. Unsurprisingly, I am also prone to falling out of habit with my daily spiritual practice.

I’ve been asking myself how to cope with this problem of not living magically enough for several months now, and I think I have come to some conclusions about how to handle this lack of mojo flow.

My high priest often says that religion is about relationship, and I agree with him. One has to have a relationship with The Divine to attain spiritual fulfillment. Many neo-pagan religions today are Earth-centered religions that extol tenets of being one with the forces of nature. In Wicca, we believe that it is our connection to the Earth that links us to The Divine and thus is the source of our power. So, I have come to believe that my problem of not living magically enough stems from a problem with my relationship with The Divine.

Having identified the source of the problem, I have set about trying to live more in a mindful presence of what it means to have a relationship with the Earth, and also what it means to be a witch. The Truth is that no one is ever really separated from the Earth. The same minerals in the soil are found in our bones, the same water molecules in the sea are also found in our blood, and all life on Mother Earth survives because of the warmth of the Sun. Cultivating a relationship with The Divine has to start with recognizing that The Divine is all around you.

The way that I remind myself of my inextricable connection to The Divine is in striving to feel its energy even in the day to day events of my mundane life. For instance, when I am at the gym, I allow myself to feel my body pulling on the energies of the elements to keep it going. I often chant, “Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath, and fire my spirit.” while I am doing something particularly difficult. I also mentally emphasize different elements depending on the movement. As it happens, yesterday I was doing planks at the gym (which I hate) but was able to keep my body rigid for a full minute longer than last week by allowing myself to focus on the mighty stillness of the Earth which in turn allowed me to hold my form. Usually, after I leave the gym, I can feel a thrum of power moving through me. I can think of countless other examples, but listing them all would not serve this article well.

Finding the magic in my daily life seems to help me have more energy to put behind my daily practice regime of meditation, performing the LBRP & Middle Pillar, as well as honoring the gods through prayer. In addition to this, I have started experimenting with celebrating my rituals with an outward purpose for inward gains. Creating sacred space is supposed to be about communing with deity and for me, that is hard without a spiritual community. So, during my rituals I have been aiming the celebrations at creating something I can share with my community in my everyday life. For example, my last ritual celebration involved baking apple tarts with the intent to share them with my friends and colleagues as an act of sharing bounty at Mabon. Unfortunately, I had never worked with puff pastry before, and thus the baking did not quite go according to plan. I still believe my idea to be a sound one, though.

In closing, I have found this article very hard to write because in many ways; I am still figuring out the answers on how to live a magical life myself. However, I feel that finding the magic among the mundane and working to serve your community in your private spiritual life are good ways to start. I hope this article has been helpful to you somehow. If you have any suggestions or thoughts about this subject, please leave them in the comments!

May the Blessing of Brighid be upon you,

Jude.

 

Magical Beginnings

cookie

Howdy everyone,

I have been so busy with grad school that I have let my updates slip a little, but I have finally seemed to get a handle on my coursework. So, I’m back, and you can once more expect frequent updates!

Around this time of year, I start to think more and more about family, because this is the time of year when I am reminded of some of the losses I have experienced. By age seventeen both of my parents had died, and so I find myself grieving during the fall season. From my perspective, fall brings us the holidays that most exemplify the need for togetherness, family, and community, as we prepare for the long slumber that Winter
brings with her.

While thinking about my family this fall, I found myself remembering my favorite parts of family celebrations, and how magical those moments were, then it hit me. The memories that were playing in my mind were magical.

When we think about rituals in the neo-pagan paradigm, we envision circles, bonfires, twirling blades, and dancing in the moonlight. We also all have our different traditions concerning how rituals are appropriately performed, and the same goes for family gatherings. Going to a family party comes with expectations like what food you are going to eat and who is going to make the food to a post-meal movie outing with your cousins to listening to grandpa telling stories from his days in the war. Without these elements, family rituals can feel “Off” because the things that you enjoy are missing and the joy you get from it can be anywhere from absent to very different from before.

I made the connection between family gatherings and rituals when I realized, as in magic, the things that you do in that space, as well as the people who attend, have power, and give off their own energy. I remember the first Christmas my mother wasn’t there for; it was hollow and empty. My mother was a huge part of my life and without her presence, the magic of the holiday had died with her that year.

With my mind pointed toward the crossroads of Memory Lane and Writer’s Way, I realized how I would go about addressing a topic that I have wanted to talk about for a long time – first experiences with magic.

My first experience with magic was time spent in the kitchen with my aunts during the holidays. I was interested in what they were doing, and so, they taught me to bake. When I was a child, the number one thing that made christmas Christmas was the smell of my aunts’ houses after helping to churn out the holiday goodies, and in particular, my Aunt Rosie’s chocolate chip cookies.

As I grew older, I helped more and more with the baking and holiday meal prep. By the time I was in my twenties; I had begun to take on some of my Aunt Rosie’s responsibilities when she wasn’t feeling up to the task just like my cousin did before me. However, it is on very rare occasion that either my cousin or I manage to recreate the flavor of the dishes that became an essential part of every holiday. My personal boast is having perfectly replicated my aunt’s chocolate chip cookies on one lonely day in New York City. I’ve asked my Aunt Rosie about why my cousin nor I can ever make things like she does, and her response was because of La Mano – The Hand.

In my culture, we believe that when you are cooking, your hands add your own distinct flavor to a recipe, and therefore it can never be replicated. Looking at this cultural feature with neo-pagan eyes, I believe that my people are talking about the transfer of energy when talking about La Mano. If the cook is angry while working, it is thought (and personally witnessed by me) that the food will come out poorly, but if the person is filled with joy, it will be exquisite. Just as if a witch tries to heal someone with their heart full of malice, the quality of the healing will be quite weak.

Learning to bake as a child never crossed my mind as a magical act let alone magical training at the time. In my adulthood, though, I don’t recall as clearly any other moment when I first felt energy stir within me as powerfully as I did when I was helping in the kitchen. So, as it turns out, my first experience with magic was not the first time I cast a spell, nor the first time I invoked the old gods, but rather was a child’s lesson in baking cookies.

Thanks for reading and best wishes,

Jude.