I am not a mage, but I am a magick user. Similarly, I am not a mechanic, but can change a tire and my oil. I’m not an electrician, but I can rewire a lamp, if not a kitchen. I sing, but I’m not a singer. I have a great deal of knowledge, but no degrees. And that’s OK. Occasionally I have had psychic flashes, but by and large, what I can do is what everyone could do if they learned how (mostly healing and divination). Everyone is psychic- we live and are part of a world of energy as well as matter. Everyone should know how to ground and center, and become aware of their own abilities enough that they can use them when they are useful. Not everyone is going to be able to speak to animals, to see the future or past lives, to do major healing with touch. (Not everyone is going to be able to run a four minute mile, or hit a high C either.) But because we all have the energy in us, and that energy heals, if we can learn to direct it, everyone can give a little of that energy to another person who needs it to heal an injury or illness. Everyone.
If I couldn’t sew on a button, cook for myself, drive a car, read, write and do basic math, I’d be handicapped in getting on with my life. We teach kids the things that will make their lives easier. People need to know a lot of things to get by, different things depending on where and when they live. (Not everyone needs to know how to build a fire or wildcraft food these days, and if I was back in time, knowing how to drive a car or do a web search would be a pretty useless skill.) But the more we know how to use our innate abilities, the better off we are.
I have only casual interest in Ceremonial Magick, but kitchen witchery is useful in my daily life, and things like herbalism, and knowledge of what phase of the moon to plant, and other ‘magick related’ things have been part of people’s life in every culture throughout history. They are magickal and they are practical. No one has all the talents, and you may never meet anyone with some of the more rare ones. But we, as a group, tell stories about people so that we can remember that these things are possible, so when someone realizes that they have one of these talents they can recognize it and develop it. That helps the whole community. We need our diverse talents. We need the healer, the medium, the animal whisperer, the finder, the wisdom keeper, and the shaman, just as a town needs a smith, a potter, a weaver, a builder, and a protector, as well as food producers. Our diversity allows us as a group to benefit from all our talents. It allows those with greater talents to develop them and use them to help the whole group.
Meanwhile, each of us learns to use all our normal abilities to simply live life. So kids should be taught to ground and center, to share and move energy, to be aware of the energetic properties in the world around them. In the current world, a lot of that needs remedial training for adults. In these days when modern medicine is beyond the reach of so many, we need more healers who use energy and herbs. The “Post-Enlightenment” world tried to deny the energetic component of the world, but it didn’t go away. My father totally denied the possibility of any psychic or spooky phenomenon. On the other hand, he accepted that it was a normal ‘talent’ of a salesman to somehow know what sort of music or hobbies his clients liked. People who dismiss all supernatural ‘foolishness’ still accept that a ‘water witch’ can find water or hidden power lines.
So don’t worry if you can’t cast spells like witches in movies, if you can help someone heal faster from a migraine or broken leg, or find a lost wedding ring, you’re using the magick you need to use.
This may be a higher latitudes problem, since fire may not be so obviously necessary where it doesn’t get so cold, and where winter nights aren’t so long sd up here, but even in the tropics, fire is needed for the transformation of raw materials to cooked food, and to light the nights. A single candle transforms a dark room into a dim room, and a dim room can be navigated more safely.
Often we worry that our efforts are too small to make a difference; why bother since what we are doing is such a small impact in the huge mass of “everything going wrong at once” But this post is your reminder: every difference, however small is a difference. In a great mass of blackness, a candle shines forth like a beacon. A few degrees make huge differences in a human’s internal temperature, or in climate. Impact is often cumulative. We are not alone. When we work to help the planet, we are part of a great effort being made by millions, all of whom are motivated by love of our planet and fellow humans (and animals…). The god that inspires you may also be whispering to thousands of other people. And on this plane, not only is each effort part of a greater movement, but when someone else sees your effort, you often inspire them to join you by showing that improvement is possible.
In the Disney movie Antz, when the grasshoppers belittled the efforts of ants, Hopper demonstrated that there were so many of them that together they were able to take out the individually more powerful grasshoppers. We need to remember that normal human beings may seem weak when facing those with more power and money, but evolution has lead most humans to be good, and care for others in their group, or even strangers. Empathy is built in, and needs to be trained out. When we work together we have huge impact. Rejoice in being a small part of a great movement. Combined, our many candles will illuminate our world and meet our needs.
Here’s the thing I love best about the Harry Potter books: they make it really, really clear that using magick is like almost everything else. Some people have talent for it, and some don’t, but EVERYONE needs to be taught how to do it right, and everyone needs to practice! (You did know the answer to the title question, didn’t you?)
Having good working tools helps, as Ron would point out.
When I was in high school I read the book Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (if you haven’t read it- do, and his other books are also great), and while the rest of the world was getting excited about the metaphysics, I was struck by the physics of the book. Johnathan learned that you didn’t need to believe you could fly to fly, you needed to learn HOW to fly. This struck me as the most important point in the book.
The sixties were the time of the “Occult Explosion”, and folks were exploring all the amazing things people can do from ESP to dowsing to energy healing. I was out there with the rest of them, talking to plants, and trying to have OOB (out of body) experiences. At the same time I was also diving into Science Fiction, and when they talked about people doing telekinesis or controlling their body temperature mentally I had to try it. The more I discovered that all these “crazy” things worked, the more excited I was to try the next thing.
My generation, as so many before, thought that we had discovered these phenomena. Although I discovered that while books on the “supernatural” were sometimes hard to find in the local library, I could find them in stores. I read Hans Holzer and Sybil Leek, and subscribed to Fate Magazine, checked out AMORC, read W. E. Butler, looked into folk magick (the Long-Lost Friend) and voudoo, Spiritualists, and Theosophists, everything I could find by Edgar Cayce and the A.R.E., the Society for Psychical Research, got Richard Cavendish’s Man, Myth and Magick, read Rossell Hope Robbins, Robert Anton Wilson, W. E. Butler, Israel Regardie, Jane Roberts, Dion Fortune, Max Freedom Long’s The Secret Science behind Miracles, Carlos Castaneda (of course), and Issac Bonewitts, Montague Summers, Murray and Gardner.
I learned to accept that books on developing psychic abilities were grouped with tales of UFOs, Vampires, Bigfoot and witchcraft. (This rather lengthy list is to show that there were plenty of books on magick out there, although some folkd say there weren’t.) I watched the occult sections of bookstores expand, and have watched them shrink again. I’ve watched the New Age explore The Secret and try to use the Law of Attraction because it’s so much less threatening than (cue spooky music) magick and witchcraft. I’ve also watched the media portray witches from old movies like I married a Witch and Bell Book and Candle, through Bewitched, Charmed, Sabrina, and Practical Magick and on to the Harry Potter series. They still seem to think that witches are a different race than humans. Go fig.
Still, no matter which direction you approach from, you are going to come down to the important bottom line. Wanting and Believing isn’t enough to make magick happen. You have to actually put in the hours and practice. You may well have to do an exhaustive search to find someone who can teach you HOW to do it right. (I have never found that when the student is ready the master appears.)
Some people have perfect pitch, and some are tone deaf. Some people are clumsy and some coordinated. They have finally admitted that there isn’t just one, but there are many types of IQ: musical, spatial, bodily, interpersonal, and they keep identifying more. The traditional IQ tests, in an attempt to get away from cultural information ended up testing for the ability to spot patterns. We all know that simply being good at math doesn’t make you good with words. I personally know that being good at one type of art doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good with other types. I can catch a likeness, but can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. I’ve also learned from my artistic endeavors (as well as my psychic ones) what any athlete or musician can tell you. You have to learn the technique, and you have to practice.
This is why I love Harry Potter and the other fictional depictions of magick that show people learning the how-to of magick. I haven’t seen the new Sabrina, but the old one ran almost every episode on the trope: “using magick to try to fix your problems will only make them worse”. This trope exists because what non-magick users think of as “magic” is getting something without working for it. (“flick and swish”) Magick users know that you have to work to do it, and that’s how it works. It may be able to accomplish things you couldn’t do with other means, but it’s not “something for nothing”.
So like Itzhak Perlman practicing scales every day, if you want to do magick, there will be daily exercises, and always something new to learn.
That needs differ is something we have a hard time integrating. We are taught as children to treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves, but the peanut butter sandwich we might love, could cause a problem for someone with an allergy to peanuts. Even without getting into allergic response, a vegetarian would not love the prime rib that someone else might need (they may have a greater need for carnatine, and not know that’s why they love beef).
It’s a great first rule for teaching kids to look beyond themselves, but the lessons kids need are different than the lessons we need as adults and elders. Sometimes needs are a result of our environment, in Southern California, the need for water is apparent, in the northern states, shelter and fuel for staying warm are critical, in Florida or south Texas, people (without the coping mechanisms of the indigenous people) need air conditioning to survive. In crowded cities, some private time may be something that requires conscious effort, whereas country folk may be more aware when they don’t have chances to socialize.
I have often said that if you take care of people’s needs: make sure that they are hydrated, fed, rested, and clean, they can probably handle their other problems. When I say that people will point out other needs that I haven’t considered- have people taken their required medications, or had enough sex. These are things that others think about because they have to, and I have been blessed enough that those needs are not on my radar.
We each have to keep track of our own needs, even if that means asking for help with taking care of them- or even keeping track of them. Don’t feel badly when you need help, you can restore balance by helping someone else with something they need. Remember, just because you need something now, doesn’t mean you will always need it (your last round of antibiotics, for example). Just because a need isn’t constant doesn’t make it a “want”. Accept your needs as part of the flux of life because you are wearing a body just now.
Simple thought this week: the prayer you don’t make, the spell you don’t cast, the ward or shield you don’t put up, these never work.
Stop wondering if it’s going to work, and just do it.