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.
“Ponder the difference between want and need”… This year’s theme reminds us to do that. Physical needs will make themselves apparent… , but sometimes it’s too easy to ignore emotional and spiritual needs. Yes, we must eat and breathe to live, but why are we here? What is life about?
My husband used to say “Pain is your friend, it tells you when you’ve done something stupid”. Pain is your body telling you to pay attention to something that needs fixing, whether it’s a bruise or a burn, but more and more of our physical ailments come from our body translating the stresses to our spirit that we’ve ignored. Your back ache may come not from carrying large objects but from “shouldering too much responsibility”, your gut issues may be the result of “swallowing” too many insults. If we ignore the very real spiritual needs our inner self will find a way to bring them to our attention. (Sadly, sometimes we don’t get what it’s saying.) Your body is there to remind you what’s important- what you need.
Another thing to remember is that we need to focus on the life we are living over what we think or hope our legacy will be. In the future, other people will be dealing with their needs, and all the grand things that seemed so important to us may not be anything they consider important. Dust we are, and to dust we return…
Speaking of dusting, on the other hand, the spirits I listen to remind me that both our house wights (brownies, or what ever name you use for them) DO want us to dust; our ancestors and invisible co-inhabitants of our living space show that they care about how we treat the homes they share with us; and certain divinities (Yes, Mother Holle, I’ll get to those dishes!) want us to keep the living area clean (and the sweeping! yes, I hear you!). There is also accumulating evidence that the physical environment has an impact on our emotions. So if you get the urge to clean or tidy, don’t fight it simply because I’ve shared a meme here. That may be what you need to do. Listen to your inner voices when they whisper so they won’t need to use your body to get your attention.