Printed in the Conscious Creation Journal
Does Magic Work?
Popular fantasy-fiction and childhood fairy tales have taught us a certain view of what constitutes magic. Popular psychology discusses the concept of “magical thinking”, or unconnected cause-and-effect thinking (such as “if I do A then B will result” with no concrete connection between cause and effect) as a barrier to true psychological growth. Many of us have memories of magic that responds immediately and concretely to our workings. What do all three of these have in common? All three of these descriptions do not accurately describe what magic is and how it works on Planet Earth.
For the purposes of this article I will stick to this time and place, this reality here-and-now. Discussions of what magic did and how it worked in other times and places are, I think, best left to a different article.
A large part of magic here consists of what can be loosely termed “mental alchemy”. To put it into simpler terms, the magic worker creates the process of magic by altering one’s own perceptions. Thus, magic here works best when applied to oneself or one’s own situation.
Magic here is both very powerful and very, very subtle. It is internal, drawing as much upon the will and consciousness of the practitioner as upon the external energies of the world. The process of magic must therefore take into consideration both the true will of the practitioner and the ambient energies available to fuel the process, or the process fails. Hence, the prime commandment for the successful working of magic: “Know Thyself.”
Self-knowledge is critical to the success of magical working. You must first and foremost know what you truly desire, and to know this you must know who you are. By who you are I don’t mean what spiritual race; that is almost incidental. I mean you must know how you will feel, how you will react, what your philosophies are, what does and does not matter to you. You must know all the light and dark sides of yourself and be at home in your own skin. You can of course work magic successfully without this self-knowledge. It happens all the time. Without it, though, your efforts will produce unexpected or inconsistent results. Knowing oneself is thus a primary focus and goal for successful magic, and it is one you would ideally be working toward your entire life. Magic is powered by the energies of where you are but it is focused and directed by your own consciousness, and your subconscious. If you undertake a magical working to bring about something you do not truly desire for yourself but rather have convinced yourself you should want then at best your working will fail. At worst you’ll find yourself in a situation where you now have something you either don’t like, don’t know what to do with or got at a price you wouldn’t have paid had you known.
I’ll relate a tale out of my own experience. Samhain 1992 -I did my usual yearly solitary ritual for the coming year and to bid farewell to the passing one. One thing I had been trying to accomplish for about three years at that point was to be able to sell my house and move to Connecticut to be with the man who is now my husband. To that end, when I made my yearly intentions I poured a huge amount of energy and passion into forming that one. All the signs indicated that my request had been Heard and favorably looked upon. This was in October. By March of 1993 I was indeed living in Connecticut, however the circumstances that brought that about were in retrospect so painful and difficult that had I an inkling beforehand I’d have left well enough alone, and brought this change about in some other, more mundane way. Looking back, I realize that I had without realizing it projected some of my frustrations with my then-current situation into my working, and that when I made my intention I had deliberately left the reality of those situations out of the picture instead of incorporating them into the picture in a responsible way. Yes,the magic took those things out of the picture … in a painful way. So, the importance of Knowing Thyself was brought home to me very, very sharply.
A critical and fundamental key to magic is to embrace the understanding that your subconscious is a powerful tool which can be programmed. It is for this reason that visualization is such an important tool in your magical repertoire. You can pick up a powerful obsidian athame, make a wand out of oak and copper, bear a silver sword and drape yourself in crystals all you want; if you can’t visualise your intention then you can’t program your subconscious to work on your behalf in making that intention a reality. Again, knowing thyself is paramount to that process.
One effective technique for programming that I have found particularly useful is to spend some time in meditation, focusing on what I am seeking to bring about in my own life and then spending some time letting the images and thoughts flow around that intention. This assists me in discovering if the intention is something I truly want. I often do this several times and ithas become part of the mental preparation process for me. Once I have explored those thoughts and images I try to anchor them as firmly as possible into my conscious reality. One way of doing this is to embark upon a pre-ritual meditation using music, incense, etc… things that will bring you somewhat back to your physical reality. I then enter into the meditative state with these reminders around me of the physical universe I inhabit, and once again focus on the images and thoughts I have discovered through my earlier meditations. By holding those images while remaining aware of the physical universe around me I can bring them into my conscious thought process and anchor them there.
During the ritual process, as I form my intentions and visualize them I return to the thoughts and images I anchored during my pre-ritual meditation. By now these will have been reinforced several times and have become part of my conscious experience as well as my subconscious one. By reinforcing this I am in effect programming my subconscious mind to bring about in me the state of mind that will allow me to embrace the changes I am seeking to make. Once my ritual has ended that subconscious programming remains and will continue to effect the things I do and the decisions I make. Over time this will ideally trigger me to choose courses of action that will in the end bring about my desire.
It can be argued that this isn’t magic, it’s psychology. And yet magic and psychology go hand in hand in this context. Because we are the prime ingredient in any magical working, the psychology of how we think and function is inextricable from the process. Knowing thyself, knowing how you think and feel truly, understanding what it is you want and what you are willing to do to accomplish it is the difference between success and failure in magic. Otherwise you can be surrounded with the most magical flow of energies ever found on Planet Earth and you lack the tools and understanding to do anything with that. Magic exists, but only that. It is a static force until we make it an active, dynamic force in our own realities.
Magic exists, and it works. The magic of this world is a powerful and subtle force. But we must use the proper tools to utilize it and the primary tool is our own mind. Proper use of the tool requires abandoning the old ideas of what magic should be, and growing in one’s understanding of what it is.
©2000, Tiernan. All Rights Reserved. Image copyright Sharon Rettich of Legacy of the Cauldron and is used with permission. Printed in the Conscious Creation Journal. (Feel free to duplicate this article for personal use – please include this copyright notice and the URL.) http://www.consciouscreation.com
This article was originally published at the Otherkin web site.