I Will Pray For You (She Said Sinisterly)

First of all, I FEEL BETTER! Whatever bug I had has vamoosed, and in the way things go I am amused at how the universe always seem to kick you when you’re down, and at how all sorts of things happen while you are lying abed with a bug. How weird the wide world is!

I know there are Olympics, and Catholics using smarmy quoting practices and Lammas and about a gajillion blog posts that could be responded to but today I want to talk about doing magick for other people.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that magick-workers used to work magick for each other and request magickal aid from each other pretty frequently at the beginning of the Pagan movement. Then suspicion crept into our lives. Witch wars and diversity. We were no longer all practicing the same Craft or same set of closely related magickal currents.

Thus came about a culture of simply sending energy undirected and without purpose. The magical equivalent of a bolt of lighting with only the limitation that it Harm None. As if a person in ICU can direct the energetic equivalent of a transformer to their best advantage on their own.

What makes it so fascinating is that it’s not malevolent magick most of us are worried about. We are worried about misguided helpful magick. We are worried that people will “pray for us.”

In the saccharine sweet South, one of the nastiest things you can do is tell someone you will pray for them with just the right inflection. Said properly, what it really means is praying against you, and anyone with an Evangelical background is aware of spiritual warfare. The intent is not technically evil or malevolent, but it is strictly at cross-purposes with you. It wants to see you fail, stumble, fall, or break down, all for your own good. All so you can see the “Light.”

I’ve known mother-in-laws to pray against their son’s wives getting a job even though the couple needed the money, simply because they believe women should be at home with the children. I’ve known church members to pray against each other. I have family that prays against me, all for my own good.

Recently a friend approached me asking for my magickal help. No one has ever asked me for that before. I was beyond flattered and honored that they trusted me so much.

It was with full knowledge of that trust that I set to work carefully weaving spells of sanctuary, prosperity,health and joy for them, ending it with turning ownership of those spells over to them. I did the work as a guest invited into their life, who left the work entirely at the end. I worked that their desires may come to fruition, not mine. I worked deliberately with specific intent and energies. I didn’t just hurl a blob of white light like a big gob of astral Cool Whip at them.

I can only assume what I did worked well, or at least didn’t put stumbling blocks in their way. What I do know is that in that strange way that magick works, it had a profound effect on me. It felt really good to be able to do something for a friend that was important and regarded their basic well-being. It felt good to practice my Craft for the benefit of someone other than myself, and to notice the marked difference in my Craft when I am working for others. It felt good to remind myself that my Craft isn’t tied to a physical location, even if I am.

As much as it is still uneasy territory, and no one likes to be “prayed for,” I think we should work for each other and our communities more often. It’s a good thing to do. A pious thing to do. Just as much as we should donate our mundane energies to making our communities a better place, we should also devote our spiritual energies to that same good cause.

Happy Lammas/Lughnasadh to you all!

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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • sunfell

    Last time I was told that I would be ‘prayed for’ in that particular Southern style, I replied, “Thank you. And may your prayers for me impact you, as well.” 

  • Ursyl

    It’s been a long time, but it is an interesting exercise to work out what speaks to the person needing the help. I’ve found that helping others on any level feels pretty good.

  • PhaedraHPS

    Isaac used to say we shouldn’t have a different set of ethics for magic than we have for real life. Person #1: “Oh, no, I can’t find my wallet!” Person #2:”Is it ok if I help you to look for it, or would you rather I don’t?” We’d think that response very odd. Wouldn’t the ordinary reaction be more like “Oh, goodness! Let me help look for it!”

    It always blows my mind when I speak of concern for my health or
    welfare, and people ask if it’s ok if they do something nice for me,
    magically. Oh, good heavens, no–I just told you about it because I want
    it to stay exactly the way it is without improvement. Really, why would
    I express concern for my situation unless I wanted it to change?

  • http://twitter.com/paganMusing tigresslilly

     While you have a good point phaedra regarding the desire to help one another, I still think consent is hugely important.  Sometimes people do just tell us about the time they are having so that they can vent or so we may be more understanding of where they are coming from.

    Also, even if a person comes to you and wants help, it’s important to know what kind of help they are looking for.  In the case of a missing wallet it’s easy to offer to help look, but it’s another level to call the police to report a missing wallet.  That’s a step one would have to suggest of offer first rather than simply dive into it.  I look at prayer and magic that way.  It’s a little extra boost that  I know people are sensitive about.  I don’t hesitate to offer, but I wouldn’t feel right calling in to report someone else’s wallet missing.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Being ‘prayed for’ is much like being blessed.

    Unless you want the attentions of the deity/deities they are invoking, it is a pretty negative thing.

    As someone with no favoured deities, I would really rather that I wasn’t prayed for and that people didn’t ‘bless’ me. Especially since, invariably, people are keen to invoke perhaps my least favourite deity of all – YHWH.

  • WhiteBirch

    Sometimes I get appalled thinking about the praying I did for other people back in the day… >< I do try very hard not to do that these days, even though I'm still a big pray-er. 

    While I don't think express consent is always necessary (though I usually try to get it from people if I'm doing an actual working rather than just remembering them in my daily prayers and devotions), I never ever work or pray for anything that I believe/suspect to be at cross-purposes with the person's own wishes. If she's happily expecting, I'll work for health and safe delivery.  If she's in a tough spot with a pregnancy though, I certainly won't work for anything that might be at odds with her wishes. Wisdom and clarity and peace, maybe, but not for any specific outcome until she knows uninfluenced what she wants. Just an example, but not too far off from something that went on in reality recently. 

    I like this post a lot, Star. Thank you. :) Though I rather wish you'd posted about the questionable quotes too. That whole conversation had me somewhat riled up. 

  • Yalith

    I was always taught that any well-intended energy sent my way was a good thing. Perhaps it is not specifically what I wanted, perhaps it is not what I asked for, but I feel blessed that people care enough TO actually pray. If they don’t really care they won’t really direct enough energy at you to make an impact. If they do care, that is usually a good thing. So I gave up trying to control other people’s spiritual expressions and now simply say ‘thank you’ or ‘I welcome your prayers’ and trust that they are said with goodwill.
    I certainly understand your stance, but I do not share it.

  • Corc Hamr

    My aunt did the, “Do you want me to pray for you?” thing. She knows I am Pagan, but she is Lutheran, married to a Lutheran pastor. She’s a sweetheart and I love her dearly. The thing is, while I am not very fond of YHVH, the question still bugged me, so much that I wrote a post on it on my blog. (hamrbone at WordPress, if anyone cares). The basic gist is that, if someone’s going to pray against me, I know my Gods are going to help me block that, especially if they still have work for me to do. On the other hand, praying for my health and wellness doesn’t cross purposes, and I appreciate it. Either way, I welcome prayer for me, even if I’m not fond of the deity prayed to. That’s just the way I am about it.