Questioning one’s own motives
Alternative spirituality is a very attractive thing right now. It seems to have crept into western consciousness over the last fifty to sixty years. Many people are investigating alternative forms of spirituality such as esotericism, occultism, and meditation practices. The fashion, beauty and art industries seem to be tapping into this spiritual resurgence utilizing concepts of sacred geometry and other esoteric symbols and concepts in their work. This popularity has also brought spiritual seekers to the world of magic and witchcraft. Natural magic and folk magic practices are being adopted also by modern practitioners, who may not identify as witches, but practice magic nonetheless. I think that is one of the great things about magic and witchcraft. It exists in both the spiritual and material realms, and can be utilized for greater spiritual purposes and practical everyday needs. Some of us are born with an indwelling affinity for the craft, and others discover it later in their journey. There is nothing wrong with using magic simply for practical purposes. This helps distinguish between those seeking greater communion with the spirit world by magical means, and those whose spell work is purely practical.
The fact that magical practice exists in both contexts is unique. For many people the spiritual and material are two separate and distinct spheres, which is the case in many established religions. Unless one is a member of clergy, lay people have their professional day to day lives and often keep their spiritual lives private. The many traditions that fall under neo-paganism, polytheism, and western esotericism; place emphasis on the path of individual discovery. In this context each individual serves as their own clergy member. There are no intermediaries between lay practitioners and the spirit world like we see in revealed religions. People hold themselves responsible for their own spiritual development, seeking truth for themselves through introspection.
My spirituality is part of my day-to-day life like many other spiritual people will claim. Magic and witchcraft are ever present in my worldview, and how I conduct myself in society. It is not something neatly folded to be kept on a shelf and taken out once a week. It can be a messy thing with a mind of its own, sometimes dominating every thought like an obsession, other times seemingly just out of my reach. There are times when I wish I could focus solely on my occult studies and magical practice because I have such a creative flow going; other times it is difficult to read a few pages in a book. The practice of magic is an art form. The preparation of tools and ritual space, each object with layers of symbolism arranged with purpose. When the elements of a spell or ritual come together a beautiful harmony is created.
Magical Thinking, Escapism, and Aesthetic
There are a few terms that really get me thinking about my practice, my beliefs, where they came from and what it all means. For those of us who feel that we have always shared a connection with the magical world, and came to witchcraft at a young age still maintain many of those same beliefs in adulthood. Understanding one’s spiritual affinity in a more mature context can provide one with insight into why they came to believe as they do. Many people will dabble in magic at some point and leave it behind. Out of the many young seekers there are few who will continue their path into adulthood. Various reasons are cited by detractors for their interest in the occult, and maybe for certain individuals those reasons are true. Maybe an individual needs something that alternative spirituality has to offer, and once that need is met the individual moves on. That is okay too. Some people think that the belief in magic is a childhood delusion carried into adulthood to cope with stressful situations. It is described as a mechanism to escape one’s reality through delusion. There are so many people in our modern age who are spiritually weak. They are looking for something that they are unable to find. These individuals pop up in virtually all religions and spiritual circles. These individuals are looking for what can only be found within themselves, and until they can learn introspection they will not find their spiritual home.
We all grow up with a magical view of the world when we see it through a child’s eyes. Many of us have things in our past that as children or adolescents we would have wanted to escape. After looking back on my childhood, sometimes I wonder if I developed this magical way of thinking as a way to cope with situations that were out of my control. Is this why I was attracted to images of witches and magic at such a young age-because I saw the power and strength displayed by these people? To me, witches were those individuals who had faced great adversity, and through their hardship came great power.
Is there a psychological explanation for why some individuals seem drawn to the occult? I’ve often wondered this about myself, if this was just another coping mechanism that I developed along the way? Maybe. However, I had other coping mechanisms that had a more negative impact. My interest in witchcraft has always had positive results, leading to greater self awareness. Like many young adults, there was a time that I was on a path of self destruction. My spirituality was a light during this dark time, keeping me safe, alive, and preserved for my greater purpose. Growing up on this path especially as a solitary practitioner has taught me to be my own spiritual voice of reason. As an adult, after years of spiritual growth and introspection I can say that this is a greater part of who I am as an individual. My beliefs have given me the strength and understanding to realize many things about myself; including the fact that magic was a part of me from the very beginning. It was never a developed coping mechanism, but something that I brought with me at birth. I am not one to blindly believe or follow others. I have a well rounded understanding of world religions, as well as the history of neo-paganism. Over the past two decades I have studied, and arrived at my own logical conclusions in regards to my spirituality. The path of self discovery continues….