Practicing: Magical Work

Practicing: Magical Work February 15, 2013

Not all Pagan traditions practice magic, but most engage intention in one form or another.  One way to think of the formal, ritual practices of magic — spells, candles, incense, ritual — is as a way of focusing intention and heightening its effectiveness.

Knife with shadow
Photo by me! (

Nurturing our connections, which we talked about a few days ago, is the heart of magical work as well as of practice.  When I’m focused on my health, I can consider what I take into my body, how much movement and nature I am getting, and whether I need to address any health challenges, but I can also build an altar, ask my body what it needs, and spend time tuning into subtle physical and energetic changes that will help me cultivate health. When I’m developing a relationship with an ally, I can make offerings and requests and listen to what they have to tell me, but I can also honor them with ritual.

One piece of magical work I find particularly valuable is releasing.  Releasing the things that no longer serve me once a year or even once a quarter is helpful, but doesn’t always provide the opportunity I need to shift small, everyday patterns — to let go of my frustration with a friend or my nervousness about submitting writing to a new venue.  So I’ve developed a ritual of tying these things into knots in strings.

I also find setting intentions to be useful.  One practice I often teach was nicknamed intention shots by a student, and the name has stuck.  It involves charging a small cup of water — I use Dixie cups when I’m teaching at gatherings! — with a small desire or wish or intention and then drinking it.  Often just naming these things can be powerful, and when we notice the same things coming up over and over again, we also learn something useful.  This isn’t a good practice for bringing about world peace, but it is a great one for setting or shifting the tone of my day.

If you set larger intentions — weekly when we practice together, quarterly, or yearly — affirming those in your practice can also be fruitful.  Some intentions thrive on the back burner and others like to be stirred regularly; you’ll find the way that works for you with each of your magical projects.  I also have core, global intentions that I work with over long periods of time.  One of mine, from the World Peace Prayer Society, is may peace prevail on Earth.  Others come more directly from my traditions and pertain to specific magical goals that are part of their cosmologies.

Do you regularly do magical work as part of your practice?  I’d love to hear about it.

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