Have you ever been so amazed, and overwhelmed (in a good way) that you said “It was magical, I got shivers!”? Looking back, each moment I said that, it was a moment of change in my consciousness, and change in my life. A moment of consequence!
The magical sword Excalibur, that made Arthur king when he pulled it from the stone had power that came with terrible consequences. Harry Potter’s magical powers came with ever increasing responsibility. In the Movie, Frozen, Queen Elsa struggles to accept her powers, and it is not until she accepts both her power AND the responsibilities that come with them, that they become a gift instead of a burden. As Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, said “with great power, must also come, great responsibility.”
The responsibility has to do with being in community. In the movie Frozen, Elsa’s powers were destructive when she was trying to suppress them: she made her entire kingdom sink into an eternal winter! Then, after she ran away she let go of the constraints she put on herself and ‘let it go”, but she cut herself off from her community. She needed love to invite her back into the community. When the community welcomed her, she accepted her responsibility and could use her powers in service to love and justice.
We are responsible for the things that we do. Running away does not fix that. But suppressing your own awesomeness also doesn’t fix anything. You have a superpower, you probably have a couple. You are full of magic, I don’t know what your magic is, but I bet your friends do… We each need our community, and they need our whole selves.
Pagan stories and traditions describe the power that comes from the earth as magic, indigenous traditions describe the power that arises from a tribe and ancestors as magic. As we learn from myth and tradition we all have access to some of that magic power.
In Unitarian Universalist congregations we usually don’t talk about spiritual matters in terms of power. But in the Pagan and earth-relating worlds we talk about spiritual power. The Aborigine of Australia, and the Shinto teachings speak of the dangers and responsibility of working with the power of spirit. Sufi, especially Dervish, spirituality speaks to the overwhelming and transformative experience of feeling the divine flow through and within us. Psychologists tell of the great power that spiritual awareness yields.
There are many definitions of the word magic. One definition I like because it is compatible with what anthropologists learn from cultures that practice magic: Magic is creating change by connecting with the energies of nature and community. Some people go to the wilderness to recharge. Some go to the ocean to heal. We all need to mourn in community and celebrate marriages and milestones with community. When we look into a clear night sky and experience the vastness of space… we feel something… it’s magic.
Around the world and throughout human history Indigenous traditions have tapped into this great spiritual power.
One practice that helps spiritual practitioners to grow and transform is candle magic. We light a candle to remember a person in Joys and Sorrows or to represent the family blessings at a wedding. We are practicing candle magic here today because we used the chalice lighting to help us focus on being here together.
Another spiritual practice is to dedicate yourself to the study of a divine aspect, like a god or goddess or mythical character. I spent a year meditating on the myth of Inanna’s pilgrimage to the underworld. I chose the Babylonian goddess Inanna as a way to recover from a very bad, horrible, no good year, when I experienced a lot of loss. The poetry, myths and rituals of Inanna losing everything and then returning (with a little help from her friends) helped me make sense of these losses and to rebuild my life and my power.
Magic has Consequences
Let’s go back to that word Magic. The definition of Magik, among Pagans is usually: “The art of changing consciousness at will.”
One of the consequences of doing the work of magic is that it can change reality like it did for me. If Magik is the art of transforming consciousness at will, what does consciousness create? Well, Schoedinger says that consciousness creates reality. So Schroedinger’s Cat would say that Magik has consequences in reality!
I want to be be very clear here. Ritual, prayer, candle magic, and all the rest is not putting in a request to the divine piggy bank for a specific pay-out. When I pray for world peace I’m not expecting Big Daddy in the Sky to go “POOF, OK, you got it.” When people paint themselves blue because that is their team’s colors, they are changing themselves, not actually making their sports team win. The only people who can do THAT magic trick are the players on the teams.
I’m asking, like Susan B. Anthony did, to pray with my feet, my hands, my voice, my life. I’m asking to change ME so that I can change the world. I’m asking, now that you know you can do magic, how will YOU change the world?