Doing Other Things: Magic, Mundanity, and a Marathon (Well, a Half)

Doing Other Things: Magic, Mundanity, and a Marathon (Well, a Half) April 12, 2016

faceHi, Patheos. Sorry for the absence. April has been a super intense month for me.

My last class in my teacher education program is heating up, and I’ve got all kinds of final projects due. I just finished designing a unit on writing a research paper, and I’ll actually be teaching a portion of it in a couple of weeks. I’m anxious about it, and looking forward to the day when this will feel like old hat (if that’s ever a thing). One thing, though: I’ve learned an awful lot about coven leadership and magical training during this process. Just spending the time actually studying how people learn, how to decide what to emphasize, how to reinforce some behaviors while discouraging others, and what to not do in trying to teach someone something in the context of a classroom has translated really well to a coven environment. I think there’s a difference between being a priestess and being a teacher, though they often go hand in hand. I’m gratified to find that my school work is paying off in one part of my life right away.

I’m also working on an academic book review for a journal, and that requires more careful reading than I might normally do on my own. I really enjoy writing reviews, because I have to consider the text from different angles, being less self-centered than I usually am. How would someone else receive this work? What are its implications for people who aren’t me? Etcetera, etcetera. It’s a small thing, but it’s important to me to do good work. Plus I’m reconsidering a book that I read earlier in the year, and it’s a lot of fun to revisit it in this different light.

What else?

I ran my first half Marathon on Sunday! I’ve written a bit about my tenuous relationship with athletics. I’m sort of a closeted jock. A lifelong nerd and traumatized fat kid, sports never came easy. Memories of high school gym class mostly involve being hit in the face with dodge balls and one almost unbelievably cartoonish moment where I hit myself in the nose taking a foul shot in basketball—the ball hit the backboard and hit me squarely, knocking me to the ground while everyone watched, agape.

But I started running in college because my boyfriend at the time was a runner. I’ve been sucking at it for a long time, but was recently inspired to actually train. I remember those early days, thinking that distance runners were like magical beasts, or Vegas magicians: superhuman, mystical, and shrouded in a kind of wonder that doughy mediocrities like myself couldn’t possibly hope to replicate.

Imagine my surprise, in the last three months, to find that my own body is also capable of such feats (albeit slower and less pretty).

I can’t wait to see what it does next. Once I can fully extend my legs again, that is.

I realize this particular blog isn’t informative. There’s no list of practical tips for being Pagan and no probing questions about theology or community. But being a witch isn’t all coven meetings and spellcraft. It’s also school and work and more work and getting sick and dealing with family and trying new things and feeling insecure sometimes and remembering to take the car in for an oil change.

I think those things get lost in the mix sometimes, and it makes it too easy to put people on pedestals (or dehumanize them), set unrealistic expectations for yourself or others, and to justify not dealing with other parts of life. One of the things that’s important to me about witchcraft is that it can be part of these other experiences. It’s not some intangible, other thing that exists apart from the “real” world. It’s part of who I am, but it’s not all that I am. And those other parts are what make my witchcraft necessarily different from yours or anyone else’s, even if we’re part of the same tradition, or even the same coven.

I think we also forget sometimes that there’s a lot of extraordinariness in the mundane (dude, I just ran thirteen fucking miles holy balls).  Sometimes in our quest to be the best and realest and most magical and most authoritative (often at the expense of other people), we forget about the things that actually do set us apart.  But if we discount those things, our witchcraft doesn’t stand much of a chance in the long run, either.  When we talk about erasing the line between magic and the mundane, this is where my head goes lately.  It’s not that doing the dishes and cleaning up dog shit has to become an act of joyous magic (and I know that’s a thing people strive for, and godspeed to you).  Rather, it’s a reminder that one things affects the other.  Functioning well in one realm reinforces both.

And speaking of functioning (or not), here's me falling apart after crossing the finish line.  Please note torn leggings and untied shoes.  Also tears (not pictured).
And speaking of functioning (or not), here’s me falling apart after crossing the finish line. Please note torn leggings and untied shoes. Also tears (not pictured).

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