I’ve noticed lately, in the chaos of the world, that people cling even harder to their beliefs. It’s understandable, and human to want to hold tight to that which gives you comfort. What’s often forgotten in the equation is how, if you hold tight to that knowledge and act like it’s the only way to do things, it tends to make other people feel “less than”, which isn’t fair or respectful.
I abhor gatekeeping. That oh-so-not-subtle way of implying it’s your way or the highway when it comes to magic. Maybe it’s because I grew up in 1970s Greenwich Village, where we were a true melting pot of nationalities and sexuality, but I am all for embracing everyone’s magic. That kind of implication, that the way you do things is the only way to make things happen, is often sad and infuriating to witness. There is enough room for all types of magic in the world, and personally, I love learning about it all myself. What is tough to see is how it effects other people, who shut down, get quiet, or look terrified when asking questions, usually beginning with, “This may sound like a stupid question, but…” In my world, there are no stupid questions, especially when you are trying to learn.
You know what DOES work with magic, spellwork, and ritual?
Intent. That beautiful, glorious word. Intent is everything, in my opinion. Approach the work with your clear intent, and watch what happens. Don’t let it get clouded by, “I haven’t taken this course”, or “I have only been doing this for a few weeks.” Like any other skill, it takes practice. Which leads me to…
Enjoy practicing. Nothing is worse than feeling like you have to do something if you don’t want to. Drudgery is hard on any level. Take joy in your practice, no matter how simple or advanced you think you are. Setting up an altar is one of the most joyous experiences, because you are personalizing it to suit your needs, who you want to honor, and your intentions. Take pictures of it and share! I love the looks on people’s faces when I ask them to show me pictures of their altar if they are comfortable. There is a certain glimmer of pride that they have that makes me happy to share in that experience.
Be clear. My one bit of advice to all newbie practitioners is: be very clear about your intent. I will never forget the person who very wryly told me: “I asked for abundance, and that’s definitely what I got. I am working five jobs with no time for myself, but hey, I have abundance.” In all workings, be very clear about your intent. The beauty of magic is that you state your intent, and the universe conspires to make it happen. Both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Goethe were known to have said versions of this concept, and it is quite simply. moving energy around. Step back from your practice a bit if you are feeling muddled and ponder on this bit. When you take all the accessories away, it truly is the core of a magic practice.
Be respectful. I am fortunate to know people who have been practicing forty and fifty years, and I mentally and sometimes physically bow down to their knowledge. That doesn’t mean I automatically agree with everything they say and do, but I have a definite respect for what they have to say. On the other end of the spectrum, I would not cut someone off who is new to the practice, and excitedly sharing their own new revelations in what they have learned. If I don’t agree or feel like they misunderstood, I may gently say something, but always politely. It is not my job to correct people on their journey (unless it looks like someone would get harmed, but that’s a whole different subject.) If you and I use different colored candles to do the same kind of spellwork, does that mean one of us is wrong? Go back to what I wrote about intent above.
Practice what you preach. My favorite people are the ones doing the work, quietly and without fanfare, day in and day out. They journal, meditate, follow the moon phases, get things done. Those are the ones I love to learn from, not those who loudly push to the front of the line with knowledge or name-dropping. If you find people like that in your life, ground and shield, and keep it moving. That’s really all you can do, and it applies to so many circumstances.
Above all, appreciate. We get to make things happen, and continue ways that have been going on for centuries. We continue the work and the knowledge, and every candle lit, every spell that is begun, every ritual that is participated in, moves energy in a way that this crazy, strife-filled world needs. Rejoice in your uniqueness, even if your family and friends don’t understand. Fear is behind a lot of behaviors, gate-keeping included. Don’t take it personally, and keep on doing what you are doing. Especially nowadays, we need all the magic we can get.