Magical Thinking

Magical Thinking

Author: Levi

Many times when people find the Pagan community we hear that children display many unique abilities, unlike their adult counterparts who have been conditioned to our modern mundane world. How do children view the world of seeming superstition and magick? What can we learn from this and apply to our lives as modern Pagans? It is with the tools of skeptical thinking, psychology and a dash of good old fashioned pondering that I would like to explore with you these topics.

First of all children take things for face value; while observing, they soak in every comprehensible detail unknowingly. Yet their actions are based more on what they have been instructed to do, not what they observe independently. If you were to throw a notion or better a devout law into their thought process, and couple that with the respect they feel for the notion-dropper, that child is capable of believing in any possible thing. Think about Hansel and Gretel, Harry Potter, God, the bogeyman, any of the archetypal “make-believe” characters, and you know what I mean. Their level of belief in the characters, and/or magickal thinking, depends greatly on which level of cognitive development the child currently maintains. Aside from that, social learning plays an important role because parents are the children’s first and foremost teachers and the sheer scope of their job is extensive. “Therefore if children are to learn to walk, to speak, and to take care of themselves, adults cannot simply wait for a time driven process of cognitive development to unfold, neither can they wait until a child exhibits desirable behaviors by chance, and then lavishly reinforce the lucky episode.” (Vyse pg. 157) As the years pass from pre-operational thinking, ages 2-7, to concrete operational thinking, ages 7-11, so declines their susceptibility to superstitious beliefs and irrational concepts of reality. Skepticism is an adult characteristic and is acquired, if at all, with age. Which brings us to formal operational thinking, over 11 years of age, which starts to incorporate logical thinking over the more fiction-based, directly-handed-down method of learning. The pre-adolescent begins to put together abstract thoughts and construct its own views on its reality, and other realities. After the pre-adolescent stage the child therefore begins to seemingly take on a more what we would term adult view of reality and reason. Though conformity can be seen as the destroyer of intellectual thinking, it nonetheless steps in around this age. It works as your individual observations weigh less as your understanding of social interaction and acceptance begin to affect more and more of your decisions.

What exactly does all this mean, you may ask. Well all of these facts show that in our increasingly modern world we are slowly conditioning our children to no longer think with imagination and creativity. Nevertheless a starling array of what are termed as old wives tales, warnings and magickal thought still survive till today and are reflections of many preoccupations and/or human fears that have been passed on over time. But it is my thought that we need not view these things in such a light, as it would be much wiser to view them as a part of oral tradition to pass on. It is also interesting to note as a parallel that sometimes science has demonstrated that certain beliefs relating to various plants and foods that hold magical powers do in fact have a basis in reality and have been proven to work. On the other hand people still avoid walking under ladders and knock on wood and cross their fingers in order to guard there luck. With this in mind, of all things this teaches us that it is not only important to instill our traditions into our youth if they are to survive, but to instill these traditions as a way of love, if the world and intelligent humanity is to survive.

My personal experience with the topic of traditions could be viewed I guess in part as a long legacy if you will, which everyone has, if a little thought has been put into it. First off I come from an Irish/Sicilian descent; both cultures have been steeped in magickal and superstitious thinking for millennia. Ever since I was a small child I remember a figure or wall plaque of the triskele in my home. The triskele is a symbol of Medusa surrounded by three legs representing the three magickal nymphs. In essence the story of this symbol dates back to the times and stories of the goddess Diana within ancient Italy. Still today many Sicilian people have this symbol within there home to guard the home from negativity and yes today here in my home, hanging over the front door, is a triskele symbol. Somehow throughout my childhood I have taken on this simple traditional superstition, accepted it and have woven it into the workings of my own life. But this is typically how family traditions or what may be termed superstitions seem to work.

Thrown into this mix I was born and raised in Kansas. Now the Midwest doesn’t seem like it is much of a magical place, but actually it is a place filled with local traditions and legends, mostly belonging to the Native Americans that once lived there and other people known as God fearing Christians! In addition to this I can remember as a child being told by my grandmother to stay close to the house because of the Gypsies who at one time were known to be in the area. But moreover she taught that they would kidnap me and never let me come home. Actually and generally these Gypsies were immigrants that would travel through the area from time to time, but were long gone before my days on the prairie. What I do know now is that this was her way of protecting and keeping me close to home as was also her way of keeping me in bed at night with tales of the bogeyman and his nightly rampaging of the land in search of children! “But don’t worry; he might let you lose when the sun comes, if you’re lucky, ” she would always say, ever so wisely.

Over the years as I grew up and have (unfortunately) gone far beyond my stages of development I have later learned that these fictional creatures have served as a tool for elders throughout time as means of safeguarding children. Even though I still may think of Mr. Bogeyman from time to time, and maybe I’ll pass that one on. I believe that because of these experiences that I have had in the past, my upbringing and the fact that I am the product of two old hippies, this has led me to where I am today. It has led me to my view upon the world as a much more magical place than what the average may think. Witchcraft and the study thereof, is an earth-based religion passed on from our Pagan ancestors that looks to the divine within the aspects of nature, therefore working and following closely with the waxing and waning seasons of the year. It is heavily involved with ecology and moral issues in addition to environmental issues. Witchcraft also teaches us to be open-minded and at the same time to think very wisely of the world, and the issues within it. It also teaches you to value the people around you and your future of this world, remembering not to take everything for granted or at face value, thereby devaluing one’s own self and worth.

It is suggested these traditions are that of false superstitious behavior and are abnormal in nature. Probably no other aspect of psychological behavior is more challenging to understand than that of the abnormal because it is thought of as kind of working hand-in-hand with mental disorders. In everyday life, people often talk about “mental illness, ” a term which echoes of medical asylums and twisted and cruel mental health practitioners, so in turn this view has given a negative view or stigmatism upon the subject of abnormal behavior. In hand this is placing a negative view upon traditions, which may be viewed as abnormal, because they do not fit into the mainstream. The reality is that public understanding of true abnormal behavior is fairly limited and right now we still don’t have all the answers when it comes to understanding and treating disorders. But is abnormal behavior by itself really a disorder? When you think about the word itself all abnormal behavior really is the fact that when someone may act in a manner that does not fit society’s expected view of normal behavior, they are viewed as abnormal. Does the behavior make them mentally ill? I think not, in fact to me this sounds a little reminiscent of what we now term as The Burning Times. Truer things to consider or to ask when deciding if someone is abnormal are: Is this person suffering? Is her or she seemingly maladaptive? Are they irrational or unpredictable? Or are they violating morals or society’s standards? The thought is that when a person displays a couple or more of these conditions then we could label one as abnormal or as having a mental condition with some confidence. I also think this is a good approach and also say as long as the person is not harming him or her self, others, or the surrounding area then there may really not be a problem at all. Maybe the person is very creative or there could be a long list of other possibilities that do not fit under the heading mental illness. When real thought is put into it maybe the real problem lies in the observer of this “abnormal behavior.” It may in fact be touching on some of observer’s own personal fear, bias and or issues on an unspoken or hidden level. Or simply it may be a behavior that the observer has never been exposed to before.

This also works within the realm of Magickal traditions. Because of the mainstream views upon Magickal traditions as irrational in nature it is thereby simple to label someone as irrational. This type of labeling can be very tricky and or harmful, as history has shown us. But again we tend to view irrational behavior within the context of the extreme, which leads us back to that old abnormal behavior. Are my beliefs or traditions abnormal and/or irrational compared to that of a Christian or a Jewish person or are theirs compared to mine? I think not, because as we can see every faith and/or culture around the world has its own set of values, traditions, and thoughts on belief, magick and superstition. It’s how we think that is really important because when we think in a linear way opposed to a more creative way we tend to push our personal views and/or perspectives upon others and in the long run can lead to conflict, maybe even harm. We see these downfalls and issues working everyday within the media alone.

My closing thought on growing up learning and passing on magickal traditions and in effect living one’s life with the belief in these ways is not something to be shunned. The point is no matter how odd society would like to view us and our magical ways of thinking or what labels they would like to put upon the subject, in actuality under some circumstances it can prove to be very rational, therapeutic and/or a combination of the two. Our beliefs in Magick as well as our traditions will continue to flourish as a natural human expression around the globe even in the most technologically advanced societies, and probably as long as there are humans to utilize these tools… The fact is, is it above irrational to bring comfort to the modern human condition? Which the magickal traditions can and do provide. With this in mind learn once again to think with the imagination of a child and create new beautiful realities for our future to come.

Footnotes:
Vyse A. Stuart (Oxford university Press 1997) Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition
Pickering, David (Cassell 1995) Dictionary of Superstitions

 

Making A Dream Wand (Storm Moon)

Making A Dream Wand

(Storm Moon)
 
Using wands is a way of focusing your energy and pointing your magickal energy toward something in particular. Make this wand to focus your magickal power.
 
You will need a stick the length of your elbow to the end of your middle finger when outstretched. Youwill also need superglue, a pointed stone or crystal point and your favorite color of ribbon. As in Harry Potter, wands can be made from many things and are a reflection of their owner. Choose a wood and stone that reflect who you are as a creative and magick person.
 
Strip the wood of its bark, then glue the stone onto what you want to be the tip end of the wand. After the glue has dried, drape the ribbon around the wand, starting from the tip and moving to the base. You can also glue and tie things on your wand that help it to become uniquely yours. Be creative!
 
After you have finished making your wand, draw a magick circle of light and call in the elements. Standing in the middle of the circle, hold your wand with your power hand and raise it high up in the air. Say:
 
“Come almighty powers of Oneness,
Inbibe this dream wand with your powers,
So that it may have a direct connection to the divine.
To always guide and protect me well.
Ayea! Ayea! Ayea! So be it! Blessed Be!”
 
When you are done, bid farewell to the elements and close the circle. Keep your wand to your altar and use it to make magick night and day.

I Am Me

I Am Me

Author: Dahlia Starwatch

I was always told, “Yup, Jesus is up there. Yup, God’s watching you, so be good.” And I couldn’t help but feel a bit afraid of the menacing big guy upstairs that would send down to the inferno that (not literally) burned right under my feet if I did something wrong or bad. And I couldn’t help but feel alone when the topic of religion came up in my family.

I said I was this, but it felt off. Then I’d say I was this, and still feel off. Then I got more into Buddhism. It felt close enough to what I wanted; I said that’s what I was. So I studied and studies and practiced and my grandparents were proud. They’d take me to the temple just to study. They made sure I practiced at least once a day, but everything still felt off.

But that’s what the problem was, I felt off. And I hated it. I just wanted a religion that would let me believe in what I believe in, and that was magic. I had always loved magic since I was a little girl. Starting from watching “Charmed” with my mom and aunts to “Harry Potter”. I found magic in the world, and that’s what I wanted. I just could never find it. So I stuck with Buddha, no matter how uncomfortable I felt.

Then I started going for walks around my neighborhood and down at a close park and felt the energy of the world. I felt the energy that the rocks stored and carried. I felt the energy from people that passed me on their own walks or as they sped by in their cars. I felt the energy of the creek and the trees and all the other plants. I didn’t understand it so I just dismissed it. I didn’t like dismissing it. But it was foreign, and I was very “in my shell” back then.

I kept going for my walks and I kept trying to ignore what I felt. It was really hard, so finally, i just sat down on a big rock in the park by the creek and just sat there. I sat there for a good hour. I watched how the world changed in front of my eyes, even if they were just little changes. I felt the world’s energy shift and move and felt it move through me and i was just in awe.

I came back the next day and did the same thing all over. I soon began to realize, after I left the park, I felt much happier. I felt better I felt amazing. I didn’t understand it, so I went to mom about it. I tried to explain it to her. I tried to explain how the energy moved and how the world changed and how beautiful the change and energy flow was. But she just told me that I was touched by a special gift from one of the Gods. I felt crushed that that was the only explanation I was going to get. So I went down the park continually, and every day I thought to myself, this feels like magic. This is what I like. This is what I want to feel like everyday, all the time.

Then one day, a good friend of mine began talking about some of his Wiccan friends. I became really curious and decided to do some research. Being that I couldn’t get to a bookstore, I Googled away (yes, I am a dweeb at times but I love being that way ^.^) ! I ended up finding a website (Wicca-spirituality.com) and fell in love with Wicca. I ate up the information and began to really study the faith trying to understand the God and Goddess, and I realized, this is what I am. This is the religion I’ve been searching for. I couldn’t feel more… centered. I felt at home.

I told my mom, but she didn’t know what the religion was. So I tried to explain it to her, and she still didn’t understand. She told my dad, and my father said nothing. But they both threw a terrible fit when my friend gave me tarot cards for Christmas. I argued with them that it was apart of my religion.

They argued it was bad luck. I wasn’t going to give up something I believed in. They had raised me to fight for what I believed in. But now they were being just plain hypocritical. I was allowed to be a Wiccan, but I couldn’t practice Wicca?

I couldn’t practice the magick I had believed in my whole life? I was shattered. This is who I am, and my parents wouldn’t let me be true to myself when that’s what they taught me while growing up. So finally, I just shut them out of my religious beliefs.

I shut them out. I didn’t want them to talk down to me because they said what I believed in was now said “Evil”, which was a common misunderstanding. Wicca is beautiful religion, and I’m proud to be a witch. But apparently they weren’t.

Finally though, they began to accept who I am, religion included. They even take me to the Stores to buy supplies when needed, even though the Stored are a long drive a way

So I’ve been studying Wicca ever since. I am proud to say that I’ve actually merged two religions and it feels perfect for me and I am proud to say I am Buddhist Wiccan. It made no sense to me to drop a religion I had done for so long, and Wicca isn’t really all that different when it comes to the faith. I love that I found out who I am, and that I have a Goddess watching over me.

Merry ye meet and merry ye part. (:

Blessed Be~~ Dahlia Starwatch

Witches’ Flying Potion: Through the Clouds

Basque witches also created flying ointments although, perhaps because Mari, Basque Queen of Witches, flies on a fire bolt, the associations of flying on broomsticks are lacking. Instead of brooms, incantations are needed: rub the ointment on the body while repeatedly chanting something like: “Above all the thorns, through all the clouds….”

Your Animal Spirit for July 6th is The Buffalo

Your Animal Spirit for Today
July 6, 2011

your daily animal spirit for today

Buffalo

Buffalo has come snorting into your life today to bring a message of great hope. Buffalo sacrificed every part of his physical body to support those who hunted him—but he also gave his spirit. And, it’s that spirit of hope, abundance, and a bright future that he brings to you today. If you are experiencing a troubled journey, help is here.