Causality & Synchronicity
The idea that magic is real and effects daily life is bound to illicit a look of cautious puzzlement from almost anyone, especially if they have little or no interest. Conversely, this same notion will usually find many of these same persons indulging in acts of superstition without even realizing it. Practitioners of Wicca are no different. Offering a blessing after a person sneezes is an example of this behavior, though it is often intended as simple courtesy. Blessings of this sort have become so ubiquitously common, as to have nearly lost the intent behind them.
It was once believed, that during the time immediately after a sneeze, the soul had possibly been forcefully ejected outside the confines of the physical body therefore, leaving it vacant and easy prey for any stray spirit lurking close at hand. The blessing was believed to prevent this type of spiritual theft.
Few will admit, even if they are aware, that this is what they intend because they may not. Perhaps they only intend to be polite, or considerate. However quaint the gesture may be, it still remains understood as being cordial, if somewhat obligatory. Also there seems to be a consensus of silence surrounding this tiny invocation, which indicates by self evidence, that it never fails.
Taking this idea further still, one may well imagine that an annoying rogue spirit may have even somehow caused a person to sneeze, so as to attempt to create an opportunity to possess a person. Such an idea may begin an exploration of magic. This could be true for any person, but Wicca tends to prepare, even a new comer to revel in the fantastic, and dwell upon the esoteric right away. Wicca teaches of mysteries within the natural world, and even anticipates certain needs of adherents who many times convert from other religions. It is often recognized that a new Wiccan, for some reason, may have began to explore magic while still inside the boundaries of a former religion that forbade it's practice. As this may be the case, it is not often questioned, but left to the person to decide if they should tell share this with others who participate in Wicca or not.
Superstitious behavior, and belief in things like magic may actually be some sort of human survival mechanism. It would seem to explain the legacy of illogical behaviors that are played out in the form of religious rites all over the world. But, when there is a system that can categorize, and make sense of the illogical, so as to help maintain or bring a better quality to living, why then, would any intelligent person deny it? Not being able to prove causality where magic is concerned has had little effect upon limiting the study or exploration of it.
Wiccans are not plagued by the rhetoric put forth by by those who deny magic, nor the teachings of other religions that may decry its use. It is potent and real to them and requires no more proof than the blessing bestowed upon the recent victim of a sneeze, as mentioned earlier. It is self evident. The most visible examples of magic, as Wiccans often cite, and celebrate, are the seasonal changes noted by most agrarian based societies. Also noteworthy are weather patterns that aid to create these seasonal cycles, that are evidently self sustaining. The life force, and generative energy contained within a seed pod is a mystery yet to be properly explained by science. Wicca, like many other religions, use myth and metaphor to address such issues to explain the unknown, even when science evidence is abundant and easily understood. The idea, that there is more to life than what can be quantified, is at the root of such belief systems.
Even when the works of the miraculous, magical, and so-called "supernatural", are seen for what they are, most people have the mental ability to disbelieve. This ability, seems learned since, in childhood it is rarely expressed. The most unbelievable things, like miracles, myths, and magic are all easily absorbed by children, even when they are not properly understood. Santa Clause, tooth fairies, and bunnies that provide chocolate candy, do not need great logic or context for them to be of service however. These fanciful tales make good parenting tools when employed by in a benign fashion to gain or enforce social control, or modify the behavior of small children.
foundational myths, that underpin the social and political structures of our societies may have little more substance to them either, when well scrutinized. And they are employed with even greater effect, by religions, or leaders who are sometimes suspect. The legacy of time, and the lineage of the myths founder often grants legitimacy in some cases. But, a plague of logical questions will continually assail any tale of fancy, no matter how ancient or oft told, when a dauntless begins their personal journey. Faith by attrition seems the default setting for most people who attempt to pierce the veil of magic.
Children quickly outgrow the need for the tales told by their parents. Yet as children grow into adults they sometimes find new tales that hold meaning for them. Exploring magic by way of an oral tradition, literature, history or archeology often brings people to new tales that may be mined for meaning. Even when a structure is not imposed, most people still tend to develop a philosophy of life. Living a religious, or spiritual life, outside of the flux of normal society is yet another way to explore magic. This is often done by those who join monastic orders, or covens to gain a perspective from the separation of the magical from the mundane.
Magic itself is arguably, best understood through the lens of synchronicity. Synchronicity, simply, describes the simultaneous nature of unlikely events, that may portend meaning of a sort for the observers. A person who is exploring, magic might better understand that the timing, location, and other factors, involved were not just coincidental, nor simply synchronistic. Providing solid evidence that magic exists has yet to happen, but the concept of synchronicity allows science a window on this subject via the physics, or metaphysics of the quantum world. Albert Einstein and Carl Jung, were pioneers who helped develop and codify the less understood realms of physics, and psychology respectively, and yet they are not noted historically to have been men of magic.
Magic is often descriptively referred to as being supernatural. And though often understood as being atavistic when introduced into serious intellectual discourse, it is hard to deny its influence, even upon those who flatly deny its existence. Magic came before science, and has helped to shape, in some ways, what science has currently become. Some look forward to the day when magic may eventually be found worthy of exhaustive scientific study. Magic may be vindicated or doomed in either instance.
Magic will likely maintain an important place in many types of societies because it is often viewed as involving causality. When a magic spell is cast, the effects of the spell play out. Wicca has many practitioners who claim to understand magic, and it could be the next big faith trend as it grows to be more inclusive of those who may already use magic. Even when it cannot be fully defined, by practical means, it is still recognized, by many people. Magic is a confusing term, especially when defined as being real because, it is outside the known areas of certain religions. Because magic tends to fall outside the boundary regions of most religions, it is often carefully re-defined through the use of vernacular to make it more palatable.
Certainly magic is more acceptable when it is routed through the filter of another faith's religion. Magic may then take on aspects of the miraculous with merit, while those who work this magic may become some type of miracle worker by virtue of that faiths supporting viewpoint. Power that seems beyond human comprehension, when knowingly expressed by an individual, is apparently meant to be feared. Yet, if that same power has been granted to a user, who knowingly expresses it to others on behalf of the granting authority, the fear is tamed. The known verses the unknowable have little conflict except where magic is the medium. Magic defines a type of liminality that forces even the most logical mind to either think more deeply, or to abide the shadow of ignorance that helps maintain a necessary perimeter of mental safety.
Religious life often requires little acumen. A religious life that offers magic, hones the mind to a point of clarity or insanity, that begs a closer inspection, and demands responsibility of the person exploring magic. If a person actually can control the weather, then why not? And thus begins a journey to explore magic. Even the most spiritually impoverished person who begins to inquire more deeply about the blessings of a stranger upon a person who just sneezed, has enough currency to continue the trip as long as they live. Time and the changes that are observed to have meaning attributed to them become part of the known. This perhaps can account for certain types of knowledge that allowed humanity to survive catastrophes of the ancient past, and with certainty, predict such calamity for future generations to hopefully avoid.
Intuition, is perhaps the most commonly accepted and understood idea, that any person of logic will allow past their mental defenses. There is nothing beyond the natural, thus the word supernatural, when used to describe anything, is at best a misnomer. Magic, some believe, is simply a base part of the entire universe, so its existence is without question. Even though humanity has come to define when life begins or ends, there are no methods for the creation of such, that exist outside of the natural and known sciences. Nor are there any methods for returning life to the lifeless that exist within the known boundaries of nature or science. If there are limits to magic, it would seem that these would be the known boundaries, yet anecdotal evidence by way of religion suggests otherwise.
Going far away from the known paths of the scientific, to embrace the counter-intuitive approach to life, is a good way to explore magic. This type of exploration indicates that the dead can return to life, and that the unborn are recycled spirits returning to the physical world. That some put faith in such things when they have little evidence to back their understanding of them, indicates the power of faith itself. Perhaps this is the single link between science, and the ignorance beyond its harsh light of reality, and sanity. Many times in the past, science boldly pushed past the steadfast ways of the faithful, and honored masses to discover the truth behind natural phenomena. Such discovery found nature to be consistent, and often cyclical. Weather having observable patterns is an example of this truth. It is not simply the evil wind spirits that visit destruction upon a place for not having been properly appeased.
But, if there is more to the scientific understanding of such phenomena it would still fall under the heading of natural in any case, simply because there is nothing outside of nature. There is little difference in a computer screen and a magic mirror if one wishes to get information from a remote location using either. Yet the difference is clear that the two media, and the delivery systems are not qualitatively the same. What if the computer screen was being employed as a magic mirror to gather information remotely? A synergy between magic and technology, of this sort, would undoubtedly draw some people into turmoil and conflict as they attempted to ponder the matter . This is another example of the exploration of magic. It is sometimes required that a person think in such an oblique fashion, if only for the practical purpose of ridding the mind of preconceptions, that may be cluttering it up.
After deconstructing the known parameters of science and picking apart the pastiche of most religions, there is still the pesky problem of faith. Because once the psyche is free of clutter, there is a void waiting to be filled. The answers that might be found upon such an investigation, may, for some people, destroy the notion of an orderly universe that may actually make sense. While others will begin to see the universe as having a singular and cohesive integrity. In any case it is faith beyond reason that drives the seeker to continue to explore magic. Even as science describes light in duality as both particle and wave; magic is often thought of as both matter and energy combined. Science purposefully maintains a limited but, ever expanding knowledge base. Science is deemed to be best when it is employed to bring convenience to life.
The moment of conception to the last moment of brain activity is a basic recognition of life, as science might deem such existence. Magic study understands the same qualities of existence, but attributes more to it. To explore magic is to understand the energy of life that exists before, during, after, and recurring. Those who practice magic believe the energy that is often called life, is part of the minutiae of reality. This basic and understated quality of reality most often goes undiscovered, except for the most dramatic points along a human lifespan. Birth, procreation and death tend to be the usual indicators of any such existence, no matter how lowly or nominal.
Life is returning to a recognized state from dormancy, and renewal after sleep, and it is the human condition to understand it as a relevant part of life. Birth is viewed as the beginning of life, respective to the growth and development of the person. Death is often the end of this thing called life. Each of these experiences is known only to the person who experiences them, yet the sleep state is one with which we often tend to casually disregard. It is sleep, that brings the psyche to the beginning of wisdom. They understand, each in their own way, those who explore magic, that dreams convey to them a type of codex by which to interpret and explore the mysteries of magic.
Dreams are to magic what music is to language. They can, and do help inform conscious actions. As a touchstone of spirituality, they might sometimes act as placeholders for faith. Even President Ronald Reagan was known to have consulted with astrology experts before making certain strategic decisions, and astrology is a prime example of exploring magic. The idea of understanding the mystic, or synchcronistic undulations of the sky and star-scape, and applying a proactive methodology to one's life is ancient. As wishes are made on each falling star, another journey into the exploration of magic begins.
There are two basic paths to exploring magic. One involves faith of some sort in a higher authority. The other is vested in the idea of magic as being a type of science that can be explored and exploited. So, it is that some people believe the use of magic requires faith, and will fail to attain their goals much if they should be found lacking it. Or if the higher authority, in which faith is vested is beyond the realm or human reason, magic fails, except by the the merits of faith. In such instances, faith always trumps reason and becomes infinitely handy as a solution to exploring magic, or religion.
Some who believe that magic is a type of science still undertake it's study as being relevant to practical use. The practicality of magic exploration as academic study might be likened to the study of medicine, psychology, law or theology. But, it usually falls far short of such inclusion as laughter ensues. The defining characteristics of magic, are ephemeral, and often only understood by the person, or persons who have had the experience of such phenomena as a near death, or an astral projection. While easy to describe through language, these experiences are only capable of being understood as tales best told when contextualized by psychology, or spirituality.
Wicca, tends to laud praise upon magic that is underpinned by ethics as a foundation or map. Most ethical faiths employ some version of this same strategy. Wicca is unique, in that it allows each participant to openly express themselves through the exploration, and practice of magic as part of the religion as they may choose, or not. Wiccans tend to enjoy an uniquely high degree of individuality, and often maintain such, even when assimilated into a larger group dynamic that ordinarily imposes conformity out of a need for practicality. Because this religion is flexible in this manner, it may be capable enough to outlast the trends, and fashions, of lesser cults that have preceded it as into popular culture. But for now it seems poised to become the new, and definitive zeitgeist within the religious realm.