This is a post I have contemplated for a very long time but, let's face it, when it comes to blogging this year I have just not been great at keeping it up. However, as I am coming to the end of yet another difficult August and I think about all of the things I've had on my mind throughout the month, since I can't sleep anyway, and there is a hell of a nice storm going on outside, I see this as as good a time as any to correct some common erroneous beliefs concerning magick and witchcraft that bother the hell out of me every time I hear them.
I have often heard many people say, with much assurance and often in a condescending way, that magick is nothing but unbelievable hocus pocus without a shred of "proof" of its existence or effectiveness. What annoys me most when I hear this is that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person saying this knows absolutely nothing about magick and how it works. If they did, and they had scientific knowledge, they would not say this with such confidence. Why is that? Because science tells us that magick is entirely possible. Before you call bullshit, please, allow me to explain.
Science tells us that there are billions of particles floating around the earth and the cosmos at any given time and that, if one knew how to do it, one could give this energy purpose and put it toward something, a goal, for instance. I first read this in a science class I was taking for my associate's in psychology and I read it over three times to make sure I had that straight because as soon as I read this I knew at last what made spells work. I knew already that spells did work. I do not cast full physical spells often. I work primarily with prayer and mental magick (visualizing toward a goal) and usually I don't need a full spell because one of these take care of things but if something is large I will break out the associated herbs, stones, candles, and the words themselves and I will cook up a spell and when I do, they rarely fail me (when they have failed me I have personally found that it is because what I asked for wasn't right for my life at that time and it has only happened twice...except in the beginning when I screwed things up more often than not and that, folks, was simply my bad). So, since the age of eleven, I had had complete faith that a spell did work but until that moment reading over my science text book I did not know the full scope of HOW. It was one of those 'aha' moments. Shortly after that I started learning about Quantum Physics Silver Ravenwolf style (which is the only way I can understand this particular subject if I am to be honest). This further enforced the link between what science tells us and how it supports magick. When you take the herbs associated with a specific purpose because it somehow connects to the energy of that purpose and you take a stone associated with a purpose for the same reason and you light a candle whose color is associated with this purpose stating outright that this is your purpose, you are saying to the universe, "Hey, you know those billions of particles of energy you have just floating around all over the place? Well, I would love to borrow some for this goal if you wouldn't mind. You can have it back when I don't need it anymore. Please and thanks so much." Most of the time the universe will say "Sure, here you go." Sometimes, for whatever reason, the universe chooses not to come off with the energy (usually the problem has to do with a lack of focus or something that wasn't done quite right and I think we all experience that in the beginning during our trial and error days). Then there are times, for those out there who cast without a thought for the consequences that you can't help but imagine the Goddess just smirking like "Oh, ok. Sure. Have at it and you have fun with that now, kid." hahaha The point is, science tells us the energy is there waiting on a purpose. For thousands of years people who lived off the land and knew the tress and the plants and the stones well developed properties for these things that both carry and can attract energy of a certain sort...Bam, you have a spell. A scientific process that is real and can create very real results and changes in anybody's life. Ya dig?
Perhaps because I am a kitchen witch or because I used to bake all the time or because, Pre-Crohn's, I was a big girl physically and I still am in my heart, I have always likened casting a spell to baking a cake. You add all of the right ingredients things that do not make much on their own, you pour the mixture into a pan, put the pan in the oven, and when it comes out, you have deliciousness created from parts that would not be the same alone and would not come out the same if they were put in a recipe for biscuits or gravy instead of cake. If you accidentally add salt when you meant to add sugar, your cake will not turn out right. If you do something wrong while the cake is baking (how many of you can recall your mothers or grandmothers flipping their shit while a cake was baking and you ran through the house as hard and fast as your legs could go?) your cake will fall flat and it won't bake up quite right. But if you follow the directions, you know what you are doing, you bake it on the right temp and you don't do something to disturb it, it will bake up just as you wanted, creating cake where only a few individual ingredients had been before. That is pretty much a spell in a nutshell. And the fire that turns it from mix to cake? Well, that's those bored particles floating around with nothing to do unless you give them a job, preferably a positive one. :)
Now, as far as our worship goes, there are few religions or spiritualities in America that are more grounded in nature and, as a result, science. Can you deny the seasons exist? Can you deny that the moon travels in 28-day cycles? No? Well, all of our Sabbats, our holy days, coincide with the changing of the seasons, at both their direct points and right in between seasons (Beltane, for instance, is exactly halfway through Spring and halfway toward summer), and our Esbats celebrate either the full moon alone or each of the moon's cycles depending on the way you practice. Yes, we have our stories attached to these days, our myths, our associations that cannot be scientifically measured. But the gist of it, the reason we gather, is to celebrate these natural dates. I remember in seventh grade we discussed the changing of the seasons and the dates that they occurred on in science class and I knew each date accurately, not because I read ahead in the book, but because I had already been a witch for over a year and the first thing I learned was our holy days. What's more, this is something that was common to every ancient tribal people I have ever read about so if I had all of my ancestors from Europe and North America from 6,000 years ago in a room together talking about celebrating the changing seasons, they would all be able to understand that and share that with me. And that's pretty fucking cool too.
Even the concept of deity that is celebrated and embraced by most (not all...we cannot forget, for example, Dianic witches), the concept of a God and a Goddess, a male and a female, is also completely scientific in nature. There are very few species on earth that do not require both a male and a female to procreate. Women are usually the egg layers or the birth givers. Just about everyone from every religion refers to Mother Nature or Mother Earth even if they do not mean it in a holy way because it is quite clear that the earth is a Mother to everything on Her. So if just about everything on the planet requires a female to procreate and, in one way or another, facilitate birth, if the earth itself is often considered female, why, then, would there be no Goddess, no divine female energy? That, to me and many others in polytheistic religions, frankly makes no damned sense. Why would a male God without a Goddess, a male God who appears to have no need for a female, create a world where females are needed in basically every species in order to reproduce, including the species he holds "above" all others? There are so many holes in that logic that if it were a defense in a criminal trial, the author would certainly be convicted. I mean, let's get real. It makes no sense. Nothing in nature supports this idea of one male God, humans themselves and the way we procreate does not support it, it simply is not something that makes sense. Scientifically speaking, ya know... :)
Then there is the belief in reincarnation. My belief in reincarnation is far older than my introduction to witchcraft and I am not going into what spurred that for me personally. However, to support this idea in a way that may be observable without going into any near death or past life stories, look, once more, to nature. Each year spring comes. The earth is reborn anew. Then comes summer when the earth is full of heat and passion, restlessness, youth....all of this tapers off into "middle age" or fall. The heat breaks. The nights get colder. We see death coming in a brilliant blast of color like life's final stand. The same storms that brought life to the earth in the spring now knock the leaves off the trees and chill the air bringing with it the death of winter. And of course, at winter, the greenery is dead. The animals, birds, and insects have either fled, they are hibernating, or they are not as active. For three months it is hard to look outside and imagine that anything but ice and biting wind might ever touch the earth again until....suddenly...March (or September if you are south of the equator) comes and you see poking out of the ground the first signs that life is returning. Every year we see it. The earth's personal reincarnation. Earth is our mother, from Her all the life we see around us has come, so if this is her cycle why is it so crazy to think it might be ours as well? How many times does a life come full circle before death? We are born weak, we cannot take care of ourselves, and we must be in diapers. If we live to old age often we find ourselves at the end of our lives again weak, unable to care for ourselves, and in diapers. Many tribal cultures see the hoop, the circle, as sacred both for its significance to reincarnation and the soul and in life, the way that we are all connected. The circle is as sacred in the Sioux culture as it is in Wicca, for instance. When you look at the world as a giant circle, that what dies must be reborn in one form or another, that all people are joining hands in a metaphorical circle of genetics and life on the planet, that the damage you do today you will have to face, if not this life than in another, doesn't that make you see your responsibilities to the planet and each other in a whole new light? That part isn't science...just truth. lol
I'm not trying to knock the religious beliefs of anyone else nor do I feel like I have to prove that my own way is "right". It is one hundred percent right, it is the only true path...for me. And to me, that is all that matters. The only goal I had in writing this was to clear up some misconceptions, to maybe inspire someone somewhere to at least treat a witch with the respect of not dismissing his or her beliefs as soon as the witch tells you what he or she believes because all you know of it is what you've seen in Bewitched or Hocus Pocus. We cannot love one another without respecting one another and we cannot respect what we do not know.
Love and Light to all. :)