On Magic, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves About Magic

When I was in grad school I lived in one of those group houses with a bunch of other students, and one day one of my roommates was describing some of the psychic experiences she’d had in the past, including ghosts she’d seen and interacted with, and another roommate shared a similar encounter, to which the first roommate said “I knew you also had the gift.”

She looked at me. “And you don’t.”

I don’t recall saying anything, because I wasn’t exactly going to disagree with her — I have never spoken to a ghost — but I do remember feeling, at that moment, a sort of thank goodness that’s obvious.

Like I was proud that someone could look at me and tell I was not currently in conversation with the supernatural.

Then I started dreaming up a novel that had supernatural and magical elements, at which point I thought I should do some hands-on research.

Except it really kind of happened the other way around. I got a tarot deck at the end of 2017, started doing personal readings that were less about trying to communicate with an outside force and more about looking at the cards I drew and evaluating how they made me feel and what they made me think of — like, my most recent reading said I should use the Page of Swords as a path to the Nine of Wands, and that has turned out to be exactly what I am currently doing. (Though not in the way I thought I would be, when I did the reading. Tarot is interesting like that.)

So then I read a bunch of books about magic and magick and witchcraft, one of which I reviewed on this-here blog, and from there I grabbed the books on comparative religion and paganism and Wicca, including Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America (an informative and lyrical read, highly recommended), and the only book that felt anything like me was Mya Spalter’s Enchantments: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Self-Possession.

Enchantments framed magic as the rituals you use to set your intention. The lit candle is not what’s magic, the part that’s magic is the part where you carve your intention into the candle and by doing so focus yourself on what you want or what you are looking for or what you are going to do.

I’ve always known intention was a powerful tool, so I started ritualizing my intentions in some of the ways suggested in Enchantments. This is to say I started doing magic spells in my apartment.

(This was also when I started outlining and committing to NEXT BOOK, whether coincidentally or not.)

I quickly figured out what felt like me and what felt like not me, which tied in pretty closely to what that roommate had said, all those years ago — lighting a candle on the new moon and writing out my most important intention for the next lunar cycle felt right; bringing Diana into it felt wrong.* For better or worse, I am not in touch with the supernatural.

But I was worrying a crystal in my hand the other day — because I’ve collected a handful of crystals and have started holding them when I want to focus on and/or absorb the energy with which they are associated — and I thought about how these crystals do in fact do what the piece of paper that came with the set of Scorpio Healing Stones I bought on Etsy claimed they would.**

That is, rubbing my thumb across the citrine stone helps me focus my mind on finding opportunities for abundance (and figuring out how to take action on those opportunities).

And I asked myself whether that was specifically because of the crystal, or whether it came from me.

In other words, whether the magic was in me all along.

It’s what we tell ourselves, when we tell stories about magic; maybe you start out with an invitation to wizard school or a path through a mysterious wardrobe or the dream of finding a dead Welsh king, but the power is in you the whole time. The wands and ruby slippers and all of that are just accessories (many of which get ditched or destroyed by the end of the series, to firmly establish the it’s in your mind/hands/heart, protagonist thing).

Anyway. That’s all I have time for today, so have at it. See you tomorrow. ❤️

*Setting my intention on fire afterwards felt like it could be right, but it created a lot of smoke and I was very lucky to not set off the fire alarm and have to explain to my landlord and/or the fire department that it was because I was doing magic.

**Of course I’m a Scorpio. Capricorn rising, Aquarius moon. This means I am deeply creative and intuitive and emotional but I present to the world as all-business and my hidden self values her independence more than anything. Believe astrology if you want — or don’t — but that explains a lot.

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