A letter from a Querent

 

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Q: Do you think there is something like a magical person, Bob? Are some people really magical or is it an illusion we create?

A: There are mystics, who seem moved by the spirit of something ineffable and there are those who are so integrated with the world around them that they seem to make things happen. There are also those who have the unexplainable* show up in their lives at a greater frequency than normal. There are those people who seem to exude magic as though there is some unseen source of energy about them as well. There are yogis, gurus, shaman and just ordinary people who can do phenomenal and extra-ordinary things. I don’t think there are Harry Potter wizards and witches with wands and broom sticks, but there are those who seem to wield a form of magic.

One of my favorite writers of this kind of magic is Carlos Castaneda who wrote about a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan who I believed after three books was a real magician. Though the character was fictional, Castaneda wrote from what he knew and what he knew was truly magical and extra-ordinary. I have tried a number of the lessons taught in these books (they are novels not self-development books) and have found them useful both in my practice and in everyday life.

And this would be my definition of “magical”, the ability to produce and perform the extra-ordinary. Some people are very adept at that. Some are able to see things that the rest of us do not and are able to use what they see in extraordinary ways. Some have phenomenal talents that they are able to boggle the mind with. As you know I believe that within all of us there is a magic waiting to be unleashed. Some are closer to it than others, meaning they have fewer obstacles to its expression. What I write about is how to deal with and overcome some of the obstacles.

Keeping in mind my definitions and caveats, in my nonprofessional opinion my answer to your question is “yes” there are probably magical people e.g. people who wield magic.

*I use this word whenever I come up against a phenomenon that appears real, but is without any scientific corroboration, or explanation.

Good to hear from you again,

Bob

Magic: Prayer, incantation, meditation

 

A reader recently commented on a posting from The Dark Knight of the Soul Blog. He noted that the reduction prayer I had used at the end of the post looked very much like a 13th century magical incantation from the Liber Medicinalis (Book of Medicine).

 

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT

BE STILL AND KNOW

BE STILL AND

BE STILL

BE

From the posting on Real Magic 

 

 

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magical incantation from the Liber Medicinalis

 

Accident? Coincidence? Not really, both the incantation and the reduction prayer act pretty much like mandalas in that they focus the mind inward towards its center. It is in this center that the wisdom of our soul lays. It is from this place that magic can happen.

 

 

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Typical mandalas

These incantations, prayers and meditative practices tend to focus on the centers of our being while removing the outward directed conscious mind that is restricted in its perception of reality and opens a door to a whole new way of being and perceiving.

This is just part of what it means to wield magic. The following is an excerpt from the Dreaming Wizard website:

12 Laws of Magic:

So what have we discovered so far about magic that might allow us to practice being in it and thus allow for a different creation within our lives?

1) Magic is all around us; we are already in it.

2) Magic cannot be controlled; in fact, we must release control in order to wield it. Magic is about “being” not “doing”. Magic cannot be understood, or controlled, because the process itself is a “doing”. Magic arises on its own and not through your manipulation.

3) Magic is a way of living and not separate from everyday experience.

4) The consciousness can open to Magic when the soul is allowed to express freely.

5) We have access to magic when we don’t place limits upon our expression.

6) To know magic, watch children at play.

7) Maintain authority over your expectations/standards by remaining at choice with your behaviors and self-expression. Be what you are, not what someone else wants you to be.

8) Magic becomes available when one dissolves the separation between ones opposite aspects and recombines them into a more functional whole e.g. dissolve the internal gender differences. Aspects of the assertive, decisive, thoughtful, creative, compassionate, emotional and intuitive can exist side by side within all of us.

9) Call out your shadows and your demons, do not suppress them. Note: you are not your negative aspects; you have negative aspects, but are not them.

10) Quiet the mind. Stop thinking things to death. Magic cannot come from the “thinking” mind. Live at least some of your life in the incomprehensible.

11) Magic does not come from the rational.

12) Magic grows from the secret orderliness of chaos. Allow yourself to be confused. Thinking that you know something about what is real can be very limiting to living what is real.

 

 

“It [magic] opens spaces that have no doors and leads

out into the open where there is no exit.”

–Carl Jung

There’s a difference between Magic and magical thinking: Another take on “magic”

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Do you believe in magic? Be careful how you answer that. I have written much poetry, prose, and nonfiction musings about Magic though few readers imagine most of it as anything other than fantasy or madness*.

But for an intuitive few they see beyond the veil of modern sensibility and are able to discern the divine where humankind transcends the ego and touches the sublime.

Many physicians today aren’t as hard science as you might think either for many are quite superstitious what with surgeons needing their “lucky” cap in order to do surgery and don’t ever say how “quiet” it’s being in the ER on any “slow” day because the fates will surely punish you by bringing in a bloody mass of people. And how many of us “knock on wood” to prevent calamity?

And what about carrying around a rabbit’s foot or a good luck coin or praying to God to win against your opponent? How many of us would tempt the fates by deliberately breaking a mirror? We keep guardian angel charms, root around the grass for four-leaf clovers, nail horseshoes over the door, and hang a cross or St Christopher’s medal like a talisman on chains around our necks for protection. We burn sage to rid the air of negative energy and consult the Zodiac to see what’s in store for us for the day or as a means to strike up a conversation with the young woman at the bar next to us in hopes that we’ll get ‘lucky’. Note also the current fashion of citing Karma as a cause for negative experience or precognizance, remote viewing, astral projection and even the lauded law-of-attraction to explain the mystical.

There’s also the sacramental eating of the body of Christ and the drinking of his blood as symbols for taking in spiritual nourishment while a water baptism symbolizes the cleansing of one way of being to make room for another. Metaphor or ritual for some can be a magical reality for others. For some pagan tribes people consuming the blood or flesh of an enemy, a friend, or an animal is believed to bestow the power or bring about the union, of those individuals into the consumer.

The statement made recently by an American congressman that we don’t have to do anything about the world’s environmental problems because if God wanted to do something about global warming He would have done it. That’s Magical thinking at its best (worst?). It’s also fallacious attribution and superstition as is much of what the everyday calls magic or in some cases thinks of as truths.

We’re supposed to be modern humans grounded in the rational but magic is always creeping into our lives.

zohanimagic2.gifBefore science came and attempted to control the aspects of the world through a rigorous and rational approach there was magic. The medicine man and shaman was the father to the physician, the alchemist was the father to the chemist, the astrologer gave birth to astronomy. Magic has literally created the need for science and specifically the scientific method. How so, you might ask? I’ll tell you. How else can the shaman, alchemist, and astrologer keep their job unless they learn to study how reality works so that they would more often be right than wrong in their pronouncements?

Magic also created the need for religion as a means of understanding the ineffable, that which cannot be understood by word alone. The truth is Magic is most often a state of mind and a way of being. It is not divorced from science in that it is the ground of being that brings us awe. Nor is it separate from modern religion in that benedictions and many prayers are forms of magic inherited from our pagan forbears. Magic can just be intention made manifest and in this way our prayers are answered through a way of being with the universe.

There’s a conversation all of us are having between our ego selves and our larger divine self. Mostly it’s a conversation spoken in symbols, myth and metaphor (as with the Eucharist) of which magic is an example. In magic we draw on the collective archetypes of humankind to communicate and make sense of the numinous. Magic in any of its multitudinous forms happens when we stop using it to control or protect that is when we transcend the ego’s point-of-view and become vulnerable to the life outside it.

Bottom line, when we stop separating ourselves from everything else we become at one with the universe and magic follows.

Magic happens when we stop using intermediaries between the divine and us whether these are objects or saints. When we stop imploring our gods and invoking our talismans we will begin to manifest our true selves and will be able to live in the numinous. Magic is all around us and permeates every cell of our being but its wisdom can only bear fruit when we let go of trying to control it and our drive to control can only be transcended when we are ready to let go of the ego.

A good conversation can only happen when people listen, it is so between the human being and the divine. Stop listening to your opinions and be open to reality. Or as a friend of mine once said, “Don’t believe everything you think.”

 

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”   

~ Roald Dahl, The Minpins

 

*links to blogs on magic:

 

Adam’s recollections as a wizard’s apprentice: Finding unexpected jewels in unexpected places.

 

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Hidden jewels of the divine (RJ Cole)

Remember the story of the novice magus who trained with an old wizard and learned about a reality beyond his wildest dreams (Do you believe in magic? 1/11/17) ?

I had a visit from the young man yesterday and we sat down at a local coffee shop to catch up and reminisce.

Ordering our coffees we picked them up and sat down in a private corner of the shop. As we pulled up chairs and sat the young man, Adam, began the conversation.

“I remember a spiritual teacher once sharing with me that enlightenment could be found in the yellow pages of the phone book that is, to turn to any page and there it is. I also learned of the technique of problem solving by opening any book to a random page and searching for the answer. In those early days I was always asking some form of the question, “How can I be enlightened?” as though the answer to that question would enable me to live happily ever after like in some magical fantasy story.

“Enlightenment is not an end unto itself, it’s an ongoing process.” The teacher would say and then he might add, “Just when you think you’re enlightened, you’re not.”

“It all seemed so simple, but no matter how many pages in the phone book that I’d turn to or how many pages in my favorite novel, or even in random pages of the Bible I couldn’t find any answers to the questions I posed– it all seemed like one big non sequitur. I could practice all the suggested rituals and study all the world’s philosophies, or focus my complete attention on paradoxical Koans1 that usually only twisted and contorted my mind into knots. But I couldn’t force anything to happen. Annoyingly the teacher would remind me, “It’s not about force, my boy. The power is not in force.”

“I had not yet learned how to intend a jewel or how to recognize one when it presented itself. It was only after a number of years did I learn to trust that an answer could be found in unexpected places if I expected to find it there. I learned to prime the pump by praying on it or in asking the source for guidance regarding it. I learned that the answer would show up in an unexpected way or from an unexpected source if I were to remain patient enough and quiet enough to see it or hear it.“

“I’ve learned that enlightenment can’t be forced, it doesn’t operate on the ego’s time table or its perception and it doesn’t come in a form that the ego imagines it wants or needs for the ego has no idea what it needs and what it wants is irrelevant to the universe.” I added.

“ Yes, learn to expect the unexpected jewels from unexpected places. My teacher used to say” exclaimed Adam.

“I also remember him saying, “It’s like that with making a difference too, and you never know when you’re going to, but with the intention of doing so in everything that you do, unexpected positive things happen. Intend on making a difference and you will even if you’re never aware of it.”

“Are you making a difference?” I asked.

“Oh yes in so many small ways. Ways that may take some time to be noticed if noticed at all.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed that wanting to be noticed for what you do gets in the way of making a difference. Hard lesson that…” I said “learning to let go of what the ego craves.”

Adam nodded wistfully as though the memory of needing acknowledgment was still a struggling desire in his present life.

Finally he asked, “Does it ever end, this desire for recognition?”

“It’s a struggle I admit but it’s amazing what gets done when you don’t care who gets the credit.” I said. “There’s something deep within us that represents true awareness and knows who we are. It’s a divine force that urges us towards creation. It is from that force that each of us was created and it’s through us that we become extensions of it when we learn to release it into our lives.”

Adam nodded and smiled, pushed back his chair and we headed out the door walking arm on shoulder into the morning sun and promising not to let the time between us be so long we headed into our separate Moirai 2.

______________________________________

1Koans such as “the sound of one hand clapping”, or “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it”, or “Resist not evil.”

2 Moirai: Meaning fate, or shared fates, destiny or futures. The Moirai were ancient Greek goddesses of fate.

The Gift of the Dark Dream

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The Dark Dream by.–jbrown67.deviantart.com

 

Dreams of being a child have come into my sleep along with being wrong and making mistakes, feeling shame and powerlessness and falling. When my waking dream becomes too stressful, when I find that I can’t stay in the here and now because I’m caught up in worries about the future, or guilt from the past, I find my dreams full of powerlessness and fear. Hurricanes, storms, titanic waves, and floods wash through my dreams and add even greater stress to a psyche overburdening itself. If the dreams shared with me on-line are any indication, I’d say this might be true for many of you.

Though I did not measure up to my personal expectations, to the image of myself that I thought I should be, I realized something much greater. The Black Dream where I found myself in the waking world had been giving way to something new.

When facing the darkness one can receive images much grander than their limited images of self. For me I saw that I never gave up, though the way looked impossible; that I always strove to become better than either my own judgments, or the judgments of others. Somehow I found the courage to stand up to the feelings of failure and rejection and to face what I judged to be humiliation with my head held high. I allowed myself to feel the fool and to grow from its presence, to go beyond the fears and become bigger than my estimate of myself.

The experience of recent events and the consciousness they brought in their wake have helped me to realize some of how big I really am. I may not be what I think I should be, an ego-self desire, but once again I’ve discovered that I’m really so much more.

Until I was willing to truly accept the darkness and honor its value, I couldn’t see the ever so small light flickering in the corner. I’ve been fighting the darkness ever so long, but the truth is that rejecting the darkness also rejects the light. This morning, I saw the barest glow and reached for it and it warmed and filled the space that dispelled the darkness before it. Hanging onto the light often seems harder than living in the darkness. But I think it’s a miracle that the light is there at all.

And that’s the gift of the Black Dream, the Shadow, the darkness; it highlights the flicker of light that is our true self. I can also see that to keep it burning I need to share it and it’s in that vein that I do so now. As I’ve said earlier, love is the cure for our nightmares; it’s the light within our darkness.

Practical real-world magic

 

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Just watched an old episode of Charmed, you know, the late 90’s to early 2000 witches in San Francisco TV drama! The visual effects were really cool even though technology was still in the flip-phone stage.

Afterwards I went outside to finish cleaning up the plant trimming mess my wife had made earlier and left for me straighten up. It was hot and the constant bending down started to take its toll on my back and I found myself wishing for a little magic such as the ability to move all that mess with just a flick of the wrist, “Depulso!”. No such luck!

But as I bent down and grunted a muffled “damn” when I gored my hand with one of the thorns of the palm tree leaf I had a thought, “I do have magic, this body is magic! I have a thought and then direct this amazing tool to stoop down and do its thing! And its all done by thought alone regardless of whether that thought originated from the millions of chemical interactions between millions of neurons or as some have suggested from some kind of mysterious force outside myself that then commands the body-tool to stoop. How magical is that?

And before I knew it something else magical happened, I was done! I’d been dreading the chore, but it was really nothing at all, “no problem” as the younger set so often say. And there it was again, the transformation of an experience through the magic of restructuring my attitude toward it. The job hadn’t changed any but how I held it did. Simple cognitive restructuring of thought distortions. Psychotherapists do it all the time with their clients e.g. help to change the thoughts, change the emotions.

No, we don’t just have emotions, we actually create the context for them and with some practice (a lot of practice actually) we can learn to transform them pretty easily.

Cognitive restructuring is a technique used to treat everything from social anxiety disorders to stress reduction. It’s called Cognitive Behavior therapy and is very effective in transforming negative thought patterns into patterns of thinking that are much more supportive and enlivening i.e. creating a new reality through thought alone– a thought incantation of sorts.

In my personal case in the example above I used a competing thought pattern that then weakened the automatic negative pattern I had been operating out of. Magic, huh? What I wanted when I wished to be magic was that the job to become significantly easier and through a little cognitive manipulation, voila! Easy peezy!

But this takes a lot of practice– not everyone can make a feather float on the first try like Hermione did– LeviosA! Nope, no luck yet!