You probably wouldn’t know that I was a witch if you passed me on the street. I don’t wear a pointy hat, ride on a broomstick or even wear a lot of “in your face” pagan jewellery. I do have a few tattoos that might give some things away, but most of the time they are well hidden. Okay, in my free time I tend to wear a lot of black and have my own style which might indicate a slightly alternative bohemian outlook, but “witch” would be a bit of a stretch. At work I look scarily like a business woman. The truth is, most witches don’t stand out from the crowd in everyday life, in general most of us don’t draw a lot of attention to ourselves. However when people get to know me well enough that I am comfortable to discuss my beliefs and practices, one of the first questions they usually have is “Do you really do magic?” When I say yes, they seem surprised; as if it is okay to be a witch as an alternative lifestyle but actually doing magic is pushing credibility a bit too far.
I think that is a bit sad. Most of us grow up believing in magic, but some seem to lose that belief as they get older. I see that as an illness or a handicap almost akin to slowly losing your sight or your hearing, because it robs you of the ability to do so many things. There are some Christians and Muslims who might think that is a good thing because there are scriptural passages which seem to suggest that doing magic is wrong and not for ordinary people to do. On the other hand Jesus himself states that if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could move a mountain; how magical would that be? I actually think that faith and magic are very closely related. Perhaps it depends what your definition of magic is.
I have many friends with young children and babies. Toddlers seem fascinated by some kinds of technology such as mobile phones and remote controls. Such things are indeed magic to them. Mobile or cell phones make all sorts of sounds when you push the buttons and sometimes they play tunes, display pictures or even carry the voice of somebody you can’t see but can speak to. With remote controls you can press buttons and pictures appear on a TV screen on the other side of the room. How magic is that?? I bet very few people reading this could explain coherently exactly how a phone or a remote control unit actually work. Okay, we know it is technology and science and there may be electricity involved, but beyond that…? Certainly young children have no idea of the science behind such devices, but they know that they work and they know how to use them. Indeed they seem to experience joy in doing so. To them there is no doubt that magic works and they have the curiosity and the will to see what else they can do without the need of deep scientific explanations.
I wonder about the soul of anybody who doesn’t think nature itself is magical. We are now in spring in the northern hemisphere and magic is all around. Trees are sprouting beautiful leaves and blossoms. Birds are busy building new nests. The snows are melting. The days are getting longer and warmer. The stars in the sky have shifted position. Do we really need to know in scientific detail how and why nature’s clock works in order to appreciate it’s beauty? As a species we learned to work with the turning of the seasons and plant our crops at the right time long before we had a correct scientific and mathematical understanding of Earth’s tilt and orbit around the sun. Those who followed nature’s signs flourished, those who didn’t perished.
I do not mean to sound as if I am against science; far from it, I am a great fan of science. I just think it is obvious that you don’t need to have a scientific understanding of all things to make things happen; and making things happen is what magic is all about. I actually think that one day science will be able to explain most, if not all, things that are now deemed to be magic or supernatural. But I am not going to wait until all things are explained before I start doing stuff. Can you imagine telling a child (or anybody else) that they are not allowed to use the TV remote control until they have an adequate explanation of how it works provable by scientific method?
Magic to me means making things happen. I don’t place any barriers in my mind between what some call natural and supernatural. The fact that I can get 2000 tunes or more on an ipod which fits inside my pocket is magical to me. I know it works but couldn’t give you a very scientific explanation of how. But I have learned to do other things. I can cure some ailments by using herbal remedies handed down by witches over centuries. I don’t know exactly how they work but I know that they do. I can attract or repel people by use of spells. I can stop people doing harm. I can attract and sooth animals. I can make traffic signals turn red or green at will. I can get help when I need it. I can sense the history of places and objects. I can read and effect people’s emotions and sometimes their thoughts. I can to a limited degree predict aspects of the future. And I can do many other things which I won’t write here. Some of these things I could always do instinctively, but most are things I have learned and honed. I am not showing off; I think many people could do these things if they were taught and encouraged to instead of being told that such things were either forbidden or impossible.
So yes, I do magic. Really. There is a phrase about witchcraft which is used in some circles, “To know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep silent”, and I live by that mantra to a large degree. (It may not seem that I am keeping silent but you don’t know how much I am not saying).
In conclusion I think it is a shame that more of us don’t retain that innocent belief in magic; that knowledge, that certainty that we can make things happen and that delight and exuberance that comes from doing all we can. Think about it the next time you turn on the TV with the remote!