Do you believe in magic?

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Out of the Broomcloset photo of things on a table
Out of the Broomcloset photo by Leon Calafiore

Out of the Broomcloset

So, here we are, coming up on the golden anniversary of Stonewall and Pride. As this is being written, our states are under stay-at-home orders and it’s not a stretch to assume that we will not have returned to whatever will pass for the “new” normal anytime soon.

So, what sort of magical thing is being discussed here today?

Pride events are cancelled but it’s only some of Pride’s more extroverted expressions that are denied us right now. What have we learned from this? The same things that we learned from Stonewall: bonds of community are vital and healthy and whatever comes our way, we pick ourselves up and deal with it. If government at whatever level acts indifferently or foolishly, there are ways to overcome it. Most importantly, science eventually trumps fools and ridiculous notions.

In the media sphere, there has been some chatter about the ridiculousness of some who engage in ‘magical thinking’, by officials impeding the successful outcome of this battle. It’s certainly a fair usage of this concept but it does color all forms of ‘magical thinking’ with a bad connotation. Please bear with me; the observations here are no more universally held by the totality of magical practitioners than discussing any particular LGBTQ issue.

As Arthur C. Clark stated: “Any significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” When writer Margot Adler did a comprehensive survey of the Pagan communities in the 1980’s (I know, a lifetime ago), a high percentage of her respondents were in the sciences and technical fields. This came as no surprise and, anecdotally, this percentage has been maintained or even increased. Of course, there is an anti-technology contingent as well as there is in the general population (anti-vaxxers and those who worry about windmill cancer come to mind).

So, what sort of magical thing is being discussed here today? Fill in the blank: “Symbolic thinking and patterning are essential to ( ).” The Sciences, or magic, both fit.

One big question that is often held as particularly important when undergoing various sorts of magical training, spiritual instruction is “what am I to learn from this experience, as opposed to why is this happening/being allowed to happen in the world?” While some may take comfort in the answers given by their faith leaders, often the inquiry is ended with “It’s God’s will, it’s all in his hands, the Lord works in mysterious ways.”

On the whole, the reflections on “what am I supposed to learn” would seem to be just a bit more useful. It agrees that there are things not known but doesn’t hinder the striving to comprehend better, to come up with answers, solutions.

Ah, but you might think, “what about all that magic mumbo-jumbo”? Apparently bizarre combinations of materials and actions that are supposed to achieve some particular result that defies logic? That’s hardly rational or scientific. It’s just spinning out old, outdated notions of how the world works. How is that any different than, say, faith healing? Please refer back to the above fill-in the blank question; the answer is computer programming, actually.

Most will realize that the ingredients in a formulary, when combined, will not chemically interact the same way as, say, the combination of chlorine and sodium, in proper proportion, will form table salt. They are assembled together for a different intent, qualities apart from their physical makeup. It is their unquantifiable symbolic or philosophical associations which are being combined to achieve results that might seem improbable. This is catalyzed by desire, will, intention, which happen to also be three necessary components to move past this and future crises. Even if you don’t believe in magic, please keep those three qualities in mind as we move forward.