Inspired by a recent forum discussion about the role of magic(k) in modern paganism:
My attitude to and belief in magic has changed. I got into Paganism via “nature worship”, that’s what really drew me in, and magic just happened to be a part of the whole Pagan thing (my first excursion into the subject was through Wicca). The magic side of things did interest me for a while, but I was more interested in its significance than its practice. My questions to myself “why do I need it? Do I actually need it?” I once read something that really changed my view of it, which was that I can make a spell but the result will not be the exact one I want; it will be an unconscious change of myself that influences how I act in my life. I can ask for love, wealth or health, but unconsciously I will be making changes to myself that will somehow draw these things into my life.
I think I was more for personal development, making changes within myself than making changes outside of me. And since I can make change within myself without magic, why bother? On the other hand Buddhism influenced my thinking: instead of changing things, maybe it is my perception of things that needs changing. So I left magic behind, though I still held symbolic actions important.
Nowadays I don’t believe that simply by ritualised intent I can make things change (except myself). I believe making symbols (artistically, ritualistically or otherwise) to symbolise my intentions or wishes is important, but these act more as a “mission statement” to myself, a plan or vision by which I can act… and then the changes occur.
For me “real magic” is art and creativity. It is the way we can apply our imagination and perception to transform the world. It the the transformation of inanimate elements into living beings, the transformation of reaction into reflection, the transformation of imagination into concrete reality. It’s an alchemy of the world and ourselves that involves our perception of it.
I may have let go of certain ideas about magic, but it’s become something else as my perception and understanding of it changed. Magic itself has undergone a transformation of alchemy.