Not sure how to start this one. I mean, I’ve been saying for a couple of years that so-called “magic spells” as practised by modern pagans are really the same sort of action as a Christian prayer. But the cognitive dissonance in accepting the two are kinda the same thing was not small. Even now.
Actually, especially now.
Children (and adults) in evangelical and often fairly fundamentalist Christian churches are taught to ask God (i.e. Yahweh) for things by praying. There is considerable emphasis in not asking for whatever takes your fancy, indeed there are whole libraries that have been written down through the ages about how prayer works.
But what is missing from a lot of modern church-based education is how to pray. It seems to have taken a back-seat. By contrast, pagans have many hundreds if not thousands of ways to beseech the universe, spiritual archetypes, personal gods and goddesses or anything else they think will listen. Many are highly ritualistic and even if there are personal requests, are often done in a group where everyone is making requests pretty much the same way. Moreover, pagans rarely have a compunction about asking for what they really actually need. Even if it’s just what they think they need right now.
I’ve been around pagans on a regular basis for a couple of years now. The range of things that are believed as real and true is kind of daunting, if you want to sit down and think about it. But at the same time, there is no pressure to believe it all and little pressure to believe the very basics. This is most unlike a Christian environment where there is a least a background noise of wanting you to believe everything. Of course, belief is rarely something you can turn on like a tap. It has to develop. Encouraging belief is a bit like laying down to sleep: you kind of pretend or act like you do until it really happens. But it can be instructive to be in the presence of people who believe.
A few months ago, one of my closer pagan friends was fairly unashamed about asking for more money during one of the ritual spells we were constructing. She’s a fairly out-there person, after all. We all knew enough about her life to know she has struggled for enough income for quite some time. So why not ask?
Why not indeed. The belief was clearly there and we knew that so was the need.
I’m actually in a similar situation. My living expenses are mostly paid near the start of my pay cycle and I have not a great deal left to last me 2 or 3 weeks until it all starts over again. Some months are more painful than others and in past years these have been assisted by relatives (long, unimportant story). But I felt unusually on top of it in the past few months, even as things scraped by.
Then I had an interesting windfall: I got some money out of a stock trading account from my employer. This is going to pay for a new mattress for my bed, amongst other things. Then the relative already mentioned said they would pay for the next of a certain type of bill. And then I located the other stock trading account from my employer and discovered quite a lot more shares than I expected.
But what really set me thinking was that I’d done one or two of those ritualised spells a few weeks ago asking for more money. Because why not. So now I was looking at it a bit like I’d had a prayer answered. Except it wasn’t a prayer like I’d ever really done before. Had I done my first genuinely successful piece of magic?
This is difficult to tell, but I don’t have any reasons to say why not. Yet I’m hesitant to accept that that’s what happened. But then, if I don’t, where’s my belief? All the things that have happened can all be explained by mundane methods. But that happens when Christians pray, too, and they’re taught to see “God’s hand” in making things happen. How is this any different? I asked the universe and it provided!
It’s a headspin, I know.