Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Storm Faerywolf, author of the new Betwixt & Between.
Magic is the heart of witchcraft. The casting of spells, the making of charms, the speaking of incantations… Whatever the particular method, or practice, or tradition, one thing has remained constant in my years practicing the Craft: the shifting of awareness into the ecstatic. Famed occultist Dion Fortune notably defined magic as “the art of changing consciousness at will.” This definition has served as a basis for the practices and philosophies of many successive witches and occultists since.
Often when the new student begins in the Craft we are inclined to assume that whatever altered states of awareness we seek will all be intense, earth-shattering affairs. Certainly intense spiritual experiences are within our grasp, but the truth is if our magical life consistently maintained a certain level of intensity we would very quickly burn out or become mentally unbalanced. Most often the shifts in perception that we are aiming for are seemingly small and are frequently imperceptible to the beginner. We often shift levels of awareness during the course of a normal day, largely without realizing it. Driving a car, daydreaming, reading, watching TV… we enter into light states of trance during each of these activities. By performing a regular practice we learn about our own personal ways of engaging the numinous and learn to pay better attention when these shifts occur, and even how to trigger them at will.
These shifts in perception are the same as those that occur when we are emotionally moved; when we are deeply engaged in creating art, experiencing poetry, singing, listening to music, or similar. An effective spell or ritual will engage our senses in an effort to trigger these subtle shifts; and since these triggers are personal in nature, they may be drawn from even the most mundane of sources.
I can honestly say that some of my most potent magical training has come from pop culture. I am not so delusional as to think that the spells depicted in The Craft or Charmed represent a viable way of working magic. But the artistic inspiration born of these things is altogether a different story. I am a fan of using whatever works. So it is in that spirit that I eagerly draw inspiration from works of art and from many sources. I have received as much magical inspiration from Crone’s Book of Charms and Spells as from watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Dresden Files, The Magicians, or Salem. But my most valuable magical trigger gleaned from pop-culture is—hands down—from my early childhood, watching episodes of Bewitched.
The witches and warlocks would wave their hands and twitch their noses all to a hilarious and magical result. But by far what has stuck with me all these years was a sound…that of the little chimes tinkling in the background while the witches pronounced their spells in rhyme. To this day, when I wish to step into that magical state of enchantment I need only recall that little sound, and I can feel the shift begin to occur. In this state I will speak my spell, or light my candle, or cast my circle, or assert my will. It might sound silly to some, but in my view magic is the art of using whatever works to make things happen. The fact that what works for me might just as easily originate in a comic book as it might ancient myths just means that I have a wider array to choose from. (And I have fun doing it.)
Our thanks to Storm for his guest post! For more from Storm Faerywolf, read his article The Witch’s Crown: Sovereignty, Power, and the Faery Tradition.”