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Articles    H2'ed 10/10/14

Bringing Magic Back to a Muggle World

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We are just returning from an amazing four-day seminar in Brussels, in which we explored the role of story in transforming our lives. This workshop has inspired us toward our November 14-16th workshop with Peter Blum in Stone Ridge, New York (near Woodstock), in which we are explicitly focusing upon magic. How do we create magic in a Muggle [1] world?

Magic emerges whenever we invoke spirits, which is an essential aspect of indigenous spirituality. In this worldview, everything is spiritual, which means that everything is magical. Walt Whitman wrote about this when he said that every blade of grass was a perfect miracle. When we understand that everything in the world is conscious, then we see that everything is magical.

We are trying to make magic part of ordinary life. We are trying to avoid New Age interpretations and remain consistent with indigenous ideas in which magic is both profound and ordinary. It's ordinary that we can sit beside a tree and feel its consciousness, even communicate with it. Sometimes trees are grouchy, surly, unruly, and have nothing to say. That's life. They're not always full of lovely, uplifting messages for us. They're sometimes just angry at the way we're managing the forest. But, nevertheless, they are present and do have opinions. It's extraordinary in that energy moves matter and energy is invisible. Multiple cultures discovered the energy meridians of our bodies that move energy to keep us healthy. Energy also moved among us as we enter into the electromagnetic fields generated around our bodies by our heart's activity. Recently we reviewed a neural imaging study which showed that our brain activity synchronizes in several key areas when we communicate with each other. That's magic!

We can perceive magic when we appreciate that the clouds are alive, that trees communicate, that forces are at work, which are greater than all of us. However, the modern world makes this difficult. If we accept the indigenous worldview that everything is conscious, unless we are indigenous, we are backed into the corner of seeming New Age. We sound silly to the materialists who run the world. We run the risk of being perceived as supercilious. We sound stupid.

So how do we introduce magic into a Muggle world? In Brussels, we played with the idea of dialogue with the invisibles, of accepting that spirits are everywhere, that they can help us; that we can communicate with them, that they can guide us.

In ceremony, we invite the spirits, the invisibles to pay attention to us. We ask them to take a moment and notice us. We ask for their help. We attempt to demonstrate that we are sincere in our request and that we are worthy of their assistance. We ask the assistance of the greater spirits -- the sky spirits, the earth, the guardians of the four directions (who are also the four winds). We ask for whatever help we can get.

In our closing ceremony in Brussels, people wrote about the change in their lives that they had already made (from a perspective from the future). They offered these writings and their prayer ties [2] to the spirits in request for help in making this change already having had happened. Offering to the spirits means putting the prayer ties and the already written papers into the sacred fire. Each person made a personal entreaty to the spirits for what they wanted. We concluded with a pipe ceremony, which makes the prayers even more powerful, followed by a thank-you song.

This is magic -- the idea that invisible forces and energies can help us transform and change.

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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)
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