I’m Bridget Owens and you're listening to the Waxing Soul podcast. Join me on an exploration of mindful modern magic, a journey towards deeper understanding of self and transformative individual spirituality. It's May 6, 2021, and on today's episode we'll be starting a special seven-episode series on the Basics of Magic by discussing how magic is intrinsic to humankind and how learning magic means tapping into our authentic and unique magical tendencies. Are you ready to grow your soul?
Welcome everyone, and if this is your first time listening, if you’re here specifically for this series on the Basics of Magic, I’m really really excited to have you here listening. We’re just past Beltane, so in terms of the sun cycle it’s the beginning of summer. Between now and Litha or Midsummer we’ll be digging down to the basics of what magic is, the foundational concepts.
And where this started, what this came out of, is yet another social media conversation. A few months back, someone posted on my local pagan Facebook group wondering why people who were supposed to be practitioners of magic would be scared of a virus, why they would be in the hospital without people to be with them and support them, because, in his words, if we were practicing “real magic” we would be healthy and wealthy and free. His words. And I was really heartened by the fact that most everyone had very measured responses because my whole thing is that I don’t care to try and change the minds of people who have come to have whatever beliefs they have, no matter how I disagree with them, because that’s largely an exercise in futility.
But knowing how many beginner witches, how many people who are just curious, who are just starting their path, how many of them are hanging out on this group, I was glad that the overwhelming response was measured and logical. Mine was, admittedly, pretty blunt. But someone else was much more tactful and said that all the crystals and tools that this guy apparently thought held enough magic to cure disease and make us rich and powerful were really just focal points and tools, that magic comes from within and is about working on yourself.
And that conversation inspired this series. Because, and I’ve talked about this before, when you take all the evidence into consideration it’s pretty hard to back up this idea that there is a right way or a best way to practice magic, that there’s a specific set of skills or tools to master or a specific set of rules to follow. I think the metaphor I used in Episode 7 on Creative Simplicity in Your Practice was that you don’t have to learn what chefs learn in culinary school to be proficient in making food for yourself. You don’t have to cook the way your grandparents did or your parents. You don’t have to follow recipes to still be a good cook.
So this isn’t about that, it’s not about specific skills and rules.
But we also know people who are just awful at cooking, who can barely make a peanut butter sandwich, and it’s because they don’t understand what cooking is. They’re missing the fundamental understanding of the principles of food preparation. And it’s possible to have the same relationship with magic. To have the tools and the desire and just not be able to get any satisfactory results.
So instead of dealing with the tools and skills, I want to go deeper than that. Starting with the idea that magic isn’t something external, it’s not a force from outside that we command. It’s us. It’s in us. It comes from within. It’s personal. It’s intensely personal.
And I don’t mean that in the same sense some people think of it, the idea that magic is a gift that some people have more than others.
Everyone is magic, everyone can learn magic.
But what does it mean in practical terms for the magic to come from you, from inside? When it comes down to learning or continuing to work on your magical practice, what are the actual implications of this idea?
So, first of all, it means coming to terms with the idea that magic is not an external thing you can bring into your life to fix whatever you think is wrong with it. Every bit of magic you do is about what you bring from inside yourself, who you are and what your energy is like, so if you go into your practice looking to grasp power from outside, as something external that some other power chooses to give you in certain circumstances, you’re going to struggle.
Realizing that magic is internal and inherent to each of us means that learning to work with magic is an individual and personal thing. Which means one key to really learning, really mastering magic is to stop looking for quote the right way to do things. We can learn techniques. We can learn from other practitioners. We can follow traditions. But in the end our practices don’t have to look like anyone else’s, and there are no hard rules.
So learning magic involves making choices for ourselves about what methodologies and techniques resonate with us personally. We can absolutely choose to follow a path laid out by someone else, to learn via an initiatory tradition or to take on a mentor who can teach us what to do, but it’s important to acknowledge it as a choice, that there are other ways and other paths which are also legitimate. We can do our own research when it comes to learning magical skills, seek out the different ways of approaching each thing we want to learn, and picking the one which makes the most sense for us. We can make things up from our own experience and our own ideas.
Bottom line, if you’re beginning your magical path or struggling to feel like you’re learning or mastering anything, it’s absolutely crucial to reframe the whole idea of magical practice in terms of getting in touch with your own authentic magical way of being and bringing that forth in a way that resonates with you. And nobody can really tell you what that’s going to look like or what it should look like. But as part of the expanded download for this episode, I’ve got some exercises and some challenges that can help you find your authentic magical way of being.
If you're enjoying this episode of Waxing Soul, subscribe to the show! Each week we will dive into a different part of the world of spirituality, magic, and self-evolution. Check out last week's episode where we discussed the importance of ritual and the importance of creating and personalizing our own rituals. And come back next week when we will continue this 7-episode series on The Basics of Magic by discussing how our magic not only comes from within us, but exists to help us thrive.
The second big implication of knowing that you are the magic, that magic comes from within you rather than something external is that all the objects and tools and things that are often regarded as the basic things to use for doing magic aren’t necessary at all.
That’s not to say that there’s no purpose in them, that we shouldn’t use them, but it does mean that they aren’t where the magic power lives.
It means magic doesn’t require us to have a bunch of things at hand. Take away the wands and crystals and whatnot, and we are still absolutely able to do magic. It means that an important aspect to beginning to learn magic entails learning to do magic without tools and objects and learning to do magic with objects and tools that you improvise or create, not because we should feel bad for using tools or wanting to use magical objects, but because learning to work without them gives us a better understanding of how much of our magic is personal and internal and it gives us a better understanding of the value and purpose of the tools and objects we use.
Part of the mastery of our magic lies in realizing how much of our practice is really about our own abilities, our own intentions, our own authenticity, and part of that is wrangling with our relationship with ourselves, our own self-esteem and connection to our inherent power. So there’s really something very profound about this process of learning to do magic without objects and tools, relying just on our own energies and our own authentic way of being.
I could tell you all that you can’t do magic until you have a high self-esteem, but that just seems, you know… There’s no real easy button way to improve your self-esteem without doing some deep self work.
But the good news is that magical practice, the act of learning and practicing magic is just as good of a way to do that kind of deep self work as anything else. So if you’ve always done magic using special tools, special objects, or even if you’ve just always assumed those things were necessarily for magic, figuring out how to accomplish the same thing with your words, your thoughts, your imagination, your body, your movements, it’s all different ways to affirm your own power, your own capabilities.
And I personally believe beginning to work without tools is a great way to begin learning magic, but I know there are plenty who disagree on that, so it’s what feels right to you.
But this can look like honing in on the methodologies and techniques that don’t involve tools, things like using incantations or affirmations or mantras, practices that work with personal energy through just body movement or through focused thought and vision. This can look like taking the thing you know usually involve objects or tools and really considering the role that tool plays. For instance, is it to help direct and focus energy? Is it a source of a specific type of energy? And then figure out ways to accomplish the same thing without those tools.
And like I mentioned earlier, also looking at the objects and things around you, considering what you can create and adapt from your life as it already is, and using those things in your magical workings is a continuation of that. It’s an exercise in learning to adapt and rely on your own deep understanding and connection to the magic inside you. The magic that is you.
This actually reminds me of something the business coach I work for talks about quite a bit. One of the things that she teaches is that you don’t achieve financial stability by getting or saving more money. Lots of entrepreneurs and, well, people in general try to build future financial security by increasing how much money they have in the bank, but in reality your future financial stability rests on your skills. If you’ve got the skills to bring in revenue, you never have to worry about how much money is in the bank. It’s that whole, you know, learning how to fish not just hoarding fish.
And it’s true about magic, too. If you know how to do magic without tools, without external things, or with whatever objects you have at your disposal at any given time, then you’ll never lack personal power. It’s the understanding of the innate nature of your magic that builds confidence in your abilities and power. If you consider magic as something external, something that exists in things, in other external forms, in specific ways and techniques and doing things a certain way, you’re always going to first of all look to external things to validate your magic and tell you how capable you are, and second of all you’ll always be limited by the availability of external resources.
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The even bigger implication of all this is that we already create magic, we already do magic in our lives without maybe even realizing it because we are magical beings. This is something I think we tend to realize eventually as we develop our practice, but if you’re just starting out or if this is a new idea in your magical life, it’s worth devoting some time and attention to how this plays out.
I talked in last week’s episode about how our habits are simple rituals, and that’s part of what this looks like. It’s finding those ways we already manifest our personal power, ways that, if we pick at it a little bit, start to really look like spells and magical practices.
Human beings do magic. It’s instinctual. It’s just part of human nature. Even humans who don’t believe or don’t think they believe in magic do magic. We alter our behavior in seemingly illogical ways to try and improve the chances of things happening as we want them to. We develop patterns and habits and rituals for reasons that make a weird kind of sense to us as individuals and create certain feelings or whatever, even though they don’t make sense to anyone else. Those instincts are just part of human nature.
Having lucky objects, naming and anthropomorphizing our belongings, wearing and keeping symbolic things, creating traditions which are only meaningful to us and our friends or family… All of those things are forms of magic. So really looking at those things that we already do, the ways we’ve always done stuff that, now that we have an idea of what magic is and how it works, we can look at those behaviors and patterns and go, “Yep, that’s magic.”
If we’re already doing those things, if they’re already woven into our way of being, way of living, then that’s the logical starting point for growing our magical practice. Because what we get when we examine the patterns that happen already in our lives, the ways we naturally act in a magical context, what we end up with is a blueprint for the kind of magical practice that is going to feel just like an extension of who we are.
It’s not hard to take a look at our life and start to pick out things like what situations and environments make us feel most powerful, most magical, most charged up, the types of magical actions we already dabble in and the ones that just don’t fit our identity, that kind of thing.
For instance, if I look back at my life and pick out the times when I felt like the energies were really aligned around me, I felt like I had tapped into my potential and the energetic resources around me and was really, just, primed to accomplish whatever I wanted to… those times were all when I was a) alone and b) in the middle of a big, bustling city. And if I look at the things that I do, that I’ve always done as outlets of creativity, as my go-to ways to try and accomplish things, my natural methodologies…. I’m an artist and crafter and writer, so even before I got into magic the idea of writing out my feelings and destroying the pages or creating a special, meaningful object to use for certain occasions and purposes, that was already stuff I did. I already treated my room as a kid or my apartment as an adult as a sacred space of sorts, I already dabbled in, like, wearing lucky jewelry and collecting objects that had sentimental meaning and stuff… It’s not hard to see the magic in all that, right? And I didn’t have the benefit of having thought all this through at the beginning of my journey, but in the long run I’ve ended up back at this state of, you know, doing the things that feel natural, that fit my natural way of being, because that’s when I’m at my most effective.
One thing that’s super important to remember as you’re navigating this world full of witches and the like with all sorts of different ideas of how things are supposed to be is that when someone tells you they have a methodology that works really well, they’re probably right! It works for them because it’s in alignment with their personal magical way of being, but it may not be yours. So if you’re struggling to follow someone else’s lead, if their way isn’t letting you tap into your authentic magic, that’s probably why.
Now I know that I’ve been talking about the cool bonuses that come along with this series, and the big one is that instead of a one-page download with just basic ideas or prompts or whatever, for each of these episodes I have a six-page download, either printable or fillable so if you like to write things out by hand or if you like to work completely digital you can do that, and they’ll include some journaling prompts, some tips and ideas, some challenge prompts of ways to explore what we cover, that sort of thing. And that means that after seven episodes you’ll essentially have a 42-page workbook on the basics of magic!
And that’s a wrap on the first part! I look forward to seeing everyone’s questions and to being back next week with part two!
Thank you so much for listening. New episodes of the Waxing Soul drop every Thursday. All materials and resources except the music are copyright Bridget Owens. Many thanks to my readers, listeners, friends, mentors, inspirations, and my framily for riding with me into season two. Until next week, blessed be and be good to yourself.