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 27, 2021, and today's episode is number four of a special seven-episode series on the Basics of Magic, all about the everyday nature of magic and how it's woven into the very fabric of our lives. Are you ready to grow your soul?
This is the midpoint of the series, and we’re getting into the real meat of things. We’re kind of moving past the stuff about what is magic, the real foundations of this stuff, which is a really important jumping off point for a lot of reasons.
When I was starting out this journey, this path into paganism and magic, my big frustration was that so much of what’s out there starts with all kinds of assumptions that you already know or believe some things about the nature of and need for magic and skips right past the questions of is this even real, what is the foundation of all this, where does this come from.
And for some people that’s fine, but that’s not me. I want to kind of know where the roots of things reach down to, what it grows from. And it’s not just a matter of needing to know it’s real or true or whatever, it’s not just that I want to pick things apart.
The thing is that there is a difference between wanting to have the benefits of something, wanting to be able to do something, and truly wanting to understand and master that thing, and this is one of many areas of life where I’m definitely not content to just know how to get it done, I want to be able to do it for myself at the very least.
Like, I’ve used the metaphor of magic being like cooking before. There’s a difference between wanting to have good food, wanting to know how to cook good food, and wanting to be a chef.
Or, let’s try another one, there’s a difference between using the bus system, learning to drive, and learning how a car works.
There are those who want the benefits of magic, who want to manifest things but aren’t really interested in knowing the ins and outs of what magic is and how it works, they just want the “here’s how to do this spell” part, and I’m going to guess most of those people aren’t still listening here because all this stuff that we’ve been digging into would just be boring and frustrating. Like giving turn by turn driving directions to someone who really just needs to know which bus to get on or explaining the recipe for good tomato sauce to someone who just wants their pizza delivered.
So what we’ve gone through so far, digging into what magic is, where it comes from, that’s what it takes to get past “I want magic in my life” and into “I want to learn to do magic.” All the exercises and stuff in the downloads so far, all the digging into our relationship with our magic and energy and all of that, doing those things gets us past just following instructions and doing what others tell us is the correct thing, and lets us start crafting workings for ourselves. Taking the reins. Taking the wheel.
And it’s important to understand that there’s some limitations in being at that first phase. Like, both metaphors are good for this as well. If you always order food, get takeout, buy ready to eat things and you don’t know now to cook, there’s going to be a limit to your ability to find exactly the food you want to eat when you want to eat it. Right? If you rely on public transportation rather than driving, sometimes you’re going to struggle to get where you need to be when you need to be there. So if you want magic in your life, if you turn to other practitioners or you rely on having someone tell you exactly how to do things, you’re going to be limited in what you can manifest. The magic in your life will essentially be other peoples’ magic, so you’re limited by them, their knowledge, what they can share with you.
It’s not YOUR magic.
And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s just like… I mean, if you’ve ever been reliant on public transportation or not had the ability to prepare food for yourself, you know how limiting that can be on something that is part of your everyday life.
And magic… this is today’s big lesson… Magic is everyday, too.
I mean that both in the sense that it’s not, like, a special thing we only access in certain circumstances and in the sense that it’s an inherent part of our day to day existence just like eating and going places. We can make it special, sure. Sometimes it’s appropriate to put on some robes and light all the candles and cast a big ass circle just like sometimes situations call for a fancy multiple course dinner or to rent a moving truck. But not every meal is a dinner party and not every drive is a cross country road trip. The vast majority of what we need magic for, what we learn to use magic for, is just regular everyday stuff. It’s shaping the life around us that we want to live. It’s shaping who we become day to day.
And that may be a big shift for a lot of people but it’s a necessary one to really learn to do magic. Magic isn’t about a reality or a dimension beyond ours, it’s not all wrapped up in the otherworldly, it’s not gods and beings and powers. That stuff… That’s religion. That’s belief. Magic isn’t that, it’s part of our everyday world.
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So now that we’re into this transition period, we’re going to be moving past the the foundations of learning to do something and into the stuff that allows us to master something, and I didn’t plan it this way but it works out nicely.
The thing about learning to look at magic as something that’s mundane, that’s part of our normal boring lives is that, well, for a lot of people that’s going to be a huge shift in the approach to learning magic. And it’s kind of like… Okay, so there’s one thing that I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older about the nature of the world, the nature of human existence, and it’s that things are just not as complicated as we tend to make them out to be. And part of that is because modern society has gotten all wrapped up in this idea of expertise, of qualification, of there being hoops to jump through before you’re deemed able to do things. And we make out most skills to be something that takes special education to learn and that are difficult to master.
And some things, like, yeah, brain surgery is not something just anyone can learn. Nuclear physics isn’t something you pick up from reading a couple of books and taking a seminar. But most things are not as complicated, not as restricted, not as difficult as we’ve made them. That’s one of the big realizations I’ve had about the world, that most people look at new knowledge, new skills, all of that, as some big mountain to climb, something that requires some special qualities to take on, when most of the time stuff is way simpler and easier to learn than we expect.
Like, how many people do you know who don’t know how to cook and it’s mostly because they consider cooking to be something you have to have a talent in or because they’re afraid to mess up and do something wrong or they think it requires special tools and equipment and whatever? The reality is that the basics of food preparation are simple. A certain amount of it is downright intuitive. Got a piece of dead animal? Apply heat to make it safe to eat and make it taste good. Plants too tough to eat? Boil to soften them. Salt makes things taste better. Certain flavors taste better together than by themselves. Our human instincts, just like the instincts of every other animal, include some basic guidance on getting sustenance.
I’m going to really be leaning on this metaphor pretty hard today, but it works.
We have an instinctual basic understanding of magic, which I talked about a bit in the first episode in the series. It’s like hunger. A craving for magical things. Meaningful habits and rituals, objects with special significance, actions we take to bend reality in ways that aren’t obvious or necessarily logical. We respond to life in magical ways already and learning magic is, in part, just tapping into that, leaning into that rather than stifling it with the things we’ve learned from society about how it’s not okay.
Learning it isn’t something that requires special training, special teaching, special skills. It’s not for the elite. It’s not difficult. I mean, you can make it as difficult and complicated as you want to, just like cooking. But at its root, it’s not. It’s everyday. It’s COMMON.
And that means not only is it accessible to people, but it means that a lot of us are standing in our own way when it comes to learning magic because we’ve put it up on, like, the same level in a way as brain surgery or nuclear physics. I mean, probably not that high, but you get me, right? All the stuff we’ve been told about special hidden knowledge and stuff you can only learn as you ascend an initiatory tradition and all of that… There’s a place for that. Absolutely. But that’s tradition. That’s structure. That’s specific types of magical practices. It’s like telling people that they need a medical degree to put a bandaid on a papercut.
And I would one hundred percent say that the biggest thing standing in the way of learning magic for most people starting out is this fear of doing it wrong, fear of not knowing something important. Fear that they aren’t at the level yet where they CAN do magic. But magic is everyday. It’s not for special purposes only, special tasks only, special PEOPLE only.
So part of the activities, part of the challenges in this week’s download is going to be about breaking through that fear and getting in touch with everyday magic. Getting into doing everyday magic that’s simple, that’s small, that’s natural. And definitely it’s not true that only small, natural, simple magical is real and that big formal closed practices are bad or wrong, any more than the other way around is true. But even the biggest, fanciest, most deeply traditional and initiatory magical traditions are built on a foundation of simple, everyday magical actions and habits.
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So, to recap so far today: Magic is as much a part of everyday human existence as eating, and it’s not as hard as we think. But to really make the shift from the first half of this series where we’ve been kind of tracking along from wanting the end result of magical practice to what it takes to actually learn to do magic, to practice magic. And I’m looking forward into the next three episodes and what we’re going to be getting into is more of a how to master the concept – not how to master it in terms of whatever initiatory tradition or specific path or whatever you might have in mind, but in mastering it in terms of getting into a bit more advanced understanding.
And this is an important pivot point because the big shift that has to happen is getting from asking what is magic to how does magic work. And not, like, what happens when you light a candle, what steps that energy takes to cause whatever you’re thinking of to manifest… If you want that kind of understanding, you’re not going to get actual truth on that. I did an episode a while back on the nature of truth and that’s a good one to refer back to if that’s the kind of understanding you want. You’ll find an understanding that satisfies you, that makes sense to you, but it will only really be the one for you. It’ll be personal truth, not universal truth.
But I digress.
We’re going to get into the kind of understanding of, once you have the everyday basics, how do you go about using those building blocks to get the magic working for you. Like, the stuff we’ve talked about so far is the stuff of, like, if we go back to the food metaphor, we’ve talked about where ingredients come from and the basic, like, you could make some simple things like a sandwich or salad or cook a piece of meat, right? And now we’re going to get into the, here’s what happens when you apply heat to an ingredient and why we do that.
And the key to really getting that understanding is doing magic every day.
Like, magic is everyday, it’s mundane, it’s common, but it’s also, if you’re going to be good at it, it has to be habitual. It has to start being woven into your existence and not something you just read books about, listen to podcasts about, poke at on occasion. It has to be taken out of the realm of hypothetical and academic and brought into action. Everyday action. Everyday practice.
I mean, we call it a practice, right? So if you’re not doing, you’re not practicing. If you’re not practicing, you’re not mastering. Not praying, not wishing, not reading about, actually practicing.
But it can be so very simple in practice. Mundane and common, right? An affirmation. A lit candle. A crystal in your pocket. Intentional small actions as part of your everyday life and existence which over time are really you practicing and exploring magic and learning from doing.
Because here’s one more, let’s talk food again, and I apologize if I’m making everyone hungry here. But if you start out learning to make, like, a peanut butter sandwich, and then grilled cheese, maybe a killer tuna salad or something, eventually once you’ve not just read about cooking or watched Food Network or whatever but actually cooked, actually practiced, eventually you get to where you can be, like… You could look up what goes into and what defines a great Bahn Mi and jump in and make one. Right?
Or, you can go straight to, like, I’m going to learn the specifics of how to make a Bahn Mi. I’ll focus on the specific components, getting the right ingredients, learn how to pickle the vegetables and what the right spices are to use, get really good at making a Bahn Mi specifically. And you won’t be a master of making sandwiches, right? Like, you’d be able to make a Bahn Mi, but what about an authentic Philly Cheesesteak? Or a Reuben? Or a Cubano? You’d be starting all over to learn how to do those, right? You’d need to go into the specific details again, pick apart the ingredients and techniques, kind of start from scratch learning it.
If you start with the little things, the everyday, the peanut butter sandwiches equivalent in magic, you learn basic concepts along the way and become able to quickly pick up on what goes into other more specific and advanced and specialized things, and most importantly be able to create your own thing because you’ve truly mastered the building blocks. It stops being about “how do I do this list of high level things” but “I have all the components so I can do anything.”
But it has to be something you embrace as part of your daily life to get there. So buckle up, everyone, the next three episodes are going to level up a bit. Can’t wait to jump into the final three episodes of the series, and thank you all so much for listening.
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.