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 June 10, 2021, and today's episode is number six of a special seven-episode series on the Basics of Magic, all about how magic isn't just about changing the world around us, but about transforming ourselves. Are you ready to grow your soul?
We’re just a few days away from Midsummer, which is crazy to me because I feel like spring always goes by way too fast and I’m, like, we’re just, what, six or seven weeks away from Fall? Which is great, because I love Fall, but it doesn’t seem real.
So this episode closes out the series on the basics of magic, and I think it’s really important that this topic is the end point because it’s maybe the single biggest thing to understand about magical practice. Magic changes you. And what I mean by that comes down to, well… There are different ways in which we are changed in our practice, changed by our practice.
Which is kind of the point of spiritual things, right?
We’re not supposed to go in and come out the same person. Spirituality and the stuff that we do because of our spirituality is all about becoming a better or higher version of self in one way or another. If we didn’t need or want to change, we wouldn’t have spirituality at all.
So first, let’s go back to an earlier episode, the first one in the series, where we talked about how magic is something humans have evolved to have, to be capable of, not because of the will of something else but because it’s empowering to us. It helps us thrive. And I want to really poke at this idea a bit because, first of all, doing magic for ourselves, through ourselves, really it means the most effective magic is the stuff that’s directed inward, right? Not trying to change the outside world as much as it’s to change ourselves, to fast track our personal development.
But even when we don’t directly intend to change ourselves, that’s essentially what we’re doing. The more we learn, the more we practice magic, the more empowered we get. The more familiar we get with our own energies and the energies around us. The more capable and resilient we get, especially if we’re really practicing in a mindfully focused, purposeful way. Anything significant that we undertake in life changes us. Anything that pushes us out of our comfort zones, our safe and familiar zones, and into new skills or new challenges, that stuff changes us.
And magic is a challenge if you do it right. It requires you to develop your intuitive connections, to look at the world differently, to be in tune with yourself and the environment around you, to be a more clear communicator. It really isn’t just about collecting some candles and crystals and herbs and books and memorizing how to put together a few spells. It’s really leveling up a lot of very personal abilities and growing into a more capable, confident person.
And part of that development is just going to happen as part of the course of events if you really cultivate a practice because it’s like anything you put yourself into. I look back at the person I was before I became a retail manager and had to lead a team and hire and fire people and maximize profitability and all that, and that person was completely different than the person I was when I quit. It wasn’t just learning skills and becoming good at something because it made me develop as a person. It made me dig into myself and deal with the fears and impostor syndrome and stuff in order to be better at what I did.
And maybe it’s weird to think of magic the same way, but to become whatever you consider “good” at it, to be effective at it, you have to put in that kind of time and have things go wrong or get really unexpected results and kind of pick apart the reality of yourself and the world around you. It’s just part of the process. It’s growth.
I think I’ve said before that magic is literally empowering. It’s wielding personal power. So there’s just no way to spend significant time and energy and intention on magic without experiencing personal growth.
Which, and this is a bit of a detour from the topic, but kind of not, but growth almost necessitates making mistakes and having things turn out different from how you intended. It’s no different in magic.
So if you go into your magic practice thinking that it’s only good if you’re, quote, “getting it right,” whatever you define that as, then you’re also not really giving yourself the opportunity for self growth through your practice. In fact, I think one of the worst things you can do for your practice is set that kind of expectation because what that most likely will do is make you afraid to really get in there and try things, learn things by doing, because you’ll be afraid of it going wrong.
So really, if you want to embrace growth via magical practice, the better approach is to go back to the fourth part of this series about everyday magic. Do little magic, seemingly inconsequential magic, so you can take the risks and learn the lessons when it’s not a matter of really needing things to turn out as you envision. Which, I think, is just a good life philosophy, really. Don’t wait for the big stuff to practice your skills on.
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The thing about growth is that it happens whether we try for it or not. It happens faster if we nurture the process, yes, but we can also direct that growth. Select experiences and challenges specifically to shape our development in particular directions.
So there’s this great aspect to magic, and one that it’s really important to understand, where by taking that personal power into our hands we actually take responsibility for shaping our world and ourselves. It’s the Peter Parker Principle. With great power comes great responsibility. So taking up the mantle of magic practitioner, choosing to make that a central part of your spiritual life, means you’re also choosing to take on the responsibility for what you do with it.
So here’s the thing about responsibility. It doesn’t just teach us about ourselves. Yeah, it does that, of course. We learn stuff about our deep selves when we’re put in a position of making a hard decision that could impact other people. And there’s not a lot in our lives that we can make choices about that don’t impact other people. So yeah, that’s a thing. When you really start thinking about the cascading impact of situations you want to change in your life, if you’re making any significant changes at all you’re going to make choices that affect someone else. Your family, your coworkers, your friends, random strangers, whatever.
But beyond that, I mean, that’s that personal growth thing, but beyond that, looking at making change in your life puts you in a place to confront your worldview. It’s not just your own self you’re digging into. Changing the world, plucking at the web of relationships and energy exchange that makes up your environment, that is the only real way of really learning about how it all works, of testing what you think is true.
If you’re going to learn and practice magic you have to open yourself up to the reality that things don’t all work the way you think they do.
Sometimes when you do a working to change something about your life, what you learn isn’t so much about why you have that intention or where it comes from or whatever, and more about the reality that that particular thing you wanted to change didn’t have the effect on your life that you thought it would. Not because you did it wrong or because you’re not good enough at magic yet or whatever, but because you didn’t have a full understanding of the way things worked.
And there are few things that change us more than experiences which reveal something that’s shockingly, profoundly contrary to some fundamental bit of understanding about the world.
As I’ve mentioned a zillion times probably, I used to manage a convenience store. And I saw a lot of people move from entry level into management. Sales managers, store managers. And every single person, me included, who goes into management the first time has a concept in their heads about how the dynamic works. What it means to be in management and to have that authority. And time after time people got into management expecting people to react to their authority a certain way, expecting their staff to perform certain ways in response to their management style, having these ideas about what every other manager does wrong, whatever. It’s a smaller example, but it’s a worldview, right? And when some people became managers, it happens so often, things don’t turn out as they envisioned and it takes that kind of shakeup, for their staff to steal from them or not respect their authority, whatever, to teach them that the way they thought things worked and were going to work was all fantasy.
And that changes people. It changes people’s understanding of their place in it all, the context in which they’re operating.
And when it comes to magic, well… If we all have these different ideas of how the universe works, what kind of powers we’re dealing with, what we’re capable of and how that’s going to look when we make changes, and then our attempts to make things happen reveals a dynamic we didn’t anticipate, shows us that the world doesn’t work the way we thought it did, it can’t help but shift our consciousness, right?
Magic is power, power reveals things, and revelations change our perspective. And I think a lot of people tend to think of their worldview, their life philosophy or whatever, as just an idea, so changing that doesn’t fundamentally change them, but how can it not? How can it not change us somehow to figure out that the things we always thought were true really aren’t? It’s sometimes a traumatic change, but a good one.
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What this all comes down to, in the end, is personal evolution.
Everything spiritual comes down to personal evolution in my world.
But really, magic is directly about personal evolution because when you practice magic, when you run that energy flow, that spirit flow through your soul so that your subconscious takes the reins and puts things in motion, that’s directly changing yourself. It’s looking around at your environment, the world around you, and not just looking at what you want to change outside yourself but looking at yourself and figuring out how you want to change yourself to better thrive in your world.
I know I’ve talked about personal evolution on the podcast before, but that’s really the whole point of spirituality. Not just growth but evolution. And I’ve talked about this difference between changing yourself and changing what’s around you in the series. I think it’s the part two about how magic is for you. We evolved to have magic, and if we’re doing it with any regularity and focus we’re going to evolve because of the magic we have.
It’s a tool for evolution and it’s a reason for evolution.
To be more effective we have to not just grow but evolve. To choose for ourselves what the next step in our development is going to look like. To get more in touch with our own authentic magic and become whatever we need to become to grow our power and our abilities.
I think there’s this natural tendency in magic, and in a lot of other areas, but definitely in magic, to kind of look at ourselves as not quite “enough” for certain aspects of a practice, not as good or whatever as other people, not as… Not possessing the special things other have or not as many of them or not the right ones. But so much of magical proficiency and knowledge and ability are things we can become and learn and develop simply by jumping in and continually practicing. Choosing to grow those parts of your self is one form of spiritual evolution.
And the bottom line is that we can look at a magical practice as something we want to have, something we want to learn, to learn to use, and to put magic in the sort of destination role in our spiritual life. Or we can consider it as a methodology, a way to get to a different goal, whatever you want to call it. Enlightenment or evolution or whatever. Becoming a higher version of self by focusing on a magical practice.
And when you really think about it, even if you look at magic as the end goal, it’s not one. It’s a means to an end. It’s a group of skills you want so you can accomplish something else.
So ultimately the question is what you want out of your magical practice.
And that’s where I’m going to close this series. I want to thank everyone who has been listening, all the new listeners, everyone who has recommended this podcast to friends. The next series I do, between Lughnasadh and Mabon, is going to be about tarot, probably about ways to use tarot for things other than divination, or something along those lines. And until then it’ll be back to one-off topic episodes and, if all goes well, some interviews with other spiritual practitioners about the lessons they’ve learned about authentic spirituality and how they found a practice which nurtures their true selves.
Thank you so much for going on this journey with me and have a wonderful Litha celebration!
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.