As you may know, this month is when we host our annual summer camp, based on the Harry Potter books by author J.K. Rowling. As we turn Westside into a mini-Hogwarts, we hear lots of adults as well as children expressing how much they love these stories, and the world created within them.
What is it about magic that so enthralls us?
I believe that many of us want to believe in magic. Even if we eschew it from a practical stance, reserving it for childhood, the movie theater, or story books, we still like to have the idea nearby. We only need to look to the popularity of our modern secular holiday celebrations—Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and others—to see how much we like participating in magical narratives. But many of us don’t really believe magic itself is possible.
More and more people, however, are returning to a belief in real magic. And whereas ‘modern’ culture gave up the idea a couple hundred years ago, it has gained increasing clout over the last 50 years. Many popular religious and social movements embrace actual, practical magic and teach theologies, ideologies, and practices based on it.
So what exactly is magic, anyway?
I would define magic as anything that accomplishes something that seems beyond the reach of the first 5 senses. For example, psychic abilities are often included in the realm of the magical. (Note Professor Trewlawny in the Harry Potter books.) Another example would be the ability to cause effects without material (touch-based) intervention. So, moving an object with your mind or turning something into another form (Professor McGonagall’s skill) would be magic. Interfering with the weather, shape-shifting, mind-reading, all are considered ‘magical’ abilities.
Such magic is central to many ancient, shamanic or earth-centered traditions, though. Long-dismissed as childish, impossible, and foolish by ‘modern’ people, these practices and beliefs are gaining new respect and interest, especially in connection with our growing understanding of the quantum realm.
So how do you feel about magic? What about miracles, or connecting with the invisible, energetic realms? If you’re interested in learning more about these concepts, and their resurgence in contemporary society, join me for a new adult Religious Exploration class starting this month: Earth Magic, which will be a review of earth-based and energy-based spiritual traditions and ideas.
The class will be meeting on 4th Sundays after worship for the next few months, and will cover the following topics: • June 23: What is the New Age? • July 28: Witches, Druids, Shamans and Pagans • August 25: Sacred Sites and Rituals • September 22: Energy Magic and Setting Intentions
In late September, from September 27-29, Wendy Weiss and I will be leading a Spirit Quest in the Smoky Mountains, where we’ll get to experience some of the basics of earth and energy-centered spirituality firsthand (including fire rituals, sacred circles, spiritual reflection and art, and time alone on the land). You can attend any one of these classes or events on its own, or join me for all of them to spend a little time learning about practical magic and connection to the earth.
Looking forward to a magical summer, Rev. Carol