Upir Lichy (opalblack) wrote,
Upir Lichy

30 Days of Paganism: 5. Beliefs – Magic, spellcraft, mysticism etc

That's a big question. Magic and mysticism are completely different things, and some would argue spellcraft is another thing again. Et-cetera could mean anything.

As an ecstatic, I'm a mystic. Like, duh. I experience all manner of interesting tances and heightened states at the drop of a hat (shot glass, tasty fat beat, legally ambiguous chemical, good sex, whatever). Pretty much all the time. The really intense, full-on, congress with divinity stuff happens a couple of times a year, maybe, but the great assortment of other xenophrenic states can happen fairly frequently, the abandon and possession types. Are they holy? Maybe. Depends on your paradigm. If you're a fan of Dionysos, Bast, Gestin, Uzumi and that, then sure it's holy as all fuck. If you're not, then it might just be crazy and frightning.

I think there's a difference between abandon and possession (as mental states). Possession necessarily entails the manifestation of a different personality. Abandon is kind of uninhibited, primordial, perhaps somewhat atavistic at times, and though the personality changes it's not replaced with a different personality. Hard to put into words what a person completely out of control is like. Suffice to say that if someone tells you they are a Maenad, be extremely cautious. Actually, one should probably be a bit cautious with any ecstatic.

I like to say that magic is the technology of non-normal causality. I try to avoid making spurious connections between magic and science. I'm not here to give the world an explanation of how magic works. I hate those guys. Mainly because most of them know nothing about the science they're trying to shoehorn into their pet hypotheses. Such a waste of dead-tree-pulp, and so conceited. So ok, I think magic works and I choose not to pontificate as to how.

Spellcraft intersects with prayer, I think. Spellcraft might be a kind of elaborate prayer with a mechanical aspect. I'm not one of these guys who says that humans have no power of their own and all magic comes from the spirits/deities/forces. Hoomans aren't that special, ok? If cats and shiny rocks and stars can have superpowers, hoomans can have them too.

Anyway. Spellcraft is kind of like baking. Communal baking, maybe. Oh never mind, I'm not going to stretch that metaphor. Anyway, I think that spellcraft that doesn't have the operative/mechanical element of the individual putting their own power into it, then it's prayer & devotional offerings. Yep, that's where I'm drawing the difference for now. It's completley arbitrary.

Then there's superstition. For the purposes let's make another arbitrary distinction and define superstition as the compulsion towards ritualised action where a real-world [magical] outcome is not necessarily expected. The effects of superstition are largely internal; the elaborate preshow ritual won't make the show flawless but it will reassure the actor for a confident perormance. The little things you're not sure enough that you don't believe in to stop doing. And hey, why not, because usually it makes you feel better about something stressful so that's not a bad thing.

My own spellwork is fairly thoroughly based in hoodoo and folk magic, it's pretty ad hoc. It gets the job done.

30 Days of Paganism
Tags: 30 days of paganism

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