Sunday, January 14, 2007

Impact of Wicca on Everyday Life

"How has your religion changed your daily, everyday life?"

My answer to this question essentially is a heightened perception of my own abilities to affect the things around me and a greater awareness of energy. Wicca has changed my life in other ways too, but these are the things that truly affect me every day in a way that they didn't before I began to study witchcraft.

Every thought you think is magick.

This one quote from Christopher Penczak's book Instant Magick sums up for me the most profound way that witchcraft has changed my everyday life. After I began my formal study I learned how powerful not just spoken words but thoughts and feelings could be in manifesting things in our lives.

As I have followed the way of the witch there have been a few "a-ha" moments when certain principles and beliefs from the craft have suddenly become startlingly clear on a very personal level. I remember talking with a classmate from my Witchcraft 1 class about how much I disliked someone I was working for and how unhappy I was in that job. I realized that I had a habit of complaining and being very vocal about my unhappiness when it related to work. We had just been learning about thought forms in class, so suddenly, in that one conversation I got it. By thinking and talking about how miserable I was, that was the energy that I drew to myself as a result and misery was what I was using my power to manifest. This may seem obvious to some but that's only because magick truly is all around us and we all have more power than we think. Once I realized the power that words and even thoughts have, I appreciated the neutralization technique we had learned, wherein you perform some action - be it a spoken word or a gesture - to neutralize the energy of something you didn't mean to say or don't really want to send out to the universe. A magickal "do-over" if you will.

As a witch, I've become much more aware of how my thoughts affect me and those around me and certainly more vigilant against unintentional manifestation of things that run counter to what I really intend. I've also come to recognize the periods in my life when I was manifesting good things by the sheer power of my force of will. Before I began to study witchcraft I didn't realize what I was doing. Now I know. I was working magick.

Just as I learned early on how my words and thoughts had power, I also began to learn about energy. This work is at the core of witchcraft - you need to be able to work with energy to be an effective witch - and no matter how advanced a witch becomes, she will always return to these basic lessons again and again because they are at the heart of magick.

Have you ever walked by something and gotten a shiver - we used to call it the "heebie jeebies" - or met someone who just rubbed you the wrong way? We all have. Every day we come in contact with the energy that is all around us and sometimes feel it enough for it to affect us. As witches, we are trained not only to sense those energies but to recognize them, protect ourselves from them if necessary, harness them if they can help us, and heal them when called upon. As many people have, I sure that I have always been aware of energies I experience on some level. Now, with the training I've done, I'm much more sensitive to their existence and have a greater capacity for knowing what they are and what to do with them.

This doesn't always mean we have to act upon energy we encounter; sometimes it just gives us deeper understanding or appreciation. For example, the other day I bumped into someone I worked with a long time ago and hadn't seen in many years. Just like that, out of the blue. Seeing him was enough of a pleasant surprise but I was struck by how strongly he was emanating the most energized, upbeat aura. I remembered how I had always thought he had such sparkly eyes. He still does. But now I know that those sparkly eyes are but a hint of how sparkly his personal energy is. As a witch I could experience that energy in a way that I never had before.

Energy, just like thought, has tremendous power to transform us. Witches are taught to respect this power and to use it to serve our highest will - the expression of our divine selves - making sure that it harms no one, including ourselves. That is what the phrase "An in harm none, do what thou will" means. This is one of the guiding principles of Wicca. Anyone can call themselves a witch and practice magick. But to be Wiccan means to take personal responsibility for our magick and to exercise the power that we have in an ethical way.


Jeff Lilly said...

Excellent! My wife and I are still learning to work with this, as well. As our eyes have opened, it's been amazing to us to see how we, and the people around us, continually sabotage ourselves with negative energy.

It's like we're all carrying around a magic wand, and we use it continually without knowing it. And we're responsible for what that wand does, whether we're aware of it or not. As someone said, we can give up control, but we can never give up responsibility.

Mike said...

Another great post, Angela-Eloise. What I find very interesting is the similarity of "Every thought you think is magick" and Buddhist karma and corresponding mindfulness training. Karma says that every thought we have, every action we perform, everything we say, is planting a seed based on the nature of that thought, act, or word. So if we act out in anger, for example, we are planting the seed for future anger to manifest. Nearly identical to your example of misery at your past job.

We train in mindfulness to become good enough at it so that we learn the causes & conditions (in other words, what our past has conditioned us to) of all of our thoughts, words, and actions, so that we can choose to allow those responses if wholesome, or short-circuit them if not. This enables us to plant the future seeds for our own future happiness, and learn to dig up the unhelpful seeds.

There's obviously a bit more to it than that, but that aspect of mindfulness and karma really resonates with the idea of magick.

Angela-Eloise said...

Jeff, the first book in Christopher Penczak's series, The Inner Temple of Witchcraft, which corresponds to his first-level class, might be a great addition to your library. Although eventually his classes focus on a Wiccan tradition, the first book is really for anyone who is interested in doing meditation and energy work. It has a number of great exercises that you and your wife might find helpful and the CD companion has guided meditations to accompany the lessons.

Mike, I so appreciate your observation about karma. I'm a firm believer that many of the "different" beliefs that people have are in truth much more similar than we realize. Maybe this is because in the end these truths are universal. Perhaps each tradition found its own particular way to some really smart ideas. Either way, I'm always interested to learn about concepts that cross traditions. As I've said many times, I don't believe in coincidences!

It has been a great pleasure and honor to share A Pagan Sojourn with the two of you this past week, along with Bernulf. I hope to see you again soon out in the blogosphere!

Brightest blessings