During my early teenage years I went through a phase, much to my mothers dismay, where I was intensely fascinated by wicca. I'm not sure how it got started (although Mom did block the channel that Buffy was on - perhaps why I love it so much still) but I remember sneaking over to the pagan section at the bookstore and pouring over books filled with spells I was convinced would make me the most gorgeous, most popular girl at school. Well - that didn't happen but I never lost my belief in the power of magic.
After studying psychology for 6 years, teaching it for 7 and spending the last few years learning a tremendous amount about holistic wellness I now see 'magic' as more of a psychological power. I remember reading a book on magic years ago that explained how lighting candles, using certain talismans or gems, it was all ways to trick your left brain (the logical/rational side) into believe what you are physically doing would actually work. Basically - all the elements of a ritual were irrelevant, but existed as a way for people to have 'proof' that they were doing something besides just wishing really, really hard for what they want to happen.
What does wishing really, really hard translate to in psychology? A self-fulfilling prophecy; also referred to as the 'law of attraction' in new age speak. If you think something will happen - it will. If you think you will bomb your job interview you will be so nervous when you go in that you'll likely do terrible. If you think you will rock it you will walk in with your head held high and answer every question with confidence. What you put your energy into believing will become reality.
I vividly remember the day I turned 16 and got my drivers license. I borrowed mom's Oldsmobile (a.k.a. 'the tank') and headed straight for the mall. I was on Cloud 9. The only other time I can remember feeling as confident about myself when I finished my first half-marathon. I still remember what I was wearing that day at the mall! I walked around, nowhere in particular to go, and quickly noticed almost every person I passed stopped and looked at me. There was nothing special about the way I looked, but I had the biggest smile that was likely radiating off of me and a swagger in my walk that even Beyonce couldn't replicate on the stage. When I think about the virtually limitless power of using positive thinking to draw good things into your life I remember that day.
Saying a prayer, meditating, casting a spell, engaging in a 'good luck' ritual, these are all methods of manipulating energy. If you want to light a candle and say a chant, or sit quietly before bed praying, it's all the same in the brain.
Having a black cat named Salem and a tattered old book on Gypsy love magic (with every other page earmarked by my 15 year old self for finding my future husband) is totally optional.
The Law of Attraction: Real Life Stories
Spells and Charms: Harry Potter and the Power of Positive Thinking
Why Rituals Work: the real benefits of rituals, religious or otherwise
Do you believe in 'magic'? If so, in what form do you practice?