Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with merry light;
The surety of its hidden root
Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a wizard song for thee.
— William Butler Yeats, The Two Trees
Today, gifted writer and Wiccan scholar, Scott Cunningham would have turned 51 years old. Although he has crossed over, his legacy lives on, in his more than twenty books about Earth Spirituality, herb and hearth lore, and practical magic. With them, he continues to bring inspiration and wisdom to hundreds of thousands worldwide (in 2004, Llewellyn Publishers estimated that his classic Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner alone had sold a quarter of a million copies).
According to many wisdom traditions, Summer is the time that relates to the element of Fire and magic. In Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, Scott Cunningham defines magic as, “The projection of natural energies to produce needed results.” Similarly, authors Dion Fortune and Starhawk describe magic as being “the art of changing consciousness at will.”
What does magic mean to you?
In contrast, psychiatry has a dim view of “magical thinking,” calling it the opposite of critical analysis, and therefore undesirable. However, even the most left-brained skeptic will have moments when the inexplicable and sublime intrude on his assumptions: falling in love, miraculous healing, being swept away by great music, a life-altering premonition — there are so many possibilities.
Magic is certainly about change. Changing water into wine, pulling rabbits out of hats. Abracadabra! Presto! Shazam!
But then, is magic only what is flashy and extraordinary? Sometimes, the small, everyday things –the tiny fist of a newborn, the roar of the ocean, the smell of the air before it rains — are the most magical.
In fact, in my experience, magic most often comes when we simply pay extraordinary attention. When we open ourselves to the profound appreciation and joy of living, we are centered in the place where magic can happen.
Changing our busy, distracted, superficial experience of the world around us to a slow, full opening of all our senses, we can shape reality in new ways. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with messages that are calculated to either seduce us with imagined neediness, or overcome us with a sense of helplessness, we all need a little more magic.
Over the days to come, this Summer, let us together find some powerful new ways to connect to the magic that flows around and through us, would we but open our hearts to receive it.