What is magic?
Magic happens through collaborating with mystery and surrendering control.
Two of my favorite definitions of magic come from Dion Fortune and Phyllis Curott. Fortune gave the definition, popularized by Starhawk: “Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will.” Curott teaches, “Magic is what happens when you have encountered the Divine” and “the Divine is everywhere present in the world”—including one another and ourselves. Magic is an encounter with our sacred inter- and intra-connectedness, the will to shift consciousness into an experience of relationality and belonging to that which exceeds our limited, individuated, separate selves. Whether through witchcraft, ritual, divination, or communing with ancestors, plants, or stones, we cultivate abiding awareness that the lives we are living are not only our own and never simply of our own design. We are participants in a larger ecology of relations that constitute and sustain us. We are moving in currents that were in motion before we arrived and will continue after we are gone. We do not and cannot know or control all that shapes our lives nor all that our lives are shaping. Magic is the art of changing our consciousness to recognize our lives as encounters with the Divine and learning how to collaborate with this mysterious immensity, learning how to shape change, following adrienne maree brown.
When we work with magic in these ways, I think we are engaging in anti-oppression practices because so many of the systems of oppression with which we struggle in imperialist, colonialist, white supremacist, human exceptionalist, capitalist hetero-patriarchy (re: bell hooks) depend upon obsessions with control and certainty. When we practice moving with mystery and abiding in the consciousness that our lives are never only or fully of our own but rather we are always emerging in collaboration with countless relations of which we are composed, we resist the compulsions toward certainty and control endemic within the systems against which we struggle.
[Image reads “What Is Magic?” in dark glowing letters on a pink field of flowers and stars.]