Magick can do amazing things. We as humans have an innate ability to focus our will and affect changes in the world around us, from creating a nourishing meal, to manifesting our ideal relationship, work, or home. Magick is simple, but nonetheless powerful.
Magickal works, however, are merely empty rituals without the act of believing in the results.
Believing in an outside source (as in, a deity/deities) that can help you to create magick is secondary even to believing that a connection to the Source of All Magick lies within you.
I use the word “Believing,” as opposed to “Belief,” because I wish to make the distinction that my post is not about what beliefs I or others hold, but how important I feel it is for us Witches (or any Magickal practitioners, no matter what we call ourselves) to actively practice Believing. I consider believing to be
what happens when we don’t have enough proof to know something, but we act on that knowledge as though we did (clarification inspired by Dreams From the West Wind‘s post on Belief:) what happens when there might not be intellectual proof of something, but that we know in our core because of personal observations/encounters that are sometimes indescribable. Like any tool, believing is a powerful act that can be wielded for good or evil. We must be careful not to let what we believe in confuse our sense of who we are. We must remember that we ultimately control our beliefs, and what we pour our believing into; not the other way around.
The darkest hour of my life came when I stopped believing. Not when I stopped believing in the church of my childhood, though it happened in the wake of that sudden death; the darkest hour occurred in the transition after leaving my former dogma behind, but before I had really strengthened my own personal core beliefs through much meditation and discernment. My darkest hour came when I ceased believing in myself, when I stopped believing that I am a Divine Being in possession of imminent power. The light dawned only as I began to nurture my acts of Believing, guided lovingly by the Divine in its many personae, acting even through people around me.
I was raised in a Christian tradition that taught a strong belief in the powers of Satan. In that church, people’s belief in Satan rivals their belief in Christ and God. As good and loving as Christ is, Satan is always lurking in the shadows, working his hardest to tempt the unsuspecting pilgrim off the path of Truth. According to this dogma, Satan can wear a cloak of light and masquerade as an Angel. He can cast powerful illusions to trick people into thinking they are still on the path of Christ, in order to steal their soul for Hell and eternal damnation. In a sense, I still find echoes of this in life, as I have known many people who believe they are righteous, but who are merely self-righteous and judgmental of themselves and others to the extent that they live in their own personal hell; so in that way, they give an evil force power over their lives in ways to which they remain totally blind. I would like to point out that not all Christians believe in Satan as a literal being, but I grew up in a church that tends to promote this world view. So the Divine Trickster, our wise and ancient teacher, has been thwarted and corrupted into this purely evil force by that particular doctrine.
When my eyes were opened to Neopaganism as a way to honor the Earth and all living things as part of a greater divinity, I was on the threshold of turning eighteen. I was amazed to find that earth-centered traditions were not eradicated in the Burning Times, or with the cultural genocide of our First Nations, or owned solely by the few existing tribes left in the world, but could be claimed by all the Earth’s children. I became overwhelmed with joy. As a child, I had fallen in love with the movie Lion King because of the song, “The Circle of Life” – and here it was all around me. I couldn’t wait to tell my mother the Good News of empowerment in determining our outcomes (in case you can’t guess the conservative Christian viewpoint I was raised with, there wasn’t a lot of hope for married women or youths, when it came to influencing our environment to obtain our desires –“Desire” was always something of a dirty word; we were really all supposed to submit to God’s desires for us, which usually involved submitting to the doctrine of the church leaders, no matter what came from our own hearts, or risk being ostracized). I had been given a new gospel to share: we have the power to co-create our reality with the Universe.
Instead of receptivity to these new ideas, I was greeted with rejection for my views, by my family and many people in my home church. Oh, the irony, to be cast out of a Christian group for having a revolutionary world view! In a lot of ways, this drew me to feeling closer to Christ, who in my mind is still the ultimate outcast, consistently co-opted by people who misinterpret His message, His image distorted and abused for the sake of perpetuating intolerance. In that moment, I also felt free to include other deities in my Divine Family: the Green Man, Herne, and Gwyn ap Nydd; Nantosuelta (thought I did not know her name at the time), Gaia, and Epona. My mother would ask me questions like, “So what is this witchcraft stuff?” only to goad me into saying something directly in contradiction to the Bible, so she could remind me what the scriptures said. I would point out that the Bible contradicts itself in plenty of instances (imagine a 19 year old me, here, saying, “Helllloooo, Mom, look at the creation stories in Genesis…”). It did not matter to her, neither did my attempts to point out that Witch and Wicca simply mean “seekers of wisdom.” She was convinced that if I claimed the word, Witchcraft, that I was really practicing Devil Worship, and I was going to hell.
After more power struggles between my parents and I than I would care to describe in detail, I lost my belief in myself. My emotional need to be accepted interrupted my budding relationships with the Goddess and the new dimensions unfolding in my relationship with the God. This was my crisis of faith: if I could be so convinced of something that was basically a scheme of the Devil to trick me into going to a place of eternal suffering and damnation, then I decided I must lack a basic ability to know right from wrong. So, if my spiritual beliefs were wrong, then my whole life was wrong, and it didn’t matter what else I did to myself or others. I forgot who had stepped forward to work with me, and felt animosity towards the Christ and Archangel Michael for letting my community forsake me.
I am not proud of many things I did to myself or other people at this time, but at this point in life I can look back and honor it as a necessary process in my development – a process that I probably could have made easier by trusting myself and Deity, but I had to build that trust back up from a new foundation. I turned to Ariadne to learn more about the Web of Life, connections between everything, and gradual repaired my relationships with the gods and goddesses who had emerged in my first days as a pagan. Over time, I redeemed my mistakes for hard-won lessons.
I began testing my own abilities by performing spells. I started small, doing spells for a bit of money, using visualization and meditation techniques to see myself happier, healthier, and whole. I have drawn to me things that I have needed, and as my power of believing strengthened, I branched out to attracting things that I desire (the biggest material thing so far being our car, which I did a spell for, and which appeared with every little detail that I requested, down to the color and type of transmission).
Believing is always something I keep up practice with, to build my power-from-within. It is challenging for me to perform a spell and release it to the deities I have asked to help me. Believing is a gift I can give to the Goddess and the God, because I have worked to cultivate it in myself. Believing is a gift that I can give my family, and those I cherish, because I have enough to share. It has taken many years to reach this point, and in many ways I have room to grow, but I can look back at my life, and forward in my years ahead, and celebrate the movement and growth that believing has prompted.