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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Why Does Magic Sound So Scary?

•) Why Does Magic Sound So Scary? (•

Our beliefs tend to come from a very deep need to make sense of our universe. Our realities can often be hard set and immutable, and yet science changes them daily and at an ever dizzying pace. Some people see magic as the ability to do the impossible, bending the laws of physics, or at least the rules of our personal reality.

Often times when people think of magic it conjures up images of secret ceremonies and dark intentions. It feels anything but accessible to those who have never considered it in a personal context beyond the Hollywood hype. For some magic is intrinsically bound to a set of practices and beliefs that make it a system of religion, and this can be a daunting entrance. Rather than embracing a system, think of this: magic is a word that describes using things you already have in a way that is mindful, focused and positive.

When Rhonda Byrne released the book "The Secret" people flocked to capture it from the shelves. It was an unprecedented acceptance by the general public of a kind of magic that, through marketing, lost it's "scariness" and became socially acceptable almost overnight, and even a fad. Before that James Redfield's "Celestine Prophecy" ushered in the same sort of epic tide of acceptance. Both of these books shared the basic concept of the power that each of us already has within us the moment we harnass positive thinking, mindfulness and a recognition of the interconnectedness of the systems of energy that make up every living thing.

If the pulp fiction version of "mind over matter" doesn't resonate with you, perhaps a more scientific context will. From the philosophers of ancient Greece to classic icons such as Issac Newton and Einsten, and modern day luminaries such as Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking comes the idea that all things are connected, and that we have the ability to manipulate them far beyond what we now imagine. "Quantum mechanics" and "string theory" come directly from the science community as a way of exploring the power of the tiniest thing that makes up our beings and everything around us: the atom. It's too small for any of us to see, and yet we know that it's there, and that it contains an energy within it so powerful that, if unleashed, could both power a city or destroy it. Through string theory some of the most respected members of the scientific community open the doors to an eleventh dimension and parallel universes. Rather than cinematic hocus pocus, these ideas gives us a broad set of pretexts for understanding that we have more power than we often imagine. The atom, it's energy and existence, and therefore our's, are a tangible thing. For some people the scientific validation of things that were once considered magic or far-fetched makes "the willing suspension of disbelief" a little easier, and many more things possible.

Given this, it should be a lot less scary to imagine ourselves as an elegantly constructed and choreographed bundle of this energy with both the ability to manipulate our own flow, and interact with that of other things and people around us. We are all intrinsically bound together of the same basic stuff, and when we are mindful of the constant exchange and flow of energy between us and other things and people, we also recognize our ability to influence that.

•) What is magic? (•

At a personal level magic allows us to "live intentionally". It is a set of tools and practices for being mindful and harnessing the power of positive thinking.

In the scientific community there are varying and sometimes conflicting ideas and theories between even the leading physicists. In communities of magic you find the same. There is no one set of practices that perfectly define magic, but there are shared principles that make it both compelling and powerful. At the core you will find several shared ideas and insights, and these are some of the things we hope to share with you in the days and months ahead.

Our notion of "reality" is constantly evolving and anything but finite. There was a time when we absolutely knew that the world was flat, and that if you ever got to the edge of it you would fall off, and that people could not fly. Our idea of "how things are" is often governed more by the boxes that hedge in our limited knowledge of a very powerful universe and our role within it. We live in a time when we recognize that there are many celestial systems far beyond our own galaxy, and when NASA's exploration of X-Rays interacting with blackholes makes the notion of time travel possible.

Each of these journeys uses tools to mindfully explore, to manipulate and to leverage the energy of the things around us. Magic is a term that can describe the tools we personally use to be mindful of how we want our lives to be, to express and focus on our intentions, and to create a frame of mind that shapes how we move forward and interact positively and with purpose.

You don't have to be a witch to do magic. It is a practice, not a religion, and while for some communities of magic these two things are intertwined, for us it is not. We'll be approaching it as a practice for transforming your daily life.

•) Energy Work (•

In recognizing that energy is the most essential building block of ourselves and every single thing around us we stumble upon a simple truth: learning to understand it, harness it and focus it can transform our lives. When it's out of whack, there are consequences, and when it's in balance there is well-being. Our bodies are intricate systems of energy that breakdown when things are out of tune. We eat food to turn it into energy to fuel ourselves. We listen to music, and read books, and watch movies, and keep the company of interesting people as a way of mindfully integrating other forms of energy that feed us, body and soul.

Magic is the practice of using tools to focus this energy and it's flow both within yourself and between you and the other people and things you interact with.

•) Rituals (•

Rituals are practices that allow us to be mindful of how we direct our energy and intentions. Some people adopt practices that can be very complex, and may embrace the belief that things must be done in a certain order, or using a certain set of tools and words, or at a certain time. We embrace a set of rituals that are both practical and accessible. We trust our own instincts when it comes to setting our paths and dialing our heads into how to take us there.

One of the things that we openly share is our personal practices both in our daily lives, and when we are creating things with pixels, to go forward with intent and with rituals. Rituals can be as simple as taking the first few moments of the day to write down our "intentions", binding them in our minds as we move forward with a sense of positivity and purpose. We might tuck these on a piece of paper beneath an oil warmer, or etch the words into a candle we light, or even write them in the air with a stick of incense. Whatever the tool or the practice, the intent is the same: to mindfully set the tone for the day, and our headspace going into it.

One of the things we use is "sigils". These are little symbols that express a certain goal or intent, for instance "happiness", "inspiration", "love", "balance", "prosperity", "good health" and so on. We might carve a particular sigil in a candle that we light, or draw it on the paper we tuck beneath with our intentions on. Everything we create in pixels has a sigil tucked into it, infusing it with a particular intention. We will be giving you the means to change the sigil in the pieces you pick up, allowing you to infuse them with your own intention.

When we perform a ritual we will sometimes give an offering. If we are asking for something, wishing to bring something in particular to us, we might also offer something in return. (No, we don't sacrifice virgins or babies). Let us give you an example that illustrates that not all magic is black or darkly intended. Alchemy recently focused on bringing a particular good thing into Immortalis' life, knowing it was important to him. She offered to give herself as a channel for good in return for that thing. What she asked for was delivered, and she lit another candle and tucked a note beneath, asking to be guided in the way that she should enact her offering. Shortly afterwards she received an email from a colleague about a small business person who needed a bit of help, and was stunned to realise that the person she reached out to embraced as a career that was deeply meaningful to Immortalis. She knew right away that her question had been answered, and she "paid it forward", so to speak.

This illustrates some simple rituals and an offering. These are some of the simple ways of practicing magic. It's purposefully setting your intentions and the mindframe with which you move forward. If you're driving a car and you look to the right, the car tends to follow. You go where you steer, and these little rituals are simply a way of steering our day, our creations and the larger context of the journey we share. Mindfulness. Purpose. Passion.

When Immortalis builds new things he has his own set of rituals. He uses various oils in a warmer, and touches a bit of it to his computer, his keyboard, his mouse and tablet and his screen, anointing them before he starts to work. He anoints the set of stones that rest on the ancient fossil oil warmer. He then writes out his intentions for the thing he will build, and for the day, and tucks them beneath a candle into which he has carved a sigil into for the day. Then he might light a stick of sage incense, using it to light the candle beneath which his intentions are placed. He might also use it to write his intentions in the air. During different stages of building he will light different types of incense and oil. Some are for consecration, others for inspiration, clarity, prosperity, joy and so on. He will end by lighting a Green Man incense to offer his thanks for these things and for the gifts of the day.

At the most basic level these simple tools are ways in which we bring our body in tune with our minds. Aromatherapy is widely embraced as a way for relaxing, for uplifting and for inspiring. The incense and oils that we choose are powerful tools for helping us focus, relax and be inspired. Before she begins to work with a script or communications piece, or with gems to craft jewelry, Alchemy will use an essential oil that contains peppermint, rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus, which fills the lungs and physically opens you up, creating a physical sense of uplift and clarity. The connection between body and mind are powerful. Smells are a way of setting the stage mindfully and joyfully.

The tools you choose do not matter. The power is in the intent. The magic is in the mindfulness, choosing your goals, reinforcing them through rituals as a way of burning them into your brain and setting the stage for interacting with others in the hours ahead, setting out with positivity, purpose and passion. This "handshake" between your brain and your body is a powerful foundation for focusing your energy in a way that makes good things happen again and again.

•) Interesting Resources (•

If you want to learn more about some of the science shared above, here are a few places to start:

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