Magic 101

I am new to this tradition.

There, it’s been said. I’ve only been a practicing pagan for about 19 months. Before that, I was sad and lost, before that I tried to be Catholic, and before that, I was Catholic. I went through the Goddess experimentation phase when I was about 12, doing some divination and trying to think about deity in terms of sheity, but I won’t take the cop-out that many newish pagans do and say, “I think I always was Pagan, I just never knew…” Nope. I was raised Catholic, though I do remember I had a disconcerting (to the Sunday school teachers, anyway) tendency to stare at the flame of a candle during prayer and think of it as the Holy Spirit.

I digress. Still, I’m coming to my pagan and magical practice with little background in such things. I’ve read tarot for years, but always thought of it as a tool for contacting one’s own subconscious, not as a magical connection with the divine.

Things are changing, though, and I’m starting to implement more magical practices into my domestic routine. I’ve set up a kitchen altar, I’ve made a place for Brighid on my creative work table, and I’m starting to think about creating household holiday/High Day traditions. I’m also, yes, starting to think a few years down the road, when we may have wee druids joining the family—if the wee ones are interested in religion, of course—and how I’ll want to work the old ways into our family life.

And it all boils down to this: I’m not sure where to start.

I’ll be more specific. I recently fell in love with Pagan Soccer Mom Kris Bradley’s idea of a blessing bowl, a magical object used to charge and, well, bless items that need some divine lovin’. I passed the idea on to a druid-friend who is already a mother, she loved the idea as well, and we’ve been hunting the perfect bowl ever since.

I never found a perfect bowl, but I did find a good bowl, brown on the outside with a green lotus pattern on the inside. (And pretty bowls never go to waste in our house. They’re always full of fresh fruit, vegetables, bits of my wire projects, or being used to hold keys and sunglasses.)

I brought it home, washed it semi-ceremoniously, then said, “Er… now what? It doesn’t feel special.”

Of course it’s not. It’s a bowl I bought at TJMaxx. There’s nothing special about it. Kris Bradley’s bowl became special over time and use. I’m willfully starting a tradition from scratch. I don’t have a full ritual on my calendar until next week’s druid moon, and I have no specific rite to make sacred this bowl.

This is where Magic 101 comes in: I wish I had some reliable, handy magical cookbook, with general recipes for blessings and charging and protecting, and an encyclopedia of “ingredients” at the back. I wish I had a great-grandmother’s grimoire or commonplace book or anything to give me somewhere to start. But even my great-grandparents were so far removed from their Ozark and Appalachian roots that they would have had no help to give. Our family folklore is long since lost to time.

I know I’m trying to skip to the end, to have knowledge handed to me on a platter. The real answer is to start that book, to keep a journal with what I do now to bless or charge or protect, to experiment with ingredients and develop my own encyclopedia. But that won’t make my wish come true until I’m grey-haired and handing the thing on to my granddaughter.

I suppose I’m generating the raw material. Because I didn’t know what to do, I improvised: I took the bowl, put it on my altar, and put into items I know (can feel) are already blessed or charged: my beat up old triskele necklace,  a piece of quartz that lives on my altar, my bit of the maypole cloth, my brat bhríde, a couple of holey stones, my Manannán mac Lir necklace. I figure the bowl will pick up some good energy from my daily time at my altar, and those already special items will leak some of their good vibes into the bowl.

DSCN1620

It seemed as good a place to start as any. I guess I should write it down.

But I could use some guidance all the same: How do you all know what to do? Do you, as I did, just do what feels right? And, the big question, do you know of a great book that will help me start working some magic?

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2 thoughts on “Magic 101

  1. Beautiful bowl, and beautiful intention of making it a blessing bowl! As for the questions at the end… I’ve never had a book of instructions. If I had, I’d probably just put it in a drawer and never use it. The reason for this is simple: when picking up a book at a book store or online via some occult webshop, you never ever know if there’s a grain of truth in the writings or if it’s just a bunch of crap written by someone who wants to earn lots of money from people who are searching for an answer. I generally assume the worst, so I tend to see that kind of books as INSPIRATION ONLY. I find the blogging community to be a much more hands-on and reliable source actually, if you skip past all the sites that claim they wanna teach you how things work, and go straight for the sites that simply states: hey, I’m not sure about anything but these are my experiences! Those are the kind of sites you want to look at, those are the kind of people you should listen to. But then in the end, all that is important will have to come from yourself. You did well with the blessing bowl I think, the way you reasoned you should do it. Remember, all people can’t use the same methods, we’re simply wired differently. And you’ll only find out what works for you by testing stuff, thinking about it, and feel. =)

    • Thank you! This is good advice. I think my Reconstructionist tendencies want some historical record: this is how the ancient Celts did it or this is so-and-so’s Irish great-great-grandmother made it.

      You’re right, though, that others’ experiences will only get me so far. As I’m fond of saying, paganism (and magic) is experiential, not revelatory, so there’s no “right” way to do anything.

      It sure would be nice to have a guide, though! Do you recommend any particular blogs?

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