There are many levels to magic. There’s Big Magic: big in scope and aim and performance. It might, and might not, be the same as High Magic, usually referring to the kind of magic that involves complicated casting, symbols, words and lots of ritual/liturgy. There’s folk or Low Magic, usually referring to the types of magic that many solitary practitioners use: lunar timing, herbs, oils, candles, charms, etc. There’s Small Magic, where are aims are simpler. I think all of these kinds blur together and are indispensable. But where can a person begin?
I ask myself this a lot. I admit that I waver between to two extremes. On one hand, I find the world completely magical and enchanting. On the other hand, I’m so often tired and immersed in laundry neck-deep, while a wee babe tries to climb up my leg, that Making Magic feels overwhelming and out of the picture. Those family moments are very much magical but they have less to do with my will changing anything. In spending the last week thinking about this post I’ve realized that there are many ways that I connect spiritually and enchant my life. The things I list below could be done by a person of any spiritual persuasion. In fact, in some ways, they’re not ‘magical’ at all.
Hanging the Laundry
It might sound silly to say, but I find hanging the laundry outside to dry to be magical. It takes longer than shoving the load in the dryer. But on a day that’s clear and dry I truly love hanging the laundry. What’s magical about this? Well, it connects me to the land. I have learned to read the sky here. I watch the birds and see what they’re doing. Is it wasp season? Bee season? Butterflies? How is the air smelling now? The clothes come in smelling like the land and the air. Sure, the sheets would be softer if they went through the tumble dryer, but I wouldn’t trade the clean scent of sunshine soaked sheets for the softness. I also like to think of all of my family’s clothing as kissed by the elements. In a small way we are slightly more connected to the space in which we live.
Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
Hinduism places a high value on cleanliness. I admit that my dining room/altar space was a lot cleaner last quarter! There’s nothing in paganism, witchcraft, or Feri that specifically values neat and clean, as far as I can tell, but there is plenty of low magic that deals with one’s space.
Sweeping is a simple act that can have immediate results. I sweep every day, with the windows thrown open, even if for only a minute, to let the stale air out and the fresh air in. I think about getting rid of the detritus from the day before and starting the day fresh. This could be done the night before too, but I manage to get it done in the morning.
I think our spaces reveal a lot about how we’re thinking and feeling. It might not seem magical, but the act of refreshing our space can help shift our attitudes. Are you feeling stuck and stagnant at your office? Can you open a window? Get rid of all the outdated papers on your desk? Give your area a thorough dust? Maybe gift yourself some fresh flowers? Those simple acts can mentally and energetically shift things.
Whenever I move into a new place I always go around to all the doors and windows and shake some blessed salt water (blessed by me) over all the thresholds, praying that all that might wish us harm would be kept outside and only that which wishes us well would enter. In a similar vein, I periodically get down on my hands and knees and wash the floor, all the while praying for negativity to be banished and for joy to increase (or whatever needs work at that time: stress to be washed away and ease restored, etc).
Whether or not this stuff works in any way other than to change my attitude and that of my family is inconsequential to me. What matter is that these things work!
I am a huge believer in the old saying ‘you are what you eat.’ I absolutely believe that what we put in our mouths becomes our cells, our hearts, our brains, our blood. Ideally we all have healthy bodies to support our energetic bodies. Sometimes we need extra nourishment, whether to fight a cold or the blues. I find homemade bone broths to be some of the simplest, most nourishing food around. Chicken soup is one of the most common forms, and I’m going to share my ‘recipe’ with you!
First, buy a chicken. I aim for the best quality I can afford: free range, organic. Because a whole chicken could easily feed one person for a week or a small family for about four meals, I think the money is well spent. On the first night I roast the chicken for dinner and then pick the carcass mostly clean, reserving the bits of meat not eaten. I have, when hit with a spur of the moment desire for homemade soup, just bought a large leg and thigh from the butcher and cooked that in the morning, reducing time, size, and cost.
To make broth, put the bones in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 2 hours. I like to do this for 4-5 hours, adding water as needed. I like to add any old veggies I’ve got in my fridge to add flavor to the broth. But they’re not necessary. The bones will start to release their goodness and at the end you will have a golden liquid that leaves a slight coating on your lips. Strain out the bones and veg and reserve your broth.
Now you can sweat some diced onion, carrots, celery, ginger, garlic, and, if you like a little heat, some red or green chilies. Some people like some potatoes, I prefer my soup without. I add in the broth and bring to a simmer. After maybe 20-40 minutes I add the meat and taste. Usually it needs some salt and pepper. When I’m ready to serve I add a clove or two of pressed garlic to the soup, and a handful or fresh parsley and/or cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon. You can, of course, alter this recipe for your tastes. (There’s obviously no way to make this vegetarian.) If you like noodles or rice in your soup, cook them in a separate pot and add in bowl by bowl to keep the starches from thickening and clouding your beautiful golden broth.
What’s magical about this? I know bone broths are a nutritional powerhouse, but there’s also something so deeply satisfying to me about making something from scratch that can soothe bellies or hearts or heads. I suppose the only magic is the love it’s made with.
None of these things are simple things that any one can do to enchant their own worlds just a little bit more. When I’m down on myself for not having more time or space to do Big Magic I try to remember that these acts of Small Magic add up to something special.
If you’re interested in more of this sort of magic in your life, I recommend Draja Mickarharic’s books, A Century of Spells and Spiritual Cleansing. Both of these books incorporate occult magic, but also forms of Christian folk magic.