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Author Topic: Paganism, spellcasting, and you  (Read 806 times)

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Offline NoelleTopic starter

Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« on: September 20, 2010, 10:54:58 PM »
I'm in a discussion about this presently involving the role of spell-casting in pagan religions as a whole. Rationality of "magic(k)" aside (let's just assume for the sake of argument that it exists, since this isn't a thread about debating such), what is the role of spell-casting in your own (presumably pagan) religion and how do you define so-called "magick"? What are the roles each play?

I dabbled in Wicca/paganism for about two years when I was younger and was often under the impression that 'casting a spell' was more of a 'hands-on prayer' than it was the kind of Halloween-style direct manipulation of the 'forces', so to speak, especially given the rule in most sects that you can't manipulate free will, more or less. Essentially you're sending your request to the powers that be, only it's a process just a bit more roundabout than Christian-style prayer. That was my understanding, anyway, and paganism is such a loose term for all of the individual branches within that most have a slightly different interpretation.

Offline Serephino

Re: Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2010, 12:03:34 AM »
I may regret this, but if you really do want to know.....

Yes, for the most part it is very similar to a hands on prayer.  The rules differ from tradition to tradition though.  Most agree that you can't mess around with free will, and you will get back what you send out.  This means that you have to think carefully about any spells you may want to cast.

Like for instance, say I wanted to cast a money spell.  This also varies, but I was taught that there is nothing wrong with asking the universe for what you need to get by.  After all, in order to take care of others you must first take care of yourself.  I can't help the homeless if I'm one of them.  However, if I were to cast a spell to win the lottery, that's greed.  The backlash would not be pretty.  A book we have warns about this because I could ask for a million dollars, and wake up to find it on my porch, only to learn later that it was from a bank robbery and the real robber ditched it to avoid getting caught, and now it's pinned on me.

That's a bit of an extreme example, but it gets the point across.  Another thing you often find is that most teachers will tell you not to get into actual casting until you've studied for a year.  Mine didn't, but I understand the reason for this.  People who don't know what they're doing can get themselves in trouble.  I got a big surprise when I started.

Something else to keep in mind is that it's not generally a good idea to always go rushing into a magical solution.  Spells are a tool, but not the only one available.  If there is something non magical you can do to achieve the same result, it's usually better to go with that option.  If you go running to your spell book for every little problem you become dependent, and that's not a good thing.

As for what magic is, as I understand it, it is using your energy to bring about your goal.  The forces of the universe are made up of energy, as are we.  That's why most teachers and books will tell you to create a sacred space where you won't be interrupted.  The ability to concentrate and visualize is very important.  I guess you could look at it as a mind over matter type thing.  Me, I like to keep things simple.  My altar is my coffee table, and my 'cauldron' is a cake pan.  As far as I'm concerned intent is all that matters.  Others will insist you need a circle, a special altar, proper tools, ect...  There really is no wrong way because spell casting is such a personal thing.  If you're not comfortable then it isn't likely to work. 

That's also why it's recommended that you write your own spells.  That way your energy goes into the creation and it's more likely to work if you did it right.  It also lets you tailor it to your unique situation.  There's a system to it; stating the problem, then the change you want to take place.  I either write my own, or change around someone else's.  I don't mess with it often either.  Like I said, it requires careful consideration.         

Offline Lilias

Re: Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2010, 02:16:36 AM »
I'm not a Pagan myself, but a few good friends are, and several of my interests have brought me into contact with the online pagan community for several years now. The way I see it, spellcasting is really on the same page as affirmations. The aim is not to change things directly, but to change your own attitude towards things, and thus effect change through a shift in your own outlook and (dare I say the word?) paradigm. The ritual aspect helps with maintaining focus

Because such invocations target a part of the mind that doesn't do nuances, it is extremely important to word them carefully. Every time I read about spells gone horribly awry, I remember that horror classic, The Monkey's Paw.

Offline Zaakmaal

Re: Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2010, 03:34:19 AM »
Crazy as it might sound, I have dabbled in a bit of hoodoo/paganism/spellcasting.

My opinion is quite similar to Serephino's. The materials you use aren't nearly as important as the intent you pour into a spell. Intent is everything.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2010, 09:08:06 AM »
Another Pagan here:  The way I see it, whether you're talking about prayer or spell-casting, the actions are a way of focusing your thoughts into a more directed form.  When you go through the ritual - which might be the ritual of folding your hands, or kneeling, or casting circle, or ______, you put your mind into a different state than if you're just sitting around thinking about what it is you're praying/casting a spell for. 

If you step back and look at it, people behave differently when they walk into church and the Mass starts (at least, the ones that are serious about it do).  Even people that are normally behaving along the tenets of their faith get that extra little something when they are in that ritual space.  There is a different atmosphere when a group of Pagans come into a group ritual, compared to just hanging out together.  Even as a solitary (I personally fluctuate back and forth), when you sit down to actually do something, you consciously direct your thoughts towards the issue. 

As a side note, I'm not entirely sure it's 'more roundabout' than Christian-style prayer.  Both prayer and spell-casting can take many forms, from High Mass to a child's bedtime prayer, or from a grandly-stylized circle to sketching a rune for safe travel on your steering wheel. 

Offline NoelleTopic starter

Re: Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2010, 04:10:25 PM »
Thanks for the responses, guys. This is probably more suited for Elliquiy U, since there's not much debate to be had here, just looking for some insight on the discussion I'm involved in since my view of paganism has become very skeptical (and was fairly dubious to start, given I was pretty young) since I stopped practicing years ago.

More or less, I guess my curiosity is strongest when it comes to comparing paganism and Christianity directly -- what do you view as similarities? Differences? Thoughts in general on it?

I guess when I look at it, there are rituals within Christianity that are comparable to paganism, but are devoid of the "user interaction" that comes with spell-casting seeing as most of it is directed by one single priest/pastor/etc where I've found paganism to be more inclusive of its congregation, so to speak. Indeed, in Christianity, candles can be lit, there's an altar with the holy book and often there are certain banners/colors hung, use of chalices (especially in Catholicism, I think?), certain properties given to various things (all churches facing east, cross-shaped transept/nave, I know in one of my old churches, there was an eternal flame, etc.), etc.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2010, 04:52:26 PM »
As someone who went from a Roman Catholic upbringing to a Pagan mindset (once I discovered that it existed), I'd say that the most similarity is in High Mass - either Good Friday/Easter Sunday (esp. sunrise service) and Christmas service (esp. midnight mass).  That's when most R.C. churches go all out with the candles, the incense, the singing, etc.

For differences, I'd say it's in the fact that most Pagans I've met see their connection to Deity to be more personal - it doesn't have to be routed through a priest, because everyone can serve as their own priest/ess.  There are some Christians that have that sort of intimate connection with their faith, but on average, I think there are a lot more that just 'go through the motions'.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2010, 05:59:02 PM »
I'm asatruar, and while there are a number of different magical practices associated with my beliefs, none are an integral part of the religious component.

Offline Saerrael

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Re: Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2010, 06:17:13 PM »
Solitude Wiccan here. And tossing in my two cents worth.
These are 'just' views and opinions, by the way. Do with it as you see fit.

A lot of the fests and celebrations of the R.C. Church were either based or attempted to replace the pagan fests (or both). They did try to get rid, as it were, of the older religion(s) this way. If you look at earlier Christianity, it's not that close to Wicca and paganism as it is 'now'.

Magic, to me, is calling on aid, whatever form. Be it from a God or Goddess (out), or your own source(s)(in).
I think, psychologically speaking, it calls to the so-caller Inner Child. This would explain why magic is so hard to test in a controlled inviroment. That part of the psyche doesn't like to be tied down.
It also explains why spells need to be worded very carefully.



Offline DementedPixie

Re: Paganism, spellcasting, and you
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2010, 06:23:52 PM »
[I'm in a discussion about this presently involving the role of spell-casting in pagan religions as a whole. Rationality of "magic(k)" aside (let's just assume for the sake of argument that it exists, since this isn't a thread about debating such), what is the role of spell-casting in your own (presumably pagan) religion and how do you define so-called "magick"? What are the roles each play?




To me, it is honestly all bent on where your faith lies.  It not much about the magick wand and poof your wish or want is granted.  It goes with certain superstitions I think. Like the old woman that Pours salt around her home to keep evil spirits out.  It all about the energy.  And /Or something similar like the laws of attraction.  Let me give an example:  You have all this negativity around you and you feel as if one things leads to another but then something positive happens and puts your mood in a more positive way of thinking.  Tell me that doesn't change the energy around what ever your doing?  Granted the outcome or whatever may never change but to look at things positively helps bring some solice maybe? 

So to me magick is all about the energy.  It is there accept it or not.  It will always be there.  Its not so supernatural as we think it is.  We run on energy.  The force that keeps our planet in orbit is great and to me that is magick all by it's self.   Also the energy we put out always comes back some and most others call it Karma. 
« Last Edit: September 25, 2010, 06:31:22 PM by DementedPixie »