Paganism: Do You Believe in Magic?

Beach Magic
For many Pagans, magic is part of everyday life. Jupiter Images / Photolibrary / Getty Images

While you may have begun studying Paganism because you felt a connection to your ancestors, or you hold nature in reverence, or you want to celebrate the seasons, eventually you're going to see a lot of references to magic. And if you put any thought into it at all, you're probably going to spend a little bit of time questioning whether or not magic and spellwork are real. After all, you've spent your whole life being told it's make-believe, right?

Some people are going to tell you that magic is only real to those who believe in it. Others will tell you it's real, but it's a tool of evil and should be avoided. Really, only you can decide for yourself whether you believe in magic.

Also, it's important to figure out what your personal definition of magic really is. Not the definition you found in a book or on a website, not what someone else tells you it is, but your own personal truth. Do you see it as some kind of woo-woo superpower, that only a few very skilled people can wield against the universe? Is it the ability to bring about change in the universe by focus and sheer will? Or maybe it's something in between the two? What is magic to you? Once you figure that part out, then you can decide whether it's real, or just something that's a figment of everyone's overactive and creative imaginations.

Zayara is a Pagan who lives in Cincinnati, and originally started out on a Wiccan path.

She says, "I had the hardest time rationalizing the idea that magic was a real thing and not just a figment of a very creative imagination. I did spellwork, but kept telling myself that the results were probably things that were going to happen anyway. And then I had this epiphany, when I did a working that got the result I wanted, and there was no logical or rational explanation for it.

I realized that the explanation was that magic really did work, and it was real and here in every aspect of my life. And that awareness changed everything for me."

The best way to determine whether magic is real is to experiment a little bit. Try some spell work, write down your results, keep track of what happens. Just like any other skill set, it will take some practice. If you don't get results the first time, keep trying. Remember the first time you tried to ride a bike, or your first attempt at baking a cake? It probably wasn't good -- but you tried again, didn’t you?

Often, people show up at Pagan events and announce "I'm a NATURAL WITCH, oh yes I am, look at me!" but they can't cast their way out of a paper bag, because they haven't put any effort into learning about it. If someone tells you they have a "powerful money spell" but they're living in squalor and can't pay their bills, then be skeptical about their claims of magical skill. Like any other ability, practice is what makes you good. Learn, study, research, and grow. Skill is a combination of study and experience blended together.

Okay, so the big question is, If magic is real, why doesn't everyone do it?

In a way, a lot of people do but don't realize it.

Do you ever make a wish and blow out your birthday candles? Cross your fingers for good luck? Pray that you'll get an A on a math test? Some people might consider that magic.

As to WHY, look at it this way. Not everyone rides roller coasters. Not everyone cooks from scratch. Not everyone likes to wear Hello Kitty t-shirts. For some people, it's simply a matter of preference. In many cases, it's a matter of not believing. If you don't believe in magic, or if you think that it only exists in the realm of Harry Potter and the movies, then why bother trying to learn it? After all, it's fiction, right? For other people, there's a perception that magic is evil. In some religions, any power that doesn't come from God is considered bad.

The bottom line is that people have a choice. For whatever reason, not everyone chooses to live a magical life.

That's their decision, based on their wants, beliefs, needs, and imagination, and they're entitled to make that choice for themselves - and so are you.