In Wicca: A Year and A Day, I state that the magic circle is a “platform for the Gods” and for our spiritual work. I don’t state that the circle is some “impenetrable shield” or some other external spiritual “force” at work. Wiccan magic always starts with the magician. Our magic is magic from within. This means that our practice starts with ourselves. It starts with very directly aligning with the forces of nature that manifest as our lives. Our magic circle is an expression of that alignment.
There are practitioners within our magical ranks that start the idea that magic comes from some other “place” or some external “source.” Taking something that starts from within and externalizing it as a “concept” such as a god or s spirit or some other external being represents what mythologist Joseph Campbell identified as a mistake in the Western interpretation/handling of spiritual symbols. He says that when we concretize a spiritual process, putting it “out there” instead of seeing it as a representation of an event that should be taking place within ourselves, we begin to develop hierarchical notions. We think about gods and spirits as “other” rather than as an integral part of who we are as human beings. That mistaken split, separating out the symbols from ourselves fuels “religious” notions that separate us from one another. There are “beliefs” to maintain in this view. There are “in groups” and “out groups” (which alone form the basis of religious bigotry). The concretizing of any spiritual system results in misinformation, and the death of one’s spiritual process. For, once there are “facts” that inform a spiritual path (as opposed to mystically informed poetry), there is nowhere to grow. All one can be left with is a handful of “beliefs,” which are nothing but someone else’s interpretation of what should be your own spiritual process.
…we think about gods and spirits as “other,” rather than as an integral part of who we are…
My point is not to shame anyone for their views, because, as a whole, we who walk the hidden path must develop an appreciation of the diversity of our views. This diversity strengthens Wicca/Witchcraft as a whole, just as it strengthens any ecosystem. We who practice the Craft embrace views that are different from the mainstream in fundamental ways (beyond the obvious particulars). Specifically, in mystical paths such as Wicca/Witchcraft we have a shamanic heart beating at the center of our practice. Magical practices across the globe (including those from the ceremonial lineages) know that there is always an individual’s interpretation of a spiritual message that forms the kernel of any spiritual lineage or tradition. Layers of practice, of sharing one to another, from initiate to postulant then forms the core practices of any spiritual path. That being said, a view or belief is just that. It is not fact. But when those who hold rigid views are asked to take a healthy step back and to recognize that what they are espousing are merely perspectives (and not facts), it can precipitate a real spiritual crisis.
The content of our path is shamanic, mystic.
It is important for us along the way to know that if one’s spiritual tradition is not renewed, reinterpreted by the individual practitioner, the spiritual path is in danger of becoming nothing but a series of empty forms. It becomes calcified, lifeless, and has no opportunity of informing us spiritually. Form should never be mistaken for content. The content of our path is shamanic, mystic. It is always based on one’s personal experience with the Gods, with magic, and with a direct contact with nature and life itself. When we begin to obsess about finite detail such as whether the magic circle is a “container” or a “platform,” or whether we think the more powerful tool is the athame or the wand, or whether the solstice was practiced on the exact hour on the exact day (or else we have somehow failed spiritually), we lose the important content of our spiritual practice. Wicca should be much less anxiety-based. There is no power when we approach life with fear and obsessive action taken to maintain rigid views. Furthermore, there is no container strong enough to impede shadows of our own making.
I characterize the magic circle as a platform because a platform can be any kind of container we choose. It is a stage for us to create whatever “set” or “props” we need at any given time to realize our spiritual tradition, to raise magic from within ourselves and to touch the divine. As always, I do not offer this teaching as something to “believe.” I ask you to practice this. I invite you to try this out for yourselves.
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