Monday, September 1, 2014

Conserving energy, in a magical sense

Witchcraft, for me is a way of life. It's been my way of life since I was a pre-teen. So ingrained is the practice that I often don't think about things I do, like which way I'm stirring the dinner pot and burning mint for protection.  At the same time, I don't break out the candles and incense for every problem. It's the difference between keeping a light handy and keeping the light on all the time.

Leaving the light on all the time is a waste of resources. It uses electricity, which for most of us comes from coal or natural gas, two terribly polluting sources of a resource we take for granted. Electricity also eats our money if we use too much of it.  I try to be careful with my energy consumption at home and with the car. It's not a hard concept, and after a little practice, it's not a burden, either.

I'm also learning to be conservative with the magical energies around me.  I try not invest energy in habits and activities that don't benefit me or make the world a nicer place. I look for non-magical solutions to the troubles of my life, and I think on every candle I burn at my altar. This doesn't mean I don't perform spell work, it just means I don't waste energy asking the gods or the universe for help for anything that can be solved with some common sense and labor. It seems both disrespectful and wasteful to perform a complicated weight loss spell with multiple candles, oils and other accouterments, when going for a walk and eating a little less at meals would likely yield a better result.  I might light a candle to help persuade myself that change is possible or to aid with my transformation, but I don't expect it to magically happen.

I keep a cauldron, but I don't keep it on all the time, and that is simple respect for the energies around me.  Conservation is not just for the mundane world, its a way of respecting the world around us and using only those energies that we need.  Witchcraft is about harnessing the energies and symbols around us to create new realities, but if we use it frivolously, we will create realities in which those energies and symbols are useless and meaningless to us.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Build the world you want

Human behavior is contagious.  We're social animals that are gifted with brains that are incredibly good at mimicry.  Introduce a new useful skill to one of us and return us to our group, and that behavior will spread.  Franz De Waal writes pretty extensively about the phenomenon among primates, including us, in The Age of Empathy, which I really enjoyed reading and highly recommend. Why am I telling you this?

I look around and see behaviors that are terrible. I see it online. I see it waiting to pick kids up from school. I see it the grocery store. I also see some amazing people trying to crate a better world. These are the ones to pay attention to. They are great teachers and creators of a better world.  I see two ladies, I really like and admire running for positions on our local school board. I see Aiden's school principal being unfailingly kind and grateful to the people around her. I see my husband stopping to help someone in a parking lot get their car started. I see my eleven year old trying to fix his friend's watch because she was upset by the break.  I see people react to these things with amazement, joy, and hope, and I can't help but see that they are changing things.

This can be useful to keep in mind as we look around us and see a world which we want to change.  If you want a more compassionate world, be compassionate. Be kind, especially in public, because humans in a group mimic each other by and large. Speak up and say something kind when others are spreading ignorance and meanness. Buy coffee for the person behind you (take a look at this if you don't believe me). Hold the door for someone else; offer to help when someone is struggling.  Put your change in the tip jar when you buy lunch. Haul the neighbor's trash bin back up their driveway after the garbage truck comes. Thank people when they are kind to you.  Introduce yourself to new parents on the first day of school.  Whatever acts you choose will work. Perform tiny acts of kindness over and over again and you will see behaviors change.  It won't happen immediately, but it will happen.  

If we all start doing this, rather than complaining about how rude and awful things are, we will influence all the people around us, and they in turn, influence other people.  Viral behavior is real, and it works. We can use to our advantage and change the societies we live in if we keep modelling the behavior we want to see, not just to children, but to our entire society.  Stop reacting, and start creating!