Posts Tagged ‘learning magic’

This is an unusual post for this blog. This came about when my crew at home (my boyfriend and his 16-year-old daughter) heard about the magic school my women’s group used to do for the group’s children every summer. Every summer, we ladies would use our weekly meeting night for five weeks to do our magical version of vacation bible school.

My family has been interested in learning about magical practices, meditation, and so forth, so when they heard about magic school they asked me to do a version of magic school for them. So, using what I could remember and tweaking it for more mature folks, we started our own little magic school.

Since then, I’ve mentioned this to some people and was surprised to see an interest by some newer folks to the path. So, I decided to share my overview information here. Understand that not everyone will agree with me (heck, I’ve even wanted to tweak some stuff already), and that’s OK. There are many ways and ideas that are all valid, but I focused on what I thought would be beneficial for my family.

Ok, I know there are many books that teach basics. (Didn’t that used to be everyone’s complaint about a certain popular Pagan and magical publisher?) Yet, many of the books I’ve seen are path specific, such as Wicca or Druidry. My boyfriend is investigating animism, Druidry, shamanism, and pop culture magic. Our kiddo considers herself a pantheist. I’m an Eclectic Pagan with influences from Avalonian, Druid, Cottage Witchery, and American folk magic traditions. Clearly, a one-path book isn’t going to work for our household. So, I approached this in a more general way.

All that being said, I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts and suggestions about this material. FYI, we are focusing on the elements next, then on to meditation and other topics – so stay tuned if you enjoy this.

Audio Discussion

Also, the three of us had a very lively conversation when we went over this material (again, this is our casual conversation, not a polished podcast). If you’d like to take a listen, click here.




Thistle’s School of Magic: What is Magic? & Intention


Magical practice involves many things other than the spells you see witches on TV flinging about. Often, the most personal power you gain isn’t through spell casting but through exercises that help you to understand yourself and to conquer habits that might be sabotaging your dreams and plans.

To cover the basics of magical practice, we will look at the following:

  • Intention, the most powerful tool you have
  • Meditation
  • Self-reflection and self-evaluation through journaling and discussion
  • Understanding the elements, symbolism, and other components of the Western mystery tradition.
  • Crafting your own unique practice by first exploring basic methods such as chants/toning, purifications and blessings, candle magic, protection and healing spells, energy work, and so forth. You will find the techniques that work for you!

During this time, we will create a notebook of information, but keeping a spiritual/magical diary or journal is recommended. We often learn much through our musings when we return to them after some time has passed.

We will start with a short discussion of what magic actually is and then cover intention before moving onto the elements, meditation, and other subject matter.

So What Exactly is Magic?

Magical and spiritual practices can be very individual.

If you ask practitioners what magic is, you will receive a variety of answers. Magic is not an exact science and the methods and beliefs vary from culture to culture and by personal preference. There is high magic (ceremonial) and low magic (folk practices). Magic can be practiced by anyone of any faith.

Late witchcraft author Scott Cunningham considered a common thought on the subject: “Magic is the art of causing change by means commonly supposed to be supernatural.” He responded with his own thoughts: “Magic is simply the use of powers not yet recognized by science,” adding that magic is a very natural art. “It is the use of powers that reside within us and the natural objects of our world to cause change.”

Early witchcraft leader and author Doreen Valiente seconds that magic is a part of nature and that old occult philosophers never considered magic to be supernatural. “To them, magic works because of nature’s laws, not in spite of them. It was something built into the universe,” she said in the opening of her classic, Natural Magic.

“Magic is just science we don’t understand yet,” said science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. One of his three adages is that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Most modern magical practitioners will say that magic does not so much change the world around us, but changes us and our ability to maneuver within the world. Inevitably, people who practice magic ethically will find themselves feeling empowered, more creative, and more confident. All of these can greatly change how you are treated out in the world.

This falls in line with many polytheist and nature-based faiths and our relationship with the gods and spirits. For those of us who have gods, ours are not usually the kind to bestow gifts or favors based strictly on prayers. While veneration can help build a relationship with a chosen deity, our gods want you to learn to help yourself. They want to inspire you to be strong, creative, confident, kind, and independent – not to simply lay these or other gifts at your feet because you begged for them.

If this sounds like the magical power that you want to infuse your life with, continue on and we shall see what powers you have lying within you.

Questions to Consider

What do you think of the idea of magic as science that hasn’t yet been discovered or understood? What has been your perception of magic up to this point? Write your thoughts on this in your journal.

What Magic Looks Like

While Hollywood films about magic workers are entertaining, they are rarely accurate (like the much-loved film “The Craft”). Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

Movies and novels have done a great disservice to us when it comes understanding true magic. Magic does not usually entail wands that shoot sparks or throwing objects or levitating people with a gesture of the hands. Real magic is subtle. Real magic shines from within you.

Like anything we do to improve ourselves – for example, losing weight or quitting a bad habit – magical results don’t happen overnight. It is not an easy fix, despite how it is often presented. It requires work and dedication, as does anything worth pursuing. If it takes weeks or months to change something physical, it can take even longer to change the mental and emotional aspects of yourself – which is where much of our magic comes from. Oftentimes, we have to move through cycles of self-examination and change before we can really be in the mental and emotional place that we desire.

Another thing to understand about magic is that results do not always look like what we imagine. For example, asking to find your soulmate. Your soulmate may not be the love of your life – the definition of soulmate is misunderstood in Western culture as a romantic relationship. It’s actually a soul with whom you made an agreement before reincarnating to help each other grow from a soul perspective. A soulmate could be a good friend, lover, or even someone you cannot stand who pushes you in ways that challenges and grows your soul.

Another example is your work. The dream job you desire may not truly be a good fit for you so if you do a job spell to gain the job, the Universe may not answer by giving you that specific job. It might wait months or even years but position you so that you will see the right job when it does come available.

In short, keep an open mind when looking for your magical results – they may simply look different than you envisioned.

Questions to Consider

Have you ever felt something happen that seemed magical? For example, maybe you felt that a friend was in need, so you called them and, indeed, they were in need of you? Write in your journal about any experiences you’ve had that seemed magical even a bit.

The Importance of Intention

Magical tools are wonderful to have, but your most important tool is your intention.

Most forms of magical practice use a lot of stuff: wands, crystals, herbs, ritual knifes and clothes, cauldrons, tarot and oracle cards, and so forth. All of these can be great tools, however, the greatest tool you have for magic is yourself, specifically your intention.

Intention is simply the power that comes from your own mind and heart, and it is much more powerful than people imagine. It’s the same fuel that powers prayer or even effective meditation. It’s your will focused on the outcome you desire, whether it be physical healing for yourself or someone else, clearing a toxic person from your life, gaining courage for a speech or performance, or whatever you need.

While herbs and stones can lend their own energy to your workings, they will go nowhere without your own clear intention. Likewise, tools such as wands, staffs, and prayer beads can help you direct your energy, but again, intention is the key to having energy to direct at a problem or goal.

To help build the power of your intention, follow a simple process before doing any magical working or spell:

First, make sure that you truly wantwhatever the working is for. Be clear headed and don’t be doing something because it seems like the thing to do. If your heart isn’t into it, don’t do it.

Second, believe that whatever you are aiming your intention at can really happen. There’s no wishy-washy middle ground here. A common magical adage is “will it, do it.” Basically, feel that you have the power to make it happen, elsewise, you will probably not have good results.

Finally, you need to believe that what you want is actually about to happen. You have to act it as if it’s not a question that it will work. It WILL work. Part of intention is having confidence in your will and your energy working in the Universe for good. Prepare yourself for the positive outcome.

A lot of intention is about focus and confidence. You must be able to clearly focus on what you want or need, and you need to feel like you can achieve it.

Making & Using an Intention Candle

A simple method for using intention (and practicing it, I might add) is through simple candle magic that I call an intention candle.

First, think of something that you want to bring into your life. Mental/emotional healing? Peace? Love? Confidence? Make it a simple concept that you can easily relate to.

Next, find a candle that will burn several times – a pillar candle or glass prayer candle are both excellent for this. If you buy a colored candle, be sure to pick a color that feels like it represents your chosen focus. If you choose a prayer candle but can only find white ones, you can always paint the glass a color to fit your purpose.

  • When you have the candle the color you want it, feel free to add some extra focus or intention with one or more of these methods:
  • Paint (prayer candles) or carve (pillar candles) a related symbol on the side of the candle Apply essential oils that align to your purpose to the candle
  • Sprinkle herbs or even tiny shells or stones on top of the candle to add another element of symbolism

One example of a candle I made was a jarred seven-day prayer candle for a friend who was in mourning. I painted the candle a soft purple and silver (spiritual and yet soothing colors), infused it with lavender and vanilla oils (for relaxation and comfort), placed an bead bracelet I had made with rose quartz and other grounding stones around the candle, and tucked a few sprigs of rosemary under the bracelet to signify remembrance. This one is fairly elaborate, but even a simple candle will do the trick.

When the candle is ready, place it somewhere where you can light it and be in its presence for a while. When you first light it, focus on the candle and concentrate on your intention. See whatever it is in your mind as a reality. After several minutes, you can go about whatever you need to do, but try to keep the candle in your view and think of your intention whenever you catch a glance at the candle. You can snuff the candle after an hour or so (though prayer candles often burn longer than pillar candles, so adjust your time accordingly). Do this every day for at least a week.

Questions to Consider

Did you choose any colors, symbols, oils, or anything else to add to your candle’s focus? If so, what were they and explain why you chose them. You can write your answers in a journal. 

How did the week of intention building go? Do you feel it was helpful – or do you feel you are good at directing your intention anyway? Discuss any thoughts you have about this exercise in your journal. 


Magical Herbalism by Scott Cunningham

Natural Magic by Doreen Valiente

Thistle’s Freaky Brain


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