Magical thinking   3 comments

I was listening to a podcast this week, and its general topic is around the theme of magic and all things related to it.  Often, there aren’t a lot of callers but this time around, they had a very popular guest and many people were lined up to talk and ask questions.  I was listening along while I went about my evening until a particular female caller was patched into the discussion.  The more I listened, the more irritated I got, until I had to put it on pause to try to figure out why I was so agitated.

I realized that first of all, the woman called in not so much with a question as to tell her tale of woe.  Within moments, I (and the rest of the listening audience) knew an awful lot more about her divorce, her child custody struggle and the supposedly hostile ex husband than I ever needed to know.  This was a red flag already.  The tale of woe.  It was clear that she had told it many times.  I knew enough to know that this caller needed a therapist more than she needed magic.  This woman had a terrible case of the “yeahbuts.”  This is an often devastating disease in which no matter what support or advice you offer, the individual’s compulsive response is “yeah, but….” (fill in assorted well worn excuses here.)  Each “yeah but” response is followed by some other reason more dire and dramatic than the last.  As a side note, this condition seems to be more prevalent in females than males.  Interesting.  Anway, she started by sniffling into the phone about how she had finally given up and cast a spell related to her ex husband (she didn’t say what the purpose was.  I suspect she doesn’t know.)  This, she said, “rebounded” on her because he lost his job and therefore stopped paying child support and it cost her many financial difficulties. Therefore, it must be that her magic “rebounded” on her. 

Maybe at some point, I will vent my agitation about the programming that has been drilled into modern witch brains (especially neopagans whose particular tradition starts with the letter W) about “rebounding” and “karma” and “threefold law” that has people so afraid to do anything that they may as well go back to being whatever religion it was that taught them that there is a big scorekeeper in the sky that is going to smite them for being bad.    To believe that she singlehandedly brought about her own financial problems not through marrying an idiot who has trouble keeping a job, but by casting a spell,  is ridiculous thinking.  Possibly delusional thinking.   It’s like saying that your window got broken because you were playing baseball on Sunday instead of going to church and God was angry with you for ignoring the sabbath, so the baseball was directed through your kitchen window as punishment.  No.  Your window was broken because you threw the ball, and aimed poorly when you did it.  Action-reaction.  Marry an idiot=bad divorce.  Misguided decisions=difficult life experiences.  This is a bummer but remains true.  There’s nothing mysterious about that.  That’s pure science.

Anyway…..back to my orignal topic: the unfortunate case of the chronic, terminal yeahbuts.  The hosts started with real world advice about how to work with reasonable solutions to this very common “bad ex husband who hates me and won’t pay child support and he doesn’t give my special needs child his medication and he keeps dragging me into court, etc, etc, etc” problem.  After every bit of advice, there was a “yeah, but….” response from this woman. She was determined, absolutely determined to replay her internal script of victimhood and refused to be challenged into any other kind of thinking.  If I had been within range of this woman, I would have shaken her by the shoulders and said, “pull yourself together!”  I have had similar bad experiences brought on my my own bad decison making.  Therefore, I’m not judging her for that, but at some point, the situation is what it is, and one has to just accept which pieces of it are out of her control and seize control of the pieces she can.  She wasn’t going to do that, for reasons better explained by a well trained psychotherapist.

I ended up fast-forwarding through most of the rest of that caller’s conversation.  My thought on it is this:  If one believes they have an unsolvable problem, that person’s magical work on that problem will be fruitless.  This woman had no strength of will.  She cast her spell of whatever kind it was, as some sort of hail mary pass of helplessness.  Helplessness and successful magical undertakings seem like they don’t really go together.  If people tell her that her problem has solutions to make it as bearable as possible and her response is “yeah but…” then why would she have any more luck with spiritual work?  She had surrendered any strength of spirit long before she turned to magic.  Even worse, she obviously was so anxious (guilty, I’d say) about it that she convinced herself that she was somehow being punished for it.  That’s ridiculous.  She lost out on child support because she chose to have a baby with a man who happened to lose his job, possibly for the same reasons she divorced him.  Maybe he’s an insufferable human being.  But she took that guilt on herself, like somehow her spellwork made the guy stop paying support.  Guilt and helplessness thoughts are not magical.  Not practical either!  They might be human, and they happen, but part of being a practitioner is to train the mind out of this sort of thinking.  Heck, being a successful adult human being requires training the mind out of that kind of thinking.  It may not be easy, but that is why magic is considered an art and a science.   It is hard work; a skill built with labor.  It takes will and it takes effort and some kind of belief that we can make a difference if we do that work.  Magical thinking.  Not rainbows and ponies and pixies and dancing around the meadow (though those things are great) but really hard work and a fearless claiming of our own power.  Anyone who is not willing to do that without apologizing for it is not ready yet.

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Posted April 1, 2012 by Jessica in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Magical thinking

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  1. True in all respects. I’ve come across several people suffering from “Yeah But syndrome”. I wrote about one of them recently..As you say, magic requires work and strength of will. Any magic attempted in a confused or uncertain state is likely to fail because magic requires a focus of will power and intention that just isn’t there.

    • Thank you Cassie. And right there, just what you said, is why prayer and magic are not the same thing. The will. I hear people say that prayer and magic are the same….they are often using this to explain magic to non magical people in a way that hopefully will enhance tolerance. Or maybe they really believe it themselves. Dunno. What I do know is that you can absolutely pray your heart out with uncertainty and confusion and feelings of helplessness and lay all of that at the feet of who you’re praying to. In prayer, you also leave the results up to the judgment of whoever you just prayed to, in a surrender of will. I’m not picking on that- sometimes surrendering the will and releasing attachments to outcomes is very powerful and beneficial for inner peace. It’s just not the same thing as magic, that’s all. Or so I think. Not everyone agrees with that.

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