What is this elusive work that magical workers talk about? I ponder one Tuesday morning at work. You see here where I live the pagan community is still very young and getting groups together, whether organically or with purpose, is like grasping at rainbow caused by prisms hung in a window to catch the sun.
This weekend a fellow witch came around and we talked about this. “are people afraid to work with each other?” he asked. I know that often magical work can be quite personal. Delving into the shadow can cause tears and tantrums which, for the average kiwi whose nature is generally rather reserved to start with, can be quite difficult to think of doing this with other people. Hell we Kiwipagans have issues raising our voices above a whisper let alone actually do any sort of chanting in a ritual. O.o
But again what is this work and what does it look like?
Well my ‘work’ looks different from that of my Fellow Witch who came to visit on Sunday. That much is pretty obvious even to the causal observer, but let me expand on this for a moment. Take for instance the winter Solstice. For me and given what has/had been happening I felt drawn to an all night vigil, instead of trooping out to
Which got me to thinking so if my work, in this instance, some shadow work was done during an all night vigil at my house while several teens were partying on in the other room and my fellow witches work is done during a ritual setting how does the average pagan know when there is work to be done, or what from this work will take? It is one of those instances where the books say “deep personal work will always be done on the Sabbat with your coven mates in the form of highly ceremonial rituals, with powerful magic’s and people to catch you should you fall”.. When in all reality a lot of us are pretty much solitary (especially here in NZ,) and we have not yet found a coven, group or circle that we would be happy sharing such things with or we are not really drawn to coven work.
Again what is this work, and baring belonging to a good working coven group or circle, what does it look like?
On the one hand a witches work can come in many different forms, from talking to a lady at the bus stop who looks warn and is carrying and empty cat cage, because you can feel her grief and you know that she needs someone to share the grief with, to deeply personal internal work which is so that you can talk to that lady at the buss stop who is carrying an empty cat cage with sympathy and understanding. However for the purpose of this blogg post I am mostly talking about personal work.
Personal work is not always ‘shadow’ work, in my opinion, although you have to admit a lot of personal work gets done when the shadow self flairs up and acts like a dementor. That being said personal work can also be done when the light is strong and you are feeling like you are on top of the world. It is all a matter of perspective and given that it is personal work, a deeper understanding of, not just yourself but of others who you can recognise as similar.
This is all very well and good, but just how does a person do personal work? If you are like me and not ceremonially based as such then sometimes to the outside observer my personal work can look like not much at all, for example my solstice vigil. Because of the theme of ‘circumstances beyond my control’ funnily enough my choice of days of when I would be doing my vigil where also out of my control, but then that was also a large part of my personal work for that evening. Ideally I would have liked to stay up all night with a trusted fellow pagan, or failing that have a quiet filled evening with a long ritual baths, tea and food, but alas I had a house full of young strangers who were attending a b’day party of the TAB, (teenage boy or as his mum calls him the Youth of Today.) This was not a loud party by any stretch of the imagination but 7 teenagers on the preface of adulthood can make quite a bit of noise. So while the teens hung out in our lounge playing play station and a variety of games, some even going to so far as to get teenage cooties on my chair. O.o I was doing my vigil in my room.
For my solstice vigil I hung out in my room, I spent most of the evening tidying up my clothes and cleaning several altar spaces, with occasional breaks for cups of tea and then hiding back into my room from the teenagers err I mean surfing the internet. During all that time I was also contemplating the particularly shadow that I was dealing with, with questions such as why? how? and where did that come from. Occasionally there was thoughts of eww teenage cooties on my chair!! but for the most part I was working on the shadow at hand. Early in the evening this was interspersed with bouts of laughter with my flatmate who was just as bemused at the antics of the teens as I was. Later in the wee hours of the morning after my flatmate had gone to bed there were further venture out to the kitchen for cups of tea and a lot more contemplation.
To the outside observer it looked like not much, apart from hanging out in my room drinking cups of tea. Sure there were candles going in my room and incense burning in the burner but as far as ritual gear, clothing or otherwise it was pretty noon existent.
So how was this different from any other night that I had spent in my room drinking tea and avoiding teenagers, I would have to say intent, my intent that evening was to see in the longest night, (well near enough) fare-welling our very odd winter, heralding in the lengthening of days, and doing some pondering on a shadow aspect of myself. So my the end of the night while very tired I was calm, things were more settled in my mind and soul and I could feel the light filling the shadows, where imbalance was before. In some ways it was a dark night of the soul, a little death of sorts, and I am working on balance but then that is the way of this path.
So I guess the purpose of sharing this is to say that work, magical work can take many forms, for some it is all about high ritual, timing, ritual tools and robes or not. For others this type of internal work can take the form of a long bath with some self contemplation followed by journaling in a quite space that has been set up before hand or it can be an unplanned vigil, with cups of tea teenage cooties and quite contemplation in the wee hours of the morning. But it is all magical work, or one aspect of magical work. I am leaning as I travel down this path that once you get past the big showy stuff it is often the small stuff that has the biggest power.