Changing Views of Magic

Today, many Wiccans see ritual as the heart of Wicca. Books and classes focus on Circle casting, Sabbat celebrations and ethics. Magic is not always taught, or is taught as an adjunct to Wicca rather then a major component of the faith. And though it may be argued that ritual, prayer and meditation are forms of magic, they are often taught as being divorced from it.

As magic has become more mainstream and more acceptable to society, it has lost its special connection with many religions. It is no longer something that is required to keep the world functioning correctly, but is rather something to use to attract love or discover your future.

Magic in Early Wicca was primordial. Practitioners felt that their seasonal rites actually aided the changing of seasons. They were reviving a hidden religion, something primal and close to nature. Magic was an integral part—the religion of Wicca could not be separated from the magic of Wicca, just as magic could not be separated from the world. Magic was the blood that kept the world alive, and Wiccans were the nutrients that kept the blood healthy.

In the 1960’s and 70’s, magic became more accepted by the mainstream, or at least something that was no longer just reserved for Ceremonial Magicians and pagans. Regular people had access to commercially published spellbooks, and began to practice magic without any ceremonial or religious framework. Tarot and other esoteric tools also grew in popularity, and were used for non-religious purposes. Wiccans, and other pagans, witnessed this change in the perception of magic, seeing that magic and religion are not necessarily linked. If magic can be practiced without religion, then perhaps religion can be practiced without magic.

In recent times, magic has become almost totally uncoupled from religion. It is easy to find spellbooks that have little or no mention of any sort of religion. And many magical tools are accessible to everyone, regardless of training or religious affiliation. Many new Wiccans don’t see magic as part of their religion. Magic is available everywhere; it is no longer something special, something tied to the world and nature. Sabbat celebrations are no longer required to cause the seasons to turn, they are now just celebrations.

In the 15 years or so that I have read about or practiced Wicca, I have noticed my own perception of magic changing as well. At first, magic and spells seemed to be presented in books as integral to Wicca, so I felt that I must be a witch to be a proper Wiccan. But, as the years have passed, magic has played a smaller role in my life and in the books I read. There is more of a focus on meditation and ritual, while spells are left for the sparkly pink books that are aimed at a general audience rather then at pagans and occultist.

I’m not sure how the Wiccan perception of magic will change as the years progress. (I’m not even sure that my short examination here is correct.) I expect that there will be more examination of how science and magic mesh, and more debate about whether ritual and prayer are magical acts. There will most likely be a movement to suffuse magic back into Wicca, which I will wholeheartedly welcome.

As long as Wiccans honour the divine and keep the Sabbats, magic will never truly disappear from the faith. We carry it deep within ourselves, and it will always be waiting for us to call upon it.