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We're All Witches Now: Magic and Ritual as Part of Being Human


Magic is said to flood our daily lives, even inadvertently...

Magical thinking has been around since humans discovered that there are things in this world even though we can’t see them (that is, for as long as we’ve had memory). Incarnated, as witches, shamans, healers, and sorcerers, in talismans, potions and enchantments, magic is one of those most mysterious expressions of human interiority and our relationship with the divine. Some argue not only for the existence of magic, but that we’re all capable of practicing it, even unconsciously. Art, to name but one example, is in its own way a form of magic. Regardless of our belief in it, it’s one of humanity’s oldest practices and, for that alone, the recognition of magic is nothing short of indispensable.

black and white image of a woman casting spells in the forest surrounded by animals

The role of the witch, the woman with supernatural powers, has been part of the mythologies and folklore, of multiple religions and cosmogonies. An archetype who understands or sees more than others (perhaps because of her powerful intuition), she’s also an expression of the feminine divinity in its life-giving dimension. For some, this is itself a spectacular form of magic. Even the word “witch” bears also an obscure meaning. For centuries, it was a reference to women who used magic for evil purposes and for those who’ve simply not lived according to the social standards of their times. Lamentably, this has justified all kinds of atrocities throughout history.

black and white painting of a woman on trial for being a witch

In any case, the witches who’ve trod the planet even until now, have held preponderant roles in the metaphysical imagination. Their practices (always replete with an inexplicable magnetism) are expressed in rituals that today preserve treasures of a millenary, traditional wisdom. Practices around the world remain the sources of inspiration for all kinds of art and creativity. In English, the very idea of “witchcraft” speaks of the implicit possibility of learning and perfecting this craft, an invisible discipline.

A witch brewing up a potion

Although to lots of people today witchcraft is the result of unfounded superstition, magic and magical rituals accompany us all the time, though we seldom notice. It’s still common to carry talismans, objects to which we’ve assigned powers of protection or good fortune. It’s also common to use language as a form of enchantment: how often do we surprise ourselves repeating a word or phrase in the hope that it will change some course of events?

Ritual, among the most beautiful of human acts, is also a form of witchcraft. Ritual accompanies us, the great majority of us, even during our most intimate moments. Finally, the simple, powerful adoration of nature in its many forces, has also characterized witches since time immemorial. This too connects us with the inexplicable, with the magical, with that which is bigger than us and which feeds us even when we can neither see nor substantiate it. We all do magic even if it’s not in a conscious way. And we live fascinated by magic, maybe for the simple fact that we’ll never know quite how it works.

a metal pentagram


Images: 1) The Crystal Ball, John William Waterhouse. Public Domain. 2) A witch at her cauldron surrounded by beasts, J. van de Velde II. Wellcome Images. 3) Salem Witch Trials, Joseph E. Baker. Public Domain. 4) Magic Circle, John William Waterhouse. Public Domain. 5) Leo Reynolds-flickr. Creative Commons.

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