To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Year 2: Part 3: Post 6: Considering Magic

I have to choose a master for magic. I’ve been putting it off, because even though I came here because of the magic, I find I don’t quite believe in magic in a literal sense. I don’t mean magic like what Allen does, that’s obviously real, but that’s also not what I mean by magic. I mean something that’s impossible. I want there to be things that are possible that I didn’t think were.

Allen says I can organize my studies around that, around not knowing, around finding ways to be surprised. I like that idea, but I can’t figure out how to do it or who to do it with. Kit says I don’t need to believe in magic in order to do it, for the same reason I don’t need to believe in electricity in order to turn on the light. And that makes sense. And I’d love to work with Kit, I really would. Not only is she beautiful and all of that, not only is my friend, but she’s obviously brilliant and I’d love to…be part of that. But the thing is, I understand that part of the magic she teaches involves acting as if certain things are true, spirits and energies and correspondences and so forth, and I’m not sure I can do that.

Honestly, Charlie doesn’t help with that. He’s so focused on getting to know things as they are, receiving their nature without projection or bias. I don’t see how I can work on getting to know, say, a white oak tree, as it is without projection, and at the same learn to act as if it is metaphysically masculine, or whatever.

And do I really want to have two masters who are allergic to each other?

I need to choose a healing master, too, and that’s simpler. There’s no special conflict there, I just need to do it. I’d been feeling torn between emergency medicine and Reiki, but that’s more or less just me making up my mind. I had been thinking of herbal medicine, since I’m working so much with plants anyway, but Joy sets too high a bar. She considers herbalism a form of doctoring, so to be an herbalist you need to do something equivalent to med school or she won’t let you graduate. I don’t really want to get into all that. I don’t really want to be a doctor.

You don’t have to be a doctor to do emergency medicine or Reiki. Both of them are things you can do as a non-expert while you go about the rest of your life. You don’t have to go to med school.

Emergency medicine would be a really useful skill to have, and I certainly believe in it, but I’d have to become an EMT and ride an ambulance for a minimum number of hours and I really don’t see how that would work with the other things I’m doing here. I can’t imagine Charlie, or anyone like him, riding an ambulance. It would be too loud, too busy, too fast. So, more or less by default, I’ve chosen Reiki. Anyway, I like the fact that I can’t figure out how it works.

Both Karen and Joy teach Reiki, but I’m going to go with Joy. I’ve asked her. She does a workshop every Tuesday after Philosopher’s Stone Soup is over and you can go and practice and receive treatments and you can drop in and out as time permits. In Reiki, there are three “attunements” that supposedly adjust something in your soul to allow the energy to flow through you or something. If you get the first two attunements and do a certain minimum number of hours of practice and you can graduate. I wouldn’t say it sounds easy, but it sounds doable. It sounds like something that will fit in to the rest of my studies. I don’t have to believe anything, or act as if I believe something. I just need to have an open mind.
And, talking to Joy about all of this, we got talking about magic. She teaches a form of ritualistic magic like Kit does, but she also teaches something called “manifestation.” She says this is what lies at the heart of all magic, but it’s a different way of accessing it. Basically, if you want or need something, you make room in your life for it and you follow your intuition. You pray, you take practical steps, you think positively, and you make room in your life for whatever it is. You put yourself in the way of good luck.

Do I believe in this manifestation? Yes and no. I don’t believe in any cosmology that would explain it being possible. I do believe in miracles—God does things sometimes that don’t normally happen. I was raised to believe in that, and I still do. But I don’t believe that God can be coerced by magic. By definition, miracles are things humans can’t make happen. And I don’t believe miracles happen very often. Getting a string of good luck or succeeding at something you didn’t think you could doesn’t mean the creator of the universe is intervening in your personal life by manipulating traffic lights or SAT scores.

At the same time, I have been fantastically lucky in a lot of ways. I do things, I walk into the front office of this school and it turns out to be exactly the place I want to be. Is that sort of thing really random? What is random? Can’t there be some kind of gray area between the things we can influence and the things we can’t?

I keep thinking about what Ollie told me Allen said to that dying man he saw as a chaplain in the hospital. The man was in a bad way, for obvious reasons, and Allen made a hatchling chick appear, by slight-of-hand, right there on the hospital bed. The man hadn’t known there was a bird in the room, and Allen asked him if he was so sure about everything else he thought he knew. Might there be a second bird in the room? Or miracles? Or Heaven?

Do you know so much about the world that you are sure you can’t make yourself lucky?

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