The Wiccan Institute - where magic truly begins....

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Magic Vs Prayer

I work with Magic – every day.  I’m surrounded by it, I make it, I believe in it and yet every day I hear myself explaining to someone that Magical products are just that - products and nothing more. They are a means of focusing one's energy on the task at hand.

This statement doesn't mean that I do not believe (or to be more precise know) that certain herbs, roots, minerals and oils are extraordinarily helpful in harnessing the powers of the mind and universe. Creating 'Magic' takes vision, time and dedication. Admittedly, people do sometimes dab a few drops of gambling oil on themselves and walk into casinos and win, but in all honesty, this is the exception rather than the rule. Getting consistent results in your magical undertakings requires effort, which is why they call it "work".

Two ways that you may attempt to change your circumstances are Magic and Prayer. Both refuse to accept weakness as a limit of endeavour or to accept the status quo as normal. Both require belief or faith in "the process" in order to be successful. But, this is where the comparisons end. In order to determine which way of tackling a situation is best suited to the individual circumstances, it is helpful to discern what each is in its own terms.

So, first, “What is Prayer”?

Prayer is not a power, it is a request a conversation with the Divine, if you like. To pray is to say 'No' to despair and 'Amen' to the 'Yes' of the Divine. So, it is a means to end problems and perhaps open the door to joy.

We cannot guarantee what the Divine will do with our prayers. This is good because it means prayer cannot make bad things happen.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16).

By the same token, we do not know how our requests will be addressed, if at all. Prayer is also deeper than words.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26-27).

So, if our agony is more than we can possibly begin to articulate, the Divine hears that agony which has no words. [This isn't an escape clause. If we can articulate our prayers, we should.]

If we use Prayer as the basis of our Magical and Spiritual undertakings we must understand that it is not our will which becomes manifest - but that of the Divine. We may not get exactly what we ask for. We may get more or less. The belief that the Divine works in our best interest implies it does not matter. If you do not ask, you do not receive. If you do not receive, it was not meant to be.

So, “What is Magic(k)”?

For our purposes we shall define Magic(k) as: The belief that supernatural forces can be controlled, influenced and manipulated by executing a ritualistic formula, either physical or verbal.

The two key components of this definition are

Ritual and
B.) Manipulation.

In order for Magic(k) to be effective, it MUST manipulate energy. This may be God energy, an herbal energy, a spiritual force, an elemental or planetary energy, etc. etc.

It must also adhere to the Webster's Dictionary definition of "ritual": A prescribed procedure for conducting religious ceremonies.

When one attempts to manipulate or coerce any energy into performing his/her own will, magic has been performed. This is what takes Magic above and beyond Prayer. The magician, not the Divine decides upon the desired outcome.

Magical rituals do incorporate prayer-like incantations or spoken requests. However, in this context the magician understands he can constrain, coerce, and force the divinity to do his will. Many religions use sacrifices and elaborate doxologies to induce God to favour requests, grant wishes and perform miracles upon demand. Is this magic? Yes. Religion and magic are not mutually exclusive. While often unspoken, they frequently walk hand in hand.

Magic Vs Prayer

So which technique is the preferred method? This question is not so easily answered. There are a few things you can ask yourself which may be helpful in guiding you to your best source for success.

A. What Do I Believe?:

If you truly believe that the Divine answers prayers and cannot be influenced by intercessions from Saints, Spirits, Ancestors, Alignments or Energies than stick with Prayer and hope for the best. The Divine does answer Prayers! We know this. It is fine to use candles, incense or whatever means necessary to set your mind and heart into the most prayerful state. However, the belief that your Prayers will be answered in accordance to a preselected path already lying before you requires you not ritual. Pray and hope for the best. In my book, you cannot ask for more than the best.

B. What Is My Skill Level?:

When considering ritual and magic as a means of influencing the outcome of any situation, this is probably the most important question one can ask. At the very least, magical rituals require three basic components:

1. Statement of Intention ~ What do you want? What is the goal you plan to achieve? Is it attainable? What will you do on the physical or mundane plane to back up the work? What is your time frame? How will you convey these goals to your Spirit or source of power?
2. Raising Energy ~ How will you connect with your Spiritual Alignments or tap into Universal Energy? Invocation? Evocation? Chanting? Drumming? Dancing? Harnessing an Element? Incantation? Meditation? Prayer?
3. Projecting Energy Towards The Goal ~ Once you have raised the energy or called the Spirit how will you convey your will and target? How do you get the energy to where it needs to go?

If you do not know what you want and/or do not understand the method or means of raising and projecting Energy than you probably are not ready for spell work. These three simple steps are the basis of every ritual.

You do not have to be a skilled magus to cast a successful spell. But, you must have a procedure in place for the three steps above.

C. Do I Need an Exact Outcome?:

God, Spirit, Ancestors, Totems, Angels, Saints, Elementals and whoever or whatever else people serve in a religious fashion may be propitiated out of love and duty. However, they are also expected to provide. With that in mind, one should assess their situation on the basis of what they need - a specific outcome or a general resolution of issues.

For instance, if you want to start a new business but have no means to do so, prayer may be your best bet for success. Using this method, one offers the issue to the Divine and lets them select the best possible resolution. By the same token, if you are filling out paperwork for a business loan and want to increase your chances of approval, magic ritual provides more guarantees that you will at least affect the target with your energy.

So, a formula: Magic + Prayer = Success

The technique I use for most problems that require ritual also includes Prayer. Prior to and following my work, I pray to the Divine for assistance with my work and for an answer to my Prayer. I follow this up with daily prayer for a predetermined amount of time.To someone watching me engage in spiritual work, it might seem as one flowing set of prayers, movements & incantations. However, I am in fact performing two completely separate works.  

Blessed be!

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