What is this elusive work thatmagical workers talk about? I ponder one Tuesday morning at work. You seehere where I live the pagan community is still very young and getting groupstogether, whether organically or with purpose, is like grasping at rainbowcaused by prisms hung in a window to catch the sun.
This weekend a fellow witch camearound and we talked about this. “are people afraid to work with eachother?” he asked. I know that often magical work can be quitepersonal. Delving into the shadow can cause tears and tantrums which, forthe average kiwi whose nature is generally rather reserved to start with, canbe quite difficult to think of doing this with other people. Hell weKiwipagans have issues raising our voices above a whisper let alone actually doany sort of chanting in a ritual. O.o
But again what is this work andwhat does it look like?
Well my ‘work’ looks differentfrom that of my Fellow Witch who came to visit on Sunday. That much ispretty obvious even to the causal observer, but let me expand on this for amoment. Take for instance the winter Solstice. For me and givenwhat has/had been happening I felt drawn to an all night vigil, instead of troopingout to
concrete henge Stonehenge Aotearoa, over the hill to celebratethe longest night with those from the wider pagan community. My FellowWitch however did attend the public ritual which, he says went verywell. I do not know if he did any ‘work’ because I didn’t ask. Butduring a numerous cups of tea on Sunday afternoon he did say that he generallydid a lot of work during more formal ceremonial and ritual setting.
Which got me to thinking so if mywork, in this instance, some shadow work was done during an all night vigil atmy house while several teens were partying on in the other room and my fellowwitches work is done during a ritual setting how does the average pagan knowwhen there is work to be done, or what from this work will take? It isone of those instances where the books say “deep personal work will always bedone on the Sabbat with your coven mates in the form of highly ceremonialrituals, with powerful magic’s and people to catch you should you fall”.. Whenin 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 happysharing such things with or we are not really drawn to coven work.
Again what is this work, andbaring belonging to a good working coven group or circle, what does it looklike?
On the one hand a witches workcan come in many different forms, from talking to a lady at the bus stop wholooks warn and is carrying and empty cat cage, because you can feel her griefand you know that she needs someone to share the grief with, to deeply personalinternal work which is so that you can talk to that lady at the buss stop whois carrying an empty cat cage with sympathy and understanding. Howeverfor the purpose of this blogg post I am mostly talking about personalwork.
Personal work is not always‘shadow’ work, in my opinion, although you have to admit a lot of personal workgets done when the shadow self flairs up and acts like a dementor. Thatbeing said personal work can also be done when the light is strong and you arefeeling like you are on top of the world. It is all a matter ofperspective and given that it is personal work, a deeper understanding of, notjust 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 notceremonially based as such then sometimes to the outside observer my personalwork can look like not much at all, for example my solstice vigil. Because of the theme of ‘circumstances beyond my control’ funnily enough mychoice 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, orfailing that have a quiet filled evening with a long ritual baths, tea andfood, but alas I had a house full of young strangers who were attending a b’dayparty 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 onthe preface of adulthood can make quite a bit of noise. So while theteens hung out in our lounge playing play station and a variety of games, someeven going to so far as to get teenage cooties on my chair. O.o I wasdoing my vigil in my room.
For my solstice vigil I hung outin my room, I spent most of the evening tidying up my clothes andcleaning several altar spaces, with occasional breaks for cups of tea and thenhiding back into my room from the teenagers err I mean surfing theinternet. During all that time I was also contemplating the particularlyshadow that I was dealing with, with questions such as why? how? and where didthat come from. Occasionally there was thoughts of eww teenagecooties on my chair!! but for the most part I was working on the shadowat hand. Early in the evening this was interspersed with bouts oflaughter with my flatmate who was just as bemused at the antics of the teens asI was. Later in the wee hours of the morning after my flatmate had goneto bed there were further venture out to the kitchen for cups of tea and a lotmore contemplation.
To the outside observer it lookedlike 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 butas far as ritual gear, clothing or otherwise it was pretty noon existent.
So how was this different fromany other night that I had spent in my room drinking tea and avoidingteenagers, I would have to say intent, my intent that evening was to see in thelongest night, (well near enough) fare-welling our very odd winter, heraldingin 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 moresettled 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 thesoul, a little death of sorts, and I am working on balance but then that is theway of this path.
So I guess the purpose of sharingthis is to say that work, magical work can take many forms, for some it is allabout high ritual, timing, ritual tools and robes or not. For others thistype of internal work can take the form of a long bath with some selfcontemplation followed by journaling in a quite space that has been set upbefore hand or it can be an unplanned vigil, with cups of tea teenage cootiesand quite contemplation in the wee hours of the morning. But it is all magical work, or one aspect ofmagical work. I am leaning as I traveldown this path that once you get past the big showy stuff it is often the smallstuff that has the biggest power.