Explaining Magick to Non-Mages

by Mike Sententia on March 3, 2012

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Taylor posted recently about being open with his magickal practice, even among non-mages, and even at work. He’s braver than I am in that regard.

I’m not going to say that you should be open about your practice. I’m not open with mine, not at work. But a question has been on my mind: If you choose to talk about magick with non-mages, what’s the best way to do it?

I don’t have an answer to that yet. But I do have a few thoughts so far:

First, there is a difference between discussing technical magick vs pagan religions. I’m not saying one is easier than the other, but they require different strategies.

When you’re discussing pagan rituals, as long as you cast them as religious rites, most civilized people will treat them with some level of deference. We’re allowed to believe unscientific things in the context of religion. (I feel for the pagans that live in rural communities. I know this politeness doesn’t apply everywhere.)

But I don’t have that recipe for discussing magick. Because to me, it’s not a religion. It’s a science. And I’m sure there’s some good way to present it, but I can’t bootstrap on the deference most people show to religious beliefs.

Second, even within the pagan community, I’ve had poor results talking about the ideas behind direct magick. If I say that direct magick is about getting results without rituals, or understanding the building blocks of magick, I mostly get a shrug. I think the approach I’m taking on this blog — talking about results I’m aiming toward, grounded in results I’m getting now — is probably a better approach.

So, for non-mages, I’m thinking to cast myself as a healer, and discussing practical projects. You could do something similar if your main work was with manifesting, and talk about divining the future. Make the discussion about concrete things you’ve done and are working toward, not the general idea of magick.

Third, everything needs testing. And practice. I’m thinking Toastmasters is a good venue. It’s outside of work and your social circle, so there’s not too much at risk if you come off as a nutter. It’s designed for practice with public speaking, so you’re guaranteed time to speak and supportive feedback (hopefully).

In the coming weeks, I’m going to try out Toastmasters for discussing magick, and write up my experiences. If you’d like to join in this experiment, there’s probably a Toastmasters in your town. If you do, write up your experiences in the comments, and we’ll trade strategies and figure this thing out.

Other thoughts or experiences in telling people about magick? Please share.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Taylor Ellwood March 3, 2012 at 5:12 PM

I was outed early on, but if I hadn’t been I might’ve made different choices. And since I’ve published books under my given name its much easier for people to find out that yes I Practice magic. I’ve had a few people bring it up, and I’ve explained that to me magic is a system of techniques and practices that I use to improve the quality of my life. Most seem comfortable with that.

I have gotten my share of cyber bullying as well as in-person discrimination over the years. Two fellow grad students thought that they should teach me a lesson for believing in magic and decided to anonymously bully me on my blog. I figured out who they were and I’ve had a couple of other people pull such stunts. Its pretty pathetic, but an unfortunate reality nonetheless.

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Mike Sententia March 4, 2012 at 11:43 AM

That’s a good idea, to explain magick as techniques for improving your life. It lets them explain it however they want, while focusing on the practical side of it.

That sucks about the bullying. You’d think people would grow out of it after high school. Glad you’re able to laugh it off.

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