Druidry and magic

There isn’t a great tradition of spell working in Druidry. Much of the magic is about inner transformation and the natural consequence of ritual and communion with nature. Magic is a process that happens to us as much as something we might instigate. Mostly. There’s the magic of captivating and inspiring people – a big part of the business of being a Bard. There’s the magic of experiencing the world in a profound and awe inspiring way. We request the presence and blessings of spirits, or deities sometimes, but we don’t command or demand.

Part, if not all of the reason this is so, is philosophical. If you go through life trying to disappear all the bumps and challenges, where is your scope for heroic virtue and learning? You can’t be heroic if everything is easy! The Celts had a heroic culture, they celebrated the characters who faced up to challenges. We are here to learn, and to live, and much of life is challenging, awkward and less than perfectly comfortable. In learning to love what is imperfect and being open to not getting our own way, we learn how to do a better job of being people.

I know I don’t really know what’s for the best. Sometimes what I thought would be really good doesn’t happen, and it opens the door to something I would never have dared to imagine. Being open to what comes from outside, rather than trying to control every aspect of our lives, can often take us further and give us more. Most of the time I would never even consider trying to magic an outcome that I really wanted, in case it caused me to miss something that would have turned out better.
I’m interested in the ‘magic’ of positive thinking and inner calm, as day to day issues. There’s often a fine line between magic and psychology (as Terry Pratchett fans will know, Headology rules.) While I don’t believe we entirely create our experiences, we have a lot of room for manoeuvre in how we choose to interpret and understand. Additionally, what we bring to a situation will heavily inform what we get out of it.

The other reason to leave magic alone is that it’s a messy and unruly thing (assuming you believe in it, and I admit that I do.) The more complex a situation, the more variables, people involved, possible outcomes, the harder it is to work out what would need to change in order to give you what you want. Ethically speaking, seeking the outcome without considering the consequences is totally off limits, for me. Magic is generally understood to require focus and precision, so the woollier and more confusing the situation, the less scope you have to begin with.

Now and then though, life throws up a situation where the issues are pretty simple, and there’s only one tolerable outcome. I would imagine that finding you have cancer would create one of those. Most of the time life does not hand over such clear cut win-lose scenarios, but when it does, perhaps that is the time to dust off the wand and start composing the demands you need to make of the universe.

My mother always said that magic is what you do when you can’t do anything else. It’s also what you do when you absolutely cannot afford to have anything else happen. If nothing else, there’s a bit of Headology here, holding the belief that you can win gives you a better shot at winning than falling into a pit of despair does.

Sometimes, the universe seems to conspire to make things work out after all. I don’t generally believe that the universe is an inherently benevolent place that has our best interests at heart, but I think sometimes it might be persuaded to act that way. And when you get to that sort of point, there’s little to lose in trying.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

9 responses to “Druidry and magic

  • Graeme K Talboys

    Indeed. The most potent magic is the magic you never do.

  • greycatsidhe

    Very well-said. I occasionally do a bit of magic, but I find that my “magic” is usually still in the “prayer and offering” category. Candle magic feels very similar to giving an offering to a deity or spirit for help, just perhaps a little more focused. I suppose most of the magic I do is creative in the form of arts and crafts or cooking in the kitchen. Making someone a protective scarf or a healing tea is my favorite kind of magic!

  • Dawn Diaz-Ruiz

    “Sometimes what I thought would be really good doesn’t happen, and it opens the door to something I would never have dared to imagine.”
    Indeed! I have found this in my life as well; I don’t always end up where I expect to be, but in hindsight it’s where I needed to be.

    Thank you for so eloquently stating my own reasons for not practicing much magic.

  • Skyllaros

    I guess it goes to show, ask 5 Druids about something and get 6 different answers 🙂 To offer a different perspective I’d have to say I disagree quite strongly, magic is a huge part of my life. I’d say that waiting until things get so bad that magic is a last ditch effort is, well really bad magic. It’s an attitude I see displayed about magic a lot and I really don’t understand it.

    I recognize that a lot of other Druids feel that magic should not be messed with and it’s better to go with the flow of the universe. I honor their opinion and choice. however my own perspective is quite different. The flow is often quite turbulent, and magic can be the oar which you navigate that river rather than letting yourself crash on the rocks aimlessly. My life is better for having magic in it.

    I think that by using magic regularly and preventing things from getting to that “absolutely cannot afford to have anything else happen” point, you can take control of your life for the better, avoid those crises moments, and I see nothing wrong with that.

    Like I said, I honor others view on the matter and do not disagree with their personal choice to stay away, but I’ll have to disagree with it for my own practice. Just to offer another side to the argument 🙂

    That being said, I agree there is not much of a magical tradition worked into modern day Druidry, which is why I augment my own Druidry practice with non-Druidic traditions such as Hermetics. To me magic is a natural as breathing and nothing to be shunned or afraid of. Respected yes definitely however. I tend to engage in my own Druid practice as a religion, and my magic as a separate tradition. Yet I’m still one whole individual who practice both Druidry and Magic to the greatest depths that I can.

    Just my own thoughts on the matter! Not trying to put down everyone else’s convictions on it!

    • Nimue Brown

      Thank you for sharing, that’s fascinating. I love the diversity n Druidry, and that there are always people going places others do not. It would be interesting to contemplate what a Druid Magical tradition would look like in practice, I’m inclined to think the ancients would have been more of your beliefs on the subject than not, all things considered.

      • Skyllaros

        I agree, this is one of the things I love about Druidry, the diversity. Two people can have totally opposite types of practice and still find common ground underneath the Druid tree 🙂 It’s what keeps me coming back again and again.

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    […] Druidry and magic (druidlife.wordpress.com) […]

  • celticchick

    Magic is unpredictable and you have to consider the consequences. When my characters in my books use magic, it usually backfires on them.

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