When muggles consider magic

I read widely and encounter thinkers from many different backgrounds. Some of those trouble me enormously, and it’s taken me years to figure out why, but, here we go…

Rational mainstream thinking is all about logic. Any effect will have a cause. Any good theory produces testable, re-usable results. Once you understand something you can accurately predict what it will do. This is the thinking of the science lab. It holds up just as well in the kitchen, or wielding the wool. It is the logic of dependable physical reality and as such is a bloody good thing and generally makes life easier.

We’ve got into this habit of thought collectively. This idea of logical progressions from causes to effects, one thing meaning that another will follow. We expect to be able to unpick all of nature, uncover ever last law of physics and have it make sense. However, we’re taking that tidy, resolving approach into our spiritual thinking and into our magic, some of us. The same certainty, the same confidence that my cause and effect will work as well for you as if I had undertaken a lab experiment and proved it. We bring the logic of the mundane and predictable to something that should be neither.

The consequence of this, is the absence of room for wonder. Religions on the whole are remarkably good at tidying spiritual experience up into something safe, sensible and predictable, and by so doing, knock out all the mystery. There is no room for anything numinous to creep in when you think you have it all figured out and are confidently asserting what the rules are. Awe and wonder are, instead, part of the experience of being out of your depth, unsure, overwhelmed and unable to safely rationalise.

Uncertainty has been important to me for a long time, as an unconsidered, emotional response to spiritual experience. And lo, I have managed to bring the art of thinking rationally to that uncertainty, and have usefully found out something about what it is and does and why I need it. What reason tells me, is that if I want spiritual experience, sometimes I will have to let go of the desire to have it all make sense.


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

3 responses to “When muggles consider magic

  • Éilis Niamh

    Oh darn, you’re right. And I am so guilty as charged. My life seems to run on wonder and mystery. But once I have an experience, I assume it is somewhat replicable, for instance, go talk to this god or goddess and he/she will look like how they appeared to me yesterday. When everyone does the same guided meditation and all have incredibly different experiences, it unnerves me greatly. Rationality says in that case either some of us are wrong or none of it is true. But the physical manifestation of the world is the only part of it it seems where reality is consistently shared. I can live with uncertainty, I love the mystery. But I will never be able to give my life changing, wondrous experiences rational validity good enough for a culture which only values the logical. I have stopped dismissing my own experiences from being valid for myself. But I am extremely realist about them. To me, I’m interacting with a magical world out there with beings and phenomena that exist, in a nonarguable sense, just like I exist. I’ve been told that my point of view is a problem, by muggles and magical manifest folk alike. Also in that framework It is sometimes hard to embrace the experiences that just don’t make rational sense at all. Thank you for getting me thinking.

    • Nimue Brown

      Thank you for sharing. I think the desire for coherence and predictability has been a big driving force in religions, we’re up against thousands of years of inclination here, that’s a lot of pressure to resist.

  • catchersrule

    I too need to get hold of this idea again, but for a different reason: since this summer I’ve been dealing with too MUCH chaos and uncertainty with regard to my health, and it’s spilled over into my whole life. I’m ok with some of that just in bits at a time, but I haven’t been given much time to sit back and process what’s gone on till maybe a couple days ago. There can be too much volatility as well.

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