The first thing that comes to mind for most people when they hear the word “magic” is a magician doing tricks with cards or a magic hat or wand. It’s entertainment. And it can be fascinating and amazing. Teller (of Penn and Teller fame) does some tricks that fascinate me because they are so simple (see video below). On the other extreme, you have the David Copperfield gigantic illusions that take an hour to perform.

But this post is not about that kind of magic. It’s also not about the magic that we might associate with books like Harry Potter or the sorcery that takes place when people try to influence the world using rituals, symbols, actions, gestures and language.

Modern Western “magicians” are more in the New Age part of the magic shop and tend to view magic’s primary purpose as personal spiritual growth.

It is an ancient practice that has been present since the earliest human cultures. It can’t be tossed off as silliness because it still has an important religious and medicinal role in many cultures today.

stonesI know very devout Christians, for example, who would not allow their children to read or see the Harry Potter books and films because they saw it as being in direct opposition to their beliefs.

“The concept of magic as a category separate from religion first appeared in Judaism, which derided as magic the practices of pagan worship designed to appease and receive benefits from gods other than Yahweh. Hanegraaff argues that magic is in fact ‘…a largely polemical concept that has been used by various religious interest groups either to describe their own religious beliefs and practices or – more frequently – to discredit those of others’.”

And so, magic, whether it is white (good) or black (evil) magic, is still viewed with suspicion by many people and is often still practiced in isolation and secrecy.

But the magic that I was thinking about this past week came from a post on Facebook to an article about the “traits of magical people.” In the article, Carolyn Elliott list traits that she feels describe people who are magical, and this has nothing to do with sorcery or showmanship. I was flattered that another Facebook friend told me that I have most of these traits.

Flattery aside, here is my take on those traits. Do you see them as describing something in a person that you would call magical? Does this describe you?

First off, magical people know that they are magical. Sounds obvious. Children seem to know, but school and society does a pretty good job of convincing them otherwise.

I am a firm believer in synchronicity (as a number of my posts show).  It is that experience of two or more events being  meaningfully related (rather than the case that they are causally related) and sometimes occurring simultaneously in time.  It is when we see an experience as being a “a meaningful coincidence.” The concept of synchronicity was first described by Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s.

Magical people seem to have these synchronicities happen more than others. Maybe they are just more attuned and open to their occurrences.  The article suggests that meditation, art, ritual, intentional movement (like yoga) or prayer open you to the experiences. As with magic in general, part of the population dismisses “synchronicities” as meaningless coincidences, but for others they can be life-changing and dramatic.

Another trait is being attentive to seasons and lunar cycles. Again, this blog is evidence of my sensitivity to lunar cycles, which I try to pay attention to each month, and to the solstices and equinoxes that bring us the seasons.

A part of me has always felt ancient when I look into the night sky the way others did thousands of years ago with the same awe and wonder.

I try to turn that attention to the ground too. I want to know about the plants, trees, insects and animals and the signs that nature gives us. To me, this is a kind of ancient magic that we have lost.

I don’t worship the Moon or Sun. And though I do feel an attraction to our Moon, I don’t feel any physical pull on my body and I don’t find that I can’t sleep on full moon nights. I don’t feel any “mythopoeic cycles” of emotional birth and death as the seasons change. But I accept that it is possible that others do.

Magical people tend to have vivid dreams. But I believe they also pay more attention to them. I have kept dream journals since I was a teenager and first became aware of dream interpretation. I have learned over the years that books on interpreting dreams (from Freud’s to pop psychology) are not useful. You need to create you own compendium of personal dream symbols.

Elliott’s article goes a bit further, saying that “Magic people have at least partially developed aetheric bodies. This means, at the very least, that one or more of their chakras (Rudolf Steiner liked to call them “lotus flowers”) are open and active.”

I don’t really know enough about that topic to say whether or not I have a highly empathic heart chakra or if my third eye is open. In my experimental college days, I did try to navigate the astral planes, but never made the crossing.

And I am not knowledgeable enough about “prana” (AKA  creative energy) except it a rather academic way, to say whether or not I have more of it than most people. I think most of us would like to think we have it.

As the article points out, it has many names. It is Reich’s “orgone,” Kant’s “Geist,” Emerson’s “Soul,” and Mezmer’s “animal magnetism.” It’s also viewed as a kind of sexual energy, although prana doesn’t necessarily feel sexy and might manifest as a burst of creative energy.

I will also admit to not being exactly clear on the fifth trait that when magical people fall in love, it’s “psychedelic.”  I suppose that if two magical people fall in love it is a natural dopamine and oxytocin rush.

hand reachingThe trait that I feel may be most important, and that I feel close to as I type these words, is that magical people want to spread the magic around. People always ask me why I write on this and my other blogs. It can’t be to be rich or famous.

I have been a teacher all my adult life. It was what I was put on the planet to do. A lot of it has happened in classrooms, but over the years more and more has happened in the woods, in far less formal workshops and online.

I find things that amaze me and make me think and I just feel that I must share them in a thoughtful way. We have become a culture of sharing and over-sharing because of the Internet. I see some value to the retweet/reblog/repost of an interesting article or video. But I see much more value to a thoughtful remixing and explanation of such things for others. I see magical people as the guides to the secrets of the universe.

One of Teller’s illusions

and Robert Harbin’s Zig Zag Girl illusion at the London Palladium in the 60s.

Carolyn Elliott has started a Dreamer’s Tantra Facebook Group to talk more about the other kind of magic.