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Chapter 3 summary

December 18, 2012

Of “Introduction to Pagan Studies” by Barbara Jane Davy

Chapter 3:  Individual and Family Practices

I was less impressed with this chapter than the previous two.  I’m not sure what I was expecting from the chapter title but a condensed version of Wicca 101 was not it.  I know some Pagans say that they do not do magic(k).  According to the author all Pagans do, but then explains magic differently from my conception of it.

“Magic is integral to the practice of their religion.  For Pagans, magic is a means of personal growth and self-expression…The practices of magic in Paganism are expressive of the worldview of Paganism, an understanding that everything is connected and that there is more to the world than humans understand.  Magic is not something separate from the regular activities of Pagans.  Pagans see everyday life as magical…The occurrence of this sort of magic is partly a matter of interpretation.  A Pagan might think, for example, that if a friend calls just when s/he is thinking of the friend, this is a result of magic…Pagan’s practices of magic are mostly often directed at healing….Their practice of magic is based on the belief that all things in the universe are connected, that changing one thing can potentially change others, even at a distance…Magic is so integrated into the regular activities of Pagans that many of the describe their religion as a “way of life.””

This conception of magic is so generalized, sanitized and odd that it makes my head hurt.  Later she says that the form of magic most performed is spell casting and uses talismans and sigils as examples.  I rarely do anything that I consider magic.  Magic is done for a variety of purposes beyond healing, like for money or jobs…even love which has ethical issues.  The inter-connectivity of life does not have anything to do with magic.  I was taught that magic is focused prayer using specific energies to help with that focus.  I realize that magic is one of those areas where everyone conceptualizes it differently but the author did not portray it in that fashion.

The chapter also discusses:

  • the Wheel of the Year
  • importance of gardening  to some Pagans along with food prep
  • offerings
  • being politically active
  • altars and shrines
  • spell casting
  • ritual basics (again overly generalized as not everyone makes a circle or calls on the directions/elements)
  • tools, robes and divination
  • meditation

A lot of this chapter made me twitch.  She standardized too much without making it clear that is exactly what she was doing.  She went from saying how individualistic Paganism can be to making it sound like everyone does these things.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2012 2:18 PM

    I’m going to preface this by saying this is my opinion, and you don’t have to agree with me. 🙂

    If all life is interconnected, then changing one thing through magic will affect another being. It creates a “domino effect” or “chain reaction,” whereby the others are changed by the result of the direct change you have made.

    I disagree with you on the statement that “magic is a prayer.” Prayer asks someone else to do the work to make change happen, while magic operates on the magician’s own will, perhaps with assistance from the Kindreds, but not done wholly through them, as prayer is.

    Finally, the author may be saying that magic is an expression of the Divine, and in that sense Life is magical, and all Pagans perform magic by contacting the Divine and living the Divine daily. (However, perhaps I am also generalizing here…)

    Many blessings,


  2. December 19, 2012 8:10 AM

    1) that is just cause and effect

    2) Depends on the prayer. I was taught that the Divine helps those who help themselves.

    3) No I do not think that is what she was saying. She was giving a generalized description of what Pagans do. She just did not state that it was generalized. The author is writing as a scholar and not as a practioner describing what is done.



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