I normally keep my spellwork pretty quiet, partially because it’s none of people’s business. But if I were extremely honest with myself, I’d also have to admit that I’m afraid—not of the people who would think I was evil. Ironically, the prejudiced and terrified are fun to poke with my non-traditional beliefs. Rather, I’m afraid of those who will think that I am silly and superstitious.
I know when people find out that I create my own brand of spirituality by drawing from Paganism, Buddhism, and other religions, many raise an eyebrow at the idea. Why would I trade in the Christian doctrines for another set of rituals and practices?
Sometimes I try to explain the thinking behind the value of choosing your own worldview for the benefits it brings to you. More often than not, I try to emphasize the difference between rituals that are done for fun and rituals done out of sheer terror. But many times I just kind of want to hide because I know that, no matter how good my explanation is, there will always be a handful who will deride the things that have helped me connect to the deeper levels of my self.
I’m not afraid of debate, but for some reason, I’ve been afraid of judgment. Up until recently, I felt almost as if someone else’s disdain could destroy the joy I get from my own practice simply by making me feel silly.
But when the impending visit of my family left me feeling anxious, trapped, desperate, and helpless, I turned to the one thing I knew would work.
When my partner offered to help with the housework OCD/anxiety supergirl cleaning rituals, I didn’t shrug him off and wait until he left the apartment so he wouldn’t laugh at me. Instead, I handed him a jar of my freshly made Protection Wash from Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery and told him he had to use that to mop with.
I didn’t silently mutter my incantations as I sprinkled salt in front of my doors. I said them boldly out loud.
When I hung my protection charms (from the same book) by the doors, I didn’t hide them from sight for fear someone might ask what they were.
I was to the point where I didn’t care if others thought I was superstitious because I knew that the spells would serve their purpose for me.
I didn’t care if I was superstitious because I suddenly realized that it’s okay to have a superstition.
I would never try to force someone else to adopt my beliefs or practices. I would never expect the world to conform to them. I wouldn’t want teachers to present them in school. In short, I wasn’t violating my own rules of respect for others’ paths, nor was I trying to claim scientific or academic backing for these rituals.
I can recognize that there’s no scientific evidence that hanging herbs by my door or sprinkling salt across the threshold does anything to actually protect my home. There’s nothing new in that revelation. I have always approached my new path with a sense of agnosticism. I’ve embraced the doubts as part of myself and found that many things retain their value even in the face of doubts.
One of the first things I learned about magic was that it worked less on changing the world around you and more on changing your perspective of the world. Aren’t superstitions the same thing? On Dictionary.com, superstition is defined as “an irrational belief,” “not based on reason or knowledge.” But what about its purpose? People turn to superstitions when they are in an uncomfortable, uncontrollable situation and need something to ground them and give them a sense of power.
In other words, superstitions help people cope when they feel powerless by giving them a means of altering their perspective to an empowered one.
Perhaps a better definition would be unintentional magical thinking for those who don’t claim to believe in magic.
There’s no shame in that. There’s no harm as long as people can recognize when they are making use of a superstition to cope and don’t allow fear to rule their lives (because unlike the dictionary, I don’t think fear and terror are the basis of superstitions).
I could go more into why I think magic is different from superstition—but ultimately, it’s going to come down to something along the lines of “it’s in the eye of the beholder.” The point is, some people pray. Some people put on a lucky shirt. Some people sprinkle salt. But we all have little things we do to help us cope.
My spells worked as they were intended to. They set the foundation for me to protect my sacred space from the potential invasion of others. They helped connect me to my own power in maintaining my boundaries. And in a roundabout way, they helped me realize that my beliefs and practices aren’t subject to the rationale of others. I don’t think magic and superstition are the same. If someone else thinks my path is superstitious, that’s only because they don’t understand my way of thinking.