When I was a child, I saw magic everywhere. It hounded me as I sought out unicorns in the woods near my home in Indiana. I’m sure it was present as I stirred mud and berries with sticks in my front yard. When I imagined that the water streaming from my fingertips in the shower was actually my manipulation of the elements. As I communicated with my dæmon who followed my school bus along county roads. I devoured every fantasy book I could get my hands on, and despite my indoctrination into Christianity, I clung desperately to the potential that I was magic throughout my childhood. 

Unfortunately, eventually Christianity triumphed, and rather than clinging to the potential of magic around me, I submitted to the rigid belief system that is the modern-day Evangelical church. I never stopped consuming stories of magic though, and I never stopped creating and telling myself those stories either. 

When I left Christianity, I claimed the identity of atheist, but I never lost my passion for fantasy and the idea of magic. Magic was something that I longed for, but couldn’t believe in. 

Thankfully, Magic found me, claimed me, in it’s own divine timing. I allowed myself to be claimed. 

Over the past 4 years of studying and practicing magic as a witch, my relationship to it has consistently shifted and changed. My first forays were clumsy and problematic, and I was absorbing everything I could get my hands on with little discernment. I was designing my own rituals, and wasn’t putting a lot of thought into what I was actually doing or what I was committing my energy to. I had no theory of Magic to base my practice on. However, the more I studied, the more I started to hone in on what I wanted MY magic to look like. I knew I wanted to focus on practices that my ancestors may have practiced, that I wanted a connection to those ancestors, and that I was desperate to build relationship with my spirit guides. I also loved studying the Tarot for self-reflection and working with the moon and their cycles for manifestation. Performing small rituals, confronting my shadow, and working in dreamscapes made up the bulk of my practice. Still, I lacked theory. I knew that I believed in what I was doing, but I felt that my work was about self-improvement and manifestation rather than connecting with and developing a relationship with real power. 

On the night of my 32nd birthday, I was reading the work of Josephine McCarthy, particularly Magic of the North Gate. I had stumbled upon McCarthy in a Facebook group that was more sorcery-based than any other witchy group I’d seen before. What she was describing was the magic I had longed for in my childhood, the real and sometimes dangerous connection with energies and entities of the inner and outer realms. Her work resonated with me in a profound way; I was suddenly questioning my entire magical practice. That night, I felt strongly urged to deconstruct my altar and to end an on-going, long-term ritual I had crafted for the Grand Conjunction. My directive was clear; until I had a foundation for my practice that included theory and acknowledged the very real power I sought to engage with, I needed to be careful and intentional with my energy. 

Right now my magical practice is daily meditation and the occasional Tarot card pull. I am still studying in earnest, everything (that is open to me and relevant to my heritage) that I am interested in, but I am approaching magic in a carefully controlled and methodical way. I have never been more excited for my practice. 

I am careful to withhold judgment on my previous practices (except for those that were harmful to marginalized traditions, like buying and burning white sage) or for the many, many, many other ways of practicing magic. I have found a path and a tradition that fits me like a glove at this moment. I believe deeply in the reality of complex energies, inner and outer realms, and a variety of entities from ancestors, to spirit guides, angels, demons and saints (a wonderful and curious intersection of my past and present beliefs)! I also have to withhold any judgment towards myself; I am earnestly skeptical and am a recovering atheist as well as Evangelical Christian. But the beliefs I hold now enrich my life and harm no one, and they make a shocking amount of sense to me. 

As I continue on this path, I do so with gratitude and humility. Magic is expansive, is transformational, and I am so grateful to know it, what I can grasp of it in this lifetime. I pray that in my next life, I awake again with magic deep in my soul. 

~Sanyelle