Magical Thinking: How A Simple Walk Can Change Your Reality

What we see depends mainly on what we look for...Illustration from Volume 25.

Today we’re going to talk about my favourite subject: magic.
After my Season Of The Witch post, which you all seemed to love, I thought it was time to step things up a notch. In other words, I’m going to teach you how to do a little bit of magic of your own.

When I was a teenager, my parents went ballistic upon discovering my altar (conveniently hidden in the closet), though I’m not sure they knew what they were looking at. I think it was the effing huge knife — or athame — that freaked them out most. I’m pretty sure they thought I was going to commit ritual suicide. Understandable, then!

Not too long after that, I started dating a boy who valued logic (and cynicism) above all else. In an effort to impress him, I pushed all my magic books to the back of my closet, and that’s where they stayed, both literally and figuratively.

Maybe it’s my Saturn return, or maybe it’s just a natural cycle. Whatever the reason, I’ve bounced right back into it again.

I have always believed in the silver cord that ties seemingly unrelated events together, always trusted in the qualities of crystals, herbs and flowers, and always known that simply putting your attention (and intention) on something boosts its mojo. Dipping my head back into the study of all things magical feels like an organic progression from my long-standing interest in manifesting and the law of attraction.

“To repeat the definition of magic I like best: it is the study of the ways in which natural forces, energies and gods can be compelled or induced to help us. Calling it the technology of the sacred highlights magic’s study of ways to focus such energies. This technology may attract the attention of busy gods through sacred geometry, as the ancient Romans did when they constructed temples filled with geometric symbols; it may provide a road map to higher consciousness, as the Kabbalah does; it may harness the vital forces of herbs, roots and rocks, as folk magic does; or it may pull down power through ritual, as Wicca does. Or it may be as simple as focusing one’s attention to notice what’s happening. The salesman who believes that making all five lights on the way to work bodes well for the day may not think he believes in magic, but he does.”

(From Not In Kansas Anymore: A Curious Tale of How Magic Is Transforming America, Christine Wicker)

Gala Darling in the woods, photo by Shae Acopian Detar

I recently devoured Not In Kansas Anymore, a fascinating book about the history of magic in America and the active communities that exist today. As I fervently flicked pages, I realised how many of my common, everyday beliefs were rooted in something magical. For example, the pink Post-It Note on my Macbook which says, “I get what I think about, whether I like it or not” is 100% pure magical thinking.

If you have a lucky pair of knickers, a pre-game ritual you always perform, or if you make decisions based on signs from the universe, you engage in magical thinking too. And it’s not unusual: in fact, it’s extremely normal.

I have always been an adherent of magical thinking, which is the belief that your thoughts can change reality. But magical thinking is also part of the diagnostic criteria of a slew of mental illnesses, including schizotypal personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to Psychology Today, there is a “sliding scale” of magical thinking, and to sit too far at either end is seen as relatively unhealthy.

To me, though, magic is about harnessing energy and making efforts to bring what you desire into creation. This is not about idly wishing for something and then sitting on your bum. As I describe in Love and Sequins #9: Magic And Manifesting, manifesting (or working magic in any capacity) is about getting the universe to meet you halfway. It throws the ball, and you return it.

The best magic is not done alone in your grotto; it is mustered up when you team up with the universe. Don’t just light some incense, write an action plan. Don’t just think about what you want, make some phonecalls. Meet the universe in the middle. Click to tweet!

I think this is what Pablo Picasso was referring to when he said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

“Three of the biggest questions of spiritual belief are Is there Something out there, some force or intelligence, some energy, some creator, some organizer of the physical? Does that Something impinge on us, expect something from us, have a plan for our lives? And can we use this Something for our own purposes, causing it to smile on us, to bless us, to protect us? Religion grapples with all three questions. Magic assumes the first two and concerns itself with the last one.”

(From Not In Kansas Anymore: A Curious Tale of How Magic Is Transforming America, Christine Wicker)

Gala Darling, photo by Made U Look Photography

Okay, so how can we use this technology of the sacred for our own ends? How can we work in tandem with the universe to create favourable consequences?

You don’t have to go out and buy a cauldron anytime soon. In fact, baby steps are preferable, no matter whether you stride in polka-dot Keds or totter in Louboutins. The best place to begin is with an increase of awareness.

If you’ve ever read Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle, you know the value in truly being in the moment. Being in the moment is about tucking your phone away and really looking around you as you walk home. It’s about making eye contact with your friend and really listening to what she has to say, not just waiting for your turn to talk about yourself. Being in the moment is about turning off all the distractions around you, dropping your head and tuning in to your internal hum.

All good things spring from this simple practice. If you regularly ignore — or rarely even hear from — your intuition, this is the best way to step back into sync with yourself.

Slide your headphones off your head. Feel the breeze on your face. Inhale the scent of honeysuckle. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Revel in your senses.

“Chaos mages also provide simple starting exercises to prepare the mind for magic. Perhaps that was what I needed, preparation. Joseph said he sometimes tells people to start by merely noticing everything they see of a certain color, red or blue maybe. The point is to start people noticing what’s around them. The magical exercise I chose to do first was to walk through my neighborhood looking at everything as if it were occurring only for me, which some mages say is literally true. That was easy enough and wouldn’t require much effort.”

(From Not In Kansas Anymore: A Curious Tale of How Magic Is Transforming America, Christine Wicker)

Gala Darling, photo by Made U Look Photography

Do as the chaos mages do: go for a walk. Slide into your favourite shoes — whether a pair of motorcycle boots, glitter-flecked wedges or blue suede Mary Janes — and close the front door behind you.

Walking isn’t just a convenient mode of zig-zagging across town! Walking meditation is a brilliant way to work a little mindfulness into your daily routine, and going on a magical walk is similar.

Instead of thinking about where you want to go, frowning about slow walkers, or tensing your jaw as you recall all the things on your to-do list, focus your awareness on what is happening around you.

Like Joseph said in the excerpt above, you can choose to look for a colour, or you can look at everything with a set of new eyes, as if anything you see is happening for you specifically.

When you see a girl with a bunch of balloons, think that she’s carrying them just for you. Imagine that the leaf fell off the branch simply because it wanted to be close to you. Allow yourself to be awed by the colours of a bluejay’s feathers, a punk rocker’s studded jacket, or a girl’s ringlets.

Take your phone with you, and instead of burying your nose in Twitter, use the camera to snap shots of the special things you see. This will help to make the experience feel rich and tangible. (Tag your photos on Instagram with #magicwalk, and I will share my favourites next week!)

A magical walk can really and truly enchant you: it takes your mind to another space entirely.

So, what’s the purpose of all this? It’s to stimulate your awareness of the many enchantments perpetually whirling around you. It attunes you to your inner voice, and bolsters hope in a bewitching world. This practice reminds you that you are a mademoiselle of the universe, as much a part of the cosmos as the stars and galaxies. Click to tweet!

And that knowledge is what emancipates you to do real magic.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at begin to change.” (Wayne Dyer)

Love and lilacs,

Photos by Shae Acopian Detar and Made U Look Photography.

…And SHOUT-OUTS to all of these babes for their column-naming ideas (each of them won the entire Love And Sequins bundle as a thank you): Sarah Everitt Furuya’s suggestion of “Harry Hotter”, Suzanne Ethridge Riordan’s “Grab your Cape Darling”, Shira Avital Orzech’s “Vita Magica”, Emily Jayne Phillips’ “Hocus Pocus Focus”, Rowan Molyneux’s “Abra-ca-BABE-ra!”, Clayton Gibson’s “Professor Darlingdore”, Rebecca Bastien’s “GALA-cadabra!”, and Tatiana Wimmer’s suggestion of “Gala-kazam”! You are all awesome and make me laugh; thank you for taking part. (You can read the rest of the entries here. Clearly, if you’re not following me on Facebook, you are missing out on some good times!)