Do You Believe . . .

 . . . in magic? I do.  

The earliest memory I have of magic is the way I felt at Grandma’s house at Christmas when I was a child — the tree, the presents, the family, and the midnight ham sandwiches because we all just wanted another excuse to be together, and it was Christmas, and the normal rules were suspended. It was a feeling not easily described with true emotional accuracy, and that’s either magic or poetry. 

My grandmother was the quintessential grandmother, the archetype of grandmothers.  She had a soft face and a perpetual smile. Her house felt safe, soft like her. She laughed readily and often. She loved with sincerity and gentleness. Grandma passed away in 1976, just a few months before my twelfth birthday. 

At some point in my early twenties, during a season of angst and despair, I stood out under a night sky, scanning the heavens until my eyes rested on the brightest star, what I once believed to be the North Star, but I now understand was probably Sirius.  Though I was at least a decade beyond my grandmother’s passing, she came strongly into mind as I stared at that star.  I decided the star was grandma, the one person who had always felt safe to me, the one person I believed I could have talked to about all my struggles, had she lived to see me through them.  And I poured my heart out to that star. 

This began a practice I have continued ever since. Problems spoken into a night sky transform into a magic that brings purpose to our challenges and healing to our wounds. They are met with answers, and if not answers, then a form of acceptance so deep and primal it feels like its own kind of answer.  And whether this magic comes from Grandma, or that star, or the simple act of breathing the air of the quiet darkness, it does indeed come. Sometimes profoundly, sometimes subtly, but it comes. 

This week is Halloween, Samhain in the Celtic tradition, followed by All Saints Day on November 1st for the Christian World and Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead in Mexican culture. All of these observances, to varying extents, involve the interaction of the living with those who have already passed beyond the veil.  In fact, that veil between the incarnate and the spirit world is said to be at its thinnest on October 31st.  

On October 28 of 2013, eight years ago, my father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. He was an otherwise healthy 71-year-old man who had been hiking just that morning. He was lean and muscular, still cutting a dashing figure and able to scamper over the East Tennessee mountains like a billy goat.  He lived that way even on the last day of his life, and then he sat down in his easy chair and had a heart attack.  We held his memorial on October 31. Halloween. 

When my grandmother passed, I was a child. But I was a middle-aged adult when my father passed. The grief was full-grown. 

In many ways, I felt him around me more intimately than when he was alive. There were times I knew that I knew that I knew that he had paid me a visit or sent me a sign. And I could talk to him about things we wouldn’t have touched when he was alive, our differences far too profound on certain subjects.  But now I knew him as a father who loved me not through a veil of disappointments or expectations, but with unlimited compassion and understanding.  

He became the other inhabitant of the brightest star in the sky, and Grandma seemed happy to share. 

So, on Halloween, or the next full moon or new moon, or any night, really, when a problem is haunting you or a general unease is hovering about in your person, try stepping outside and talking to whomever you believe might live in the brightest star.  There’s plenty of room for them there, and they are happy to listen as long as you need.  

And through that conversation can come healing and release and understanding and peace. 

And I call that magic. 

Small Magic

This is day three in the Seven Solid Days of Smiling Salute To the Original Unsplit Atom for bursting forth into the Big Bang of Bounty that is this life.

Day 1 – Emily

Day 2 – Music

My grandson, Triston, is spending the night with us as I write this.  Earlier this evening he pulled a funny looking thing from the bedside jar where Susie keeps her pens for her nightly Sudoku.   The object in question is a twisted wooden stick with an amethyst on top.  It’s real purpose is to stick in a twist of hair to hold it up off your neck.  There must be a name for something like that, but I don’t know what it is.  However, I feel a personal obligation to answer any question Triston asks me with some degree of authority.   It’s the natural teacher in me, or perhaps the natural bullshitter.

“What’s this, DeeDee?”  He turned the witchy-looking stick around in his hands, perhaps looking for a writing point or an on button or a purpose of some kind.

“It’s a magic wand.”

“No, it isn’t,” and then a little less certainly, “is it?”

“Sure.  It’s Mimi’s Mini Magic Wand.  It’s for small magic.”

“Show me.”

Oh, boy.  I hesitated, but only for a second.  Triston has all the actual, factual, literal, fundamental information he needs from all the other sources in his life.  I rarely miss the chance to sprinkle a little mysticism his way.

“Okay, sit on the bed facing me.  C’mon, Mimi, join the circle.”  I motioned Susie into our midst and then held the wand in front of me, the amethyst suddenly sizzling like a campfire in front of us.  “What do you need magic to do for you, Triston?”

He didn’t have to think about it long.  “I want to fly.”

Damn.  “Well, Triston, most people don’t know this, but magic still has to work with the natural laws of the universe.  Magic can do a lot, but it can’t make gravity disappear.”  Okay, so it’s the natural bullshitter in me.  Actually, I believe magic probably could make someone fly, but he was just a child and I was only a baby spell-caster, so I thought we had better take it slow.  “What else would you like magic to do for you?”

He didn’t have to ponder this one at all.  “I want a four-wheeler.”

I started to say something to direct him away from the material world.  He had been out of sorts all night, whiny, demanding, rude, and difficult.  I knew something was bothering him and maybe he didn’t even know what it was.  I was hoping he would say that he wanted his mommy to be sweeter or his daddy to spend more time with him or his new baby sister to be fun to play with.  I was hoping for a clue about his mood.  But then I had the intuitive thought that I shouldn’t invalidate his desires, especially during a seven-year-old funkfest.

“Okay.  A four-wheeler it is.  Everybody focus on Triston’s new four-wheeler.  We are setting our intention for Triston to have the desires of his heart.  We don’t tell magic when or where or how.  We just tell magic that Triston would like a four-wheeler.  We see Triston riding his four-wheeler through a big field on a beautiful summer day . . . with his helmet on.”  (Even mystical grandmothers are still grandmothers.)  And we know that magic is working already to bring Triston his four-wheeler in the perfect way and at the perfect time.”

All night long, Triston had been distant, shut down, just not present with us.  But, I peeked at him during this “incantation” and saw an unfiltered expression of pure belief.  His eyes were squinted closed in prayerful concentration.  His hand rested atop mine on the “magic wand.”  I wondered if I could ever again believe as deeply as he was believing in that moment.   And then I said, with renewed conviction, “And so it shall be.”

This was as much for me as it was for him.  I’ll be watching for that four-wheeler to show up in Triston’s life.  I’m going to fight the urge to go put one on a credit card and leave it on his front lawn on Christmas morning just so he’ll believe in magic.  Instead, I’m going to believe in magic too and wait to see how it unfolds.