Experimental Magic: The Evolution of Magic

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How to turn Profane holidays into Sacred Days

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. It's always been one of my favorite holidays because of the gathering of community and the sharing of food, as well as the playing of board games after the food has been eaten. Then again, I just like social gatherings in general, where people come together to share food and connect with each other. Nonetheless, Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart. Perhaps one of the reasons I like this holiday so much is that it isn't overtly associated with any given religion. Rather it is a profane holiday, which nonetheless can become sacred.

Actually I think that's true with any given moment you have. There is no moment that is strictly profane or sacred that isn't made that way by the people in that moment. What makes something sacred or profane is our own interpretation of it, and how we choose to embody it. So when it comes to Thanksgiving, the experience of the food, friends, and activities becomes sacred because of how I choose to approach those moments. The making of the food is significant because of the meaning I associate with it. The point I'm making is this: What makes something significant ultimately is your choice to make it important. For many people, Thanksgiving will be a day off, or a day celebrating gluttony or commercialism or any other number of things. For me, Thanksgiving is a holy day. That's my perception of the day, but its also how I approach the various activities of the day. I'm aware of the various other meanings that people have for the day. But those aren't my meanings.

Apply this same understanding to any experience you have, whether its related to a holiday or not and you will discover the secret of the sacred. How you approach the experience, your willingness to open yourself to it and let it move you is what makes that experience whatever it will be to you. The activities you do will also set up the experience for you. For example, on the days I don't meditate I don't feel as grounded or connected to the universe as I do on the days I meditate. The main difference is whether I meditated or didn't and how that activity or lack thereof shaped the rest of my day. Knowing this helps me make sure I meditate.

For Thanksgiving, that one day of the year, the activity is still important. For me, its making the Turkey, cleaning the house and setting up the tables so that when people come over they feel welcomed. Each of these activities has something sacred to them, which is manifested in how I approach them. When I clean the house, I'm cleaning it both physically and energetically. As I clean it, I think of how I want people to feel safe and comfortable in my home. I put that into the effort I make while cleaning and in that process renew the magical workings I've set up for this home. The same occurs when I set up the tables and chairs. As for cooking the Turkey...I make the process of the cooking become a prosperity working for myself and my guests (actually I do this every time I cook). I make the cooking sacred by putting into it the appreciation I feel for my chosen family and the anticipation of enjoyment all of us will feel as we feast and celebrate together.

What do you do to make your activities sacred to you?

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Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magic Systems, Space/Time Magic, Magical Identity and a number of other occult books. He posts about his latest projects at Magical Experiments.

Comments

  • Modemac
    Modemac Tuesday, 18 November 2014

    Thanksgiving may not be overtly religious (though the Puritans had religious motives behind nearly everything), but it is *is* primarily a creation of politics. One person (Sarah Josepha Hale) spent forty years pestering Congress with letters, until President Lincoln proclaimed it an official holiday. Since then, some native American "activists" (i.e. politically minded) have attempted to give Thanksgiving the same treatment given to Columbus day, by condemning the day for allegedly celebrating the conquest and massacres of native Americans by European invaders. A detailed discussion of this, of course, would devolve into a very nasty political argument...which I will gladly bow out of, as I prepare to cook the Thanksgiving turkey. :)

  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood Wednesday, 19 November 2014

    There's definitely controversy around the holiday. I suspect that many people, myself included, will continue to celebrate it regardless with the understanding that what makes the day special is your own choice to make it special.

  • Linette
    Linette Wednesday, 19 November 2014

    Thank YOU for this blog!

    As an aside. I live in an area with Native American reservations on two sides of me and nearly all the NA's I know celebrate Thanksgiving just as enthusiastictly as most Americans. Everyone appreciates time to gather and feast.

    I'm a pantheist, and I recognize that ultimately everything is sacred, but as you say...it takes us taking the time to recognize the inherent sacredness and behave accordingly.

    I've made a commitment in the past decade to use the holy days as an opportunity to reconnect with my ancestry. I find recipes from my ethnic backround to cook, or make decorations from the same. I ferret out traditional rituals and add them to our observance. I even have gone back to making campy crafty decorations we made as kids, and making corny home made Valentine's etc. And take time, always to keep the altar current to the season and holy days.

    All these things remind me of my authentic connectedness to my family, ethnic, faith, and cultural histories. It keeps me humble and grounded and grateful.

  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood Wednesday, 19 November 2014

    Glad you enjoyed the post. Like you I feel everything is sacred as well...but it really does cme down to appreciating that sacredness.

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