The way we connect with magick is a direct reflection of our unique calling and our individual paths and this is mirrored in how we connect with symbolism.
Shadows danced along the walls of the tiny hut, even as those gathered within sat motionless around the crackling fire. The woman who had called them together smiled; her eyes were bright and dancing like a child’s, her hands gentle like a mother’s touch, and her face creased with the lines of a crone’s wisdom. Pulling a cloth-wrapped bundle from beneath her warm cloak, she slowly unwrapped it to reveal the contents it had hidden.
In her hands lay a round, uneven stone, about the size of a small peach. The stone was the same color as the fruit it mirrored, but a soft yellow glow ebbed and flowed within it, the shadows of the crone’s wrinkled face lengthening and fading in response.
“This came to me,” she said quietly, her voice still and strong, carry the strength of a much younger woman. “Tell me about.”
She handed the stone to the person sitting to her left.
“It’s warm,” the man whispered in unexpected awe, his eyes fixed on the stone he held. “It’s as if it’s alive.”
Almost reluctantly, he passed it on to the woman sitting next in the circle.
A look of surprise wrinkled the women’s forehead, her questioning eyes turning to the man who had already spoken. “To me,” she offered, shaking her head slowly as she offered her differing perspective, “it feels cold – like the ocean surf.”
She passed it on. “It’s soft,” the next person said. “I can squeeze it and it gives beneath my hands, like a ripe fruit.”
“No it doesn’t,” the next person contradicted as it was their turn to experience the stone. “It’s hard. I’ve never felt anything so solid.”
From hand to hand the stone travelled, each person experiencing something completely unique when they held the rock.
At last it returned to the old woman’s hands.
“What does it mean?” one of those gathered around the fire asked. “How can it be warm and cold, soft and solid? It can’t be all those things. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“But it does,” the crone countered as she wrapped the stone in its cloth once more, returning the bundle to the folds of her cloak. “The stone is magick. Magick isn’t a thing. It’s a connection. Each of you that I invited here, you are each unique. No one else experiences the same thing that you do when you hold the stone. You’re brave enough to speak, to share, and to grow. Magick isn’t a stagnate thing that you can define. It changes, constantly, each time someone interacts with it. If all you were capable of doing do is memorizing what I told you it means, then I wouldn’t have invited you here.”
The old woman smiled as if to reassure the gathered men and women who leaned forward, listening to her wisdom.
“You’ve gathered here, at this fire, because you seek knowledge. If I simply wrote it down, tomorrow it would be out of date. We gather around the fire because the flames flicker and the wood is consumed. In time, the warmth will fade to cold ash. Only by renewing the fire, by adding new wood, can it continue to burn. Wisdom is like that. So is magick. If you don’t add to it, it fades. Your calling isn’t simply to learn what I have to teach, but to add to the fire we build together.”
It seemed a little too easy to say that, while correspondences have their place and that, while an elementary understanding of how qualities and attributes are symbolically assigned is useful, it’s ultimately a dead end. In all honesty, it doesn’t matter what the books say or what you can memorize from a chart. What is important is how you connect with symbolism, concepts, and traditions.
Each thing we consider in magick has a hidden lesson. If we learn that red symbolizes the Element of Fire, what have we truly learned? What we need to do is to spend some time with a candle, watching the flame flicker and dance. We need to feel the warmth of the flame, watch the wax melt, and understand why we are careful to keep the flame carefully tamed. Each step in that process teaches us much about ourselves, about others, about Nature, about magick, and about the weave of reality. After all, as we’ve considered in some depth together, “All is One.”
What’s more is that our unique connection – the way we experience “the stone” – is not because there is one way to connect with such an object, but because it is a reflection of our own sacred nature and how our core self connects with magick. We experience that connection differently simply because we each have a different calling. A warrior will not experience “the stone” the same way that a healer will experience it. An herbalist’s connection will be much different than that of a diviner.
Remember, this is a quest – not a test. This path is about a journey, not about a destination or finding the correct answers. Only by allowing yourself to explore and find your own symbolism can you add your own wood to magick’s fire. By embracing the perspective and vision of other practitioners, no matter how new or experienced that person may be, you allow them to add their own fuel to the flame. Together, we can rekindle that fire and share it, candle to candle, soul to soul, and by the light of that shared flame, we will illuminate hidden secrets to embrace and explore.
Excerpted from an early draft of my first non-fiction book, Principles of Magick.
This lesson is from Week Fourteen: Symbolism. The week’s focus includes: