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Last night I was cruising around the web to kill time, as I was in denial about the amount of work I have to do on my thesis. April-Lyn's blog led me to Witchvox, which led me to an interview in the San Fransisco Examiner with Starhawk, a famous California pagan. Her description of magic was a remarkably good explanation of how I understand Christian prayer:

Q: What is magic, and how what kind of role does it play in paganism?
A: Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will.
Q: Explain.
A: In a sense, magic is an ancient form of psychology. There are various forms of awareness and perception, and magic is consciously choosing which form of awareness you want to be in.
Q: Could you give me an example?
A: A simple example would be if you were in a tense situation. You don't want to panic, but it's not easy. So you ground yourself. You learn to breathe, to make a connection with the Earth that can allow you to stay present and aware, and stay in a state where you can make a choice.
Q: That's magic?
A: That's magic.

I think people too easily get caught up in the idea of prayer as asking God for favors. It turns into a sort of simplistic cause and effect scenario, which leads people to look for proof that prayers have been answered and rationalize times when they told God to do something and it didn't happen. But really, prayer is about what happens to the person praying (the pray-er, if you will). Prayer is a way of realigning your thoughts, putting yourself back in a right relationship with God and the world. It helps you to sort out your hopes, fears, and desires, so that you can look clearly at what's going on and see the best path.


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