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There's been a really interesting discussion going on in response to this post. I'm going to paste it here, so that (1) it isn't lost when and if Yaccs dies like all other comment systems, and (2) the discussion can continue despite the post in question falling off the page:

That's been my understanding of magick as well. It makes more sense if you look to it for a change in yourself, not in the world.

And no matter how much I see this, it always strikes me as weird how completely different religions just have different words for exactly the same things. Weird, but cool.
-Amanda Hope

Me too. (Who's surprised?) I've never thought in terms of prayer-as-asking-and-receiving, or at least not as long as I can remember. Prayer for me is trying to connect to... um... to the force/awareness/state of mind that moves you beyond yourself (and more into yourself, really) and puts you closer to where you want to be. That's really garbled, I think, but it's the best way I can explain it. And it's why I dislike putting the name "prayer" on it, generally, because "I'm going to sit down and pray now" seems... wrong. Setting aside a little box of time for something you should try to do at the back of your mind all the time. Sitting in a quiet church and sitting in a field make me feel the same way.

*feigns surprise*

Agreed. I think that's why I have trouble celebrating particular holidays. I wanted to do something special on Easter that connected with the way I see religion, but I couldn't find anything that satisfied me, because I don't set aside special days to try to connect to the earth. I'm always try to do that.
-Amanda Hope

mm. Holidays are family/friends gatherings for me, mainly, although they can also be reminders that "Oh, yeah, I should be thinking about this more."

I'd like to add that I think Starhawk gave a highly simplified explaination of magick - in some sense, it is precisely how she described it. In other senses, I think it's similar but it runs a lot deeper. Magick - and I think prayer as well - is not entirely subjective all of the time. That is, both *can* produce effects outside of the self.

I agree that people use prayer too often as a crutch. Praying for somethig, then simply relying on God to do all the work, generally is not a way to create any sort of change.

I've struggled with the question of whether prayer/magick can actually produce outside effects for a while, and I finally came to the conclusion that there's no way to know. Even if prayer or magick actually made something happen I'd still probably think it was just coincidence. You can never tell for sure. The way I got around the issue was by deciding that, for me, anyway, it doesn't matter whether it produces outside effects or not, since it still does in fact produce the desired effect inside my head.
-Amanda Hope

I think that for most believers in magic, at least - I can't speak so much for those who pray - that's the ultimate stand they take. There's no way to know whether a success was due in any way to the magic, but in the end it really doesn't matter anyways. There are so many things influencing all events in the world that the actions of one person may or may not be influential, but it's worth a try at least. It may be just the thing that's needed.

I like that philosophy. Mostly because I'm a control freak, and no matter what situation I'm in I don't like to think that there's *nothing* I can do.
-Amanda Hope

But at the same time, I feel like part of prayer is to counteract the frustration of being a control freak (and I'm one too). You say, "OK, God, this is all in your hands now. Here's what I want, but it's up to you to do what you think should be done." It's a comforting middle ground between control and total lack thereof.

In a way. I guess it depends whether you see prayer/magick as giving up control or as a last-ditch attempt to exert control. I think magick has more of a tendency towards the latter than prayer does. But I could be misunderstanding either of them.
-Amanda Hope

I think you're right, Amanda. There is very little in the way of magick that involves giving up control... it's all about being able to work with the universe to create change - or having power over the universe to create change, depending on how you approach it, what system you use, etc. And I definitely see prayer as both the submission that Stenny is talking about, and as a form of exerting one's personal power - as in the viewthat there is power in numbers, that a prayer is more powerful the larger the number of people praying it.


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