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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

The Difference between Concept and Experience

One of the issues that I notice comes up a lot in the writing I see on magic is that the conceptual aspects of magic tend to be emphasized over the experiential aspects of magic. Now part of the reason for this simple could be due to the fact that writing about a topic inevitably moves that topic toward concept. However when we leave out the experiential aspects of a practice, the concept itself is diminished because what it presents is the theory without the grounding of practice. Experience necessarily grounds concept and provides the context to turn a given concept into a reality. It's important then to make a distinction between concept and experience, in order to make sure we're utilizing both in our spiritual practices.

A concept is not, in and of itself, a theory, so much as it is an idea. A concept only becomes a theory when we bring it into an experiential level. A concept attempts to describe how something ought to work as well as what the various variables are that effect the concept. A lot of the writing we see on magic is concept focused because the writer is trying to share how something ought to work with the reader, as well as providing the necessary background information that informs the concept.

An experience is the actual application of the concept. It is the instructions that provide you information on what to do, how to do it, etc. Obviously until you choose to follow those instructions, nothing happens. But once you perform the practice, then the instructions help to provide an experience. As a reader, you can modify those instructions, which can be helpful, both for personalizing your magical practice and for discovering discrepancies between the practical instructions and the conceptual explanations.

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Beltane and the Dance of Opposites

     When I moved to Kitchener many years ago and was looking for the house in which to put down my roots, there was one house which I knew was unquestionably mine. For one, the backdoor had a window etched with Celtic knotwork. Gorgeous! For another, it was a mere block from a permanently installed Maypole. Wondrous! Though the Maypole serves to present banners for the various local German clubs that rock into activity during Oktoberfest, it can’t help but bring to mind the tradition that marked the beginning of Summer in ages past. I loved the idea of living within daily sight of a Maypole and it never fails to fill my heart with joy, even these many years after I first saw it.

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This isn't my usual post about music, but music kind of drew me in a weird direction, because I joined a band with people in it I didn't know, and then this happened.

Sometimes, it doesn't work. The relationship.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to respect someone, and no matter how hard they try to respect you, your respective respect for each other just...isn't. Here's a story.


It's like learning how to eat at the table.  Joe Schmoe learned that it was tasteless to put your napkin in your neck.  Josephine Schmina learned that it was untrustworthy to put your wrists below the table.  They met each other and initially liked each other, and started working together and making great music.  It worked out until one time, they went to dinner and Joe Schmoe saw Josephine Schmina put her napkin in her neck.  Then Josephine saw Joe put his napkin on his lap, and therefore his wrists under the table.  They each asked the other, "Don't you know how bad that is?" and "How could a respectable person do that?"  They threw down the napkins and had a fight.  Each one realized that the other one had some deep issues concerning napkins, and they made up.

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For the greater part of our lives, most of us feel the need for someone to say this to, and we all desire someone who will say it to us: "I love you, and I will take care of you." 

When we commit to caring for someone, we feel a sense of purpose in life. And when we know that a parent or a partner—or a God or a Goddess—is taking care of us, we feel comforted. 

As one who has been a caregiver, I think there is no worse stressor than a chronic illness befalling someone we love. It's almost worse than getting sick, ourselves. The pain of not being able to cure a loved one has dragged millions of us down into the depths of depression. To some small degree, it's comforting to speculate that there wasn't anything more that we could have done; the whole painful episode was written in the stars.

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You know, there are times when I feel like I have nothing to contribute to Paganism.  I've gotten a lot out of it, but then I think to myself: What happened?  No, I don't want this to be all normal and easy to digest, I want it to be mysterious and exciting, and for some reason, it isn't anymore.


Why do I feel as though what I have to say isn't special? I'm scratching my head on this one, because it's an important part of my motivation to keep my blogs-that what I'm saying is important and useful.  Maybe I'm having my mid-Pagan crisis or something.  But where went the power and majesty of worshipping the Moon and the forbidden Gods? Because let's face it; what we do is forbidden by mainstream culture. 

I'm particularly at a loss with trying to connect classical music to Pagan culture-even though it's my specialty, somehow I feel like I can't write for the Pagan audience. I just don't know enough about their musical skill or what they'll accept. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gabriel Moore
    Gabriel Moore says #
    Candi, I agree with Carl on doubt. In addition doubt slows us down and makes us consider our intent and actions. To many have forg
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    We all have our moments of doubt and feelings of disconnection. One thing that helps me in those times is to reflect on how I cam

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