(Magical) Lifestyle Choices

I used to smoke. A lot. I used to not exercise. A lot. I used to have a far shittier diet. A lot. I quit smoking. I exercise most every day. I track and try to manage my diet into healthier shapes.

At first, I decided to stop smoking, and I decided to start exercising in an attempt to trade out a bad habit for a good habit. I also hoped that being sore and tired would distract me from the nicotine cravings. In another way, I had seen how diet and smoking cessation were not instant fixes: six weeks of a diet, a really intense workout session, and a skipped pack of cigarettes are all ephemeral in their consequences. They are momentary aberrations in the otherwise consistent timeline of your life.

I had read how making substantive progress in these areas entailed conceiving of them as lifestyle choices and changes. I was no longer to be Smoking Crowess—her existence was to end, with her transformed into Not-Smoking & Avoiding Palpitations & Sleep Apnea Crowess. Lethargic Crowess dies, transformed into Reasonably Active Crowess.

Magic and enchantment are also lifestyle choices. Popular media have long represented magic as say some words, spectacular life-changing magic shit happens. This is only sometimes how that works, and it’s probably not surprising that once someone doesn’t get exactly what they want with a rubbish spell they find online that they say magic is rubbish and go back to look for another quick fix. I can imagine casting a spell to stop smoking—and it might work—for a little while. It might even work forever and ever, but typically it won’t.

Just like people go to various “magic bullets” or pills[1] or tricks to try to deal with problems like smoking, health, and so on, people often look at magic as either a source for those bullets or as another magic bullet for a problem in their lives. Do you feel unsatisfied in your life? Try this spell. Open to the Ancient Frog Gods and let them into your heart. Attain Mystical Energy Awareness (MEA™) Level 12 and be at transcendent peace (and enlightened powerful authority, of course). Many of these things fall into mysticism, and that’s fine—I have plenty of my own, thank you—and mysticism can certainly help one achieve different goals. But a week of meditation at a retreat—or even just weeks of meditation at home—aren’t going to stick if you don’t keep to them.

Are your magical acts—are your mystical acts even—momentary aberrations in the timeline of your life and in the timelines of the world around you, or have you tried to make magic and enchantment a lifestyle.

Of course, lifestyle sounds…bougie as fuck. Just look at “lifestyle magazines” and websites and such. But I have tried to think of magic as a lifestyle just like exercise and not-smoking are lifestyles. I have often mistaken mysticism and some basic depth psychology as “magic,” but if you want practical enchantment in your life, then you have to live your life while doing practical enchantment. Don’t try to replace common sense and good life skills with just magic—use the magic to supplement and augment what you’re doing already in your life. Learn to cook. Learn to write. Learn to make things. But learn to do magic, too, and don’t fence the magic off from the rest.

But that entails doing magic. It probably also entails all the stuff that typically seems to accompany the actual spells and rituals: preparation, some research, some meditation and some kind of energy/pranic practice, some reflection, some journaling maybe, making art, learning how to make oils or other crafty things, and so on.

One of the things that has grown more apparent to me of late is that magic is fundamentally simple. But doing it well and consistently takes work, practice, experience. (As someone I saw put it recently, sex is simple, but that doesn’t mean you’re good at it.) Of course, this also means that I sometimes feel impatient. I want the kind of results and experiences I’m after, and I want them right now. But, well, I didn’t get my normal education in three years, and I still haven’t finished not-smoking either.

Featured Image: Frans Francken the Younger, The Witches’ Sabbath (1606). Look, see, it’s a lifestyle choice, Mom. Me and my friends are gonna hang out with our tiny friends and work on stuff.

[1] For example, I tried Champix. Suicidal ideation and massive panic attacks? No thank you. I’ll wean myself and then ride it out in the end.

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