A friend turned to me for help with what could only be termed a ‘crisis of faith’. On reading my reply, I feel it had a few interesting points, so with the personalisation removed, here it is for your consideration.
Faith and magic are actually separate things, and belief or doubt in one does not preclude the other.
The world is a distracting place and the powers are at a low ebb, while gods & goddesses walk quiet yet ever present. In this time of material wealth that is best called the ‘Apparent’ world, there is so much science, and derision, and reality that you can indeed question whether faith and magic exist. The pagan path is experiential and subjective. Which means every person has differing experiences which are virtually meaningless to those who do not share similar.
Now, about this reality thing…
Magic is merely science that is unquantified as yet. Simple truth. Science changes as new discoveries are confirmed. To say that magic does not exist because it cannot be scientifically proven is narrow-mind rubbish. At a quantum level, observing an event can change it. Scale that up to a circle working where a group of like-minded folk use their will to enforce quantum level changes in reality and you may, I hope, begin to see something rather fine.
On a good day, time flies. On a bad day, time drags. Hang on. Time is an immutable scientific fact? Or is any time apart from that dictated by day, night and season merely an arbitrary imposition to help societies function?
Hmmm. So if time can be subjective, how about reality outside the quantum shenanigans previously described?
Take ten people to a performance. Ask them afterwards what they thought of the content, the presentation and the underlying meanings. Ten different opinions, probably with points of agreement, but some items will make others who were in the same place say “what?” because every experience is subjective.
So your reality is different from mine. We meet and act within a common reality defined by everyone… But it’s not the only one.
About the demands to ‘grow up’ and ‘stop being silly’? Is growing up defined by your need to limit your view to that of others? Indeed, modern society likes conformity. But it’s not necessarily real, it’s just the majority opinion. (At this point, let’s not look into mob mentality within these concepts, shall we?)
Compared to others, I have experienced very little. But what I have is enough for me to believe, down there next to my breathing, that there are greater entities that share this wonderful planet and far more things in the universe than science and imagination will ever be able to define. I believe that a man’s will can work wonders. Working magic is an extension of that will into the apparent world.
One day we shall walk and talk with gods. Until then I will bow my head as a cold wind passes going the wrong way, or a shooting star falls as I look to the heavens while feeling down. I nod to a fox as he passes and feel privilege as he does not change his course to avoid me, but treats me as a part of his world.
This is our world. We share it with so much. But the magic is there. You are looking too hard. Relax. There is no failure in not being able to see the fey, or have wonderful vision quests. Follow your heart and admit that you doubt. So do I. I question every thing I feel as arcane. But when the knowing settles as goosebumps on your arms or tingling in your gut, do not dismiss it. Learn to recognise it and then work out what triggered it. A gentle sensitivity can be blunted by time but it will never leave one who the paths have called. Just let it grow. Wander back to each other, if you will.
On nights of bright moon, get outside where you can see it, just on a balcony or a fire escape, where ever you can be alone and comfortable/safe, raise a glass and have a chat. The Lady knows her own. Walk a pagan path. One of them is yours, but there is no hurry. It’s not about arriving, it’s all about the journey.