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Author Topic: Is prayer a form of magic?  (Read 600 times)

EclecticWheel

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Is prayer a form of magic?
« on: December 29, 2018, 08:37:04 pm »
I must say I don't know much about magical practice.  I have read about some folk practices, but not in a great depth, though I seem to remember that some of them involve prayer.  I have not considered magic up to this point to be a major part of my path which is more devotional in focus.  I did some digging on the forum to find a similar topic to this, but haven't found anything, so if I missed it, my apologies.

I did find a similar discussion on the Internet that yielded some interesting results because people were answering the question I have in mind differently depending on which neo-pagan tradition they were coming from or what their beliefs were, and I would like to see if that happens on this forum as well.  (See this discussion: https://www.reddit.com/r/pagan/comments/3ld98o/whats_the_difference_between_prayer_and_magic/ )

I'm wondering if prayer is a form of magic or if there is a difference between magic and prayer.

While I don't engage in this type of thing often, I have done some rituals with practical ends in mind that may be considered magical.  I didn't study magic a great deal to do this other than gathering some inspiration from folk practices, but went by my own intuition.  One thing I did involved putting various objects in a bottle that I painted a certain color, and the objects had symbolic significance.  Then I would shake the bottle to activate all the prayer I had put into it by blessing the various objects and praying over the bottle.

It somehow felt like a magical act if that is the right word, but as with the rest of my practices the act was intensely prayerful and devotional, too.

So is there a firm line between prayer and magic in your opinion or according to your tradition?  Or do the two kind of blur?  If there is a difference, what is the difference?

Could prayer be considered a magical act when it involves mental actions intended to alter the mind or cause change in the self according to your tradition or opinion?
Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Aisling

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Re: Is prayer a form of magic?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2018, 11:14:33 pm »
So is there a firm line between prayer and magic in your opinion or according to your tradition?  Or do the two kind of blur?  If there is a difference, what is the difference?

Could prayer be considered a magical act when it involves mental actions intended to alter the mind or cause change in the self according to your tradition or opinion?

My ritual work most often involves both magic and prayer, but they are two distinct things in my practice.

For me, prayer is a form of communication with the divine, whether to a specific deity, deified ancestor, guardian, guide, or the general powers-that-be.  The nature of the prayer may vary - petition, gratitude, devotion - but it is always a purposeful, intentional communication with something greater than myself.

Magic is an imposition of my will and energy to produce a desired effect through non-mundane means.  For the purposes of my practice, magic always involves a set of actions taken by me that are designed to direct my energy toward the end goal. It may or may not involve tools, but will always include the movement of energy.

Essentially, it boils down to the difference between talk and action.  If you have a leaking faucet, calling the plumber does not actually fix the problem.  The communication might make the plumber aware of the problem, allow them to give you guidance on how you can fix it, or allow you to arrange for the plumber to fix it for you. However, talk alone will not fix the leaky faucet.  Someone, whether it's you or the plumber, is going to have to take action to make the change.


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Preyna

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Re: Is prayer a form of magic?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2018, 12:33:45 am »
My ritual work most often involves both magic and prayer, but they are two distinct things in my practice.

For me, prayer is a form of communication with the divine, whether to a specific deity, deified ancestor, guardian, guide, or the general powers-that-be.  The nature of the prayer may vary - petition, gratitude, devotion - but it is always a purposeful, intentional communication with something greater than myself.

Magic is an imposition of my will and energy to produce a desired effect through non-mundane means.  For the purposes of my practice, magic always involves a set of actions taken by me that are designed to direct my energy toward the end goal. It may or may not involve tools, but will always include the movement of energy.

Essentially, it boils down to the difference between talk and action.  If you have a leaking faucet, calling the plumber does not actually fix the problem.  The communication might make the plumber aware of the problem, allow them to give you guidance on how you can fix it, or allow you to arrange for the plumber to fix it for you. However, talk alone will not fix the leaky faucet.  Someone, whether it's you or the plumber, is going to have to take action to make the change.

Aisling summed this up pretty good, IMHO.  I just want to add that while separate in and of themselves, that does not mean one cannot do both simultaneously.  A person, while in prayer, may set magic into motion - either knowing or unknowingly.  This might lead to the thinking they are the same thing. 

EclecticWheel

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Re: Is prayer a form of magic?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2018, 01:23:16 am »
Aisling summed this up pretty good, IMHO.  I just want to add that while separate in and of themselves, that does not mean one cannot do both simultaneously.  A person, while in prayer, may set magic into motion - either knowing or unknowingly.  This might lead to the thinking they are the same thing.

This is generally how I've thought about it.  I only hesitate because much of my prayer, though directed beyond myself, is often also directed to my Self, that is, the Self with an emphasis on its interconnectedness nature with the Divine or the All.

It mostly involves mental acts intended to change the self, and this involves self-effort.
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EmberHearth

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Re: Is prayer a form of magic?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2018, 02:01:52 am »
This is generally how I've thought about it.  I only hesitate because much of my prayer, though directed beyond myself, is often also directed to my Self, that is, the Self with an emphasis on its interconnectedness nature with the Divine or the All.

It mostly involves mental acts intended to change the self, and this involves self-effort.

In the Christian context, there are several different kinds of prayer listed, that include:
- expressing thanks
- petitioning help
- lamentations
- listening for God's will

Within the Pagan context, one of the best descriptions of magic that a friend had ever heard, was given by a Methodist minister, who called it "Visualization prayer."

Most of the magical spells I am familiar with are more similar to "petitioning help," and so they may include prayer as a component.

Also, much of divination is about learning the forces involved, and possibly seeking the will of the gods.

In a Pagan or Heathen context, expressing thanks often includes an offering of food or drink.

Lamentations are the only form I've listed that I can't think of anything spell-related, since changing the past is usually seen as... difficult.

Zlote Jablko

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Re: Is prayer a form of magic?
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2018, 09:37:10 pm »
Aisling summed this up pretty good, IMHO.  I just want to add that while separate in and of themselves, that does not mean one cannot do both simultaneously.  A person, while in prayer, may set magic into motion - either knowing or unknowingly.  This might lead to the thinking they are the same thing.

I think the lines can blurr along a broad spectrum. In many cases, Magic and prayer might be combined. The Rugian idol of Svantevit had a drinking horn that was used for divination by the priests to determine how bountiful the next year would be. They would also use his sacred white horse to divine the future after making offerings. Most would say divination falls into the category of magic.

There are also numerous charms and incantations across Europe which invoke deities, like Woden in the famous (ish) nine herbs charm.

How you divide the two is kind of a philosophical question. Magic tends to view ceremony (earthly actions and materials) as having some inherent power on their own, or at least having the capacity to direct or attract divine power from a deity.

Purely prayer based approaches are on the far end of the spectrum, where the deity has total control over supernatural powers (as opposed to power residing within a human or an herb for instance) and doesn’t really require ceremony in exchange for them.

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