Sunday, September 9, 2007


In my last letter, I said that we are all magic-users, not, to use J.K. Rowling’s term for ordinary mortals in her Harry Potter books, “muggles.” I use the term “magic” here not in any metaphorical sense or as a way of expressing the wonderment of life, but as a statement of fact. Magic describes a way of relating to life, and it’s a relationship we all have and express.

If I believe that the world is only what I can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste and that the appearances of things are the sum total of reality, then this magic won’t make any sense. But it will still operate. I cannot avoid being a magic-user, though I can be an unmindful, unaware one.

A usual (though not the only) way magic is defined in the Western esoteric traditions, magic is as the shaping of events in the physical world in accordance with the will, imagination, thoughts, and feelings of the magician. Other definitions may include partnering with beings and forces of the spiritual worlds, that is, the use of inner allies.

Both these definitions assume the existence of an “inner world,” a world of life and energy existing behind the appearance and surface of things. This is a world our senses cannot directly reveal. Actually, we experience exactly such a world everyday in our thoughts, our feelings, and our spiritual experiences. Magic is based on the simple idea that this world within ourselves is connected to and in fact part of an energy field that is part of the world around us. In effect, like amphibians, we live in two worlds, one that is revealed through our senses and which we can thus call a “sensible” world and one that is revealed through means other than our senses and thus could be called “supersensible.”

Magic can be nothing more or less than the result of the relationship between these two worlds, a relationship we all have. This relationship can be relatively unconscious and automatic, one to which we give little thought or practice, or it can be the focus of our attention, one that we work on to develop skills and capacities to make it conscious and deliberate. Most of what we call “magical training” is designed to do the latter, and it doesn’t have to take place in any kind of esoteric or occult setting. Courses in positive thinking, in motivation, in coaching, in advertising and marketing, all deal with ways of enhancing the power of our attitudes, beliefs, will, thoughts, and feelings to affect not only our own lives but outcomes in the world around us.

It works because we are all interconnected. The inner world possesses a “Commons,” just like the commons of old New England villages, a shared space that all within the village can use and participate in. We each have our “private homes,” our bubbles of sovereignty and subjective identity that are unique to each of us, but these radiate into, and receive from, and participate in the “energy commons” of which we are all a part. We are individualized but not isolated.

The participatory nature of this common energy world we all share gives us great power to affect the world around us, beyond the physical actions we may take. It’s what truly makes us magicians and not muggles. My thoughts and feelings about another person don’t necessarily remain locked up in my own head, for instance, but can become part of a local energy commons that that person shares; they can be taken by that person into his or her individual energy field and have an effect. Depending on the nature of my thoughts and feelings and upon the strength of the other person’s sense of sovereignty and well-being, this could have a positive or a negative affect.

The invisible, supersensible energy world and the visible, sensible physical world are deeply intertwined and are reflections of each other. One is not necessarily the product of the other; nor are they completely hierarchically related. Each affects the other in an ecology of mutual co-creativity. For this reason the nature of our magic is both physical and non-physical. But when magic works, when synchronicities occur, when manifestation happens, when outer things change because of inner changes we’ve made, it’s because a shift in the inner energy world has very likely caused a corresponding shift in the outer visible world. And the reverse is true, that outer changes can cause changes and shifts in supersensible energy conditions.

I am a fairly good natural singer. I can carry a tune, and people don’t run screaming from the room or cover their ears when I sing. I have a friend, though, who is a trained opera singer, a soprano, and the power and range of her voice, as well as its effect on those who hear it, is amazing. My singing is like hers only in the fact that we both open our mouths to let sound come out. She can do things with her voice and produce effects that I can only dream about.

We are all magic-users; we are all part of the supersensible Commons and participate in that Commons in ways that affect our world. But we are not all trained magicians, with developed skills of imagination, will, attunement, and lovingness.. There are many systems of training that a person can engage with to develop the skills and capacities that work with this innate relationship we all have. Lorian offers in its classes one kind of training.

However, a trained magician in the sense I’m using the term may not know any esoteric or occult knowledge but simply have a dedicated and practical sense of participating in a loving, imaginative, and disciplined way in the world around him or her. Some of the best magic-users and manifestors I know, for instance, wouldn’t know an occult lodge from a movie theater and have never heard of any Mystery or esoteric tradition. But they can shape the world around them in loving and blessing-filled ways for the benefit of all who come into their sphere of influence, empowering others to recognize the richness and power of their own individuality. In their presence, the Commons we all share blooms with possibilities and an invitation to success.

What better magic is there than that?



Monday, September 3, 2007

No Muggles Here

Hello. My name is David Spangler. I've been encouraged recently to create this blog by my friend Catherine MacCoun. She is the author of one of the finest books on alchemy and hermetic magic I've had the pleasure of reading: On Becoming an Alchemist, to be published by Shambhala Press n January, 2008. She is starting an author's blog, The Hermeticist, and invited me to join her. You can link to that blog from this page. That process led to my creating this blog of my own.

I primarily teach and write for The Lorian Association, a non-profit spiritual educational organization. If you are interested in information about it, there are links for that on this page as well. My primary focus is incarnational spirituality and working with spiritual forces. I'll be writing about both topics--and others--here.

One of the things I do is write an essay, called "David's Desk," every two weeks that goes out to the Lorian mailing list. It's easy to join that list. Just send an email to There's no other obligation. If there are questions that result from those essays which I can answer, I will be doing so on our webpage.

I'm starting this blog with the first of these letters, but I don't intend to simply repeat them here. Some letters I'll post here, too, but mainly I'd like to use this blog to explore other ideas as well. If you'd like the letters, contact Lorian and get on their mailing list.

Well, that's all for now. Enjoy the thoughts that follow:


I don’t know if your family is a fan of Harry Potter. Mine is. As the books have come out over the years, we have enjoyed more and more J. K. Rowling’s engaging tale of the boy wizard and his friends. In fact, my youngest daughter and I have made a ritual of attending the midnight release parties at our local bookstore whenever a new Potter book has come out. When our four kids were younger, we would all gather in the living room and listen while my wife read the latest installment. It was fun and exciting. Rowling tells a great yarn.

In Harry Potter’s universe, the world is divided into magic-users, known collectively as wizards and witches, and non-magic-users, known as muggles. Much of the fun of the books comes from reading the author’s invention of new words and terms; as neologisms go, muggles is about as good as it gets.

The big difference between Rowling’s fictional universe and ours is that, however fun a word it is, there are no muggles here. We are all magic-users.

Now I’m not talking about fantasy magic, the kind that Harry uses or a wizard in a game of Dungeons and Dragons. Stories, while fun, deceive us about magic by turning it into something implausible. We come to think of magic as wizards hurling thunderbolts and flying through the air.

But there is an everyday magic that surrounds us that is so common, even in its occasional unexpectedness, that we don’t pay attention to it. And I’m not talking about the “magic of life” or the “magic of our senses” or any other metaphor for the wonderment we can find in life.
Here are some examples. I’m about to say something, and someone else says the same thing before me. I’m thinking of a friend and she calls unexpectedly. I need to see someone and I accidentally run into that person in a store. I need money that I don’t know how to get and a check arrives out of the blue in the mail from an unexpected source.

Here’s a true story of magic at work. A friend of mine wanted to buy some special bells for her mother but could not find them anywhere. One afternoon she phoned a friend but accidentally dialed the wrong number. The person at the other end turned out to be the clerk in a gift store she had never heard of. More importantly, this store turned out to be the sole importers in the whole city of these special bells.

We call these kinds of events synchronicities, manifestations, good luck, God’s hand, or coincidences. We see the way people long married can complete each other’s sentences, and we talk about them “being in resonance.”

What all these kinds of events and experiences have in common is that something intangible—a thought, a desire, an intent—is having an effect upon something tangible. The immaterial and invisible is affecting the material and the visible. For example, one day I had to give a lecture in the city at a place that is notorious for having very limited parking as one has to park on busy city streets. It was raining, and I was not anticipating a long walk from wherever I could park back to the lecture hall. So I visualized an empty parking place right in front of the hall. When I got there, though, all the parking spaces were full, but on a hunch, I went around the block. Nothing was available, but as I came in view of the lecture hall again, a car pulled out right where I had visualized my parking place. I was able to park conveniently right in front of the hall. An invisible, intangible thought in my head had a visible, tangible consequence.

We can call this coincidence, but it happens time and again in everyone’s life in one way or another. Our thoughts, feelings, intents, desires, wishes, fears, and hopes have a way of manifesting, the invisible world becoming visible.

The evidence is that life responds to us; it configures to our inner nature, to our thoughts, feelings, and spirit. This is real magic.

Why does it do this? How does it happen? What makes this magic work and create a response? Over the centuries, people have come up with different theories: the law of attraction, or the power of thought, of imagination, or of the will. All of these undoubtedly contribute and are part of this magic. At the same time, we all have examples of when they don’t work, of when we thought positively about something and it did not happen or wasn’t attracted or when our will or imagination did not bring about the result we wished.

The point then is not that there is no magic but that it operates more holistically than we may have thought. It isn’t just the law of attraction or the power of thought or the use of the imagination. Other things may be involved, at least some of the time. And if you think about it, this makes sense. Life responds to us as whole beings, not just as thinking beings or feeling beings or imagining beings. What evokes a response at a given moment may be a mystery; we may have to do some attentive observation and experimentation to gain clues about what works for us and what doesn’t. Each of us may come to this magic uniquely, based on our particular individuality; what works for someone else may not work for us because we are different people. But what is certain is that life will and does configure to us. It does respond. Who we are affects and shapes the world we experience. We are the makers and unmakers of worlds. This is everyday magic.

Experiment with this. Try it out. It may not for you be as straight-forward as thinking, “I want that new car,” and it will appear. How magic works for you may operate differently based on your unique relationship with life, the way your interiority and inner nature relates and configures to the world and vice versa. But your magic will work for you and is working all the time. Be a scientist of your own invisible world and investigate to find out how.

The first step into using your magic may be the same for everyone. I believe it is. It consists of simply acknowledging to oneself, “I am not a muggle. I am a magician.”

We’ll look more at this kind of magic in “No Muggles Here, Part 2.”