If you could read my mind
you’d know what you already know
but keep forgetting . . .
That there’s no real space
between my thoughts and yours.
You’d know that what you get
is what you choose to see,
that every catch is just a spell we’ve cast,
a conjured lure just waiting for a bite.
We’d both realize
that we can quickly be
wherever we might want to go.
We could travel to the enigmatic moon
or maybe just, Japan.
We could saunter down the street
or to another time
and we could change our look
as easily as we’re pleased.
It’s no real trick to make it so.
It’s just a few efficient lines,
perhaps a snap of focused fingers
or a subtle twitching of the nose . . .
As Harry Potter and friends cast their spell again on box offices across the globe it seems a fitting time to wonder about the call of magic. Millions of kids and kids at heart are turning to the page and the silver screen for a visit to a world where the impossible is possible, where children are wise and powerful, where innocence prevails and the purity of love and honor ultimately overcome even the darkest evil.
My favorite games as a child were those I made up out of myths or fairy tales or fantasy. My inner landscape was part Bullfinch’s Mythology, part Marvel Comics, but in it I was always gorgeous and powerful—and magical. Even as an adult, my fascination with a magical life never left me. Eventually it led me to explore spiritual paths and traditions such as Buddhism, Jewish and Christian mysticism, and Wicca and other alternative spiritual practices that openly embraced magic and mysticism.
I wondered how to make it all fit somehow into my evolving frame of reference. How could a former fundamentalist Christian reconcile or even make sense of an innate, persistent impulse to life a magical life? How could someone like me find his way to being a mystic or even a witch in the world I inhabited?
Harry and Ron and Hermione weren’t around when I was a kid, but there was no shortage of magical role models. The one who made the first and best impression and who has remained a sentimental favorite was Samantha, the beautiful, sensible, selfless sorceress in the 1960s sitcom “Bewitched”.
Television banalities and laugh tracks aside, Samantha seemed to me to live at that sought-after intersection between the magical and the material or mundane mortal worlds. She had the power to create any life for herself that she wanted, but she chose a seemingly ordinary life as a suburban housewife because she recognized some greater opportunity for love and compassion available to her.
The mortals around her were often unaware of how her presence benefited them, and yet she found frequent occasions to enlighten and to assist them, to bring magic into the lives of the people whose paths crossed hers. She was as tolerant of her often self-centered, greedy, clueless mortal neighbors as she was of her eccentric, judgmental, flamboyantly mischievous relatives, and she never seemed to condemn any of them for what they didn’t understand.
Of course, Samantha’s finger-snapping, nose-twitching brand of magic bears little resemblance to contemporary spells or ritual in terms of style or substance. Pagan purists will quickly point out the gulf between movie or TV magic and the theory and practice of modern spellcraft. Even less informed critics might accuse Samantha of turning her back on her birthright, of ‘dumbing down’ her life and relegating herself to a seemingly subservient role far beneath what she was capable of living.
But she was a witch who seemed supremely aware of her options, confident about what she was doing and clear about her reasons for doing it. One thing that seemed to set this sorceress apart, was that she recognized the potential for magic in the most ordinary of circumstances, and she served as a pivotal, graceful reminder to everyone around her of the power of love to transform lives, and of the magic of believing.
What’s more, she did all this with a sly sense of humor, never relinquishing her prerogative to twitch up a solution or a surprise, and never losing the twinkle in her eye that suggested she understood the value of not taking it all too seriously. An unlikely or silly icon? Perhaps, but she has remained for me a simple and entertaining example of the possibility of walking between worlds, of offering one’s gifts directly from the heart, and of having fun in the process.
With or without the special effects, it doesn’t get much more magical than that.