once upon a time

Magic and price

If you've been watching Once Upon a Time, in several of the episodes the focus has been on the price of magic. The take in the show is based on a Faerie Tale perspective of magic, where magic comes with a price and the price usually isn't what you expect. It reminds me of some of the faerie tales and fiction I've read.

I recently asked on my Facebook page if people thought there was a price with magic. The answers I received indicated that people thought there was a price associated with magic, of some sort or another. Nothing as dramatic as a faerie tale price, but nonetheless there was a sense that to one degree or a price existed.

And I agree with what they said. I think there is always a price. As one person put it, it's a trade off in terms of what you give away in order to pursue the path you choose. That principle applies to anything as much as it applies to magic. But the price of magic fascinates me because it plays on specific themes within occultism, such as Faustian deals or Faerie Tales. And it makes sense to some degree. Anytime I work with an entity I am making an exchange of sorts, though not in such medieval terms.

But I think if there's really a price with magic it has more to with the discipline needed to study it as well as the consistent work needed to apply it. And that's a price worth paying, as is the case with any discipline you want to master. You put the time in order to really grasp it and apply it to your life. And when you do a magical working you accept you are making a choice, but that no different than making a choice that doesn't involve utilizing magic. Everything has a price associated with it. You just have to decide if the price is worth it.

Symbols, Archetypes, and Reality in Once Upon a Time

I love the new show Once Upon a Time. It's an intriguing mix of Faerie Tale with Modern world. Hopefully it'll last more than one or two seasons. Perhaps what I love most about is the intersection of symbolism, character archetypes, and reality. In one sense, the show is depicting two alternate lives for each character, and yet in another sense its depicting how people in a small town end up trying to embody and act out faerie tale roles they've been assigned by a child trying to find meaning in his life. You can interpret it a variety of ways I suppose, and that's where I see the show as a kind of magical act/metaphor of reality.

What makes it so evocative is the ability to portray two different realities and while it can be argued that the faerie tale reality is the "past life" of the characters, it's also their future and present, because they are stories constantly retold and relived in the imagination of the people telling them.

At the same time, this show also explores the modern "real" world as a faerie tale world in its own right, something not real, but just as made up and surreal as the faerie tale world...and why not. It makes perfect sense to treat the modern world as just another faerie tale, but what I find so fascinating is how in one degree or another the characters are playing out the themes of their lives, becoming the archetypes or at least trying to as some part of themselves rebels against the curse.

I have no doubt I'll have further analysis of this really fascinating show. I'm admittedly geeking out a bit, but this kind of analysis and research is part of how I create effective pop culture magic workings. The more enthusiasm you invest the more real it becomes, and that's part of what makes pop culture magic viable...Plus in this case it also is combined with my interest in how pop culture reinvent and retells older mythology in modern contexts!

Safety and Magic

This post is prompted in part by Rowan Pendragon's post about Safety in Wicca and in part by the latest episode of Once Upon a Time, where Rumpelstiltskin learns that magic always has a price.  My whole approach to magic is focused on experimentation, which necessarily involves experimenting with magic in ways that aren't necessarily tested or true at the time. There's a bit of risk involved.

I also hold a traditional view of magic, I suppose, in that I think that magic comes with a price. I know its not fashionable to look at magic in that way, but in my experiences there is always a payment. Magic never comes free, nor should it. If you desire a result, you have to put something into attaining it and if you choose to work with an entity, then you need to be prepared to offer something in return.

When I did my ritual where I gave my blood to the elemental spirits in return for some of their power, I wasn't going for a safe version of magic. I was offering something of value, something that had meaning in return for something of equal value from the elemental spirits. I knew I had to offer something of value and the fact that I gave blood, which might be considered scary to some didn't bother me at all.

Magic isn't meant to be sanitized or safe. Truth to tell, spirituality in general isn't meant to be safe or sanitized. It challenges you to grow as a person and puts you in some uncomfortable places. If it doesn't, you're doing it wrong.

Part of the thrill of magic, part of the experience is the willingness to go places where angels fear to walk, where there be dragons and the unknown. What's the point, if you don't challenge yourself?