The Soap Box
Back to The Soap Box - Index * Harperís Hall - Poetry * Sharpening the Axe -

Home* Introduction * Defining Terms * Book of Shadows * Book of Ritual
Book of Gen * Lexicon * Links * Site Map * Galleries * News * Contact

On Scepticism

I wrote an entry about magickal tools in my Book of Shadows and for a person who keeps saying that YOU are the magick, I was asked by a witchling why I wrote the entry. I had to think about that. I like magickal tools. Yet, I do say that ultimately, a witch will not need them. I know that doing magick with the physical, tactile candles, oils, stones, herbs helps the senses to internalize the magickal process and slowly instill the knowledge of why the pillars of magick are knowing, willing, daring and keeping silent. But my questioner had a point. She said that I am contradictory and she was right.

I am a living dichotomy - one who would believe but does not believe and practices anyway to arrive at belief (which I donít need). In my search to believe the improvable, I study as much reality as I can. Ultimately the only proof I have is that I can do things. I don't know if anyone else can do things, but I know that I can. I donít immediately trust anyone elseís claims as a witch, metaphysician or magician, but I want to. I want to, so I can know that I am not alone or crazy or one of a kind.


There is a proverb about a person who sees only one country being like a person who reads only one book. Now, I know the proverb was an endorsement to travel but I saw it as much as one that endorses reading.

Since most religions are based on only one book, and a petrified one at that, I began at an early age to seek other cultures and other points of view on everything from sex-role stereotypes and manners, to language, art, architecture, philosophy, traditions, superstitions, and religious practices. History was one of the reasons that I liked being Catholic - it is an ancient religion. I love their gaudy acquisitions of art, sculpture, and architecture. I love the pomp of their rituals, the candles, robes, incense, and magickal language: Latin. I loved learning how their traditions changed, grew, and merged with other cultures. I liked that Catholicism was smart enough to allow indigenous traditions to seep into their practices. Loving culture and people, I studied sociology, anthropology, and literature about other countries and their belief systems. I studied some of my fatherís Buddhist philosophies. I paid attention when Mother talked about Grandmotherís tradition. I studied the sciences on how the world worked, how people work, how nature works, to get a better understanding of my environment and my species. All these are part of my pagan path trying to find out why I can do these things. And the Book of Light section of my BoS on proverbs includes as many quotations from debunkers, skeptics, and atheists as there are from naturalists, philosophers and metaphysicians.

Practice has given me a belief in the power of the mind and will and universal energy and if you want to call it magick, thatís okay, but that doesnít mean I believe in Big Foot. I know scientifically that the gravitational pull of the doctor that delivered you will have more of a metaphysical influence on your personality than the constellation that loomed on the horizon the hour of your birth, but that science doesnít seem to mean a thing to Mercury in Retrograde, when it appears to be going backwards and taking with it any progress that I have made in communications or getting from here to there without something breaking down. When I hear a voice call my name, I am more likely to think that someone I love is thinking of me, and perhaps needs me to I track the voice down to offer assistance, rather than thinking itís the wandering ghost of a previous homeowner. Like the lady on the train sitting next to Mother traveling to Northern Ireland, when asked if I believe in faeries I answer the same. I am a modern woman and of course, I donít believe in faeries(wait for it)-

-but theyíre there just the same.

I want to believe that theyíre there just the same. I want to believe that there may have been a consciousness to our creation but if it exists, I believe that consciousness manifested itself in evolution and not in a garden with a jealous god who didnít want you to know what he knew. I didnít figure out how crop circles were made but I didnít make the leap of faith that they were made by Aliens, especially after the two guys who did it confessed and the rest of the need-to-believe world kept right on believing the lie. I donít need to believe in the specific magickal powers of oils or crystals or herbs or any of these tools accept that which is inherent in the power of a personís will to make them so. But I do believe that everything in the universe breathes with atomic energy and if the stone books says use Tigerís Eye for success Ė why not use Tigerís Eye for success? Despite my disbelief, it seems to work quite well. On top of that, I know what ďpost hoc ergo propter hocĒ means.

I want to believe in John Edwards because there are almost as many people that I love on the other side as on this side. Do I believe? Well, he is easily the biggest fraud of the decade or he is a miracle. (Iíve been observing the world of spiritualism for a long time and statistics lean on the fraud side. Yet, I know that I can do what I do, so maybe--?) How much do I really care? A thousand times less than those who know with absolute surety that he IS the fraud of the century. I donít need to know the truth this very second. Iím in this study for the long haul, not just for water cooler conversation.

I live in Las Vegas, I know what a ďtellĒ is, I know what cold reading is, I know how to fake spoon bending, and that self-fulfilling prophesy is the bane to proof. I've met Anton LeVay for Satanís sake and found him charming, but didnít think he knew THE TRUTH. Iíve met Raymond Buckland and found him charming, and he couldnít convince me to join his church, either. Iíve met a living saint and his example was not enough to define his way as THE TRUTH. The truth is Ė I can do things, but, I refuse to be a test monkey or a circus freak. I know what I know and need to prove it to no one. Am I a fool to believe? I donít need to believe Ė not this week. I worked really well this week and I donít need a mathematician to explain my odds.

Do I want to believe? Sure, but I understand human psychology probably better than anyone Iíve known. (Iíd take credit for it, but it appears to me that I brought this understanding with me.) So, I understand why we want to believe, need to believe. But if you can imagine, I have lived long enough to hardly care about that anymore. I donít need to know the truth about everything. If you say you can do magick too, itís not so hard to believe you, because I can do what I do. But Iím still not going to believe that you were Cleopatra in a former life, or a vampire or a unicorn. Iím not going to believe in a creation myth that says white people came to earth from a white alien planet and black people were deposited on earth from a black alien planet.

I believe that if ignorant people had their way, they would convince the world that the Earth is the center of the solar system again. These people use my labels and wear my symbols and all I want to tell them is to stay off my side. I admit to seeing patterns, even when someone tells me there is no pattern, but then my IQ is in the 98th percentile and I was a 4.0 honors graduate. Also, I might be just a little mad.

As one who pretty much treats superstitions as myths and prejudices as a lack of reason, why did I write an entry in my Book of Shadows about magickal tools? Because, one of those tools is scholarship. And because I can do things and my education doesn't explain how or why I can do things. The TRUE believers in magick, metaphysics and miracles canít give me an answer that passes a scientific litmus test and the TRUE believers in science canít talk me into believing that they have the only trustworthy litmus paper.

So, Iím here just trying to figure it out. Unlike all the experts of both sides who argue with the passion of a zealot that their reasoning is infallible, I know that I have barely gotten a clue. After 40 years, if I donít have all the answers, or you donít like mine, go use your magickal talents and tools, keep good records and surpass me. Then come and explain it to me.

© 2004 - 2010 Ardriana Cahill

Top of Page

Home * Introduction * Defining Terms * Book of Shadows * Book of Ritual
Book of Light * Book of Gen * Lexicon * Links * Site Map * Galleries * News * Contact