There are some days when I question how well my personality fits into the very metaphysical and faith based practices of Wicca and magic. I spent a lot of time in high school and college studying psychology, even adding it as a secondary degree. It allowed me to view the world through a new way of thinking, to understand both myself and other people. The brain is one big mystery even now, but studying psychology helped me become more objective and learn just a little bit more about how my dysfunctional brain worked.
You see I grew up dealing with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I went undiagnosed until sometime in High School when I wound up in the nurse’s office having a panic attack. But looking back now, I can see the threads of certain behaviors stretching back into my early childhood. Mainly fear, I was always scared of something, whether it be phobias, social anxiety, or a supreme lack of independence. Going in and out of therapy and then starting to learn more about psychology allowed me to explain and rationalize the strange things going on with my brain. I thought about going into a counseling field myself, but I’m also a profoundly creative person and found myself drawn into books and publishing, and now writing.
I think this may be why I felt that Watson’s words and rationalizations in this book made so much sense to me. Watson combines this feeling of objective psychology with the more intuitive and creative practice of magic. It appeals to the two warring sides of me and shows how there can be peace and reconciliation between them.
Watson’s basic philosophy uses the psychology of Jung and the basic metaphysics of magical practice. Jungian psychology is based off of Freudian psychoanalysis, but with a ting of metaphysics to it. Jung focuses on these overarching social constructs that affect everyone in similar manners. These archetypes as he called them could influence our subconscious in different ways and could be found in stories across the ages. Watson takes the idea of archetypes and applies them to the tools and beliefs of magical practice. Gods, Goddesses, tools, symbols, and basic practices are all a kind of archetype that is able to influence and access our subconscious mind which is more able to then access a higher plane of existence and tap into the kind of energy that we need to work change through magic.
I still haven’t gone through some of her meditation exercises to find my own specific archetype(s) to call on for assistance, but I do plan to start following and incorporating her basic ideas into my own practice. I really like this idea that the symbols we use or call on are really just there to more easily focus our brains on what we really want to happen. Colors, tools, symbols, and deities all serve a purpose of getting into our subconscious mind where we are more likely to be able to access the energy needed to work magic.
Some people see it as a sort of play-acting. That the theatrics of magical ritual can activate our subconscious inner-child who is more in tune with the metaphysical world. I feel like going through the motions of ritual also trains your mind to focus on the objective, to begin to block out the inner questioning thoughts and the outside world. It’s a really interesting idea and I think looking at magic and ritual through the lens of psychology allows us to more easily tap into how our brain works and access that deeper part of our self through tools and symbols to more accurately focus for the magic we’re trying to do.
Nancy Watson’s guide to solitary magic is, I think, a great starting point for beginner witches. I feel like it can act as a nice bridge for beginners between their more rational nature and their other nature that pulls them towards this practice. Magic is about control and independence. It’s about having a hand in your own future while also believing that there are other forces at work in the world that you may be able to tap into.
This was one of the first books I read on my return to creating a new solitary practice to myself, and I’m glad I picked it up. I read through it in a couple weeks and I plan on going back and detailing a lot of her concepts in the new Book of Shadow’s I’m creating for myself because I find that they resonate with my dual rational/intuitive nature. Let me know if you have also read this book or what you think about the intersection between psychology and magic.
~~Thanks for Reading!~~