For years I used to think magic was all just made-up fairy tales and stories our parents tell us when we’re young. I would dream of fairy parties deep in the woods or mysterious treasure maps turning up in enchanting places. It all seemed out of reach, something that exists only in the imagination and on pages of storybooks.
The word magic comes with many connotations, so let me be clear: I was not thinking about the tricks of illusions, nor was I thinking of the spiritual paths that involve magical workings, like modern-day witchcraft. I was thinking of the magic of enchantment, of wonder, of dusty old gilded books hidden in attics. Of fairy tales.
Inexplicably, something within me shifted on one memorable life-changing day, and I asked myself, Well, why can’t we just make our own magic? I set out to do just that by creating my very first Wondersmith event. I planned a menu of foraged delights (which also helped to keep my grocery bill down), and I painted ferns purple and handwrote an invitation on each one. Then I placed them in the middle of clumps of real ferns near popular hiking trails. I wanted to attract the kind of people who were curious enough to stray off the beaten path to investigate something unusual. Before their arrival, I decorated my backyard with lots of twinkling fairy lights and sparkling seedpods that I had grown crystals on. It was an absolutely enchanting evening, even more magical than I had envisioned. Once the guests left and the dishes were cleared, I was left in a new glow that night … all of a sudden Harry Potter and Narnia and other fairy tales didn’t really seem that far out of reach.
As I sat among the twinkling lights by myself that evening, I realized that I had created actual, real-life magic. I was filled with a different kind of joy than I’d ever felt before and with it the determination to find a way to continue the work I had started (which is where my Patreon system was born from). Soon after, I adopted the title of Wondersmith, and I haven’t looked back since.
Isn’t throwing dinner parties for strangers pretty magical already? Or creating delicious foods out of ingredients from the woods? Or leaving bits of artwork behind to be discovered by surprise? I know if I were to stumble upon any of those things, they’d seem magical to me. It’s real-life magic. And it’s so easy! You just have to do it!
Now that a few years have passed and I have gained more notoriety as Miss Wondersmith, I read comments all the time along the lines of “Oh, how I wish you lived near me so I could experience your magic!” I sigh a little when I read them, because I realize that many others haven’t had that life-changing moment of realization that I have had: Anyone can make magic, and it is just as magical to me to create my gatherings as it is to attend one! Every single one of us has the capability to harness enchantment and wonder in our own way and put it out into the world.
Close your eyes for a moment and reach back into your mind to conjure up the kind of magic you have always longed for. What do you envision? Is there a way to manifest it yourself ? Whether it’s an ancient storybook or elven clothing, magical gatherings or love letters to strangers, once you break it down into a series of steps, you too can make your own magic. Let me give you a little glimpse into how I make mine:
I put a lot of thought and intention into each event I do. I consider many factors, including the ceremonial structure of the event, the natural flavors and patterns I want to highlight through the menu, and the serving vessels and how to handcraft them, what my particular motivation for that event is (is it about child-like play? Intense relaxation? Ultimate safety?), and so on. Symbolism and archetypes play a large role in determining the subtle and overt ways to communicate that intention and add depth to the experience. But at the root of it is simply a wish to bring some good into the world and a wild love affair with my inspiration. And really, that’s all you need to make your own magic, for yourself or for others. Just a wish to do it.
There’s an undeniable link between magic and ritual or ceremony. I love researching meaningful structure—the format of storytelling, different ceremonies and rituals, of connection to the land and other people and, well, just “other”… The more I study various ceremonies, the more they speak to me: Despacho. Mandala. Baptist choirs.
Does a ceremony need to be associated with a spirituality or religion for it to be meaningful? Is it possible to design ceremonies that are accessible to those of other faiths, providing a way for them to connect to it that feels “right” to them? A familiar groundwork, archetypal symbols and activities, but an openness to all people of all faiths. I believe this is not only absolutely possible but pretty common! We all take part in numerous ceremonies, regardless of our spiritual beliefs. Some of these are as simple as a personal morning ritual: shower, brush teeth, start coffee, etc. Some of these are grander and are recognized by most in our culture: graduation ceremonies, for example. But the thing that puzzles me is just why we don’t do more. Why don’t we write our own ceremony when we long for that feeling of meaningful connectedness?
In the years since I first asked myself that question, I have been writing all kinds of meaningful rituals that I often weave into my Fairytale Gatherings or share on my blog. These are rituals that change with the intention, with the energy of the seasons, and with the mind frame of the person practicing them. More important, they are secular rituals, meaning that anyone from any religious or spiritual background can apply them to their own life in a deeply meaningful way. You can follow along with these explorations on my blog, thewondersmith.com/blog.
What kind of magic do you long for? What calls to you in daydreams or nostalgic moments? What do you hold within you that is ready to burst out into the world and make it a little more enchanting, both for you and those lucky enough to cross your path? I believe that everyone holds those answers within them, but many sweep them aside into the dusty corners of the mind. It’s time to pick those dreams back up, dust them off, and bring them to life. I believe in your ability to make magic too!
Visit The Wondersmith online at thewondersmith.com.