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once rented a small but delightful casita in downtown Santa Fe. One day, my landlady informed me that her daughter might be returning to Santa Fe and wishing to stay in the casita. I understood, of course, that her daughter would be given priority in this situation, but I was not truly ready to leave my special little home downtown. My daughter and I did a bit of magic under the Full Moon, directing our intentions toward a positive outcome for all concerned. We walked down to a bridge over the river to complete our magical working, and when we returned, there was an email from my landlady, sent just minutes before, saying that her daughter was not ready to move back yet, and that the casita would remain mine for some months yet.

Reality does not always fall into accord with intention quite so decisively, but it sometimes does. As a Pagan witch, I use certain types of ritual magic to help create changes I want to see in my life. This is not something limited to one particular spiritual path or practice, however. Many people use visualizations, affirmations, or similar methods to help manifest their goals. In mainstream religions, prayer can be used to similar effect, if approached from a particular state of mind.

Rationalists are typically skeptical of these kinds of activities, seeing science and technology and direct action as the only instruments of change. It seems to me, however, that even when "mundane" methods are used to create something new, the focused intentions and personal energies of those behind the endeavor remain crucial. The Apollo program, for example, was clearly and accomplishment of pragmatic engineering, but it was also the manifestation of the intentions expressed in Kennedy's visionary speech, and the inspiration it produced in those who were moved by it. Without that human dimension, the funding and technology would not have brought about the same result.

There is a sense in which we choose our own life, choose what we experience and how it changes us. This is a powerful concept, but a subtle one. Some people, when they first encounter this particular metaphysical idea, view it in a rather shallow, ego-bound way, filling themselves with visions of instantaneous wish-gratification. Wish for a hundred thousand dollars, and it will appear. Wish for a perfect mate, and he or she knocks on the door. Wish to be cured of cancer, and the disease vanishes. Obviously, if things were that simple, the world would be a very different place.

I think there are two key points to be understood about creating one's own reality. The first is that we make choices on many different levels, most of which are not conscious. The classic example is that of someone who keeps attracting abusive or unfaithful lovers. Such a person sees themselves as a victim rather than an agent in these traumatic relationships, unaware of how their own choices and their own subconscious needs contribute to the drawing the wrong people in the first place. Telling such a person they can simply choose who they attract will not be helpful, unless the person is already on the verge of bringing their subconscious choices into clear focus and awareness.

The second point is that even when we are clear about our choices on many different levels, we still live in a world shared with others. Unless one endorses a simplistic solipsism, the reality we experience cannot be our own personal playground. There are many other conscious beings in the world, each helping to shape it through their own thoughts, intentions, and actions. It's a bit like an improvisational theater troupe, where each player has a clever idea about how things should go. What emerges is the result of the interaction, the intertwining, of all these different intentions.

The reality we experience is a collaborative performance, and there is a knack to doing it well.

Page Two: Stepping through the Door

Seven Doors is a regular feature of Starweaver's Gems from Earth and Sky

Copyright © 2009 Tom Waters