Hearthstone Column May 2016
The Magic of Joy

[Author’s note: this was originally published in the Hearthstone Community Church newsletter, 05/2016]

The magic of joy. 

I don’t know that I’ve often thought much about the power of joy in the practice of magic or spirituality. The school that I am a member of, Ireland’s Druidschool, emphasizes bringing smiles to ceremony. As their student, I have paid more attention to whether or not I’m smiling in ritual. 

I remembered to smile when I worked in radio! You learn right away that the shape of your mouth and throat affects the tone of your voice. While we may not realize it, we can almost always tell by the sound when someone is smiling, especially if we know that person well. 

Just as there is magic in music and tone, just as we channel different magic when chanting or galdring runes, the magic that we channel is affected by the emotional and spiritual space we are in internally. The questions is, what is it that can best affect our inner crystal? 

I have found that there are long term and short term answers to that. 

For the longer term, I have practices that I use to try and keep my own spiritual balance. They involve my own spiritual practices, mediation and peer-mentoring, that is, keeping people around that I can discuss my challenges with. 

For the shorter term I can relate some recent experiences. 

June has turned out to be a busy month for me, I had the opportunity to perform two handfastings and a house blessing in a single weekend. Having an unusual number of ceremonies together in a short period of time gave me the chance to make observations that I might have otherwise missed. 

Doing the third house blessing for a long term friend of mine reminded me that I feel lighter and more confident when I remember how much I am loved and appreciated. It really works for me to remember to draw on the strength I have in the love of family and friends. My self-criticism relaxes and my personal talents rise to the fore. Even if I am among strangers, when I can remember the love and respect of the people who know me best, I can tap into that energy and bring that light into my magic. 

For a formal handfasting in an unknown location with a larger group of people that were unknown to me, I found grounding and connection in walking around the space where the ceremony was to take place. My practice is very earth-based and this venue, as for most commercial wedding venues, had taken special care with their landscaping. As I walked around the perimeter I spotted a nice bed of mint, a reminder of cool waters and clear-mindedness; yarrow which is also known as “Seven Years Love” and is frequently planted as a reminder of fidelity and constancy; grape vines were all around and in Celtic lore they are a symbol of strength and endurance, they carry delicious heavy burdens and (different from ivy) they do not kill their hosts. The trees also had great energy and I felt their light spirits as witnesses to the vows. It was a good idea to take the time and indulge in my own connections to the space. Sometimes it’s a struggle to simply ground internally, and it’s no shame to find an external touchstone for that work. 

The other handfasting of that weekend was much more spontaneous and left me with a lot of latitude. The location was well known to me, there was no one present aside from myself, the couple and my dear husband who helped me bring and set up my small altar. 

But for this experience I connected so clearly with the thread that ran through all of these celebrations: joy. 

With all of the extra trappings and distractions aside I could see the important heart of the matter. The couple that I handfasted that day was so filled with joy. 

The friend who dearly loves me and who is starting another chapter of life was also filled with joy. 

The lovely couple who put so much thought and planning into sharing their celebration with friends and family was so filled with joy. 

And, regardless of time, place, location, simplicity or complication, what brings me to this work is joy. Joy is its own magic, it’s own power, it’s own intelligence. When I allow the joy that drives me, to be the power that flows through me, all things are changed. 

We use a lot of different powers and pick different colors, stones and herbs for our work for different reasons, but the one power, aspect, and influence that I best love is joy. 

May you find joy. 

© Paulie Rainbow 2013