I was reading a post by John Beckett how Neil deGrasse Tyson told people that the lunar eclipses are unspectacular and he should just let people enjoy them. I happen to like listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s podcast, and I like watching him on TV. While I haven’t verified Dr. Tyson’s comments, on first blush, I’d agree with John Beckett. Lunar eclipses, while fairly common, are indeed beautiful, and are part of the magic of everyday things.
The Magic of Everyday Things
But the post got me thinking about all the special things that happen day-to-day that we take for granted. Most of the time, we tend to use the words, “magical” to describe something special. Whether it’s a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a natural place, or some place out of the ordinary, we are quick to state there’s something “magical” about it. And while I’m not fond of the m-word, as many of my readers can tell you, I think it might be correct to use the term “magical” to describe that.
What is Magical?
At this point, you may ask what is magical? Do we simply swap the word “special” for “magical”? I don’t know if that’s appropriate or not, but I think it might be the case. While you and I can argue over the existence of magic, in the long run, it may be semantics. What I consider nature, you might find magic in it.
We can, however, agree that some things are indeed magical in appearence. A sunrise or sunset. A special place within nature. Or maybe a lunar eclipse. Does it matter if we understand the underlying cause for what we find beautiful or awesome? I still get amazed by the rainbow or by the night’s sky, nevermind that I know how a rainbow is formed and what makes up the night’s sky. Knowing that the sun’s particles hitting the Earth’s magnetic field doesn’t make me want to see an aurora any less. There is beauty even when we know about the thing.
The Wonder of Our World
When I look at our world, it brings me all sorts of wonder. We’re special when it comes to our universe. Our universe had to have just the right laws for stars, galaxies, and life to form. A little too much gravity, or changes to the mathematical constants, and we wouldn’t exist. It’s kind of like our planet. We know life came about because certain factors came together to produce it.
Scientists can only speculate why things happened the way they did. As pagans, we accept that the gods have had a hand in things, because we essentially won the lottery when it came to existence. Of course, if we didn’t exist, we wouldn’t know we lost, so the point is moot.
But the world wasn’t created for us to enjoy–we benefit from the gods’ desires to create. We know that we aren’t the only lifeforms in this world–that we share with other creatures, both sentient and nonsentient. We understand that what we do affects our world in some way. And as we continue to grow and become greater in our mastery over our world, we recognize that we can improve or damage nature and our world–a world we did not create.
Do I Believe in Intelligent Design?
The word “intelligent design” is a concept that the Christians use for belief in their creation stories. While I believe that the gods may have had a hand here and there tweaking our world, I believe that we evolved from lower forms of life. I don’t for a second believe that the gods came from the ice rime licked by a cow, unless somehow this is a metaphor for what actually happened. I don’t think Odin and his brothers fashioned humans from fallen logs, unless you think of it as some metaphor for evolution. We have so much garbage in our genetic code and many serious genetic issues that it certainly doesn’t suggest that anyone intelligent actually designed us.
So no, I don’t believe in intelligent design, even if our gods set forth the laws and the mechanism behind evolution. Call my cynical.
But Life, Itself, is Magic
As creatures of this world, we can’t help but look around us in wonder. Whether you see the glorious mountains, a stormy sea, a brilliant blue sky, or a meadow full of wildflowers, each are a gift for us to marvel at. Have you ever been somewhere that was so perfect in your mind that you couldn’t help but stand back in wonder? Maybe it was the feel of the breeze on your skin, the melody of the birds, the scent of wildflowers, or the stillness of the forest. That moment when you felt it: wasn’t it perfect? Yes, if you’ve felt it, you know what I’m talking about.
So, enjoy the lunar or solar eclipses. Welcome Mani at night and Sunna during the day. Wonder at the rainbow. Watch the stars and pay attention to the meteor showers. Connect with the other denizens on earth — the plants, animals, and everything else. Because there is magic in that. Magic in living.
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