A Magic Lesson for Earthlings

NNC profile logoOctober 30, 2018

First things first: THANK YOU to the participants of Saturday’s workshop. Kellen loved the group and the solidarity. Heads-up for our November workshop! We will keep you posted.

Second things: are you excited to VOTE? After Saturday’s shooting at Tree of Life and another school shooting yesterday in North Carolina, it’s time for some change. It’s been time. A week from today it all goes down. If you vote in WI and you haven’t registered yet, you can register at the polls using a credit card or bank statement with your current address (you can change your address on the phone or online and then it will show up in your online documents that you will print for the poll), a current lease, or, of course, all the suppressors’ fave: a current state ID. If you have questions, you can click the link above for copious information.

Now to the business of the week: we are going to learn to do magic.

I recently listened to an interview with the creators of a technique called Imago. I have a lot to say JUST about the interview (i.e. it is hard to take the valuable nuggets from someone’s work when they persist in making classist “jokes” about truck drivers and sharecroppers’ children). Despite the creators’ prejudice, I am intrigued by the technique, which is touted as “magic” for relationships.

In short, the technique aims to reframe conflict. Instead of the push to make yourself heard and to convince the other, the force becomes a pull: how can you pull out of the other person what they want to have heard, and how can you work to understand their experience? Probably most significantly, how can you trust the other person to pull out of you and receive what you need heard? How can you trust them to understand your experience?

As you know, in communication patterns where the thrust is oppositional–me-against-you, mine-against-yours–instead of cooperative–us, ours–we don’t feel safe, so we can’t say what needs saying OR we refuse to hear what someone else was brave enough to say. (If you haven’t listened to Where Should We Begin yet and you love therapy, I recommend the first episode of Season 1 for a textbook demonstration of what it sounds like to refuse to hear someone.)

Is that magic, though, or is it mundane, earthly, to listen, to hear, to be heard? Perhaps the magic is that we earthlings can do it, if we concentrate hard enough.

I was speaking with a six year-old and a four-and-a-half year-old recently about magic and witches. They have a certain-to-evolve understanding that witches are scary and put scary spells on people (to bring them to the witch’s scary house where they can’t come in because the witch’s dragon is kind to the witch but not to the people, so the people have to go home again.) (Um, not scary.) They had an important question for me: how do you do magic?

I told them: you listen. Witches’ power is in their willingness to listen (even when they cast spells that are less loving and more manipulative). The patience, the trust, the courage witches invest in hearing what too often gets lost in the rumpus and chatter lets them know what is here for knowing.

These particular witches-in-training told me some things they know when they listen very closely. The six year-old knows when they are worried, and also when a human is being mean to a horse and the horse is sad. The four and-a-half year old knows when they are having sausage or bacon at home.

It’s a start.

And, really, smelling is akin to listening.

This deep, dark week, whether you are observing Dia de Muertos, Hallows Eve, Samhain, or not, make a practice of listening. Beyond the rustle of leaves and the beeping of sanitation vehicles, what truth is trying to get your ear? What wisdom are you ready to recognize? What protection are you receiving from ancestors? You can ask one of these questions and sit quietly for a few moments, or you can ask, “What do I need to know?” Whatever insights come (including, I need some water, or It’s been a while since I cried), make sure to offer gratitude: Thank you for this insight. I will keep it close and use it.

We would love to hear what insight you gain this week. Please reply to this email if you feel like sharing your wisdom.