I spend plenty of time thinking about what is considered magic in our culture- our collective expectation of what qualifies as magic. There are of course those things called forth in faery tales- witches and scrying stones, golden feathers, magic beans, and the kisses of certain princes. Then there are illusions- tricks of the mind- a disappearing rabbit and a beautiful woman sawed in half.
As a child, I always found magic in nature. The glistening dew drop, the dancing boughs, the feeling in my spine nestled against a tree trunk, or the moon (ah, the moon). I recall the sadness of realizing that not every one was having the same experience of the world. I also recall trying to ignore it in order to "be an adult." Or turning it into something entirely spiritual, so that it felt separate from every day life. But ultimately, the best possible realization was allowing myself to exist in that magic, and have it be both sacred and mundane. It didn't have to mean anything, in particular. In fact, it was nothing special. That magic was world as it is.
This became a very simple practice. In nowness, the nature of things shines. One can experience that is-ness immediately and profoundly. In the present moment, we perceive the richness of a flower, or the smell of rotting food on the sidewalk. That presence is deeply connected, unadulterated (for a moment) by our expectations or impositions.
The more one cultivates this practice, the more one can approach the world with freshness. And magic becomes every day life. When we find we are not hovering over our experience, poking and prodding, craving and resisting, then things have space to unfold as they will.
Have you ever tried so hard to make something happen that your very trying prevented it? Life is like that. We have to take a step back. Let go of how we think things should be. Pay attention to how things actually are. Allow ourselves to experience that.
Then magic becomes more than our connectedness to moments and things- it becomes space. The space in which things can arise, and be as they are. In life this manifests as auspiciousness. We think "I would like a new belt." And then a few days later, in a package our mother has mailed us, we receive a new belt. And this happens on so many levels- tiny things like speaking of someone you've not spoken to in a long time, and right then they call you, or wanting an amazing place to live and it falling in your lap. When we are not so fixed in our ideas of how things should unfold, and when we are not exerting ourselves to the point of manipulation, then we allow the flow of experience to move along with us. We ourselves are unfolded, and able to accommodate so much. Then that muchness accommodates us.
This is not to say we stop putting effort into things in our lives. But we do stop trying so hard to manipulate and control outcomes. We put energy and intention into things, but we also step back and let go of the hope of fruition. I think of it as setting up parameters, or creating a container. We can extend our energy into setting up the space in which things will arise. We nurture and help create the conditions, but we are not creating the experience itself.
This is much like the teaching of precision vs heart. We must do the preparations- have our finances in order, create a strong resume, take care of our health, pay our bills, clean the dishes, study the texts, prepare our notes, practice our skill, but we also must be willing to let go of those things. To discern when it is time to abandon the syllabus, flow with an unexpected turn, walk through a door we hadn't realized existed, act on a feeling that may not have logic fully behind it, etc.
Flexibility, accommodation, workability, surrender, flow, space.
Magic is allowing space for things to arise. In that regard, golden feathers and scrying stones don't seem so far-fetched. :)