what is enchantment?
druids interpret our reality in terms of enchantment. at the basis of many magical systems is a belief in a singularity embracing and containing the multiplicity; in the onefoldness of the infinitude of beings, entities, events, situations etc that exist; in the awen. from an atom or smaller all the way up to and beyond our own “big-bang” and all its consequences, any being is constantly enchanting, disenchanting and maintaining established enchantments, while at the same time being enchanted, disenchanted and re-enchanted by the beings around it, in a constant interplay of great intricacy in which all reality is engaged.
designers, artists, singers and poets all study enchantment, whether they’re aware of it or not. it is well-known that commercial advertisers deliberately craft enchantments using symbolism and subliminals sometimes unscrupulously to make us buy their products and most of us easily decline to be entranced. politicians, schoolteachers, preachers and priests, dogs their owners and children their parents, all use enchantment both instinctively and cunningly, for good or ill. television itself has been with us for several generations now, and the majority of us approve of the enchantment cast by programmes with strong, positive themes, like neighbours or startrek.
biologists describe the way flowers use colour, odour, attitude and form to fascinate their pollinators; chemists describe the enchantment that binds oxygen to hydrogen in water (and we can feel the flavor, spiritual nature and power of that enchantment when, as ovates, we practice soft-gazing into water), the superb blue wren has features designed specifically to enchant us and our human faces have features that enchant the tiny wren. that’s why it flaunts its colours to us so flirtaciously, choosing nesting sites close to our homes; and why it is loved by children, birdwatchers, housewives, pagans and most people not too preoccupied to see them.
the power of enchantment ranges from a melody’s power to delight a listener to that of a magnet to draw iron; from the power of an idea or attitude to captivate and conquer, to the power of someone’s bad mood to spoil a good day, or cheerfulness to redeem a bad one. the best enchantments interact in our society to create the moods and attitudes, sensitivities and abilities, qualities and modalities and to manage the politics, dreams, inspirations and ideologies that make our world vital and exciting, and keep us enchanted with it, loving life, loving the world, loving our culture, with all its faults, and loving our neighbours in this world and beyond. the worst ones drive the greeds, hatreds and cruelties that spoil it all.
unless we are extremely powerful, cunning or deliberately deceitful, the power to cast enchantments over others comes only with their consent. we let our children enchant us, but only up to a point, knowing that they’d exploit us if they could. a town lets a church cast an enchantment of holy protection over it only when it trusts the church. the natural world with all its beings resists our druidic enchantments for healing and repair until it trusts the circle, grove or individual druid, ovate or bard who casts it. a good spell can only come from a well-managed magical basis, and that entails an understanding our own magical predicament. we have to know what natural, instinctive enchantments we cast when we’re not even trying, and what enchantments others are casting over us, whether they’re helpful or not, and whether they’re functioning correctly, before we can move on from there to casting well-crafted enchantments of real power, value and impact, in our own magical practice, not just for the good of all beings, but actually for joy and for fun.
enchantment is not glamour. glamourie is the art of making things seem to be what they aren’t, for good or ill – applying make-up to look younger, older, more erotic, etc, than you really are if you’re a woman, or wearing camouflage if you’re a soldier, or resembling a twig if you’re a caterpillar, and it uses, but isn’t enchantment. enchantment may incorporate glamour, as when a frog puffs itself up to look bigger than it is and so frightens snakes and fascinates its true-love (frogs are masters of enchantment), or when an advertisement uses symbolism to subtly misrepresent its product to increase its power to enchant, making it seem better than it is so that people will buy it. glamourie doesn’t always seek to beautify, and beauty isn’t glamour. we earthlings are enchanted by sunrises, rainbows and dewdrops, and these beauties of nature and our spontaneous, untutored, instinctive sacralisation of them are among our purest truths.
to know our own enchantment and how we respond to the enchantments affecting us on a day to day basis, we need to be clear-minded and perceptive. that means healthy – physically healthy and in control of our lives, at ease in our surroundings, our conflicts well-managed, on good terms with our neighbours. we also need to be honest, towards ourselves and towards others, and this means self-purification, for example through ritual attunement to awen, and commitment to a virtue path of some kind, committing us to the central ideals of our world, such as love, truth, courage, strength, and wisdom, such as we craft for ourselves in our own personal druidry.
some magicians will feel the need for periods of solitude in which they can learn by self-contemplation to distinguish the many enchantments interwoven in their lives and begin to work creatively with them, instead of becoming bewildered by them and surrendering to the consequent ‘dumbing down’ with respect to magical awareness.
a magician benefits from time spent in meditation on the concept of enchantment, preferably in ritual rapport with the old druid gods and ancestors in the sacred grove we learned to access as bards. inspiration is sure to follow, and will illuminate all your magical work, formal or informal, whether in your circle or temple, in creative play or work, or in an ovate’s contemplation of the symbolic sense and meaning of chance or contrived events.
now surely that’s for the good of all beings!