Friday, July 23, 2010

Superstition Really Works

I recently read an article on that, as a psychologist and as a practitioner of "alternative spiritual practices" that interested me. It basically proves that superstitions, such as lucky charms, really do work on a psychological level to improve performance. The owner believes that it helps, so it does.

Even though I am both a theist and a Druid, this is similar to how I view prayer and spellwork. It helps us because we believe it does. I do believe Pleroma(and any other entity someone may pray to) hears our prayers, but it is our belief in such systems that do the most help - after all, if you don't believe in God, you wouldn't bother praying to Him.

Likewise, the bulk of a spell is the Witch's or Druid's belief that it will work. If one book/website says to use one ingredient for the spell, but another one feels more right to me, as the one performing it, I will use what I feel more comfortable using, otherwise I would be distracted by using something that didn't make sense to me. I limit most of my spells to things that involve drawing something to me(like drawing good luck), driving away something(like obstacles or bad luck), or geared towards changing my mindset, because those are what I believe work most, as they are meant to change my viewpoint or perspective. While I may pray for rain, I don't do a spell to make it rain, because I don't believe that works. If it's meant to rain, it'll rain.

In all, some superstitions or 'magical thinking' isn't bad. How dull would life be if everything could be explained?


JeniMac said...

Even I can appreciate the positivity that can come from things like prayer, spell work, and meditation. Of course I take the psychological view and say it has more to do with positive thinking that makes outcomes more positive, not because a deity willed it so based on the amount of prayers he/she received. I definitely agree with you that it's all about changing the mindset and offering inner reflection. I've found this to be true in online tarot card or horoscope readings, though I am not a believer in either and am not one to frequent them. Just every now and then I find it interesting to check something like that out, and more often than not I learn something about myself.

Bridget's Fire said...

When I do tarot or past life readings, I have to adjust my vocabulary to the spirituality of the listener. For atheists, humanists and logical positivists, I use the language of energy fields and brain waves and chemistry. For Christians and other theists, I use the language of angels. For Pagans, I have many choices of language to use.

Still, humanists, logical positivists and atheists are the most fun: they are usually shocked to see that - even if I don't know them - my tarot or past life reading is actually helpful to them.

Spells, prayers, intentionality, contracts with deity, positive energy - all seem to help people.

Angel said...

I'm currently reading "Dawkins Delusion?" immediately after reading Dawkins "God Delusion" so please forgive the broad brush stroke via cyber-pen I'm about to make here. My brain is currently immersed in studying fundamentalist atheism and contrasting it with liberal Christianity and THEN translating it over to gnosticism. I think I've hit the end of my mental rope today. *shudder* But I really want to participate in this discussion.

Ok. So about mental 'push' and superstition:

"I think therefore I am."
('Net cookies to whoever can answer which philosopher is attributed with that branch of philosophy without hitting up Wiki.)

EVEN IF we created God(s)... is that so bad? If it helps us morally then I see not a darn thing wrong with it.

And in turn if charms and spellwork help us to focus on why we want to do something and how we're going to go about doing it then... I see that as a positive thing.

Remember that childhood book "The Little Engine That Could"? There ya go. Positive thinking at it's most powerful.

And maybe it's not just about superstition it's about the need for clarity of focus? Getting rid of the brain chatter and keeping our goals in mind.

Angel said...

Forgot to add:

If humans can reach such a conclusion about consciousness with the rationale being "I think THEREFORE I am" then doesn't this translate into meaning we are every bit as powerful as we think we are?

Delusion and potential psychosis does exist, for sure. But when perception about your reality is based on such a wide open field as that.... boundaries, therefore, do not exist.

Ultimately, I think this is the exact intent of Pleroma in showing us how much we are loved. We are loved infinitely and immeasurably. And therefore we should not feel confined by him nor create boundaries within ourselves. We should create and learn and love and make all the mistakes we think we need to in order to find where we feel 'right' in our own skin. As long as we're satisfied with our progress then we will be happy human beings.

I'm going off on a tangent here so I'll shut up and go back to reading my book. May take me a few days but I think I'll eventually get my head screwed on straight again.

Thanks for putting up with my long winded speech, Chad.


Chadly said...

I've basically come to the conclusion that the only time most things like spellwork are bad are if you try to force that belief on someone else, or perhaps try to 'curse' someone. But even then, I tend to agree with the statement in the movie "The Skeleton Key": It won't hurt you if you don't believe in it. The main character, at the end, was only cursed by the Bad Hoodoo Spirit's spell, because by that point in the movie, she *believed* in the power of the magic, and therefore *believed* she had been cursed.

As for psychosis, I had to struggle with that one a lot, being a psychology oriented person in the midst of my psych classes when I first started this path. I finally came to the realization that there is a difference between spiritual belief/visions and hallucinations of a mentally ill nature. In fact, the DSM-IV has a whole section dealing with the fact that some things in some cultures, while we may think they are delusions or symptoms of a disorder, are actually part of their religious belief and culture, and there are other ways to know if someone who "hears voices" is having a religious experience or a psychotic one.

Angel said...

OH bless you, Chad, for pointing out that last tidbit of info. After being bashed in the face by atheism the past few days I've grown weary of hearing just how "obviously psychotic" all religious people are.