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Magical Practice

The Conspiracy of Compassion: A Theory of Magic

by T. Thorn Coyle

I think a lot these days about separation and connection. About our communities, relationships, political engagement, meetings, prayers and loneliness. We so often create division, it seems. Humans as boundary makers. Boundaries are important. They tell us what line we are willing to cross or where love begins and danger ends. The trouble with boundaries, however, is our propensity to build walls upon them — claiming property. This belongs to us. They belong somewhere else, at a safe distance. Distance can be de-humanizing. Distance makes it easier not to look in someone's eye and see the God shining within, however buried it may be, however angry or hurt we are. We create the Other, and distance from that Other makes our fear more manageable. But as Witches we know that: "where there is fear, there is power." Sometimes we need to walk toward fear and embrace the Other.

Ours is a religion of Immanent Divinity. With Immanence, there is no Other. Goddess flows through all things, shaping, enlivening and connecting. This includes politicians, enemies, people who hurt us, people whom we dislike, people we would rather gossip about than talk to face to face. We all have our lists of qualities that are unacceptable.

Yet we also talk about the fearsome Gods and Goddesses who guard the dark, occult spaces where some things hide and others germinate and grow. These Gods and Goddesses look a lot like the inner recesses of our souls. And they look a lot like the faces of those we want to despise because something in us fears them, or fears becoming like them. They look like those parts within us that we bury beneath loathing.

As Neo-Pagans, as Witches, our sense of self is not disconnected from the sacred. We are sacred, the earth is sacred; all things pulse with life force and all humans hold the potential for divinity, some drop of the Divine.

Can we see the connections? Can we feel the Immanent Divine? Take a moment and try. It is hard to do so unless we take this time. It is easier to be self-righteous, to pump ourselves up and say, "They are responsible for the world's evils and therefore they do not deserve the glance of human compassion," or "She is not a priestess, I heard that she..."

Triple Soul Balancing Exercise and Ha Prayer

Take a deep breath. Fill yourself from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head. This is a breath for your physical body.

Take another breath. Feel it pushing just beyond the edges of your physical form. This is a breath for your Sticky One, the etheric body that stores the energy you need. It is instinct, animal and child.

Take a third breath. Feel it filling your aura, the egg of energy that surrounds you. This is a breath for your Shining Body, which communicates with the world. It is intellect; it listens, feels and speaks.

Take a fourth breath. Let it fill all of your parts, opening your crown chakra to communicate with your Divine nature. This is a breath for your Sacred Dove, the God Soul that hovers above you. A halo intersecting your auric egg and your etheric body, it kisses the top of your head.

Repeat these sacred breaths until you feel so full of life force that you tingle. Then, on the exhalation of your fourth breath, tilt your head back and breathe up, Ha!, a powerful breath that feeds your God Soul. Feel the parts of your soul align within you. They might snap into place with a rush, filling you with a sexual charge. Stand tall and in balance, heart open, ready to greet the world. Your God Soul knows what to do.


But if "Thou art Goddess" and "My law is Love" are creeds we want to learn to live by — not just empty words that make us feel good in a circle of our friends — in the circle of the safe and known, we need to do some serious thinking and some serious heart-opening. We need to look at the fearsome Gods and Goddesses and embrace the under-known. I say under-known rather than unknown because it is all a part of us and we see it. We just hide from it most of the time. We don't want to know it.

In order to deal with my anger or alienation and my wish to distance myself from that which angers or hurts me, I need to get in touch with my own inner divinity, what Feri calls the Sacred Dove. This is the part of me that is connected to the flow of Immanence. It is the part of me that, with disciplined practice, enhances my potential to be a God. It is the Divine part of myself. It takes work, every day, several times a day, to breathe in and connect. It takes work to reach out and feel compassion and strength within myself, and to use that compassion and strength in dealing with those around me. It is the opposite of the adrenaline rush of grandiose self-righteousness, yet it is the true food of life and the soul. Adrenaline may make me feel powerful, but breathing in the life force makes me truly powerful. This is the way toward alignment and connection and away from blind self-righteousness.

I'd like us to take a breath now. As Reclaiming Priest Alphonsus Mooney reminds us, "to conspire" means to breathe together. On each breath, let us form a conspiracy of love. A conspiracy of compassion. When we start to feel alone or unloved, let us take a vow to remember to breathe. With every breath, we draw in life force. When fear and anger turn to hatred and alienation, let us take a vow to remember to breathe. With every breath, Goddess rushes in. You are Goddess. You are God. Yes, you. Connect. Remember. Love.

T. Thorn Coyle is a teacher, musician, activist and scholar. She is hard at work on a book about Feri and Reclaiming tools called Evolutionary Witchcraft. For information on her workshops and music, visit