One of the principles of witchcraft is the presence of intention in spell casting. It is what brings us to the altar table, what holds us in ceremony and ritual, what moves us in dance. But beyond intention is another essential element in magic making - Receptivity.
Recently, one of my clients told me about a ritual they completed to mark
the anniversary of a sensitive event. They described many serendipitous happenings that aligned with this ritual - communications from someone significant in their life, connections between their present experience and the experience of the original event. During their ritual, they witnessed a powerful vision that indicated to them some form of release, letting go, and movement forward in their life. They remarked that the ritual really felt like it "worked". I sat with this language for a moment and considered what it means for a ritual to "work". My client described it as a feeling of significant alignment that was powerful enough to instigate an immediate feeling of healing.
What my client experienced in that moment, the sensation of the ritual "working", was indicative of the rich and powerful alchemical process of witchcraft/spiritual practice, or whatever you personally call it. The experience of space/time (literally where you are and the psychic power of an anniversary or time of day), materials (candles, journal, magical objects), and the animate body (the ritual builder) come together to create a marked experience of change. However, there is an essential ingredient to ensure the efficacy of the ritual. That is, Receptivity. Like fire needs fuel, oxygen, and a spark to be born, receptivity is the spark that lights the flame of the present moment and metabolizes it.
In the work I do with people who experience anxiety, loneliness, and the repercussions of trauma, among other wounds, the theme of Receptivity has arisen over and over. In this moment, I was able to weave a connection between a momentary ritual and the greater experience of the therapeutic process/healing journey. We can bring ourselves to therapy, we can surround ourselves with all of the healing tools, but without Receptivity, these experiences can fall flat.
Receptivity means opening oneself to the possibility of change. Receptivity means taking responsibility for that change and the ways we might be limiting ourselves from it and perpetuating our own suffering. Receptivity is the allowance of connection and an act of vulnerability. Receptivity is the acknowledgement of contradiction, of being willing and able to hold complexity. Reception is the acceptance of something that is being transmitted. *Where* it is being transmitted from has many names. One could say God, the "higher self", the subconscious mind, or Life itself.
Receptivity is not only a tool for our own magic making. It can heal communities, it can change worlds. When we become more receptive to our own experiences, we take responsibility for the ways in which we have been previously closed off. Receptivity allows us to see the ways we wield power and privilege, and it creates space for us to negotiate how we want to show up with more integrity. It is embracing the larger world around us and welcoming it in, pain, pleasure, all.
The power of Receptivity, how it gets marked in ritual and in moments of deep presence, is what facilitates connection and creates change. Consider the ways in which you already experience receptivity. Moments of presence with the living world are buzzing with receptivity. Being with the quiet land and absorbing what sounds, smells, gifts, teachings the world holds for us. Feeling the pulse of loud music and sensing the singularity of sound as it winds into your heart - both the beat and your life force aligning for a moment in the most essential way. The feeling of electricity in an acutely present moment with a lover, where all pretense and narrative melts away to reveal the purity of connection. Referring to the here and now with a client and being open to discomfort, power shifts, and uncertainty. Flow states are pure glimpses of receptivity. Meditation. Dance. Breath.
Can you feel the quality of Receptivity in your own experience? Can you sense when you are or are not allowing for that openness? Feel the ways in which you can break open, the ways you tune in. Know that this is an essential part of your being, having the awareness and capacity to attune to Life.
This is true witchcraft.
As above, so below. As within, so without. And so it is.