Of flowers, candles and guns – the case for prayer and magic

In the wake of the Orlando shootings, many of us have resorted to prayer, and perhaps to magic, in an attempt to bring healing to the victims, their families and communities, and to ourselves in general, particularly our LGBTQI sisters and brothers, as such events always leave a dent in our collective psyche.

At times like this, however, we are also forced to question whether prayer and magic are in any way effective, or whether they are just an easy way of putting our conscience to rest.  Some have indeed advocated that prayer is not the answer, but part of the problem, whilst placing emphasis on important mundane steps that need to be taken.  Others have seen the #prayfororlando hashtag as downright disrespectful to the victims.

Such steps as:

  • donating money;
  • campaigning for policy change and human rights; and
  • promoting the values of tolerance, acceptance and empathy in our communities

are certainly essential, and no prayer or magical act can be complete without its material expression.

While the critique is certainly insightful, it is my belief that starting from the subtlest of levels:

with each time we remember the names of the victims;
with each intention we make for the healing of these wounds;
with each blessing we ask for and give to the victims, their families, their communities and ourselves;
with each prayer said and magical ritual performed;
with each candle lit and flower offered …

the world does in a signficant way become a better place.  The balance is tipped that little bit further in favour of the currents that promote love and solidarity.

And, at this time, it is perhaps valuable to revisit this video from the Paris shootings where a wonderful father teaches his son how flowers and candles can fight against guns – I have no idea whether this father calls this magic, but what he has taught his son (and us) is essentially one of the most valuable lessons in magic ever.