Friday, January 23, 2009


Last Sunday I blogged about remaking ourselves, our society, and our larger world, so I was really pleased to hear Barack Obama talking about remaking America in his inaugural speech.

Continuing to think of ways to magically remake the 21st century, if we look to world wide folk magic practices, a common theme is “opening the way.” This is a term associated with American Hoodoo candle burning practices, as well as in the ritual magic of many Afro-Caribbean traditions. The same term is used in auspicious ritual practices involving the elephant god Ganesh in India, because as a very powerful animal, the elephant is an opener of the way. Now as it happens, we are turning a new page in history at the same time part of the Asian world is celebrating the start of the Year of the Ox, (which officially begins on January 26th). Therefore, we might consider the ways a powerful animal like an ox is also an opener of the way. Applying this to our current socioeconomic conditions, how can we meet the challenges of the 21st Century and create a space for new social, technical, and intellectual innovations--and even wonders—to unfold when we haven’t cleared out the problems of the 20th—and in many cases, still the 19th—Century?

Also, in China and other countries that use the Chinese animal zodiac, there is an opinion that you can make the most out of each year by acting out the qualities of that year’s animal emblem. So, to make 2009-2010 auspicious, we would be well advised to emulate the ox’s penchant for hard work, simplicity, consistency, and patience. Hard work seems to be a necessary course of action given the world’s economic condition, and even people who are out of work might find ways to do some hard work at home or in a volunteer capacity as a way of magically priming the pump for employment. Here I am reminded of the German saying that “patience is the medicine of the world,” the African saying that “hard work is the medicine for poverty,” and the Mexican saying that “consistency creates miracles.”

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