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The Enchanted Outlook

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Fantasy

Wizard of Oz Heart's Desire

Witchcraft?

Pictured here: Stacey, who is, incidentally, not a witch.
It took me six whole months writing a blog on magic to be accused of witchcraft and demonic influence. I can’t decide if that is a success or a failure on my part, since I thought it would happen much sooner. Perhaps it is a testament to the respectfulness and open-mindedness of bloggers on the whole.

While I try to make a point not to respond to those types of comments, this person did bring up a good point that I have been meaning to address. What do I mean when I use words like magic and enchantment? Truth be told, I haven’t delved into this much intentionally, because I am working on another project that goes into this distinction in much more detail and didn’t want to repeat myself too much.

My inspiration for this blog was primarily a quote from J.B. Priestly:

 

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.”

 

In short, I use the word magic in a literary sense as a metaphor for happiness and I use the word enchantment to mean having an optimistic mindset, since an enchantment in fantasy means a change in perception. Fantasy literature has, in fact, used magic in this same context since the late 1800s and rarely uses it in the spiritual/religious sense of the word.

That said, I also understand that I have readers of all different spiritual beliefs. If my blog inspires you, whether it enhances your mental wellness, your spiritual journey, or your literary understanding, I am very happy to have you as a reader. I don’t believe it is my job as a writer to determine in what ways my writing will (or won’t) impact my readers, and truly, it is the responses and interpretations I didn’t even think of that make my keeping a blog worthwhile. So please keep reading, and may your days be filled with more magical moments than you can count.

Peter Pan Fly

life-of-pi

Enchanted Spaces: Bedroom Reveal

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This is the second room on my Enchanted Spaces journey, where I focus on one room of my house from the aspect of a fantasy novel and ask what that perspective can teach. I am also, incidentally, bearing in mind a different climate for each room in my house. The climate for my bedroom is forest.

Now, confession time: the bedroom is small, has inconvenient storage space, and is just not functional for our needs. It is often frequented by more piles of clothes and such than I can keep track of, even with a very minimal wardrobe. But today it is CLEAN!

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Plain white comforter (easier with a dog); Faux fur blanket I got for Christmas this year

So, forests. In fantasy literature, forests represent both a barrier and a place of transformation. There is a sense that, if you dare to enter into the forest, you will not come out of it the same. It is also a place of ancient wisdom that sometimes takes on a sentience of its own. I like the idea of having the place I sleep be a forest because to me, dreams are also a place of transformation, and represent that barrier between the conscious mind and the unconscious, the known and the mysterious. There is also this sense of tapping into a deeper, older wisdom as I sleep.

I would love to take this transformation further with a trickling fountain, evergreen-scented candles, a moss-style rug, and a deep blue ceiling painted with stars. However, I like slow decorating and I’m not a fan of big, fast, elaborate transformations or designs that are overly “themed.” For now, I settled on a new purchase of a whimsical pillow cover. Isn’t it sweet?

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There are so many fantasy stories about going into the forest that it’s hard to choose, but at the risk of stating the obvious, I have decided to focus not on a book, but on the musical, Into the Woods. In particular, there is a line that Little Red Riding Hood sings:

Into the woods where nothing’s clear, where witches, ghosts, and wolves appear.

Into the woods, and through the fear you have to take the journey. 

There are so many journeys out in the world that we can be afraid of taking, but truly, some of the toughest journeys happen from within. That is why I like to consider my dreams from time to time. I recently read that dreams help us to create new patterns and associations and to simulate things together that we might not connect with our conscious minds. In that sense, dreams may help us to live more imaginatively and to forge new paths, which can help with problem-solving.

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Other side of room; husband’s dresser and extra side table for storage

So tonight, I invite you to consider your sleep not as an annoying seven to eight hours of necessary checking-out, but as an opportunity to take a journey through the deepest forest of your mind and to find what inner wisdom may be there.

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My mom’s owl, hand-carved jewelry box, illustrated edition of The Hobbit
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Dog crate with quilt covering, extra boxes for clothes
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Cabinet with grandma’s quilts
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My dresser for clothes; I have a few hanging clothes in the hallway also
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My jewelry boxes; top was my mom’s; bottom a gift from my husband
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Print of my mom’s; re-framed in re-claimed barnwood
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Rewined Candles, my favorite!
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Sweet little birdie lamp from my childhood bathroom
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My hanging jewelry
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My bedside table, with my (ahem) favorite mug

Bonus: Somewhere in this bedroom, Wooly Bully, the mischievous trouble-making hedgehog, is hiding. Can you find him?

For more on my “stuff story,” check out this post on the guilt box. And if you missed it, check out my living room reveal.

Source: Encyclopedia of Fantasy: Forest

Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


I dressed up in my Harry Potter tshirt, necklace, and socks last night like a true nerd to arrive at a nearly empty theater. I was stunned. Did other people know something I didn’t? Was I clinging onto some nostalgia for a bygone age by seeing a lukewarm prequel?

I was not disappointed. From the get-go, the look and feel of the film was incredibly compelling. Soundtrack and costumes launched me into a very well-imagined and fascinating world. An air of mystery which held some dramatic irony for Harry Potter fans lead fairly quickly into a scene in a bank which, without giving too much away, had me in stitches.

Characters were good, particularly “no-mag” Jacob, but I think the most compelling relationships were between Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander and his creatures. Scamander has an awkwardness about him coupled with a very palpable tenderness and adoration for his creatures, who all have personalities of their own.

I have to comment on the plotting and pacing; had I not been so invested in picking up all the little Harry Potter Easter eggs sprinkled all over the film, it definitely would have dragged. My husband described it as “one long filler episode.” Some scenes and characters felt irrelevant. There was also no strong antagonist (yet) to act as a true foil for Scamander. When I think of the way Delores Umbridge brought out the best and worst qualities of Harry in Order of the Phoenix, well, let’s just say we haven’t gotten there yet, and consequently the film had a decided lack of tension. I am going to assume the film works better to set the stage for the rest of the series than as a standalone.

All in all, I give it four stars. Don’t expect a whirlwind plot, but you can be confident in all the enchantment you can expect from Rowling, all the pizzazz of 1920s New York, and all the cuteness of your favorite Internet cat videos. And yet, the film was good in its own right, and stood on its own two legs, or, should I say, four legs.

Creatures and Happiness: Gumiho

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Japanese Kitsune

I have heard it called a few different names: gumiho (Korean), huli jing (Chinese), kitsune (Japanese), kyuubi (also Japanese). It is a fox spirit of East Asian origin. Often having nine tails, the gumiho is thought to have originated from a fox that has lived thousands of years and had accumulated lots of energy and thus, became very powerful. Their moral intentions, however, were ambiguous, and thus the gumiho was a creature to be wary of, as they were thought to have the ability to shape-shift into beautiful women in order to seduce men and possibly eat them.

In today’s gumiho stories, often a person has the gumiho spirit within them, either as a separate entity or as a deeper power that can be drawn upon. This person, then, is a person of deep conflict.They want to be accepted by their society, and yet, their society is wary of them. They want to embrace their own inner power, and yet they are fearful of it as well, partly because they know how different it makes them, and partly because they want to be a force for good, not evil.

So, today’s post is for those who feel different, I mean really different, for those who are struggling to embrace themselves as they are and to find their own greatest strength. Yes, to clarify, there is great strength in togetherness, too, and I do not think we should seek to be individualistic and ignore the thoughts of others merely for the sake of standing out or getting attention. At least, this extrensic goal of raising ourselves to new heights at the expense of others will never make us happy. However, being human has nothing whatsoever to do with an ability to blend in, to follow paths that others have taken, or to suppress our own innate differences. There is a lovely quote from one of my favorite gumiho tales, Gu Family Book: 

“What determines your humanity is not the blood that flows inside you, but your decision and willingness to live a good life.”

So get out there, my friends. Show your inner “tails” today. Use them for good. Be a powerful, positive force in the world. Your inner gumiho will thank you.

I had originally decided to just do this Creatures and Happiness series leading up to the premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I am having so much fun with it that I’ve decided to make it an ongoing thing. So, if there is a creature you would like to see me cover, the floor is still open.

Daily Gratitude: Imagination

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Today I am grateful for imagination. Isn’t it a beautiful thing? It allows us to go beyond the now and to ask so many amazing questions: What if? What could be? Can it happen? Is it possible? I wonder why?

Without imagination, we would probably all be sitting in caves somewhere. We would have never thought to pick up a tool or stand on our hind legs. Perhaps we wouldn’t be able to dream at all. Imagination, in essence, is what makes us who we are, and I am so grateful to have it.

What are you grateful for?

Today’s Inspiration

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This is one of my favorite quotes and I keep it close to my heart. It’s not always easy to follow sometimes, but it is oh so important to remember.

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