corn fields under white clouds with blue sky during daytime


A few weeks ago, I was asked to step into a religious education classroom for teens and share a few things with the kids about being a pagan and a UU. While there are many pagan and pagan leaning folks in the congregation, I’ve become the representative pagan, and I’m delighted to be a kind of spokesperson for my faith. 

I talked about how my pagan and UU principles aligned. I spoke of the sacredness of all life, and the importance of community. I said that life is a garden that must be tended to, fertilized, watered, and exposed to the sun. I ended my little speech with a “magic trick”, taking a small element of a much more complex ritual and teaching how to center and focus intention.

I told the kids: “I’m going to give you a magic trick. Once you know it, it’s yours and you can use it anytime and anywhere you like.” Since you’re reading this, I’m going to share this with you, and you, too, can use it however you like. But I warn you as I warned this kids: this is potent magic and it will change your life. So be ready for that.

First thing is to practice drawing the pentagram. Imagine a large, five-pointed star floating in front of you, about an arms-length away. Use your outstretched finger to trace the star from the bottom, left leg, up to the top, then down to the right leg, then up to the left arm, across to the right arm, then back down to the left leg where you started. Boom! It’s a star. (And because it’s an imaginary star, it can be perfect!)

The next thing you need is an intention. Pick a single word that describes the energy you want to add into the world. Pick a word that describes your intention as you move through life and try to solve problems. If you’re in a public place, choosing a word you can respectfully say loudly can prevent misunderstanding. This word is your intention. 

Now take a deep breath and imagine within you is a spinning light that spins faster when you breathe in, then slows as you breathe out. Slowly breathe in and out a few times, imagining this light spinning faster, then slower. Now imagine that the Sun is directly overhead from you, and that the light of the Sun is also spinning, like the light within you, because both are divine light. Further imagine that the Earth below you also has a spinning light, divine light.

When you breathe in, imagine the light from the sun filling you and powering up the spin in your light, and as you exhale, your light drains through your feet into the Earth, and that light spins faster as you fill it. Take a deep breath: light from the Sun fills you as you inhale and drains into the Earth as you exhale. Take another deep breath and feel the light of the Sun fill you and flow out into the Earth. Do this three times. Your inner light should be spinning wildly and energy should be flowing down your arms and legs, and out your feet and hands. 

Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, draw your pentagram in front of you with this energy. Take a deep breath in and say your intention word with conviction and deliberation as you push your star out into the universe, sending your intention out. Now you have changed the universe, and more importantly, you’ve set yourself on a focus. So that’s it – that’s the magic trick. Use it however you need to use it. After you’ve done it outloud a few times, you can start to imagine yourself stepping through it and get it done just as well in your imagination, as well.

When I presented this to the kids, every kid had their finger out, every kid shouted a different word. I felt like I had been able to share an element of something that would genuinely be helpful to them, and maybe given a good view of paganism in general. Today, I got a thank-you card from them that each of them signed, and that meant a lot. But I absolutely wasn’t prepared for what the service brought today.

Today’s Sunday service at the UU church was the Coming of Age ceremony, and it was entirely run by the kids in the program. They led the service, played piano, did the readings and even read the children’s story. It was a beautiful service, and I was already on my second tissue when they began to do the meditation. 

I was entirely unprepared for a teen to come up and begin: “For the meditation this morning, I’m going to share with you a magic trick that was taught to us by a UU member, Xephyr Burton.” They then went on and presented, almost word-for-word, the elements of what I had shared with them to the entire congregation. I was sitting in the back, and could see all the hands up drawing stars together, everyone meditating, and then pushing their intention into the universe.

I was shocked and honored and deeply touched. I was verklempt: the third tissue came down before the exercise was over. I often weep openly at church because I find hearing people embracing progressive values makes me incredibly happy. Today I wept when I realized what I had done, and how much I had affected those kids. What I had said to them made such an impact, that when they were asked what they would share of everything they learned, this is what they chose. I had given it to them as a gift, to do with whatever they chose, and they chose to give it to the community as a pearl of wisdom they had gathered.

A Buddhist lesson I continually try to relearn is that we are all connected through our interactions. I remind myself that being a part of the larger fabric of community means becoming a part of many other lives, and that doing and giving are the primary ways in which we can grow and change. I’m so grateful that this community has become such a large part in the lives of myself and my wife. I was already having a great time participating and interacting and creating that I hadn’t stopped to consider how I had impacted the others. Having this shown to me so clearly left me surprised and awed. It was just such an honor. It’s also a powerful incentive to reach out to help more, teach more, and do more. 


2 responses to “Lessons”

  1. Deborah Avatar

    Heart-ful. 🙂

  2. Katrina Avatar

    Wow! Beautiful! Inspiring! Where’s my Kleenex?! You are a gift!

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