Insanity. n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.
Magic? You'd have to be CRAZY to believe in this stuff!
In truth you kinda do. Magic is one of those thing that you have to believe in to experience and remember. We all experience moments of magic, but most of us explain them away. The best part is how everyone explains everything away according to their personal world view. A family of 4 walks away from a huge car crash that kills everyone else involved:
- - Engineer: Their car had a higher safety rating.
- - Christian: God's hand can clearly be seen in this.
- - Pagan: Nice Shields.
- - Stuntman: Bah.. I've not only survived worse but I had to kick out the front windshield and come out with guns blazing too...
If you're a practicing Mage, you are choosing to hold world views that contrast with other peoples. Most people don't believe in magic. What do you say to them regarding why you have that weird little green bag that smells like herbs hanging from you neck? If you admit it's magic you're breaking one of the laws of magic itself. That laws of magic is silence. You don't tell anyone you did a spell until it has completed. Why? Because belief effects things and their disbelief can effect your spell. That's right. Not only does keeping your mouth shut prevent people from considering you that crazy weirdo, but it protects your spells from their disbelief and or even active reworking/countering of them!
If you say you are an adult and that you believe in Fairy's people are going to think you're a bit fruity. If you tell them your story of WHY you believe in fairy's they'll wonder if it's safe to have their kids around you.
Here is where the intentional and functional portion of the title come in. Just because you believe in magic doesn't mean that you have to assume or expect everyone else to. Most "diseases" in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) actually are only considered a problem when they start interfering with your ability to lead a happy and functional life. There is no reason why you can't accept that you are choosing to believe in things other people don't believe in AND BE AWARE OF THIS. In other words, what harm is there to your ability to remain functional, if you believe in something and keep awareness of what other people don't believe in.
I will never tell my father that the reason I think he's so good at finding deals is that he is a child of Oya (An Orisha who is master of the marketplace); He would be downright insulted as it doesn't fit into his world view. By keeping aware of what he believes, I can believe what I want and not have it interfere with my interactions with other people. I have become very skilled at learning what other people believe and speaking to them from that point of view.
I'm a mage. My worldview is whatever empowers me the most at the moment. If I'm interacting with a fundamentalist Christian I can promise you that the world view that most empowers that conversation probably includes speaking as if I share theirs... I don't have to believe exactly as they do, but I can control my language and terminology to communicate in the most effective way I can. Instead of telling them that I used telepathy to convince that guy who for 15 miles had been going 35 on the 1 lane freeway that he had to get off the road to go pee, I can keep my mouth shut and extoll "PRAISE GOD" with the other person in the car. He doesn't need to know my efforts. Because that is ALL they are.
That brings me to the next point. Verify, verify, verify. The line between functional insanity and flat out insanity is the word functional. It does me no good to talk to fairy's when there is no benefit from it. If I talk to a fairy and get information from it perhaps I should verify the information. This is the process of building trust. I can't tell you how many budding mages believe that they have a powerful god/spirit/dragon/angel on their side who will blah...blah...blah. If I think I'm casting spells to gather money and I'm flat broke... maybe there's a problem with what I'm doing.
To steal blatently... Judge them by their fruits. If you have a belief and it doesn't help you, then stop believing it. Let me say this again... If you have a belief and it doesn't help you then stop believing it. Our universe is too big to comprehend, models are supposed to help us understand the world so that we can accurately judge consequences. If your model says that you can't be hurt because your guardian spirit will keep you safe from all harm, and you get hurt a couple times in a month... change your model. It makes sense to modify your world-view away from those held by others as long that they empower you more than the ones you used to hold. In fact, if you're a "normal" mage (heheh) you WILL probably end up talking to things that other people don't see. Just make sure to: a) verify your information as you build trust and b) do so in a way that doesn't make the other people decide you can't be trusted.
Power Before Wisdom