So as I dive into my Solitary ‘bootstrap’ Witchcraft, guided by years of experience and practice and study and some direct teaching and a whole lot of indirect teaching… I find myself thinking about Magick, trying to define it for myself and the whole how it works and what it really does. I was thinking about this recently as I contemplated the idea of explaining Magick to other folks….. including the secular humanists and the atheists out there, like some of the fine folks at my U.U. Church…
“So you believe that if you rub this oil into this green candle somehow money is just going to come your way?!”
“Well, no… and yes… and well, just how much time do you have right now cause it’s really kind of complicated?!”
~one of the many scenarios that plays out in my fertile imagination….
Before we get too deep here I should point out that this post has been languishing until I was re-reminded of the this clip from the movie Ink, posted by Sannion who was posting a brief post about Magic over at The House of Vines… but I prefer this version…
… for reasons that may become clear soon.
One of the things I am going to try and avoid is the whole science hasn’t figured everything out/trying to justify it discussion. I think that aspect of trying to define it is in the end a side-track.
I am also, for this discussion, set aside the whole changes in consciousness, changing the universe around us according to our will, set of discussions… those of you who have looked into magick are familiar with them (or should be!) and for my purpose tonight (as I write this) it is another sidetrack. I don’t merely believe in magick, I experience it and practice it. The word practice is a key component in understanding what is going on with magick.
Magick is a Spiritual Practice, more ornate and complicated than either seated meditation or visualization/meditation upon the Chakra’s, perhaps, but not as shocking or superstitious as some like to paint it. I would also at this juncture like to point out that there seem to me to be two ways of approaching this practice.
The Non-theistic or Atheistic approach, where in practicing magick you are accessing the hidden powers of the mind and dealing with powerful psychological archetypes underlying all of human understanding.
The Theistic approach, where you are accessing the hidden powers of the mind and soul to attune and communicate and work with the Holy Powers of Creation.
Both approaches work, and both are right. (Of course I say that last as a wildly Theistic, heck I AM Polythesitic, Witch.)
Magick as a spiritual practice works on many levels and accomplishes many things. To better explore this practice, I am going to divine it into 4 parts, based upon the 4 Powers of the Sphinx… also known as the Witches Pyramid… To Know, To Dare, To Will, and To Be Silent
First we start to learn and absorb the ideas and theories and philosophies of Magick. Learning about the techniques of meditation and visualization and ritual and divination/discernment. We learn about the symbols and their meanings and associations. Ideally we are learning or reexamining things like History and Psychology and Environmental Science and Literature and well all of learning.
We begin placing/associating everything in our lives with the structure and relationships provided by the particular cosmological filing cabinet of our particular magickal/religious framework. We start a journey where we more deeply explore our inner world and its connection to the outer world. Starhawk writes of the Acrostic Eye, the way of looking at the world through the lens of magickal practice and Witchcraft. Seeing alternative and often hidden meanings and connections in the world around us.
This is where we begin to grow in our self knowledge as we begin to learn how we relate not only to these symbols but the the qualities and ideas and aspects of the world around us that relate to the particular symbols.
This is where we actually begin practicing. We perform our rituals and engage in meditation and divination. Some of us on the Neo-Aquarian frontier cast spells… sometimes this is as far as folks get… this is a tricky and seductive stage in our development as magickal practioners.
If we are really paying attention to both our studies and the alternative ways of knowing and understanding the world that the Acrostic Eye can provide, we also dare to do something else. We begin to act in accord with our spells. If you are doing a spell for prosperity and money, then you act in accord by polishing up your resume and putting in extra hours at work and watching what your spending. You dare to believe in magick and give it as many avenues in your life to work itself out as you can.
Like the old joke about how if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket? It’s true whether you are talking about prayer or magick.
With the increased understanding of ourselves, our motivations, and desires, and strengths, and weaknesses, there also comes an increase in our personal effectiveness in getting what we want. At the same time we are also getting better at understanding what we REALLY want versus what we think we’d like or what others have told us we want. We become more centered and effective human beings. Our personal will power grows as we decide what we really want and begin to work magickally and mundanely to accomplish this.
While we are doing this, we are also opening ourselves up to a deeper relationship with the world around us; with other people and, for the wildly theistic amongst us, with all the Holy Powers of the world. Alongside the increased and altered understandings of ourselves and the world around us, and the increase in personal effectiveness and the development of our personal will ~ if we are serious about our practice and diligent and maybe a little lucky~ we begin to perceive and align ourselves to our True Will.
Will, with a capital “W”, as being an ongoing effort to live from moment to moment a path of action in perfect harmony with Nature or the Universe; to seek ones ultimate Destiny.
TO KEEP SILENT
“You mustn’t speak of magick, for secrecy increases power!”
~usually said in that serious and breathless mock spiritual tone meant to imply that the speaker is just simply seething with occult power and has access to vast spiritual wisdom, and on very, very, very rare occasions they actually are and do.
… a lot of times though they may as well have Makita stamped across their foreheads.
And, well, yes it sometimes can but it can also sometimes really complicate things… life is like that.
This is not only where I am going to possibly lose those atheists and secular humanists, but also where things get a little complicated and messy. This is the point that a lot of definitions or explanations of magick get hung up on…up to this point everything has had some reasonable or rational or psychological or positive visualization or well an every day explanation. Then something happens.
Some piece of magick you do, some momentary perception, something goes beyond your ability to cite coincidence, you can’t rationalize it and the whatever it is sinks deep into your psyche and self and world view and the universe cracks open a little, this is where magick really begins to work.
Something happens and you experience something that you can try to explain and struggle to find the words for but you can’t, because religious and spiritual mysteries have to be experienced they can’t be explained. I know, I’ve tried, and failed.
That’s why the fourth power is To Be Silent, not because secrecy builds power (see above) but because there are things in life and in Spiritual Practices that you can only experience but never really explain. The only ones who can really understand are those who’ve shared your experience or similar ones.
The other mystery here, other than the whatever it is that brings you to this point, is that both the theistic and the atheistic practitioner reaches this point… we just have very different lenses through which we view it.
Then the real Work begins…