Three Keys to Magic - or why the f*** did this insight take so long?

During my early days at work I learned about a simple model to design and implement change projects. This model sprang to my mind recently while in meditation. I had received a request from a reader on how to contact the Olympic Spirits outside of rituals and it seems my subconscious clearly wanted me to revisit this model while pondering about my answer. Until that day I had never thought of the model in magical terms... Well, stupid me!

It's now over two weeks since I came across this initial idea. Since then it turned out that this spark thrown out by my subconscious lit a fire in my little mind on how to better balance my approach on doing magic. Most importantly maybe, on how to break free from the invisible cage I had created around myself: an approach to magic that overly relies on ritual structure to achieve gnosis and communion with spirits. An approach that is willing to sacrifice aliveness on the altar of control and rational consciousness. An approach that had become blind for boundaries that I had accepted as reality. Finally, an approach that almost got me trapped in the invisible cage of ritual tradition, dead letters, empty repetition and the male desire to dominate... 

Actually it turned out that a slightly adjusted version of this model could be the closest thing to an exist door from this invisible cage I have ever come across. Meditating over the application of this model in magical terms allowed me to spot three basic principles - or for lack of a better word, keys. Keys to balancing ones approach to magic in a sustainable and mature way. Something the magical tradition I grew up in didn't provide me with. So it's an insight on my end that is really long overdue... Without further ado let's get down to the nitty gritty. Here is what I found, split into three bite-sized postings. 

Three Keys to Magic - Part 1

Here is the simple consultancy model that is often used for designing and implementing change processes. It was this model that my subconscious threw out while I meditated on the question how to establish contact with spirits - without getting caught in the limiting trap of overlying on ritual structure.

When my mentor shared this model with me years ago he mentioned that it is these three aspects only that need consideration if one wants to bring a new vision to life: 

  1. You need to know the territory and your way through it,
  2. you need to offer support to everyone who hasn't taken this journey before and 
  3. you need to engage with everyone affected and make them own the change as their very own journey.

The model doesn't replace the vision itself, i.e. knowing where you want to go. But it helps planning the journey once the goal is set. Once you have found the place marked 'X' on the treasure map - the model is your best friend to understand how to get there.

Now, applying this model to magic requires some adaption. While the basic concept holds true the language is different in a magical context. So here is a translation of the model into a magical paradigm:

I think there are some interesting insights hidden if we explore what this model can do for us to balance our approach to magic. First I will explain the meaning of each angle in the original consultancy model and than transfer its application to doing magic.

1) Strategy or Intention

Strategy in consultantcy language is the roadmap, it is what describes the territory as well as the road that you have chosen through it. It is the best approximation to the challenges and required resources of the journey ahead of you. Intention as used in this context is much more than the desire to do something. Intention here is the full awareness of, the willingness and commitment to give everything it takes to achieve your goal. This type of intent emerges from a deep state of mental synthesis, a coherent conscious and subconscious understanding of the paradigm you are working in, of the way forces affect each other and how change is brought forth in the language and perspective of the particular tradition you chose to work in. 

Only once we have achieved such a fundamental understanding of the coherence, history and personal impact of the forces we are working with are we ready to speak with intent. Only then can we enter the (inner) temple and utter our will - without having our subconscious and a busload of entities laughing back at us. This is the first step: creating a coherent state of intent - knowing and accepting the path, the costs and the duration of your journey. We have to understand the details of the map before we can chose the path to get to the place marked 'X'.

I guess it also makes sense to point out that sometimes - if we explore territory few people have been to before - we cannot know the exact path and the costs or time it will take to reach our goal. If we have set our mind to embark on such a particular journey it is necessary to accept the unknown risks: to be willing to invest whatever it takes and to immerse yourself with full commitment. In situations like these we need to reach towards the purest from of intent, of unconditional devotion. Unconditional devotion to our work thus becomes a principle requirement for many spiritual journeys. Unfortunately, in real life devotion is often misunderstood as a quality, as an expected result to be gained from spiritual exercise. Yet, devotion is a decision taken in your heart, it is the beginning of the journey, not the end.

Also, this makes it obvious why you don't want to work in several different paradigms or in multiple ritual cycles at once... Your heart can only be devoted to one thing at a time. Once you embark on a journey you have to make sure you stay devoted throughout the entire trip. Or else you will walk of the ship in open sea, assuming you made it to the shore already while drowning in open water.

I guess the reason why this element of any magical approach is easily overlooked is that it is of purely subjective basis. Wether true intent or a state of devotion has been achieved successfully or not - no one except for yourself will see and notice. There are no artifacts, no outside evidence, no objective metrics about the state of your intent. You won't find mentioning of it in any grimoire - or will you? 

What about the long winded passages many of us have skipped while scouting for more effective ritual approaches, the old-fashioned introductions we find in many ancient magical source texts and prayers? What if the veils and doors in front of the sanctum were more important than what is kept inside, or of equal importance at least? What if the stages of purification in advance of our rites, the long-winded statements of intent and purity of heart, what if all these elements were there for a reason? Which is to set in motion a subconscious process of changing the state of our hearts. So maybe these sections really are what they seem to be: Simple, pure expressions of the most important precondition to achieving gnosis or ritual communion - the decision made in your heart of unconditional devotion to your work.

My old teacher kept on reminding me since the days of my first ritual: 

"Any successful rite is accomplished before it was even begun."

I guess, only now I understand what he meant. Conducting a successful ritual is nothing but the headstone to an undertaking whose most important aspects have been accomplished beforehand. The ritual is very much needed, it is an essential moment of giving birth to a new idea, a form or spiritual creation. But it is exactly that: the final moment of birth which was preceded by many months of pregnancy. The entire body of new born, all its physical, astral and mental elements have fully taken shape by the time it is born. 

So this is the first key to magic - accessing a state of clear and unconditional intent.  

(continue to read next part here)