'If you want to begin something new, don’t be afraid to start as a spark.
Don’t be afraid of weakness. All great things begin as a seed in the dark.'
This is what an inner contact recently said to me. I guess I had come to ask for advise without knowing... The last months have been really intense. They began to change my approach to magic more radically than many years of practice had done before. So much is going on in fact I cannot predict at all where these tides will take me in the long-run. Actually I might not be making any progress at all - instead I might have started to go backwards? I guess thinking of progress in a linear way is another one of the concepts I’ll need to give up in order to move forward.
If I pause and look back at the last six months or so there are a few insights and dynamics that dominated my practice. Of course there is no need to be redundant, to share things that have already been written about in longer books or better blogs. Except for the books of Josephine McCarthy, however, nothing had prepared me for these experiences and changes. You won't find mentioning of them in Eliphas Levi's, Crowley's writings, Papus' or most of the other authorities on ritual magic. I really wonder why though? Now, that I have been through them - or that I am still right in the middle of them - they seem so obvious, so logic and basic with regards to HOW magic works, that I wonder why they don't build cornerstones of your average Zelator training? Either way, here are four simple facts I believe many books on ritual magic are missing:
- The Direction of Power: The fact that magic increasingly is about supporting beings around me, rather than refining myself. The latter might come as an effect of the former, yet it certainly isn’t the goal any longer nor does it seem to be important to the beings I work with. How well I perceive the spirits through my mind, how clearly I see them in vision or wether I maintain certain ritual structures seems of ridiculously little importance to them. It seems as a magician I have left the centre of the magical circle a long time ago? Instead I am now working on the periphery - together with many other beings whose origins or names I do not even begin to understand. The center of the circle actually is what we all build together.
- The Access to Power: The fact that I am often shut down from access to magical power. In my previous approach to magic maximizing and maintaining my access to magical power was of critical importance. You could have argued it was the central pillar most of my work as a student revolved around. Continuously increasing my access to magical power seemed the natural end of all my efforts. Because where is a car supposed to go should it run out of fuel? Well, the recent experiences changed my view on this subject so radically that the ‘fuel analogy’ of magical power clearly doesn’t work for me anymore... Today it is much more like working with hazardous or radiating material - exposure to it needs to be limited and all actions in its proximity need to be coordinated and well executed. Short periods of intense concentration and work with huge amount of powers alternate with longer periods without any line of sight to the impact of my actions. When to alternate between these two states is not determined by myself but by the beings that oversee the work I am involved in.
- The Recovery from Holding Power: The fact that when I do magical work I often need weeks to recover from and digest the actions that seemed minor when performed. I guess this one is closely linked to the point above? However, what stands out here is that the actual magical acts I am asked to perform really may seem negligible from the outside: A fifteen minute mediation in my temple while unblocking a gate of power, inviting a new contact to sit with me in the temple and consecrate an object in silence, feeding the spirits present with the substances they ask for - flowers, salt, water, ashes, oil, etc. - keeping a flame and incense burning outside the house, keeping a shrine activated over night when I go to bed, even just sitting in the living room above my temple simply writing things down like I am doing right now... As simple and pure as this might sound, it is quite a challenging experience as it continues to blur the line between laziness and renewal. I guess especially as a German we like some proper engineering and control over our processes. Working in service without being able to see the whole pattern therefore can be deeply unsettling at times.
- The Outer Emergence of Power: The fact that my perception of my day job - and potentially my actions while working in it - become increasingly magical. I find myself in rooms with people, in conversations on the phone or over dinner that seem like gathering in temples. It is the energy and spiritual presence that I only knew from working in temples that suddenly appears in public. Or maybe I am just beginning to see it? Even my personal goals at work, my own vision of who I am in this job, why I am here and what the work is I need to contribute to, they become increasingly magical. The meaning of my work is growing much deeper roots in my own mind - while potentially staying exactly the same on the outside. Or maybe not? Time and the people I work with will tell.
At the end of the day experiencing these four facts has clearly sent me back to primary school. It doesn’t seem to be the exact same primary school I used to be in 15 years ago. Yet it is primary school nonetheless: I am surrounded by beings who all seem much smarter than me; I have been given work that I hardly comprehend; I have no idea where I am going but everybody else seems to know it exactly - and really small things often take huge amount of efforts... like writing an ‘A’ or summing up 2 and 2 or walking on a balance beam.
The only difference is there are absolutely no grades round here. I have absolutely no idea how I am doing. We simply all sit in class and get along with the work. The quality of output or how we get on with things is never discussed. And maybe - besides all the things I believe we are actually achieving together - this is why I am sitting in this strange primary school class again while being bald, middle aged and getting older each day... To let go of the need to know how I am doing.