With the recent release of the Magical Knowledge III I thought it's a good time to share a fundamental magical insight I only realised through Josephine McCarthy's liminal books. Actually it's a quite embarrassing to admit that I have spent so many years practicing magic without understanding this very basic principle - as everything you want to achieve in magic really flows from it. Yet, embarrassing or not - a life led to looking good must be pretty boring? You simply miss out on all the playfulness. So here we go...
It all starts with the simple acknowledgment that contact on a physical level moves from the outside in. Here the borders are easy to guard. The magical circle is in plain sight around us. Any intruder can be defended and banished: a needle that pierces through our skin can be pulled out, food that looks rotten can be avoided, an uncomfortable meeting can be ended and left. We are basically in control and our body is our border to the world.
Inner contact, however, moves in the opposite direction, from the inside out. Here the borders are much harder to guard. Differentiating between I and Thou, between what is genuinely ours and genuinely foreign becomes the journey of a lifetime. Yet what we have to understand at all times is that once something has gained access on an inner level to our being it will move through to the outside. i.e. affect our nervous system, our physical body and ultimately the world around us.
Thus the risks and dangers in making contact are inverted on an outer and inner level. On the outside the most basic risk of any encounter is physical harm - a car crash, a robbery, domestic violence, etc... Once this has been experienced and our bodies have healed, however, the inner impact still has to be assessed. It’s only during the last two hundred years that we started to understand the ‘inner wounds’ that can follow physical harm - or even can be cut from encounters that come without any physical harm. During encounters on the outside we can only observe and predict the impact on our physical level with certainty. Anything related to our inner experience remains hidden - and can only be explored with much effort and not rarely professional help.
The risk and dangers on the inner realm are inverted to the above: Once in vision we can connect to all sorts and ranks of spiritual forces and beings relatively easily - not realizing the consequential impact these will unfold on our nervous system or physical body. Contact is made on an inner level first, i.e. our mind receives impulses in form of images, colours, words and inner experiences. What these experiences really are exchanges of energies veiled in the forms of living images words, colours, lights, etc.
While we wander through the inner realms certain images or actions can seem completely innocent or even irrelevant - whereas their impact on our minds, senses and bodies will be incredible. Immersing ourselves in water, crossing a river, walking through fire, entering of a temple, touching a being made from sand or stone - all these actions can easily be mistaken for momentarily, short experiences without further consequences while working in vision. ‘Let’s just try this and see what happens...?’ ‘Oh, this form looks strange, I wander what happens if I touch it here...?’
Because we have forgotten about the powers and currents that flow from the inside out, we often don’t realize them anymore once we are placed in front of them. In the outside world we know that putting our hands on a buzz saw or pressing our faces into the coals of a fire just won’t help. Due to our incredible naivety when it comes to inner work - as well as two-thousand years of deliberate Christian misinformation - we have forgotten the basic rules of engagement in the inner realms.
Wether walking in vision or on the outside world sharpening our senses is what creates the key to surviving without too much harm. The hebrew word for key is 'opener'. Our senses are the gates in the magic circle that we are: they open our contact borders to bring us in touch with the world around us and within us. Hearing, smelling, tasting, seeing, feeling - all these ‘openers’ are interfaces that work in two directions. They are the tools given to us wether we wander in the desert of the inner realm or down the high street of our local town.
There is a lot of magic these ‘openers’ can help us achieve in the outside world. It is up to us to use and develop them until they become true magical paraphernalia built into our own being... It’s our choice if our sense of touching will only be consciously activated once we get hit by a hammer or nakedly lying on another breathing human being. It’s our choice how fine our sense of contact will be developed throughout this life-time. On the other end of the dimension of touching we find a touch so sensitive it not only tells us something about the surface of the object we are touching right now, but also about the impact this experience will have on us once it passes from the outside in: which emotional experiences will we make in encountering this object or being, which memories will be connected to it? Magicians who have developed a strong sense of touch on the outside won’t burn themselves out, they will spot early once they are on the path to depression, once they overwork, once they have to move house or stop seeing people whose inner impact has become detrimental to them. Through their sense of ‘being in touch’ they sense the outer shapes of beings and things - as well as their inner qualities and impacts on themselves. The veil between outside and inside has grown thin.
Achieving and training such a mature sense of touch can be done according to the most simple terms. For example just look at the food during your next meal. Don’t touch it yet. But do image the touch of the first bite on your tongue, on your throat, in your belly and how it merges with your blood and fat cells. What do you experience? How does the inner touch of the food feel? What physical reactions will it trigger? Which emotions will it release? Then eat the first bite. Follow it on its way through your body. Compare what you find. All outer experiences move from the outside in - and it is on the inside where we need to listen carefully, to train our senses and become observant to their hidden effects upon our inner (well-)being. This is the magic of the outside.
On the inner realm - most often accessed via dreams or conscious visionary types of magic - the ‘openers’ of our senses work in exactly the same way, just the flow of power is reversed. Things can seem harmless on the inside - as a visionary image, smell or touch - but unfold their true impact on our outer (well-)being only once they moved through the inner layers of ourselves and materialized in the realms of our bodies and outer lives.
So here is the thing that has long been overlooked: getting yourself in trouble is just as easy on the outside as on the inside. The real medal of honour for true magician is to do heavy magical lifting and to stay physically, emotional and mentally healthy. Luckily, becoming an experienced and well-balanced mage requires exactly the same skills as leading a healthy life: raising our level of awareness about the contacts we are constantly engaging in unconsciously.
To me a happy life just as any successful magic starts with developing a very essential, in fact the only skill that matters. It sounds so basic, almost so boring that it is often overlooked: learning to listen, learning to feel, to breathe, to see, to walk, to pass through, to smell and taste with full consciousness. True magic begins and ends with becoming aware. Which is why it is terribly hard and can only be learned by not trying at all.
All of our ‘openers’ are already there, perfectly finished and waiting for us to realize how much they have to show us... Balance and perfection in magic are achieved by building up a strong and focussed intent and then by giving over control and becoming a conduit of what needs to come through. The more tension there is in our physical bodies and spiritual minds the harder we make it for experiences to pass through all layers of ourselves seamlessly - may it be inside out or vice versa.
Earth, water, fire air are all perfect elements - as their is no tension between their inside and outside. They are perfect conduits of the forces they are subject to, they engage and let go of contact without desire, following the only intent they have been given: to be fire, to be earth, to be water, to be air... In being what they are, guided by their pure intent, they are free of fears or concerns. Nothing bad can happen to them, nothing they need to protect or control. They are giving themselves over to each moment: being fire now, being earth now, being water, being air now...
What if we held the same intent with the same purity for just a split second: to be human. All forces bundled within us flowing seamlessly into the world around us just for a split second. All experiences waiting on the outside approaching us with ease and moving into and through us without any resistance for just a split second. Emotionless, just following our one intent: to be human.
Of course perfection is the hardest thing to achieve. It takes incredible discipline and attention and practice and patience to achieve something so pure, so simple. As always in life: complex is easy. It's the simple that is hardest to achieve.