(...) Herein lies the crux of vertical development: at first sight it seems like a loosing game. Any time we move forward on our vertical ascent the journey begins with us being proven wrong, with us accepting that part of the reality we had lived in is an illusion. Step by step we discover more subjective filters that ‘have us’ rather than us ‘having’ them. As anybody who has raised kids knows - growing up is a damn hard business. You bleed dreams, phantasies and imagined powers on this path more than you can care to count.
This essay in two chapters is exploring what in Kabbala is often referred to as the 'rainbow path'. A cryptical reference in most books only - referring to a pathway of direct mystical ascent. To begin with, and in order to ground our exploration in everyday life, we'll be looking at the contemporary field of adult learning - and a related philosophy and practice of facilitating deep personal change that emerged from it recently.
Fearless at Work actually isn't a book about work. It's a book about cowardice. The kind of cowardice most of us comfortably have forgotten about, and to aid that process we conveniantly began to call it everyday life. It's the cowardice that masks itself as numb acceptance or bitter withdrawal, as grudging tolerance or thick-skinned suffering. Fearless at Work is a book about the siege-mentality that most of us have come to live in these days.
Published in 1888 - during the same year as the publication of the opus magnum of the Theosophic Society, Blavatsky's 'Secret Doctrine' as well as the inception of the first temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn - Waite wrote this article at the dawn of the currents that would come to define Western magic in the 20th century. It thus allows a glimpse into how one of the GD’s earliest members rationalised and comprehended their own magical tradition - before going on to forge a new link in this chain through their own order. If we allow ourselves to forget the forged letters of Fräulein Sprengel, it’s in this early essay that we can find a lot of the intellectual assumptions as well historic roots the early GD emerged from.
(...) what I had misunderstood is what the term ‘work’ actually stands for. The Latin word ‘producere’ can be translated literally as to ‘bring forth’ or ‘draw out’. So in my simple Western mind ‘work’ was something that flowed from the inside outwards. From intend to action and from action to result. I understood work as the process of achieving a state of change by means of applying ourselves to the world. May it be through the help of our hands, of our minds or words. Whatever interface between us and the world we choose to use, work was an active noun, the opposite of death almost, and altogether a pretty safe sign for being alive.
(...) General theories about the nature of the being Choronzon are completely meaningless. By following them you are just led further away from what needs exploring. All they do is to put another label on top of an existing one - and thus seal away the actual experience even further. — I’d like to hope that for Crowley Choronzon wasn’t a label - but a living seal that expressed and summarised his personal experiences in the Abyss. It was the ‘you’ that he encountered on his journey into this darkest of places. If we really have to, then I’d encourage all of us to find our own Choronzon, our own ‘you’s as we explore the magical realm.
The most essential dependency we encounter as magicians is our ability to extend our sensual ‘reach’ beyond the physical realm. Wether we call them ‘siddhis’ or ‘astral senses’ - without being able to open our senses to input from beyond the physical realm any spirit will struggle to directly connect with us.
The following chapters explore the subject of Resilience and Renewal from the viewpoint of the practicing magician. The tools and models we will apply, however, will not be ‘magical’ by any means. Instead they stem from various fields of modern research such as behavioural science, science of sports or performing arts. Such choice of tools is not meant to devalue any magical approaches on the subject, but rather highlight their wide absence in the Western Tradition as we will see. Still, irrespective of their origins none of these tools will work unless they are practically applied - repeatedly.
The world around me seems to go crazy with the idea of self-optimization. To be more precise I should say: with the idea of self-quantification. Unfortunately the difference between the two seems to be insignificant to many? And that's where trouble begins... Let me suggest to go on a little walk. A walk back and forth between our everyday lives and our lives in the circles of the magical art.
Over the last weeks I spent a lot of time diving deep into current research on empathy and its relation to the common psyche of mages and witches. I summarised what I learned in this article. Yet, once finished realisation hit me that I had missed an essential point. What this was, was to reflect on the purely practical implications of empathy in magic - outside of the realms of psychology, sociology and history. So here it is...
Petting Scorpions is an expression I came across in Daniel Smith’s book ‘Monkey Mind’. It is a small volume exploring the reality of living with anxiety disorders from a very personal point of view. In essence, Daniel is sharing his own story of dealing with his multiple anxieties from when they first emerged to the present day as an author, husband and parent. It is no happy-ending story, as he remarks himself. Rather it is a story that enables one to take a closer look at the siamese twin relationship one needs to accept when suffering from this kind of mental disorder.
(...) So I thought about it - all human behavior is goal orientated. Upon pondering about it I began to realise its distortion. I found many examples of great human achievements for which it is inaccurate: people in love may act based upon compassion, soldiers in an army act based upon orders, medical doctors in contaminated areas act upon self-abandonment.
There is a fascinating book called ‘Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn’ by Amira El-Zein. I started reading it right after finishing Bill Gray’s biography. At this point I cannot share a full review of it yet - it is soon to come though - but want to take a moment of something important it helped me to see...
I am conscious The Aggression Cycle doesn't take the typical approach of introducing a new model to our magical practice. Stealing from Gestalt Psychology - a specific type of psychotherapy many magicians and even psychologists mistrust for various reasons - and applying the insights found to ritual magical practice might just push the boundaries a little too much. Well, I am not sure it does.
Many of us when they were young had imaginary friends. For all of us who are now frowning, thinking ‘Well, not me!’ I honestly wish you've had as well. The question wether imaginary friends are better or worse than real ones is pretty irrelevant here. What is relevant is how either of them enrich our lives. Let me explain why I think this is not only true for the subject of imaginary friends...
Another year comes to an end. An opportunity to clean our desks, get rid of dead freight, misperceptions and to answer some essential questions. To me the essential question I take away from this rich year of magical practice, learning and sharing is this: ‘Why use Magic?'
It’s a simple fact of life that every force manifests in power and direction. Each force might carry its individual threshold at which it converts from being stagnant to setting into motion. Yet once this level has been surpassed, the result is movement in a defined direction. Thus the two states any force within or around us can assume is either being stagnantly bound or being set free in motion.
When I wrote the earlier parts on Working in Service I knew there needed to be at least one more. The first one is focussed on tearing down the divide between inside and outside, the second one explores the concept of creativity in relation to working in service magically. In this third post I am looking at the fundament to all of this - our ability to live in self-confidence.
In the previous part we looked at how magic works from an inner perspective, wether triggered consciously or unconsciously. The focus of the model shared was to examine how our 'True Will' and our unconscious desires interact with the world around us, in order to create experiences that resonate with their charges. It also showed how the impact of our behavioral reply - both on ourselves and our future experiences - will vary wether we chose to think about it, talk about it, act upon it or process it in form of a ritual.
After all the inner work of recent months I needed a break and happily returned to a different kind of work - something a little more structured and outwardly focussed. In fact I had started this piece of work more than five years ago and then continuously refined and adjusted it. Still, sharing it today doesn’t mean it is final - like all models it will always remain work in progress. Yet, hopefully it has arrived at a stage where its logic is consistent and can be advantageous in sparking new thoughts about how magic actually works?