Letters to a Young Sorcerer #1: I am not special. Neither are you.

Fludd's Great Chain of Being

As I resume my spiritual practice with 4 new clients in the last 24 hours, the truth of this work, the “essential spirit” of it, comes back to me.  So my first “letter” to those just starting out in this field has to do with what the work really is and what it really isn’t.  In order to understand what I’m about to tell you, you need to accept one hard-cut truth: I am not special, even though I practice sorcery.  You are not special, either.

I’ve written about some of the hard lessons being a spiritual worker has taught me.  And I’ve pointed out more than once that conjure, divination, and sorcery are like learning to play the piano.  Most people can learn it to a competent degree if they work hard at it, but only a few will be brilliant.  If you are sure that you aren’t one of those brilliant few (and can you really be sure?), who cares

Who says that unflattering self-perception must stop you from doing what you love?  That is true for physics, coaching basketball, flying planes, teaching yoga, playing Texas Hold’em, investing, or seducing the innocent.  Being a mediocre practitioner of an art is still practicing it.  The only harm comes when you overstate your skill level.

Some plumbers are just more talented than others and do more impressive work.  Some poets write more resonant lines than others.  Some historians have more penetrating insights into the past.  But if you wanted to, you could start studying physics, coaching, flying, yoga, poker, investing, seduction, plumbing, poetry, or history and learn those disciplines well enough to identify as a practitioner.  Doing that will not set you apart from your fellow man or reveal you as some kind of messiah, genius, chosen one, or superhero.  It will mean you applied yourself, did the reading, learned, grew as a person, and became competent.

The same goes for magic.  Like anything else, it takes practice and dedication, no matter how much talent you may or may not have.  Some will be born with a gift for that particular sort of work.  But sorcery, like anything we decide to do, is part of what it is to be human.  As a human, you can learn it if you really want to.  We forget that sometimes.  If, as the chaos magician and farmer, Gordon White, puts it, “the universe runs on magic,” then I also suggest: you are magic.  In fact, we all are. 

Like the new age saying goes, you are a spiritual being having a human experience.  Sometimes the most challenging hurdle for a beginning sorcerer is accepting this.  Lingering Victorian materialism has taught us that magic is part of the SUPER-natural—that which is above and beyond the natural (or, for many scientists, that which is merely fantasy and does not actually work or exist in any meaningful way).  But other eras never saw a disconnect between the body and the soul, the magical and the mundane. 

It was all part of a continuum, a Great Chain of Being.  Most often, when we study the magical arts, we are learning the principles founded in those other eras, not in our current technocratic scientistic age.  Even the famous Victorian magical societies turned to classical antiquity and the Renaissance for inspiration and guidance, mining the great libraries and museums of Europe for grimoires and philosophical texts. 

So it is in our current magical schools as well.  But far too many would-be sorcerers and half-baked magicians turn to the occult because they want to escape reality instead of understand and engage with it.  They want magic to be SUPER-natural because the natural world of their mundane lives is boring and painful and they feel small.

They want to be special, chosen, sought after.  They want money.  They want sex.  They want to be the guru.  And when they advertise their services as sorcerers, they act like magic is a rare jewel that only the chosen few possess.  Maybe they even believe this.  But whether they know they’re lying or they’re just doing it out of ignorance, the fact remains that they are misleading others, obscuring the truth that sorcery can be taught to just about anyone.  It can even be self-taught.

This attitude comes as much from their damaged egos and need for admiration as it does from pop-culture.  Harry Potter is very special, you know?  But this sense of magic being somehow “out there” is false.  And it leads to deceptive marketing and puffery on the part of these lost souls who quickly go from wanting to be the guru to lying to clients about the occult and their own exaggerated abilities.  My first letter to you, young sorcerer, is therefore a warning: don’t be like this.

If you want to do this kind of work, you have to get over yourself and remember: you are not special; you are neither worse nor better than anyone else.  You have a certain skill set.  If you’re good enough at it (as with anything) people will pay you for it. 

If you want to work as a public sorcerer, if you want to get good enough that you can shift probability, call spirits to appearance, influence minds at a distance, draw money and love, cast and remove curses, perform blessings and cleansings, know the innermost recesses of the self, communicate with the dead, and understand the spiritual quintessence that underlies all nature, hard work and dedication is the only way.  Period.

Practice, study, mindful experimentation, and finding a magical community of peers with whom you can discuss these things is how you do it.  You have to develop the wisdom to know who is awake and who is still struggling in the chains of reductive materialism.  You also have to learn how to care for yourself because this road is long and unforgiving.

All of the above abilities and more are attainable, in whole or in part, by all but the most magically tone-deaf people (who are likely unnaturally gifted at some other things—the world tends to balance itself like that and I’d rather have a talented plumber fix my water heater than a spirit conjured from the Verum, wouldn’t you?).  And I don’t mean to seem inordinately harsh when I tell you that you need to stay humble and avoid developing a messiah complex.  But I also don’t write this letter to make you feel good.  

I write this because I care about the magical art and want it to thrive.  The only way that’s going to happen is if there is new blood, if the new generation of spiritual workers, grimoire magicians, witches, and psychics are real and not fake.  Those of us who have been walking the path for decades will eventually have to move over and let others lead.  It is the way of things.  And it is our job to make sure that when that happens, the young people who step up will do so with power, sincerity, wisdom, and truth.

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