The spiritual funk. We all go into a fallow cycle from time to time. It happens in our mundane lives, in our creative work, in our relationships. Sometimes the leaves have to fall. Sometimes the branches have to go unadorned. That is wisdom. But just because we can understand something with our heads doesn’t mean we will accept it in our hearts.
For me, periods of spiritual dryness are extremely painful. Magical ecstasy is my drug of choice. And I go into withdrawal relatively quickly. This is why I choose* to lead the magical life—I live to feel the power coursing around me, enveloping me, extending my presence and awareness, bringing me into greater capacity and understanding. It amounts to being reminded, moment by moment, that the world is a magical place, that I am part of that magic, and that I am participating in a deeper truth. But every now and then, the universe takes those sensitivities and awarenesses away and all I can do is hurt.
When I’m in a spiritual funk, I’m not a pleasant person. I drink more coffee than I should. I tend to lack patience or compassion. I tend to feel empty, spiritually dry, desolate, and despondent. Depression can come out of nowhere in such times. And the only spirits, if any, who show up on my altars are the parasitic assholes looking to get a free meal from tormenting me. Getting rid of them is usually a matter of employing the physical materia I’ve already made for this time—three-herb baths, egg purifications, dogwood and dragonsblood incense in the burner, things that don’t require my soul to work very hard. I go through the motions, completely numb inside, assiduously not thinking about whether things are going to work out, or whether I’m on track in my life, or whether so-and-so hates me, or whether I have enough money, time, life, love, power, peace, etc. Instead, I make an appointment with myself to worry later, when I’m feeling like myself again, whenever that will be.
In a spiritual funk, all considerations and impressions skew to the extreme negative. The light darknes. And great inner suffering is possible because all my gates stand open and unguarded, all my vulnerabilities are laid bare. I’ve gone through it again and again over the years, learning by dint of painful repetition that I need to discipline my thoughts as well as my actions—that a time when my spirits have gone away and my power is non-existent is no time to expect progress in anything. I just practice the bare minimum of spiritual hygeine, close up shop, and wait for it to be over.
I am presently at the end of one of these periods. Though I wish my energetic cycles could be as predictable as the waxing and waning of the moon or the precession of the equinoxes, the spiritual funkiness follows its own irregular course. I have tried to track it, believe me. It runs neither in accordance with diet, sleep patterns, stress, magical activity, astrology, holidays, sabbats, nor with various esoteric calendars. Rather, like a spirit (which I suspect it may ultimately be), my spiritual funk arrives when it wants and departs just the same. If anything, it serves as a reminder that no matter how powerful I may feel, I am still not so powerful that I can overwhelm every opposition and not so farseeing that I can obviate every obstruction.
It’s my personal Law of Polarity: “"Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled" (The Kybalion). As my power grows, so does my weakness, both expressing themselves in my life at different times. I should accept this as a manifestation of universal law. But it is not in the nature of a sorcerer to accept, to follow orders, to bow down to power. Rather, a sorcerer is a spiritual revolutionary of the Inner Planes. When I’m weak, I’m going to fight hard to get strong again, even if all I can do is burn some banishing incense, crawl into my study with a big cup of coffee, and write this post.
As fellow sorcerer, Brother Moloch, puts it: “My path is my own. It is not your path. You do not get to evaluate me – what I do, how I do it, who I do it for or what I charge to do it. Got that? My motivations are my own. My machinations are my own. I am free because I do what I want to do without anyone standing over me and looking down at me. No one tells me what to do. I’m NOT WICCAN. I am a Sorcerer, bitch, deal with it!” (The Eye of the Sorcerer)
I’m a sorcerer, above all else. For me, this means I can partake of many different systems and beliefs but it also means I struggle every day against the forces of inertia, ignorance, spiritual brokenness, nihilistic materialism, unthinking conformity, and that which would harm the innocent. To be a sorcerer is to fight in a perpetual war against these things by teaching, performing rituals for myself and others, and encouraging people to find their own paths. I operate with dangerous beings and volatile materials and I do it often in solitude, knowing that only the chosen few will ever understand my work. Such is the life I lead. But in times of spiritual funkiness, I know the best thing to do is hole up and wait for the storm to pass.
* choose is such a problematic word in this sentence. Do I choose it or does it choose me? Or is “choosing to lead a magical life” (a life informed and guided by magic) merely a linguistic convention, a useful fiction, for expressing the highly mysterious possibility that choice is actually irrelevant, that I am a condensation of magic itself and that coming to the knowledge and conversation of my inherent magic is merely a realization of what is always in the process of coming into being.