Magic: a Definition in Progress

Here’s a new definition for magic that I’ve been refining.  I think there’s more to it, but I’m trying to approach this in a thoughtful, methodical way.  The other day, I brought it up in a talk with a client and it’s still tapping me on the shoulder, asking to be born.  So, tentatively, I’ll let it be what it is at the moment: Magic is the subtle art of taking responsibility for yourself on all levels: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in terms of right perception, right action, right feeling, and right knowing—in order to advance your development and well-being in a way that is in harmony with the flow of all things.  This definition intrigues me in a number of ways.  For now, I’ll just put it here and continue thinking about it.

Magical Targeting and Resistance

This is a sequel to an earlier post, “On Cursing and Being Cursed: a Hermetic Perspective.”  In that post, I talked about my vision (based on The Kybalion’s Hermetic “Principle of Mentalism) of how a curse can take root in the energy field (the aura) of a target:

[A] curse will function by creating its vibration in the target, who will then radiate that vibration (usually without knowing it) into various aspects of his life.  All retribution and judgment begins with the Self or, as The Kybalion puts it in “The Principle of Mentalism,” “All is Mind.”

If the target, truly in the deep core of himself, believes he doesn’t deserve to suffer, he will resist the curse vibration on some level.  But, of course, to resist something is also to have a relationship with it.  This is how an unjustified curse can make mischief in the life of an innocent.  Essentially, by resisting, the innocent (consciously or unconsciously) accepts the reality of having to resist a curse and is then struggling against it and feeling some of its effects.  But those effects are usually short-lived, if still upsetting.

Since I wrote this, two different readers have asked me the same question: if the target has to accept the curse vibration, why can’t a target just decide not to accept?  After all, nobody wants to be cursed, right?

My first response to this question is to refer the reader back to the quoted paragraphs above.  In my view, there has to be “acceptance” of the curse vibration in the target, but I’m suggesting that there is more to the mind than just our conscious everyday awareness.  When a curse is effective, such acceptance takes place on a very deep level. 

I believe we have many levels of “self.”  But, for the purposes of this discussion, let’s say that we at least have something called an “unconscious,” aka an “inner child” or “deep self.”  These terms are not perfectly synonymous, but they all point to an inner dimension in us which is alive and aware but which operates according to different rules than our everyday, responsible, rational minds.

Everything that seems true and authentic without us being fully able to explain why (“I have a good feeling about this”) resonates with this deep self.  Gut reactions, hunches, psychic experiences, déjà vu, all kinds of things that seem mysterious to our daily conscious awareness originate in this deep self (which I also believe is the location of magical link or energetic connection point to everything else in existence, but that is material for a different post).

The deep self doesn’t function as a responsible citizen of the world; it’s not socially acceptable.  It runs on urges, fear, lust, the Pleasure Principle.  It loves and hates.  And sometimes it passes judgement on the Self as a whole without the person even being aware of it.  We might be able to consciously rationalize why we did a certain thing, but the deep self may still feel a lot of self-blame, guilt, and shame about it.  Such self-judgement is how one accepts the vibration of a curse.  In some way, a person has already decided that they should be punished.  The curse vibration shows up at the edge of the aura and says, “Hello, I’m the essence of this punishment.”  And the deep self answers, “Come in.  I’ve been expecting you.”

Resistance comes when the deep self hasn’t passed this judgment.  The curse vibration shows up and the deep self answers, “I don’t deserve this punishment!”  Then a struggle ensues with the curse trying to convince the deep self to let it in and the deep self refusing.  This is what happens when an innocent is cursed.  Some of the curse effects will take place in a minor way because the curse is saying “You deserve to be punished!” and eventually the innocent deep self will ask, “Why?” which will let a little bit of the curse in past the outer barrier of the aura.  But if the deep self is truly convinced of its innocence, the majority of the curse will not get through.  There will be no acceptance of that vibration.

There is a way around this, however.  The aura can only withstand so much before it is overwhelmed.  Think of it this way: if you tie someone up in a basement and scream something in that person’s face every day for a long time, what you scream will eventually become the person’s reality.  In mundane life, this is called “brainwashing” and it is sadly real.  But it takes a long time to break a person’s resistance down to the point at which they accept an alternate vision of themselves and the world, maybe years.  It takes far less time with magic.

This is a darker application of what we call “duration work”—magic worked over a consistent period of time.  This is also why some practitioners, especially hoodoo workers and ATR professional sorcerers employed to curse and cross others, claim no one has ever resisted one of their workings.  It is simply because they set up long-term curses that they maintain every day.  So no matter what a person truly believes about themselves on a deep level, whether they feel they deserve the punishment or not, they will eventually let it in.*  You can only say “no” so many times before you say “yes.”

This works even when a person is so innocent that he or she doesn’t even understand the situation.  Consider what “innocence” actually is: it’s a combination of ignorance and sincerity.  When a person is sincere, she is not lying or pretending or otherwise being false.  When she is ignorant, she lacks experience and doesn’t possess the knowledge that comes from having taken part.  Both of these qualities can be altered through violent brainwashing (i.e. convincing someone that they’re actually a blameworthy imposter—actually very similar to “gaslighting”) and, on a magical level, keeping up a vibratory assault on a person’s aura over time.  When no becomes yes, even an innocent person will then say, “I deserve to be punished.”

Is this evil?  In many cases, it is certainly that.  But nothing is absolute.  Sometimes, even an innocent person will deserve to be targeted with hostile magic.  Consider the situation where a sociopathic teen is mocking and tormenting a disabled classmate on a regular basis (something I saw first-hand years ago when I was a high school teacher).  The bully has a messed-up home life and enjoys taking out his frustration by releasing it on a defenceless target.  This is abhorrent to most people, but this kid doesn’t understand how much suffering he’s causing.  All he can see is his own pain and how much better it feels to be the torturer instead of the tortured.

In this case, the bully is “innocent.”  He is ignorant of the significance of his actions and sincere in the sense that he doesn’t really know what’s going on.  He doesn’t have the knowledge and experience of choosing to be a bully; he’s just an snarling little animal striking out.  And this innocence might protect him the way it often protects children from magical creatures and harmful workings.  But let’s also say that the bullying is not stopping and the disabled kid is in now danger of taking his own life; none of the parents want to be involved; and the school is so poorly run that no one will do anything.  But something must be done.  In this situation, baneful magic (note: not lethal magic, but potent enough to stop someone from continuing a course of action) is indicated.  Even though the bully is relatively innocent, he needs strong medicine.

Obviously, the above example comes from my real-life observations.  I will add that I did use magic to solve the situation and protect the disabled student.  And it worked.  But it caused a lot of distress to the bully, which was appropriate and not pretty.  This is to say that nothing is open-and-shut, black-and-white.  There are no absolutes, only shades of gray.  It’s up to us to determine the highest good based on our subjective conditioning, values, and life experiences. 

So it’s good to know how to overwhelm magical resistance in others.  Although, this knowledge can be dangerous in the hands of an unethical person and it is not a license to go cursing others with impunity.  I don’t believe in new-age concepts of karma and Law of Return, but I do believe that what goes around comes around because what we do defines our character.  And character is destiny.

 

* A crafty sorcerer will also include elements that drain a person’s inner resistance to make the resistance collapse more quickly.

All Magic is Sexual—but what does this mean?

“All Magick is sexual. Indeed, all life is sexual. It is either overt or implied, invoked or directed, stored or released. The Mass of the Roman Catholic Church is every bit as much a pantomime of the sex act as the ‘Great Rite’ of the witches.  The real question is ‘what is sex symbolic of?'”  — Lon Milo DuQuette, The Magick of Thelema

“Sex is a sharing of energies, a blending. And sex embraces all of the senses, as all are equal pathways through which we can receive power. Its placement at the top of our pentacle reminds us first and foremost that we are sexual beings, and that any attempt to escape this basic fact flies in the face of reality. If we map the pentacle to the human body, the point of Sex occupies the head. This is a reminder of the old saying that the biggest sex organ in the body is the brain. In the act of sex, we merge physically with another, but this is just one layer of the sexual experience. We become energetically permeable and thus able to open to outside energies and influences. In the ecstatic state, that heightened sexual consciousness opens and we are able to touch powers greater than just ourselves. In Sex we open up to life force.” — Storm Faerywolf, Betwixt and Between

It means exchange, meta-communication, conversation, and the heightened consciousness this brings.  Worked effectively, all magic results in becoming more conscious.  With that in mind (pun!), we ask: what is consciousness?  What part of me becomes more conscious through the communicative act of magic?  Where does the magic begin (and end)?  And who am I as a result of this psycho-sexual becoming?  Finding our own answers to these questions leads us away from the comforting servitude of “Thy Will Be Done” and into the very difficult and sometimes scary world of “My Will Be Done.”

A More Nuanced Model of Magic

Imagine a tunnel running from your body to the magical result you desire.  Energy-information-spirit flows from the universe inside you down the tube toward the objective.  It also flows in the other direction, from the objective back into you and your inner universe.  This looks a lot like a discourse.  So it should come as no surprise that “conversation” is one model magicians have recently used to explain how magic gets done.

To a certain extent, the conversational model of magic is based on Frater UD’s legendary “Models of Magic” essay, in which he notes that “magic as a whole has always existed in many, coexisting models. What has changed, however, is the stress laid on one model or the other in the course of time.”  A very interesting stress comes to us through Speech Act Theory via the “chaos magick” of the 1980s: “Speech act theory considers language as a sort of action rather than a medium to convey and express” (https://bit.ly/2ueftVJ).  In other words, the act of speaking (and the act of magic) creates as it describes.  I communicate something to the universe, causing change, and it communicates something to me the same way.

This is nothing new: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Genesis 1:1).  Most religions and philosophies begin with an utterance.  But in western consensus culture, the popular mind is conditioned to overlook this.  People think only in terms of basic cause and effect (a crude syllogism): if I do X, then I get Y, where X is something that originates in my mind and Y is something brought into being in the world outside of me because of me acting on X.  This sounds a lot like early industrial reductive materialism, which assumes we are disconnected bodies colliding in space.  There is no oversoul in this view, which is probably why it’s something modern magicians have to overcome before their workings become effective.  The conversational model, on the other hand, can be far more nuanced and useful. 

Magic is as hard to define as love or truth.  It’s a concept that is highly mediated by cultural context and becomes concrete or abstract to the extent required in a given rhetorical situation.  For example, I might talk about magic in terms of Speech Act Theory, making it quite abstract and theoretical.  I might talk about it from the perspective of folklore, which will necessarily make it a lot more tangible (i.e. talking about magic as it exists in certain stories and legends).  I might even place it in an archaeological context, which would make it extremely concrete (i.e. these are the curse tablets, religious tools, or enchanted adornments used at a given place and time).  Unfortunately, Aleister Crowley’s usually half-quoted, highly abstract and permissive definition of magic has dominated Western esoteric traditions at least since 1913 when Liber ABA was made available, allowing “if X, then Y” assumptions to persist.

Crowley’s most often (incompletely) quoted definition of magic from Book 4—“MAGICK is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”—is too loose and vague if we want to look at the interaction that takes place in a magical process.  If we make his definition a little more complete (“MAGICK is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will. . . . Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one’s conditions. It is the Art of applying that understanding in action.”), then we come a bit closer to the idea of conversation.  But we’re still working with an abstraction that’s so broad it allows all kinds of pervasive consensus-culture assumptions—for example, that magic is something you can “do” to the world the way you hammer a nail into a board.

Let’s go back to our simple conversational model of utterance and information exchange: energy-information-spirit goes out from the practitioner and comes into the practitioner during a working of magic.  Although it may seem that on one level we are doing something to the world (if X, then Y), it would be more accurate to say that we are guiding something in the world the way one guides a discussion to a certain subject or conclusion (I offer X.  The world offers Y.  X and Y change as a result—creation and description through utterance).

Applying this insight has everything to do with the practitioner relaxing her vice grip on results.  As I mention in my post about being a spirit-led conjure worker, “Beginning practitioners often mistakenly think that if they just concentrate hard enough, if they just WILL something into being, the world will respond.  This can work sometimes, but grabbing the world by the throat and shaking it more often results in nothing or even in the opposite coming to pass.”  This is another form of “lust of result,” getting in the way of one’s own magic by thinking that you have to move heaven and earth through by own power.  You don’t  Heaven and earth are always-already in motion; you simply have to guide that motion in the desired direction.

Relax, breathe, and be open to the direction spirit is taking in the world.  This means learning a reliable system of divination.  It means developing your psychic senses so that you can converse with spirits.  It means learning to summon the discarnate and intangible for the purposes of learning (for example, evoking Vassago using Paul Huson’s method in Mastering Witchcraft or the “Magical Mentor” from Gray-Cobb’s New Avatar Power or bringing forth a daemon from the Lesser Key of Solomon who “giveth good familiars”).  And it may also mean finding a patron deity who can initiate you into an energy-information-spirit paradigm of magical practice.

It sounds like a lot of work and a lot of uncertainty.  But that is the nature of this hidden art.  You need to have perseverance and openness and a sense that magic is in line with the momentum of  your True Will.  And you need to love talking to the world this way.  If you don’t—if you are primarily interested in “getting paid and getting laid,” by all means follow whatever spell book you’ve downloaded from the internet or come to a sorcerer-for-hire.  But unless you do the work to attain deeper understanding and personal gnosis, you will forever be wading in the shallow end of the pool.  So mote it be. 

“The Perfect and the Perfect are one Perfect and not two; nay, are none!” — Liber AL vel Legis I:45

Scrying a Human Being: an Advanced Piece of Psychism

This is not so much a sorcerous working as it is a feat of psychism. It is not for those who still need to develop the ability to visualize and concentrate. Moreover, it presupposes the following magical proficiencies:

If / once you have these basics, you will want to find a time when you can be alone and undisturbed. If you have a dedicated ritual chamber, even better. In the night hour of the Moon (if you observe the magical hours) or whenever you feel most magical and receptive, enter your chamber and light a black, silver, or dark purple candle. Light some good psychic incense (Lucky Mojo makes a good “Psychic Vision” incense; though, I make a simple mixture of star anise, wormwood, and frankincense—simpler is usually better when it comes to incense recipes). And make sure you have ventilation in the room.

Ground, center, banish and / or shield. Then meditate quietly for a few minutes. Step out of your body and travel to your Inner Temple. This should be a full astral projection.

See a very large black mirror. While you’re staring into the mirror, think of the person you would like to scry. Feel her emotions, her breath on the side of your neck. Raise her essence around you as if it were a mist. Then see that mist in the mirror.

The mist (which is a concrete metaphor for the person’s soul) will dissipate and you will not only see images of her, but you will feel the emotions she feels. You will hear her thoughts. And all of this will be themed, at first, around your connection to her in mundane life.

Well and good. You will have already learned something about this person. You could stop there, reverse your direction back to your body, and end the operation. But perhaps there is something you want to ask this person. At such a level of connection, there are no secrets. You simply need to ask her image in the mirror and it will tell you. Keep in mind that you are calling on the deep mind of this person to speak to you. She will not hold back.  If there is a lot of buried emotion, be prepared for a very agitated response. But as long as you do not touch the mirror, you cannot be harmed no matter how forceful the person behaves.

The mirror is a doorway into the person’s unconscious. Actually, the mirror construct can be used as a doorway to any person, place, or thing. What could you do with a doorway into someone’s mind? If you are an advanced practitioner, you already have some ideas. But be cautious. If you step into the mirror, you are in that person’s unconscious universe. Is that a good thing? The link will persist between the two of you and could result in unhealthy obsessions if you cross that threshold without a good reason and spend too much time there.

Also, you will want to ground, center, and banish / shield afterward as well. This working can cause a lot of inner problems, resulting in the exchange of fears and desires, the development of phobias, and some very bad dreams if you don’t know what you are doing. So I warn beginners: this is powerful psychism. It is not to be played with. You absolutely must develop the above fundamental skill set before you attempt something like this. As always, use common sense and avoid recklessness.

After working with this technique for a while, more advanced practitioners will see all kinds of possibilities. It is something that can revolutionize your practice. Think about it. And good luck.