Many years ago I participated in a discussion on a Yahoo group. Someone asked a question about assholes. No, he wasn't studying to be a proctologist. He wondered how people can claim to be spiritual while still being a jerk to others. His basic argument was that there are so many jerks in the magickal community that magick cannot be spiritual practice.
He had a point. He was also wrong.
As far as I can tell, the magickal community is full of more 'bad actors' than any other community that I have ever been a part of. That is the reason I see it as a spiritual practice. Magickal works forces out all the inner muck. We act on it. We live in it. We wallow in it. We do so until that muck is burned off and we learn. Other communities allow us to hide ourselves by either not revealing ourselves or hiding behind polite social lies. I will pretend not to notice that you're being an ass, if you pretend I'm not being one too.
Barring a few social butterflies, magickal people are generally not up for social lies. We see through them. Many will not say anything because they play the 'normal people' game outlined in this statement by one Timothy Leary, "Admit it. You aren't like them. You're not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the 'normal people' as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like 'Have a nice day' and 'Weather's awful today, eh?', you yearn inside to say forbidden things like, 'Tell me something that makes you cry' or 'What do you think Deja Vu is for?'
The fact that they are playing the normal game or can't say anything doesn't mean they don't know. They see and observe. This makes it hard to get away with being a dumb ass. Though, we all try. And by all, I mean all. The fact that you can't get away with it in this community is what makes it a spiritual practice.
You grow or get stuck. Getting stuck is just as obvious. People notice, even when they don't say anything.
Slowly over time, people do learn to treat each other better. They do grow but the process takes people that do know how to be genuinely kind and rips out the impurities making them look like assholes. Looking like an asshole should be a temporary condition and it is. Some people grow out if in a year or two. Others take decades but it is temporary. Or, at the very least, the asshole part of them that is not how they are supposed to be in this life gets burned off.
So, why I am waxing poetic about this now? Two reasons.
First, I had a realization this morning. True friendship is revealed by sentences of less than ten words. All the flowery confessions of love and caring mean nothing. The little spontaneous statements reveal what matters. True friendship is also revealed in all the little acts and desires you never see or at least are not meant to be seen. Your true friend is sitting at home with a silent prayer on his or her lips for your well-being. Your true friend is defending you against accusations you never knew were made. Your true friends experience joy in your joy and pain in your pain and love in your love, not in public but in the privacy of their own heart.
This led me to expand on that thought a little bit. Spirituality is revealed in one's spontaneous actions, meant not for public consumption but as a simple expression of Self. True spirituality is revealed not in less than desirable mundane actions that we all engage in as part of being human. It is revealed in our consistent actions of agape.
Secondly, I encountered someone that recently that I have every reason not to like. This person sought to do me harm at one time. I can admit that it really wasn't directly intended to do so. It was more a revelation of the aforementioned inner muck being brought out. Regardless, once you're a target, it is perfectly human to distance oneself. However, a private interaction occurred and that person's behavior was 180 degrees from what it would have been a year ago.
Change is a sign of spiritual practices. It often doesn't happen unless one wants to change. Like social lies any magician worth his or her salt notices them.