Saturday, August 27, 2016

Doing is Required
I play disc golf as a hobby. For those unfamiliar with the sport it is fundamentally the same as regular golf only using thrown plastic discs instead of hitting a ball with a club. The holes are baskets with chains hanging above them to stop the discs.

Many people often learn the techniques by watching videos online. They teach driving (a throw from the tee meant to go a long distance), mid-range shots, and putting (when you are close to the basket trying to get the disc in), as well as giving tips on practice methodology. I have watched these videos too, and learned from them. Watching the videos alone would do little, however. I had to go out and use the techniques on the course to really gain a measure of proficiency. 

Until recently my average drive from the tee was about 275 feet. Once in a while I could hit the 300’ to 325’ range. That is a little less than the average for someone at my level of experience.
During a round this weekend I realized that my shoulders tensed up as soon as I stepped up to the tee pad. This would not be something I would notice watching a video even though the advice to “keep loose” may have been mentioned. When I made an effort to relax those muscles I stood more vertically and I could feel the difference all the way through the shot. I was astonished to watch that drive travel 341 feet and land within five feet of the basket. Normally, I would par (the amount of shots one should need to make the basket) that hole but that sort of distance makes for an easy birdie (making the basket with one less toss than par). Further, by adding that additional fifty to seventy-five feet a drive there would be little chance that a second shot would go wild. Basically I have eliminated a lot of bogies (one over par).

After that one change in posture my average drive was over 300 feet. I routinely hit 325. Later that round I let one fly that landed 375 to 400 feet away from the tee. For me this was an incredible distance. I had only thrown 400 feet once before, and that was a fluke.

The downside was that the toss was so long that I threw it out of bounds. In disc golf out of bounds usually means that the disc left the course completely. This is penalized by scoring an additional toss. If it takes four shots to make the basket but one went out of bounds your score would be five. On this particular basket you have to throw a disc over a forty foot tree and have it sail another 20 feet before you pass the out of bounds marker and land in a parking lot. The next time I play that hole I will have to add a little altitude to the same throw. The additional height will drop the air speed a little sooner and the disc will fade (descend while turning left) and drop before flying out of bounds. Because I have played much shorter holes before that I can over throw I know how to deal with this problem. The rest will be practicing that shot.

Playing disc golf takes social courage for some people. As you are learning you look a bit silly out there. Some people cannot face their best throw landing at seventy-five feet only to see some eighteen year old sending one soaring 400 feet down range. That said, it is not a particularly intimidating prospect for most people.

Magick is intimidating for many people. To do it you have to be able to set aside some of the ‘science only’ mindset of the prevailing Western culture. More importantly you have to accept a new form of reality that simply does not conform to anything you’ve been taught unless you were raised in unique social circumstances. New people in particular can been afraid of doing it wrong.   Intangible spirits can be scary. The greatest fear is the one that hides the deepest. Many people do not realize the true nature of this fear, which is that magick eventually requires you to discard your entire world view over and over again. In magick there are many events, tasks, and realizations that trigger fears. Almost everyone has to face some fear early on in their magickal career. Human fears run so deeply that this is a continual process of reinvention for many if not all practitioners.

Unlike disc golf there is no way to practice before taking a shot at magick. You can only do magick by living a magickal life. You can pull off some unplanned spontaneous workings or fire some one-off spells from time to time but magick takes time, effort, and awareness to master. During that process you have to read enough, watch enough, and do enough to find your magickal equivalent to my tight shoulders. With practice you will overcome blockages that you might identify with other things but which are ultimately rooted in fear. You will relax and your skills will increase exponentially.  When they do you will be able to fall back on your experience to make the proper adjustments. Just like you can throw a disc so far it goes out of bounds, you can also use more magickal power than you need. You will never find the sweet spot between skill and power in a book or on a blog. You have to gain experience playing the game. Once you find that critical balance a few times your abilities will grow exponentially.

The only way to gain experience with magick is by doing magick. While I do not advocate you do magick for every little thing or as a recreational activity I do believe that most people who new to magick don't  do enough of it. Everyone has their own reasons for shying away from magick. It is important to assess those reasons carefully. Our fears easily become excuses which masquerade as solid reasons.

If you do not have the necessary skills practice to obtain them. If you do not have the knowledge read a book.  If you have the skills and the knowledge make an artificial elemental. Command it to bring you more knowledge or skills in any area that you like.   If you can do that conjure spirits and ask them how you can improve your life or obtain a greater tie to the land. If you are delaying learning the skills or reading a book you just may be afraid. Have courage! You will inevitably make mistakes. You will also have mind blowing experiences. Live a little!

Three months ago I could only dream about throwing a disc 350 feet on a regular basis. I can do it now because I kept on playing the game. Take that same leap with magick. Do something to improve your skill levels. Do not be satisfied staying where you are. Once you take that leap you magickal life will open doors you only dream about now.

As a personal example, my family is going through a very difficult time right now. That said, I am handling things in such a calm way that most people would never guess how challenging it is. This is not the result of suppression. My being understands the universe with enough depth that life’s difficulties are not mentally or emotionally disruptive. Instead they are merely time consuming and inconvenient. Instead of being anguished and stressed I feel love and sympathy. This understanding comes from opening doors that can only be managed by doing magick.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

This Is Not Hollywood Or Is It?

A friend once asked me if being a magician was like being in Charmed. In the television show spirits (usually demons) manifest physically. Then they interact with a variety of humans wreaking havoc. The witches do various things to make the demons explode in a shower of sparks sending them back to hell. My response was that no, my life is not like Charmed. As I started this post I intended to say no here as well. Then I started listing the exceptions to that statement.

The first I can remember was during a psychic faire. A spirit from the Lesser Key of Solomon which some would call a demon* (but I would not) very clearly walked up to my table and sat in the chair across from me. While he did not have a physical body he almost looked like he did. I told him that he would have to go as I was busy. He left peaceably enough with the parting observation that “Sooner or later you will have to deal with me.” He was correct. I did speak with him many years later as part of a working to skry all 72 Lesser Key spirits. I found him completely amiable. At this point I have not worked with him to the point of a formal evocation. My best description of our relationship put in human terms would be ‘well-liked acquaintance’.

The other night another spirit from the Lesser Key stood at the foot of my bed. He was very real but did not appear physical in the least. He was there to take credit for what was about to happen in my dreams that same night. The dream I had was quite instructive and dealt with something I have been working on for some time. I have no problem with him dropping by to take credit. I am not sure how to assess the one-off visit and help.

I have had working partners tell me that my skin tone and physical appearance change when I invoke gods. The people that have witnessed this were in magical states themselves. I doubt anyone in a normal frame of consciousness would have seen what they did. When I lead soul meditations my voice sometimes has an odd echo to it. This also occurs in Cult meetings where I call upon the gods to appear to the group.   The attendees can all hear that change in voice. I suspect a passerby in a normal state of consciousness would hear it as well.

Not too long ago there was another incident while I was making offerings to the spirits on my property. A tiny blue and white water spirit crawled out of the plastic cup that I was using to make the water offering. The spirit looked like a little angel or faery-like being. The odd thing is that I never think of these events as fantastic or unusual as they are happening.

I did not make any of these spirits explode or send them back to ‘hell’. Aside from some serious mistakes very early in my career I have never conjured anything that turned out to be a danger to myself or others. This is not to say that I haven’t accidently kicked my own butt a few times but nothing ever occurred that did any long term harm to myself or anyone else.

The few dangerous things that I have encountered were sent by other mages or witches. The issue with doing this is that someone may send something to you that they think is a mild slap on the wrist but that slap may hit you like an artillery shell.  Human psychology is weird enough on its own. Since magick finds the path of least resistance what it finds is often the biggest crack in the target’s psychology. Even if you think you deserve a wrist slap (we all deserve one once in a while), send anything someone sends to you back and I mean everything. Here I am discussing magick meant to do you some level of harm. Well-intended magick does not lead to such black and white conclusions.
If want is intended to be a mild wrist slap can do that much damage you can imagine what truly malicious magick can do.

With those and many other experiences in mind I will revise my premise. Magick can be like living in a friendly or not so friendly episode of Charmed, but often it is not.

Making Non-Hollywood Magick Work

Most magick is not visible in normal states of consciousness, at least not for me. The forces do not become so physical that you can touch what you conjure. Most magick merely sets a series of events in motion. Here the advice of Ferris Bueller pays off: “Life [Magick] moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around for a while [pay attention], you could miss it."

I recently made a prayer bag consisting of an herb, a stone, and a petition. I made the bag because I realized that I had grown a great deal spiritually. People from my past would be more than surprised by the difference between who I was and who I am now. They would not be surprised by the fact that in some instances that spiritual success is hidden by the antagonistic aspects of my personality**. I have not fully manifested those changes in all aspects of day-to-day life to the extent that I want. The bag was charged with manifesting all the changes I have made and make them obvious to myself and others.

The next day one of my coworkers came to my office and said without preamble, “I just realized what a peaceful guy you really are.” My bosses paid more attention to my suggestions. Strangers smiled at me for no reason. My internal attitude changed to something I can only refer to as global respect. Very few people would sense magick but many saw me differently. Several weeks after removing the prayer bag the benefits of wearing that bag are still apparent. That kind of result would make for boring television. No one exploded. No one saw any flashing lights. No one saw anything.

I noticed the results because I pay attention to the universe around me. I know what is normal and what is not.

One should not stop paying attention after getting positive results. After a week or two of wearing the bag I was climbing out of my skin. I felt like my body had been plugged into a 220v circuit. Emotionally I was fine but at the same time I felt like I would explode physically. After eliminating any other significant stressors in my life (which I had been handling with the aplomb of a holy man) I was forced to acknowledge my prayer bag was the problem. It was manifesting more of my soul energy than my physical body could process.

Paying attention let me know I was in trouble. I removed the bag. Two weeks later I was back to normal. I will recreate the prayer bag with a variation in formula to temper the effects and see what happens.

The point is that you cannot expect Hollywood special effects to let you know what is going on. You have to pay attention to your universe. You must do this after a working but in order to make that effective you have to pay attention continually. This gives you a baseline to compare things to in order to guage results. Just because the results of magick can be subjective or appear to be subjective that does not mean you can get away with a sloppy approach to life.

Let’s say you do magick for a promotion at work. You have worked hard but never been in the running for anything other than keeping your job. In this scenario magick would not usually manifest in a way that you’d be handed a sudden promotion. People have to have a reason to do things. They are not going to wake up and say to themselves, “Phil has always been okay. I think I will make him a manager today.”

Magick is more likely to create a scenario in which you can prove yourself and help you do that. This then gives your boss a reason to begin thinking of promoting you. Your boss will not act in a way she perceives as irrational. Going from not thinking of you to promoting you without a cause would feel irrational to her. Magick will make her feel like promoting you but then you have to play an active role that aligns with your magick and your goals.

To make magick work in this instance you have to pay attention. Magick will most likely create a situation which you can take advantage of. For the sake of discussion let’s say your magick creates an emergency.  Chances are that you will not notice that your magick created anything. To you and everyone else it will feel like a normal work experience. While I am not quite sure why it works this way I think it is because it drops you into the flow of what used to be an unfulfillable potential reality. That current of possibilities feels so normal that you do not notice the change. Once you are in that current you will naturally do what it takes to make that impression on your boss.

Of course it works this way until it doesn’t. Sometimes the universe requires you to be more active. You will instinctively know when this is happening because you will be required to make a conscious choice. This choice involves reacting in a ways you have not done before. Your previous actions left you in a current where promotion was not possible. After the shift in behaviour the promotion becomes a tangible opportunity. When this happens you are being taught much more than that your magick is working. You are being taught that you can willfully change your habitual responses when you want. Being able to do that makes one powerful and aware.

If you do magick without paying attention to its results you will miss these critical opportunities.
To avoid that you should actively strive to feel what the magick is trying to encourage you to do and trust in that. Many magicians lose confidence not because their magick is ineffective but because they are expecting irrational or dramatic results  and consequently miss the subtler situations magick creates.  Always remember that people have to explain themselves to themselves. Give them a reason to act on what the magick is prompting them to do.

While I am not generally in favour of love magic I will use it here to serve as an example. Desiring a life partner, you  do love magick and charge it with the following words: “Bring to me someone that I can respect and love, who can respect and love me, and who desires marriage.” The next day you see an acquaintance in a whole new way. You realize she has been right next to you the whole time. Up to this point your relationship has only been cordial. She is not likely to suddenly walk up to you and plant a kiss on you even if she has always wanted to. That would take too much courage on her part. You have to give her a reason to either start thinking of you in a new way or to give her a reason to be brave and reveal how she has felt all along. In this case it the suitable reaction may be as simple as asking her out for a cup of coffee.

Ultimately the success of the bag I created was not subtle at all. Neither would the path to promotion or the appearance of a love interest. Such opportunities will be obvious to you and maybe others. Even with that lack of subtly sometimes you might not notice in the moment. The most likely person to be aware of the change would be a close magickal confident whom you told about the magick. Most of the time those people have the good sense to keep their mouth shut and wait to point out the obvious after everything has played out. Most mages do not have a person like that in their life. To everyone else the events which lead to your promotion or the woman entering your life were just normal life experiences.

Magick is often a hidden thing. It's typically not flashy and showy like Hollywood would lead you to assume. Expect your magic to be subtle and appear mundane. Sometimes there is that bright flash of light but most of the time things just change.

*I would use the term demon to describe something utterly malicious for no reason that a human could perceive. With the spirits of the Lesser Key you get what you expect. If you call them to be mean and nasty to someone you will get a mean and nasty version of them. If you call them to be of aid in your life you will get a version of them that is helpful (though it may appear to be the case at first). Or, if you are not ready for the energy of your working, you will have your butt kicked and they will feel every bit like a demon.

**That which is ‘negative’ is not necessarily non-spiritual. It is still part of our perfection but it does hide spiritual gifts from those that may otherwise benefit. For example, being an antagonistic teacher with the wisdom to know when to confront a student would be beneficial in the long term. Random antagonism would mask the teaching moments making them totally ineffective.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Silent Words

We all know that what you say can impact the people around us. We also know that what we say internally can impact ourselves. What fewer people realize is that there are silent words within us that have an impact on ourselves and our magick.

Silent words are things we believe so deeply about ourselves that we do not need to speak or think them. Spiritually speaking one of the worst of these is I am unworthy. This can also be expressed as I am not good enough, I am a bad person, or Who am I to… These internalized judgments are part of the Western paradigm. In his autobiography the Dalai Lama speaks of learning about Western self-loathing for the first time. Such modes of being are unheard of in his culture. He had to ask his monks in the West to explain them to him and his fellows. This self-abasement occurs in other cultures as well.

Self-Judgment may be born of many sources, original sin, abusive parents, cultural messaging, social structure and the like.

Those that feel this pain acutely often seek to externalize it or deal with it in self-destructive ways which become a form of self-punishment. Here we have abusive parents, the terminally angry or sad, addicts (drugs or behavioral, criminals, extreme hedonists, extreme ascetics, flagellants, and the like.

No matter the source of this internal anguish, as magicians we must move past it. This is true whether we are aware of it or not.

I teach a spell based on Paul Huson’s reverse Lord’s prayer. The idea is that we write down what we do not want backwards. Only the intent -- for this example only the intent, to lose a little weight -- and the words matter. I have not included the rest of the working because it is not germane to this post. For more information see my post, Huson’s Theurgy.

The wording of my spell was something like “I am overweight.” That became “thgiewrevo ma I”. One of my students worded it “I will not care about my appearance” or “ecnaraeppa ym tuoba erac ton lliw I”

Even though the intent of the spell was the same I lost fifteen pounds. She gained about as many because she stopped caring about her appearance and therefore ate more than necessary. In magick intent plays a part but so do one’s words. It is therefore always a good idea to be mindful of the wording of your spells.

The silent words within play a role in this process. Very few spell casters would use wording like “Provide this thing that I am unworthy to receive.” This is self-contradictory wording. My opinion of Crowley is mixed but he was correct when he said that Will must be one not two. Having part of us reject our worthiness to receive something while another part asks the universe for it is splitting the Will. This is not beneficial to our magick.

The silent words of unworthiness that have been culturally or otherwise ingrained within us restrain our magick. They make our magick fail or manifest with less than fully satisfying results because every part of our being is involved in the magick we do. If those silent words are in you they are in your magick.* If they are in your magick they will impact your results.

To make our magick more effective we must rid ourselves of these silent words.

One way to achieve this is to look around at the people you know and respect. Do you think they have spent their life without committing misdemeanors similar to your own? For those transgressions do you think a job, a mate, some good luck, or contact with the gods should be withheld from them? I hope not. Accept within yourself that you are worthy of what you need or want just like they are.

Even if you do not have words like this silently poisoning you, you still may have words like “Magick does not work" or "Science has proved that magic isn't real”. These or other culturally accepted thoughts that can sneak into magical work and wreak havoc.

There is a simple exercise you can do before each act of magick which can help rid you of silent words. Better still, you can do this every day. I challenge you to do this even if you do not think that you have any silent words that restrain you.
  •  Sit quietly in a straight backed chair with your feet on the floor. (Other meditative postures would work equally as well.)
  • Think “I am worthy of the divine” or “I am worthy of manifesting the goal of this spell.” Use whatever phrase is appropriate. 
  • Repeat this thought while paying attention to your body.
  • Working from the top of your head down become aware of any area of muscle tightness. This is your resistance manifesting physically. Relax the muscles in that area knowing that you are releasing resistance and accepting your worthiness. Do not attempt to ascertain why your doubt manifests in your left arm or right hip. Figure that out later. Just relax the muscles.
  • Continue this all the way down to the bottoms of your feet. Do not forget your arms. 
This next portion is a bit more difficult.
  • Pay attention to areas of mental resistance. This may feel like a lack of confidence or (in computer speak) the feeling of a hard null value. By that I do not mean a place of ‘no thought’ like in meditation. This is more of a mental wall that encapsulates a thought. This is a part of your thinking that you are complicit in hiding from yourself. If you try to find the thought behind the wall you will either face massive resistance or get so distracted that you will come out of the exercise at less than your magickal best. Instead just visualize or ‘feel’ the wall disappearing. You do not want the wall to fall down, explode, or anything else. Let it fade away like the insubstantial ghost that it is. 
  • Think “I am worthy of the divine” or “I am worthy of manifesting the goal of this spell.” Use whatever phrase is appropriate. 
  • Repeat this thought while paying attention to your emotions.
  • Any emotion that does not feel like it is unified with your purpose or quiet confidence should be gently released. Determination is not an acceptable attitude. Determination is about forcing your way through resistance. It implies you are accepting the resistance as real and potentially more real than your magick. Again, this should not be forced. Let those emotions fade away like the insubstantial phantoms they are. Emotions can also be found within various parts of the body. Perform a head to toe survey releasing resistance when necessary. Do not contemplate the emotions. Do not investigate them. Just let them go.
This is more work than it appears to be. The first time just go through it once. Give it a try. If you pay attention and are willing to accept what you find this will be an educational experience. Your magick will improve.

*They also impact your every thought, assumption, emotion and action.

Note: I feel compelled to thank an anonymous friend that assisted with this post. Her input helped clarify my ideas and writing.