Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Another Look at the Purpose of Magic

[I took a sabbatical from writing over the last couple of months, and then I thought that I should at least write something on a semi regular basis so that folks don’t forget who I am or what I have to offer the erstwhile student of ritual magick. So, I decided that short articles are better than no articles, and I will try to write short articles on a more frequent basis. We’ll see how that plays out in the weeks and months to come.]

I have written on this topic previously, but it is something that I should discuss again because I often hear someone saying that they have achieved everything that they need from their magical system and there is no need to pursue anything further. This, of course, is referring to magical-based material acquisition or at the very least, control over (most) occurrences of one’s destiny. It is a form of self-empowerment that can deceptively put someone into a comfortable niche and then keep them from aspiring or gaining any new perspectives.

Whether magicians use forms of simple or complex elemental magic, planetary and zodiacal magic, invoking and evoking spirits or performing various forms of thaumaturgy (or a combination of all of these forms), he or she ultimately comes to that great stumbling block of complacency and inertia called comfortable self-empowerment. The logic behind this complacency is that when something works well and consistently then why change it?

When magicians strive to become proficient and they have the tenacity and endurance to over-come failure through a period of years, to research and analyze that failure and to start over, and do this cyclic process many times over, they will eventually develop a magical system and methodology that will gain for them some modicum of success. Ah, there’s nothing more dangerous and problematic as becoming a successful magician. Let me explain why I think that this is so.

After all, life is something of a gamble, and the only thing that one can say about it for certain is that good fortune and bad fortune are part of the process. Like death itself, the joys, sorrows, and yes, even the boredom, are all a part of life whether one works magic or not. If you are experiencing a long period of material and psychic stability, and you feel like you are in control of the various capricious elements of fate, then you are likely due for some challenges or even some misfortune. Thinking this way is not pessimism, it is just a matter of odds, of course. Yet truly, if you live in a stable and dull part of the world then it will be more likely that you will lead a stable (and dull) life. Living in an unstable part of world can increase the odds for adventure and excitement, but also misfortune for nearly everyone, even those practicing magick. Instability can be caused by natural phenomena or the hazards of man-made conflicts and destruction. Nowhere on the planet is there a place that is indefinitely immune to either human or natural causes of instability.

So, if you have achieved magical competence and you feel empowered and it seems like you are in control of your life then you might also be succumbing to hubris, complacency, inertia and even a bit of self-delusion. Why stop progressing when you have finally become competent, since that should be the opportune place and time when one’s spiritual process could accelerate and thereby bring one to greater ascendency? I guess the real issue is more general and even foundational in regards to the art and practice of magic.   

This brings me to ask the most important question that one could ask regarding magical techniques and systems, and that is, what is the purpose of magic? Why do we work magic, and what do we do after we achieve enough material gain to consider ourselves competent and perhaps, even content with our lot? This question had eluded me for decades because until the last decade or so, magic was often hit or miss. It wasn’t until I had practiced magic for nearly thirty years that I finally felt that I could accomplish whatever I needed to accomplish. My career was in great shape, I had money, the means to acquiring a successful relationship, and I was able to develop and practice any kind of magic that my mind sought to experience. I even wrote up my own versions of the Abramelin ordeal, the Portae Lucis ordeal and numerous others.

I was quite successful at performing invocations and evocations, and I had a system of magic that could be developed to accomplish nearly any goal I could imagine. It just took time and effort to research, develop and to practice, but nothing seemed outside of my ability or scope. However, all during this time, I understood that magic should cause psychic transformations and push the ritual magician into ever greater states of conscious being. My ultimate destination was to experience full union with the One, although it took me many years to understand that concept as clearly as I do today. That was the goal, but the foundation that I spent so much time on was developing one’s internal and personal godhead. Without that most important component, one would attempt to realize the One in vain, or even worse, in complete delusion.

Therefore, over many years, I had determined that the purpose of magic was to achieve union with the One, and that it required me to realize the most intimate aspect of godhead within myself. I was a God, fully and completely (as are everyone else), and I was a seeker attempting to realize that Godhead within myself, and to ultimately understand that it was one and the same with the Union of All Being, which I call the One. I implicitly and intuitively knew this from my earliest days, but I was unable to articulate this truth for many years. That is what I have come to believe, and it becomes an important consideration for me when I have reached and achieved that point of magical and material competence, since that is the starting point for achieving the highest level of spiritual and magical being. The object is there within grasp, if only we can extract ourselves from that most comfortable of ruts, which is magical and material success. 

Despite the comfortable place that I find myself in these days, I force myself to action and to not cease in my magical work. I must continue seeking to undergo magical ordeals that challenge me to the very fiber of my being from time to time, or else I will the lose the path that I have spent so much effort to build. My life’s work really doesn’t end until the very day that I die, but until then I must seek to realize the holy God/dess Within. Full realization of this internal Atman is the key to realizing full cosmic consciousness and complete at-one-ment with the All. I believe that it is the key to full enlightenment and also to a form of conscious immortality.

I believe that each and every one of us can attain this pinnacle of accomplishment in a single life-time. It is, in fact, our destiny, and it is one that we are all programmed to achieve, but only if we remove all of the obstacles in our path, especially the ones that we have placed there ourselves. As the old saying goes, we are our own worst enemies, and this is especially true when considering the highest forms of magical and spiritual attainment.

So next time you find yourself thinking how much you have accomplished or that you have all that you need as a practicing ritual magician, I would hope that you begin to ponder about your own complacency and hubris. Thinking this way just seems to invite adversity and calamity, as if the point of earned stability is just a calm period before another storm blows through. It is as if the Gods have an evil and pernicious sense of humor, and they don’t take lightly to anyone who thinks that they have it made.

I have previously written on articles on this subject, and I would urge you to examine them if you haven’t read them previously. The first is about the five archetypal trials found in the path of the ritual magician. What I have discussed in this article would cover trial number 3, which is Indolence. Trial number 5 might also apply, which is Hubris. You can find that article here. Also, I wrote an article some years ago where I discussed the relevance for working ritual magic in the post-modern world. It could also shed some interesting light on why we work magic and what we expect to gain from it. You can find that article here.

Frater Barrabbas

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