“Ha, ha, Universe!”
So, I recently talked about the significance of omens. And tonight, after a long discussion with Mr. VI, I solved the little riddle. And then Z.E. Accordino, proving she's awsome, confirmed my suspicions and made me commit to writing this entry.
I've discussed Austin Spare's thoughts and theories many times before, but tonight I'm going to try and fit them together for people so they can see the picture that emerges from the Sacred Letter if they so desire. Now, you don't have to agree with me. And your mileage may vary. But try and hear me out!
While Aleister Crowley may have dabbled in drugs, a rock-star lifestyle (and well before it was trendy, no less! And yes, I'm understating things), all that sex and so forth, he was presented with his antithesis just prior to the 1920s by a fellow named Austin Spare. His practices, ranging from extreme to benign, evoked a curious sense of horror in Crowley. He lamented, in letters to Kenneth Grant, that Spare had become “a black brother,” and that he had sealed himself up in a Black Tower before the abyss.
He was, however, quite wrong. I have often suspected that the men were simply too similar (in both defect and imagination) to actually get along. Others have wondered if Crowley might have made a pass at the young Spare. In any case Spare noted in The Book of Pleasure that Ceremonial Magicians seem to be play-acting “charlatans” just to show his displeasure with Crowley. Both, however, were Dionysian to a certain degree.
The Book of Pleasure discusses quite a few things, but one of the primary elements remains what Spare called Self-love. This is solipsism, but what needs to be kept in mind at all times is that this form of solipsism is fueled by sorcery, or magick. And as such what's been doing – both theurgical and thaumaturgical – is being fueled by the sorcerer himself. By reifying his or her own self-worth, they are also asserting that other people matter. And that the world around them and the world inside them both matter.
The exchange between individual and others is constant, but not always positive. Spare best illustrated the pitfalls of this method of operation in 1927 when he published Anathema of Zos: or, Sermon to the Hypocrites. While many people, including myself, have loved the text I suspect very few people realizing what they're looking at. The entire text is one, giant curse. And who's it aimed at? The people that paid his salary as an artist. The people he unfortunately needed to get by. This was, one realizes, a very huge mistake to make. Austin Spare bit the Hand that Feeds. He even admitted, later in life, that it might have been an error to make.
However, Spare's basic points also illustrate why his doing so doesn't really matter in the context of the man himself. It was a mistake Austin Spare, the fire-thief of the 20th century, was nigh literally doomed to make.
And we all have these blindspots. We read about the pitfalls of magick and we forget this factor. We forget that hearing something and doing something are two different things. It's easy. I do it all the time. The way of propping yourself up when you grope about like this is with self-love.
The endless backturning, the desire to “do over,” is antithetical to the path. You are meant to learn. Things get messy. You're a thing of disorder. Despite the lack of rationality, you – the thing that moves forward while facing backward – have emerged. Just to spite the rationalists. Just to dance and make a show of it. Just to worship for worship's sake, and bluff for the joy of the game. Part lie and part horrible truth, you are here.
And you are worthy of reverence. You. Because of this Spare recommends of a healthy dose of what he calls the Neither-Neither. The answer to duality is: “does not matter, need not be.”
Duality is a lie. It is you – the sorcerer – that reconciles opposites. It is you who resolves the riddle. Who learns, and who experiences. Therefore all you can ever know is what's within you, and what very few things can be confirmed by another. There's a wide margin of error. Get over it. Don't unnecessarily limit yourself with “I can't” responses. Seriously consider what you can do instead, and find a way of implementing it so that you've focused your intent down a specific path. This works for both theurgy and thaumaturgy. But it takes a degree of foresight, and we sometimes lack that. Which is okay. That just means we have more things to learn and more things to do.
The reason I admire Spare is not because he rejected those who kept him going... But because he did it, and he survived. And he left us a record of his path and passing, to encourage those few in the future who would follow in his footsteps. And he didn't need tons of money to do that, just love of his craft and his art.
I don't think, however, you should curse the people that buy your art if you're an artist. Learn from the man's mistakes; taking strength in adversity, however, is what I'm actually talking about.
I can't do that.
Really? You can't? Why not. Okay, okay. You probably can't conjure fireballs or walk through walls without taking a trip to the astral plane. But the fact of the matter is, you can learn to lucid dream or astral project and try it out. Why not? Many magicians lack imagination. They push themselves into believing only way to “use power” or “manifest desire” is by theft or harm. This seems pretty, uh, dour to me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes theft is the only way. Sometimes it's not. But many times, there are other ways to get what you want without taking from someone's pocket or at their expense. If you can design or devise it, and have the skill to manifest it: the door is wide open.
I was told not to.
By who, and why? Is it because doing so will harm someone else? Does this person have any practical experience with what they're discussing? Don't go to a Ceremonial Magician who's only spent twenty years practicing Theurgy and sneering down his nose at others and ask him for advise on harmonious or even practical thaumaturgy. He's going to repeat the lie he's told himself (that everyone not on his spiritual path, with his inclinations is evil) to you. Likewise, other people will steer you about for ego. “I can teach you so much!” Don't be a doormat and let someone use you for their ego purposes. Be aware it happens everywhere and don't buy into some ideal where people would never, ever take advantage of you (and the ego-teaching-shit is exactly that) because they're “spiritually advanced.” They're still human, no matter how advanced. Humans make mistakes. It's how we learn what not to do. And most of them just think they've attained some weird-ass Karmic Awesome Rank. I believe the Hindu religion addresses the desire for enlightenment also being a type of attachment for precisely this reason.
Lust of Result
The joy isn't really getting what you want. It's the game of figuring out how. Playing with this. Throwing yourself occasionally off the beaten path. Testing yourself. Seeing what pops up, and why. Bringing about events. Heightening experiences, for yourself and possibly even others. And you really can do this endlessly. At this point lust of result is negated because most of the time the result doesn't even matter. It's the joy of seeing what works, what doesn't, and how to refine one's practice over time.
There's always a price.
We like to think we can get shit for free. But even on the most basic level, we can't. If you want to be really, really good at what you're doing then it's going to come at the expense of other things. There's only so much time in the day. Many magicians, myself included, consciously deny themselves other things so that they can continue their experiments and practices longer. Others choose not to, and then wonder why they're not getting the same results. I don't have the greatest social life. And I honestly could make more money. The trade off with this is I have more time to pursue things like wandering around my city hoping to find a building I can talk to. And I'm not doing that that on the days I work on wand designs or some-such. So... If you want “more time,” then you have to find a way to make more time. There are other meanings for this, too. But this is the most basic illustration of the concept that I can think of.
Others Will Make Me Better
Why, exactly, are you doing this? And why do you desire what you desire? I know some young hot-shots that want nothing more than a book deal. This normally comes with the illusive idea it will make them famous, rich, or get them laid. People complain about it all the time. And it's pretty much normal. We all have fantasies or desires we cling to. That's not a problem. The question is why? I write what I write – including a hefty dose of crazy anecdotes that might or might not always be true – because I consider that in and of itself a “magickal act.” Look: if you suspend your disbelief for me, you're doing me a favor. Empowering me. As such when I do tell a fib, it's normally for a purpose. I have a specific experience I want. The trade-off is that I try and give you something worth reading. In return, when you so choose, you can suspend your disbelief and maybe we'll take a little ride together. If you choose not to? That's okay, too. Telling me your objections helps me refine the art. On the other hand, I try to provide anecdotes that include what tidbits I tried to glean from them and I try to keep myself from making too many errors. In this way, others make me better. But they don't make me rich, super-cool, or worthy of praise. Praise isn't what I'm after, in all actuality.
I'm sure there's more, but I've written three pages already!!!!