Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Spooky Bits [EDITED]

Silence! Silence! Silence!
Symbol of the Living, Incorruptible God!
Guard me, Silence, NECHTHEIR THANMELOU!”
“Silence! Silence!
I am a star, wandering about with you,
shining forth out of the deep, OXY O XERTHEUTH!
- PGM IV. 475-829. (Untitled/“The Liturgy of Mithras.”)
See what I did there? Bwahaha. Anyway. On a recent set of posts, Robert begs the questions of whether “should magick be taught?” and if “magicians accept responsibility for the harm they cause?

I find these interesting and I'm going to hammer away at each, simply to provide counter-points (some of which appear in his comments, and I'll quote where appropriate) to his sentiments. They're both interesting...

He writes, on the first entry:
“So, if you do magick to get a woman, get a job, get money, get a a book etc. you are changing the choices of another. Basically, if I change my relationship with a promotion (as in from separation to unity) I am also changing the relationship of another inversely. No big deal you say.

What if you attract a girl you would have never met, have great sex and she or you misses the opportunity to be with a life mate? Oh, watch the magicians rationalize that away. Congratulations single person of 20 for getting that job! Too bad the mom whose husband just ran off with a bimbo leaving her with two kids to feed didn't get it. She should have learned magick. Not my fault they scream. Uh huh.”
This is one of those risky examples of counter-points to magickal utility that I've seen expressed by others; the first is that if any one at all has their course in life changed, or there is fall-out, the magician is principally at fault. He goes on to state that many younger magicians fall prey to their “lower selves”. I consider this a dangerous example of dualistic thinking, for it presumes to understand the nature of magickal work and break everything into a “Good/Evil” dichotomy, a mind-virus that individuals in the West have a tendency to suffer from.

First, Robert appears to be making the mistaken assumption that the young magician being led around by the nose by their “lower-self” will not be lead into circumstances that lead them to knowledge and conversation with aspects of their “higher-self.” Secondarily, he's following the prototypical “it's all power!” assessment that bothers me very much. He assumes that if the magician uses “Get Laid Quick!” sigils, they'll be using it a means of power over someone else, or neglecting a desire for love. As I stated in my responses to his Sitri post, I see nothing wrong with using magick to engineer circumstances in which sex might occur. What I consider wrong is mistaking sex for love, or the desire for sex as a mistaken desire for love. If we stand by the admonition of “Know Thyself!” then we must also understand the root(s) of our desires.

This means that if a magician is performing magick to get sex, he or she should understand that it is only sex that will come of it. A more complex desire, like finding someone you might fall in love with, will require vastly more effort to achieve because it involves more complex variables. The magician who seeks only sex with a partner he or she finds attractive need only take factors specific to that desire into account. Then they need only visit a bar, or single's night, or whatever to create the appropriate opening for that desire to manifest. There remains the risk of misfire, but this risk remains regardless of the operation before performed and desire manifested.

To tell someone that they must seek love over sex, or vice versa, is a fatal conceit. It presumes to know the desire, path, and capability of any given young magician. It is a very foolish thing to do, even if people do hurt themselves.

Part of living this world is learning to live with the hurtful things that happen in it. Any system of magick, spirituality, or mysticism that seeks to diminish this factor is also foolish, for we cannot live without pain. Part of the essence of Spare's “Neither-Neither” technique is that to use it is to realize that the associations we have that form around a given subject form our basis of thought and that these associations shape how we think just as much as the internal items to which they are bound. Thus, it is natural for many to think of compulsive spells when the subject of “Love Magick” comes up. Further, the community as a whole suffers from this tendency.

During the course of actions that led to myself and VVF meeting, we both performed “Love Magick” of different sorts seeking out someone who was satisfactory to both of our desires. The end result was we both stumbled upon one another, discovered we got along, built a relationship over time and ended up sticking together through more than a few years so far.

At no point did either of us cast spells to force the one another to love each other. That is a natural result of our desires, of waiting and seeing how events played out, and deciding to come together. All it took for me was a thoughtform that would advise (I did not take what was told to me as the gospel truth, merely informed advice) me on who in my social circles met my criteria. On her part? I believe she altered a witch-bottle. A very girly witch-bottle.

But Jack!” You say, “what about that single mother and her children when you stole her job with your 'I need a goddamn job!' thoughtforms?”

First, assuming you can see all the given variables in any situation is wrong-headed. Even if that single-mother may end up without what may be the first, and easiest to seek out job, is to assume she will not within a week apply for a job that pays more money and gives her what she needs. Second, as Jason points out in his comments, you can specify not to harm others. I cannot speak for others, but almost all of my work for material items involves divination beforehand, and careful consideration of the results. I have passed over many-a-working because I drew the “Tower” card in an particularly inauspicious position, with similarly terrible cards arranged around it. My perspective has always been that “we all go to the Tower, some more than others!” but that doesn't mean I prefer to avoid intensely messy situations. Included in plenty of those divination performances were questions regarding how those around me or involved may be impacted by my actions.

I have also made plenty of mistakes by failing to perform the above, normally due to my own personal conceits. Like I've said, you cannot learn without making mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes hurt both you and those who you did not wish to hurt.

Before the close of the post, Robert goes on to say that:
From a spiritual perspective, there are many ways of reaching higher states that do not involve such magicks. So, it isn't necessary to teach them to those seeking that goal. In fact, the powers so given by magick can be a distraction in and of themselves. Moreover, the results of the magick can distract one for a lifetime, especially when one does deep impact magick that satisfies one's lower nature to a point that overrides one's spirit. In short, to be what one is not.”

I recognize that Robert is speaking from the place he currently is living at. However, I want to state that I did not begin practicing magick to turn out a Saint, or a Buddha, or whatever. I don't want to be Jesus. Jesus was Jesus, and while I recognize that he may have been an amazing magician, just a damn fine spiritual individual, or the son of [a] God, that wasn't my intent. My intent upon entering the sphere was to give myself to the capability to survive the world I had been born into. I don't expect others to understand what it means when I say that I'm a “bastard,” or that at points in my youth I felt myself so securely stripped of all empowerments that I swore never to allow that to happen again. While I now understand that Mageia/Goetia and Theurgia may coincide (see the Magical Papyri for some very neat deonstrations), I was interested in Mageia and Goetia from the get-go. Now, by using the rather misunderstood “Goetia,” I do not mean strictly Demonaic Evocation. This is a fatal mistake plenty of people make. I mean a distinctly lower-class form of Shamanism practiced in Greece so long ago that most of what we have left can best be described as dusty remnants, and in other cases, sheer misinterpretation.*

If you wish to perform Theurgia and seek your higher-self, and those spirits that coincide with it? I totally recommend doing that. However I do not think you have the right to suggest that course of action is best for everyone. It may be best for you, because that is your path. I like plenty of Cthonic gods. Lots of people have no idea what I mean when I speak those words. That's okay. It isn't their path.

Finally, Robert comments: “I do not want some magician chasing his crotch to interfere with my relationship even unintentionally do you?”

What, you can't gain the skills to stop that process or recognize what's happening? Just a suggestion: if this happens, then you need to increase your skill set to recognize manifestations for what they are and put a stop, as the person whose Will is being impacted, before that situation arises. You cannot blame someone for a manifestation that you failed to take into account. You could have spent time learning those skills, rather than simply doing soul-work. I don't accept ignorance as an excuse, rather ignorance is a teaching tool and demonstration on how to become a better magician, in my eyes.

Moving along.

In his second post he writes:
I have seen people even deny the possibility that their magick could have possibly impacted a third party negatively. This disturbs me.

How is it possible that only magick is devoid of the possibility of error, negative impact and even accidental death when industries like automobile manufacturers, construction companies and the medical establishment cannot manage the same? Oh, no, I see, it is only your magick that can't hurt anyone. Really?”
Again. Getting hurt, and hurting others, is a part of life. When we hurt others, we stand a chance of seeing how are actions (what we do and say, etc) affect those around us. We can come to the conclusion that we were wrong and alter our course so that we do not make those mistakes again. This doesn't make the activity and its response any better, but to presume godlike knowledge of what will occur is to be very presumptuous of our rather limited, completely human, sphere of influence.

I met a beautiful redhead many years ago, for example, and ended up having what was both one of the best and worst relationships in my life. In terms of love, affection, and crazy sex the relationship was fantastic. Contrast this with the way we fought, which was terrible and horrible. After the horrible break-up, I spent time alternating between rage over how things had worked out, and guilt over my responses. When she'd been upset, I'd shut her down emotionally by vilifying her and acting like she was crazy. Caught up in the whirlwind of emotion and stormy passions of a given fight, I'd stop considering what I was saying. And so the rudest, most terrible complaints would issue out of my mouth.

I sat, waking up in tears one morning, and considered how much I'd done wrong. How much I'd probably hurt her feelings. Years had passed, and I was over the break-up. I could plainly see how each action, and each result, and head to relatively worse situations. Each outcome had become progressively worse.

Who had fed that cycle? I could blame her, but she was not at fault for my responses. I was. And thus my course of action became markedly different. All the problem I saw in myself have taken a long time to begin fixing. It's a slow process. I have to watch my emotional state, monitor my statements, consider what I'm being told rather than responding emotionally. I don't always succeed, a factor obvious in this blog. But my relationships have gotten better – I think – and I do recognize how wrong I often have been in the past.**

Does this commentary have anything to do with magick? Nope. It's purely mundane. But take it from me. Try not to judge people for their failings. They are the ones who will wake up, sweaty and tearful, at 3 AM to consider those ramifications. Not you.

He states:
Because you really can't see magick working. It isn't as if you see a giant hand pluck the kid from a safe place and stick in him in the road to be hit. No way to tell really, is there?”
I really, really disagree there. Magicians can follow the course of their manifestations across the astral and find corresponding points. They can learn to recognize a manifestation in real time. They have access to a wide variety of skills that require very little effort, but a lot of practice. Let me repeat that: a lot of practice.

And we're not talking about purely theurgical practices here, either.

Anyway. I don't want to beat Robert into the ground, so I'll stop now. I just wanted to sit down and write a lengthy response.

Please: feel free to critique my thoughts!

* I guess it wasn't the get go. I became interested in 'classical Goetia' due to Morton Smith about the same time I was first working with Dionysos. I asked a great many forum frequenters about it. They had an obnoxious habit of telling me about the Lemegeton. JSK's True Grimoire combines both elements, and is cool. But most of the people who have talked to me about the Lemegeton neither understood the Grimoire, nor what I actually wanted information on. I suppose that's expected from some sectors of the community.
** As for others and their manifestations? You are responsible for you and what happens in your life, and how you respond to it. You may not be able to control events around you, but you can control how you respond. You better learn to cancel out those influences if you want to learn how to avoid certain pitfalls. It's a very hard fact to come to grips with. Whose life is this we're discussing? Yours. If someone else accidentally entangles you in foolishness, and you have certain skills, then they're going to learn a new lesson of their own: to play willy-nilly with the lives of others can come with serious risks and responses. Especially if other pagans/magicians/witches are involved. Anyone that throws a compulsive love-spell at VVF or myself can look forward to a response from either myself, or her. And that response may be a serious fucking sending of a raving-mad and angry spirit, an alteration of their thoughtform followed by a return to sender, etc.

Robert responded here. I've commented on his page for the rest, including admitting my mistakes in assuming his assumptions. Silly me! Making assumptions! 


V.V.F. said...

We're so Practical Magic. "I wished for you too!"

As far as the unpredictable effects of one's enchantments...I think the consequences of doing magic are just the same as they are for doing anything else. If you got a job by normal means, you're still putting someone else out of a job - someone who probably needed it as much as you. If you approach a woman at a party to flirt, she may become infatuated with you and miss out on someone who's much better for her - someone neither of you even know about. How do you avoid that?

I hear a lot of people say, "If it's something that you wouldn't do without magic, then don't do it with magic." I think that advice works the other way around, too. Maybe it seems unfair to have this "extra" advantage, but everyone has their own unique advantages, in my opinion. I, for one, am totally uncharismatic during interviews. Does this reflect my ability to do a job? Does this reflect anyone's ability to do a job? No. But the conversationalists of this world have an unfair advantage over me! It's not my fault I never learned how to be effervescent!

I was struck by Robert's example of enchanting for someone to talk about baseball with, and discovering that he had inconvenienced that man for a whole day. It can sometimes be harrowing to watch how the threads of fate dance when you touch them. If a magician is uncomfortable with the implications of that, then I suppose it's fair to him to choose to abstain from interfering with other people's affairs as much as possible. But we're all doing it, all the time, just by being alive...

I wish I would hear more people agonize over having such all-consuming power over another person's fate when it comes to having children. People find all sorts of ways to justify that. Villains and fiends, all of them.

Rufus Opus said...

Proverbs 26:13: The lazy person is full of excuses, saying, "I can't go outside because there might be a lion on the road! Yes, I'm sure there's a lion out there!"

Scott Stenwick said...

@VVF: Yes! That's the same point I was trying to make over on Robert's blog, but you said it a lot better and more clearly here than I did. Who says you're not effervescent? ;-)

Rachel Parker said...

All I can say is this entry is getting printed, hole punched and put in my Binder o' Magic.

Monsignor Scott Rassbach said...

@VVF: I saw that comment about inconveniencing the man with the baseball talk, as well. However, given how bureaucracy works, it's entirely possible he would have been inconvenienced anyway, and NOT been able to have a pleasant conversation about baseball in the process, without the working.

Thinking the universe realigned itself for something so trivial is a special form of hubris. I think the opportunity was just there, and the universe used it. The man would have been sent to the wrong place, anyway. Perhaps the working made Robert NOTICE the new thing in his environment.

The Gospel of Thomas (which my parish is studying) talks about the ultimate trajectory of life: The old man of advanced years will ask the babe of seven days the place of life. Ultimately, we start and end in the same places, we travel from birth to death. We can't see, we can't feed ourselves, sometimes our movement is limited to the point of immobility.

What we do along the way matters, but trying to assign ultimate meanings to such things is a losing game. We cannot be responsible for the chain of causality, we simply do the best we have with the information in our possession at the time.

V.V.F. said...

@Scott Stenwick - If I could just figure out how to do that out loud instead of just on a keyboard, life would be a lot easier. :P

@Monsignor Rassbach - You make very good points. Wisely spoken.

FernWise said...

*mandatory sarcasm warning*

What, you mean everyone, when applying for a job, does NOT include with their application a caveat like "If someone else applies for this job and needs it more than I do, then even if I'm the more qualified, give the job to them."

Sarcasm over.

If you wouldn't take that kind of step in your 'non-magical' life - which is where the bulk of your spiritual growth is going to take place and manifest whether or not you are on a magical path - then why do it in your magical life?

Ryan Valentine said...

Baal doesn't care .. so why should I?