(...) What is most striking in this presentation is Dr.Musallam’s continuous emphasis of the social aspects of religion or mystery cults. His measure for any cult is less founded on the volume of magico-mystical secrets revealed to its practitioners, and much more on the social impact it hand on the respective society.
(...) Let’s explore this hypothesis together: The biggest block to leading an ethical life is to fear failure. Actually, to be afraid of failure is a distinctly human invention. Nature never considers failure an option. Had it set out a few millenials ago to achieve evoultion and hat it been afraid of getting it wrong somewhere along that eternal path, where would that have left all of us? None of us would be here. Instead of being afraid of failure, nature embraced the idea of adaptive recovery as its secret design principle for everything it does. Failure thus turned from the worst-case scenario into a necessary trigger for any learning process.
Magic was never meant for men. We made it our own. We tore it ouf the earth and pulled it down from the skies. Think of Prometheus as a man who volunteered for a death of fire. Walking up the pyre all by himself, lighting the torch, throwing it down to his feet. Offering himself in the pursuit of what he believed to be withheld unrightfully.
Published in 1888 - during the same year as the publication of the opus magnum of the Theosophic Society, Blavatsky's 'Secret Doctrine' as well as the inception of the first temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn - Waite wrote this article at the dawn of the currents that would come to define Western magic in the 20th century. It thus allows a glimpse into how one of the GD’s earliest members rationalised and comprehended their own magical tradition - before going on to forge a new link in this chain through their own order. If we allow ourselves to forget the forged letters of Fräulein Sprengel, it’s in this early essay that we can find a lot of the intellectual assumptions as well historic roots the early GD emerged from.
Now, in my eyes we are confronted here with an essential consideration about the nature of the Great Work. And that is the question of its pace and speed. People often say ‘You cannot speed up the harvest.’ Often when I hear this I get impatient and think to myself: ‘Right. But you can certainly forget to sow, water and shield your crops.’ (...) So the question that emerges seems to be: How do we marry the virtues of discipline, focus and commitment with their balancing counter-weights of letting go, accepting, experiencing and immersing ourselves into what is offered to us? In short: how do we marry our male and female sides to become one in the Great Work?
At a relatively early stage when we begin to practice magic it is really helpful to develop a proper understanding of the term ‘topography’. Today, especially in the US the term is mainly used to refer to a map with elevation contours. However, its original meaning was much broader and one still can find it being used in its old form in many countries in ‘old Europe’. Topography is made up of the two Greek words ‘place’ (topos) and ‘writing’ (graphia). Thus in its original meaning it signifies an accurate description of a specific place. Such description wasn’t limited to geographic features but could also include an accurate report about the people living in this place, its wildlife, weather and even history.
A central aspect of the Western Occult tradition is the correlation between macrocosm and microcosm. The most prominent example of this philosophy is the Hermetic Tabula Smaragdina or Emeral Tablet. What this premise expresses is a worldview in which everything created is at the same time a part and a whole: Everything is a mirror to everything it is surrounded by, yet at the same time a unique expression of this universe.
When striving for transformation of ourselves we tend to work from one of a few numbers of consciously or subconsciously held models of 'Self'. Such models form the basis of how we make sense of ourselves as part of a larger environment of visible and invisible forces as well as a part of a social community or tradition. Inherently they determine essential assumptions about the triggers, direction and aim of such transformation. The following explorations and ideas were initiated by the wonderful anthology 'Self and Self-Transformation in the History of Religions', edited by David Shulman and Guy G. Stroumsa.
(...) So I thought about it - all human behavior is goal orientated. Upon pondering about it I began to realise its distortion. I found many examples of great human achievements for which it is inaccurate: people in love may act based upon compassion, soldiers in an army act based upon orders, medical doctors in contaminated areas act upon self-abandonment.
Now, this has been on my mind for quite a while. Bringing this finally down to paper feels like giving birth to something that has taken a very long time to come through. I am really grateful for that. I am grateful for the insight that struck me when walking my dog this morning, looking at the snow, the quiet woods, enjoying the silence - and finally realizing how the pieces of the puzzle needed to be arranged.
I am conscious The Aggression Cycle doesn't take the typical approach of introducing a new model to our magical practice. Stealing from Gestalt Psychology - a specific type of psychotherapy many magicians and even psychologists mistrust for various reasons - and applying the insights found to ritual magical practice might just push the boundaries a little too much. Well, I am not sure it does.
Another year comes to an end. An opportunity to clean our desks, get rid of dead freight, misperceptions and to answer some essential questions. To me the essential question I take away from this rich year of magical practice, learning and sharing is this: ‘Why use Magic?'
In the previous part we looked at how magic works from an inner perspective, wether triggered consciously or unconsciously. The focus of the model shared was to examine how our 'True Will' and our unconscious desires interact with the world around us, in order to create experiences that resonate with their charges. It also showed how the impact of our behavioral reply - both on ourselves and our future experiences - will vary wether we chose to think about it, talk about it, act upon it or process it in form of a ritual.
After all the inner work of recent months I needed a break and happily returned to a different kind of work - something a little more structured and outwardly focussed. In fact I had started this piece of work more than five years ago and then continuously refined and adjusted it. Still, sharing it today doesn’t mean it is final - like all models it will always remain work in progress. Yet, hopefully it has arrived at a stage where its logic is consistent and can be advantageous in sparking new thoughts about how magic actually works?
With the recent release of the Magical Knowledge III I thought it's a good time to share a fundamental magical insight I only realised through Josephine McCarthy's liminal books. Actually it's a quite embarrassing to admit that I have spent so many years practicing magic without understanding this very basic principle - as everything you want to achieve in magic really flows from it. Yet, embarrassing or not - a life led to looking good must be pretty boring? You simply miss out on all the playfulness. So here we go...
On writing the fourth chapter on the Holy Guardian Angel I discovered something interesting. It relates to our readiness to translate philosophical theory into living ritual work - and how this competence changes, evolves and matures over years of practice and experience.
In the previous posts of this series we discussed the basics of Power and Magic. In Part 1 we introduced a simple model allowing us to connect the What, How and Why of Magic and explored its impact on our own ritual practice. In Part 2 we took a look at the fundament of magical power built from experience and meaning and how these need to be in balance for a living approach to magic. Furthermore we examined an example of abuse of magical power that can be encountered both in past and present times.
Time to explore some more about magical power. In the first post we dealt with the fundamentals of what blocks or opens access to power for any practitioner of magic. We found it is based on the coherence of (1) their actual ritual practice, (2) their understanding of how this practice forms part of a larger tradition as well as (3) their inner clarity of purpose and motivation to act. These three layers of magical power can be depicted by a model of three concentric circles.