On What Leads People to (and away) from Magickal Practice, and Why It Can Be Worth It

Why do people do magick, anyway? Is it to feel re-enchanted with the world after so many Hard TruthsTM whack you over the head? Is it because there is a Vast ConspiracyTM to conceal the forces of the universe in order to keep Ordinary PeopleTM from knowing the Real TruthTM? Is it level up to throw lightning bolts because it’s Badass? Is it to flow in better harmony with forces of Nature? (All trademarks pending my doing something to trademark phrases).

Probably all of these are reasons for magickal practice. Yet within all of these reasons are the same seeds for not doing magick. Hard Truths of the material world must be faced, not shied away from. Any Vast Conspiracy must surely be more powerful than any single Ordinary Person, and even if you’re lucky, how do you know that the Real Truth you discover is the One Real and Ultimate Truth? Throwing lightning bolts is probably doable, but very expensive, and then you’ve spent a lot of money making your whole life about throwing lightning bolts.

I want to dwell on the last point. I think the issue of Nature and the West‘s relationship to it is at the core of why people don’t do magick, and fairly so. As an example, we understand that chemistry is an ordering principle of nature, that it works marvels, but most of us don’t know anything beyond the basics. So few of us understand atomic orbitals, we probably don’t do advanced chemistry at home, and even those of us who know what we’re doing can still make fatal mistakes. Why dabble with something so dangerous? Leave it to geniuses who are also willing to take the risks.

Still, we probably don’t benefit much from not knowing anything about chemistry. It keeps us from poisoning ourselves with household items. It gives us a rationale to eat healthy, to wash our hands, and to be careful with gasoline. Essentially, an understanding of chemistry is important, and we can have a safer and healthier existence with it.

When it comes to magick, I think there’s a vague understanding of it among most people. For Christians (still the most dominant of the religions in the West), there’s an understanding of the value of prayer for protection and development and, if need be, useful goodies. If need be, the usual professionals in the field are (pastors and priests) can be called upon for counsel and to do advanced work. It’s a lot of study and, frankly, we know that those who reach the peak of the field of Christianity, the saints, often suffer tremendously and lead an otherworldly existence that can seem scary. As with chemistry, magick’s power, as with any aspect of Nature, causes reactions in us to protect ourselves (or our loved ones, if we project our fears onto others) from such suffering, and originally the Church stepped in to become a gatekeeper. So while magick is our birthright, it’s something that the West largely accepted as something that needed balance with other parts of our nature, its secrets reserved only for the priestly (and later, pastoral) class. Much as advanced chemistry became reserved for universities and licensed businesses, advanced magick became reserved for the Church.

Yet nowadays, for most (but not all) of us who make it to adulthood, there’s no longer a Vast Conspiracy of the Church to keep us from exploring magick. There’s less trepidation now that people who regularly practice magick have shown that they largely live normal, if not understood, lives.

This means that whatever Truths there are to be discovered must be evaluated by the magickian her- or himself. I can imagine the protest: “That’s no fun! What if I make a mistake?” Good friends who are not magickians can help you talk through your insights, but yeah, adult life is about responsibility, and this means you’re responsible for how to think and what to believe, unless you choose to submit your mind to an authority. This can be okay (lots of people do this), but may I suggest not settling for anything but the Most Universal of authorities, Who may in fact instead want you to play with your share of power?).

Ultimately, after doing magick with patience and wisdom, I can tell you that one of the things you things you can come to better understand is your oneness with Nature/the Universe. In a way … you are the one throwing lightning bolts.

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