Greetings Faithful Readers!
A subject has recently come up on the Solomonic Yahoo Group that I’ve been wanting to address for some time. All too often, I see folks (specifically Western folks) point out issues of poverty, sickness or other hardships faced by either individual magicians or cultures where magick is prevalent, and suggest that it is proof their magick doesn’t work. How many times have you heard that some magician “died penniless” as proof that they weren’t much of a magician after all?
Here is a quote from the original post on Solomonic, and my response to it:
Re: So everybody is a Sorcerer. What then?
— In email@example.com, Julian <belfire1@…> wrote:
> However, there might be some who look at social conditions in places
> like Brazil and Mexico and Cuba, and wonder in what way their magical
> culture has made then happier, healthier, safer, more prosperous, and
> more free—such that we might benefit from emulating them.
As I see it, this is one of the fundamental misunderstandings about magick in the Western world. Magick does not exist to *stop* bad things from happening, magick exists *because* bad things happen.
I think we’ve been conditioned by our fiction and Hollywood fantasy to see magick as a “cure all.” If a person is truly a powerful wizard or sorcerer, then surely their lives will reflect it in that they will never want for food or money, never be sick, never have bad things happen to them, etc. Why, because a *true* wizard should be able to wave his wand at any problem and make it vanish in a puff of smoke and a flash of light. If he doesn’t live up to the Harry Potter standard, then surely he’s a fraud…
Then we look at the real world and see just what you’ve described above. We see that magick is more widespread in cultures that don’t have it so good. We see that magicians don’t come from lives of happiness and comfort. And so we think: then what good is the magick?
But magick doesn’t make you immune to hardship. It doesn’t make your problems vanish. It exists to be invoked in times of hardship, to make the hardship something we can overcome. It is, in this way, synonymous with medicine. Medicine doesn’t stop all disease or suffering from happening. And when you do get sick and miserable, you don’t expect to be completely cured the moment you walk out of the doctor’s office. You take the medicine he prescribes to you, hoping that it will eleviate soem of the suffering and possibly aid you in returning to a state of health.
And so it is with magick. When bad shit happens, you inovke the magick to get through it. And that is why we see more widespread magick use in cultures that don’t have it so great. If they were all fat and happy, then why would they seek magick in the first place?
Believe me, it took me many years to come to grips with what I say above. I spent plenty of time angry at my Guardian Angel, Patron Gods, familiars and spiritual helpers for “letting bad things happen to me.” Until they finally drove it into my head that they weren’t there to make me some kind of superhuman, impervious to any hardship. They were there to make sure I made it through the bad things.
There is a great illustration of this in that old Nick Cage movie “City of Angels.” In the opening scene, we meet Nick and his buddy in a convenience store in a bad part of town. At first, it doesn’t make a lot of sense why these two angels would be hanging out in some random gas-n-go. But then a man comes in and pulls a gun on the store owner.
Do our heroic angels spring into action to subdue the evildoer? Nope. Instead each angel stands behind one of the humans involved and places a hand on his shoulder. This calms the humans slightly, and the robbery goes down without anyone getting killed. The angels didn’t seem to consider the morality of the robbery of much concern. They just influenced the situation enough to get the humans through it in one piece.
And if you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you might know why I find something a bit personal in that scene. ;) And though that case is a bit on the extreme side, I have found much the same to be true of my entire magickal career. Whatever I learn about magick, it doesn’t remove me from this physical realm full of hardship and danger. It sure as hell doesn’t make me rich. And, to be frank, I’ve found that my guardians are much more likely to shove me into the pitfalls of life than to steer me around them. (Angels don’t let wimps hang around with them.)
But I am still here, and I’m in a position in life that is a damn sight better than it would have been without magick. In complete honesty, I really don’t have to worry much about a place to live, or lack of money or a thousand other things that could afflict me. Yet I got here by paying serious dues along the way.
As it is said in the Golden Dawn’s 5=6 initiation ceremony: Hate not suffering, it was but the purification of the Gold.