November 16, 2010

On Fearing the Self (and dealing with it)

's recent post on Divinatory Literacy has gotten my mind reeling for a number of reasons, not the least effect of which is pondering the enormously varied ways in which people purposefully delude themselves.

Most Magicians make no secret of the fact that we are often our own worst enemy. This is true tenfold where self-exploration (even when not sought after) is concerned, because we have to bypass the human tendency to reinforce our own mental map of the universe and take a blind leap into the uncertain... which is understandably terrifying. Hell, for all we know, we'll come out the other end insane (or worse, ridiculed).

What is weird to me is that people usually set out on a magical path for one or both of two reasons: power over their situation, and betterment of the self (discovering Truth, etc). Whichever your goal, you're obviously not currently in a position to be getting what you want, which is why you pick up magic to begin with. In any case, a sudden shift in viewpoint is exactly what you want and most likely need. You've been pining for that "So THAT'S why it didn't work!" moment when everything makes sense and the larger picture helps you understand what to do next.

And yet every day we see people clinging to a single (often inane) idea they've found in a book, or a broken "system" they've picked up on a message board, or their cosmology, or any number of other personal maps, and just as often it is blatantly clear that these things are not helping them in their above-stated goals. So why hold on to them?

For the same reason we hold on to every other piece of junk in our lives. Read Gordon's post. Do a ruthless physical purge of your possessions. Then turn the lens inward and go through your beliefs and practices, singling out each one and asking yourself what would happen if the possibility arose that your belief was completely and utterly false? What if that practice was quite clearly useless? What would you want to hold onto, justifying and rationalizing, instead of dropping it instantly? Why? Is the comfort you have in the sureness of your beliefs worth hamstringing your magic?

Just food for thought. If I could find the proper post to link to, I'd reference Frater R.O.'s wonderful "Oh Shit" moment where he let go of his long-held views on Goetic magic and adopted something that works much better for him. He could have just as easily (if not much more easily) stuck to his guns and have dealt with the fallout, but instead he adapted and came out better for it.

Perhaps it's the explorer instinct, or perhaps I'm just a little unhinged, but I'd much rather be jumping headlong into a world that doesn't make sense (yet) than be the skeptic in 's post, paying people and hoping that they're wrong so that I can prove I'm already (and have always been) right.

What are you holding on to?


  1. Everything!! LOL!!
    I love this post. I could use a good "let go" on a lot of things.
    Rigid creatures we humans, lovers and pursuers of pattern, no matter the cost.
    Thanks for the reply on the nettles. I am going to have to give it whirl, it sounds very good for a body.
    I have enough of it!! ;-D

  2. You know... I did not get into crafting for self-betterment, so much as I was called to it. It is only this past year that I've been directed in some fashion to do much for my personal situation, and even that is very passing.

    In terms of holding onto stuff, I'd have to guess my expectations. I was not sure that workings would go as planned. Or that I was even capable of doing things that helped others. And then I was proven wrong, luckily.

    I'm also somewhat surprised, continually, that maybe there's some purpose in the universe for me. As a plant worker, or witch, or something. This has been to really be spelled out, which is to say I haven't been presented with puzzle pieces to fit together, yet.

    Chop wood, carry water, etc.

  3. @Marie: Of course, let me know how/if you like it =)

    @Sara: Well it's a rough analogy. To me, feeling "called" to something is a little of both. It gives us purpose (even if we don't know what that is), and puts us in an environment we want to be in (which is an improvement in situation, presumably). We don't have to charge in with the goal of becoming demigods to want to better ourselves ;)

  4. What a great post...I wish I had read it earlier, but it is timely for me.I'm FINALLY doing a little (okay,a lot of..)"housecleaning" at the moment and it's really boosting my magical self. An old medicine man once told me that the secret to success is "getting rid of stuff." (I was expecting something so much more profound and earth shattering) he so succinctly put material, psychological and spiritual. Once you get rid of all the extra stuff, things start coming up roses. You know what? He was right.

  5. This is a very thought provoking post. I hang on to physical and emotional things much too much. "Housecleaning" is a very good idea.