I have to confess to a certain reaction whenever I hear or read about the New Age concept of ‘manifestation’. On good days, I may subtly roll my eyes. On bad days I actually feel an instinctual curling back of the lips as I prepare to tear the heart out of the proud ‘manifestor’ before me. Despite New Age teachings, workshops, play-shops, give-me-your-money-shops, all designed to teach us how to ‘manifest’, the simple fact of the matter is this:
No one ‘manifests’ anything.
Take a look at something in front of you. Anything. Even better, something you’ve ‘manifested’. Look at it and ask yourself, how did this thing come to be? For example, this lovely pencil. Follow back in your mind all the various actions, causes, people, life-forms, events needed to produce a single pencil.
I may have purchased this pencil – or someone else may have. This involves money, which involves labour, banking, banking staff etc. Then there is the shop where it was purchased from – this involves hundreds of people from architects, to builders, to store staff and security. Then we have the transport of the pencil to the store, probably involving drivers and warehouses (more builders), the petroleum for the driving, which involves millions of long dead plankton and algae folk. Not to mention the wood around the graphite – a tree, with water, forestry workers, manufacturers of chainsaws etc.
So you see my point?
If I ‘manifest’ anything it has to be as a result of a vast interdependency on countless beings and causes. Even if, at the end of a great and ageless stream of causation and choices, we somehow manage to ‘attract’ a thing or job or person towards us, our own intervention is as but a speck in the unlimited sky of what went before us to produce this opportunity anyway. We are so small in the actual causes of ‘manifestation’ that to ascribe it to us (or anyone) would be even more bizarre than saying the latest Hollywood block buster ‘is’ the movie of the second-assistant to the second set catering service.
To say we can manifest is akin, I feel to saying that Columbous discovered America or Cook discovered Australia or Drake was the second person to circumnavigate the world. Historical inaccuracies and indigenous negation aside, these statements ignore the fact these captains all had crews, most of whom suffered and worked harder than the figureheads they supported. Several died.
These statements of discovery reflect an imperial and class based worldview and so too do statements that I ‘manifested’ a lovely job, or a perfect boyfriend or whatever. It assumes we are the central agency and discounts or removes the supreme truth of radical interdependence. It places us, as in the old medieval model, at the centre of the magic circle controlling the powers, rather than a place from which to observe and consciously actualise our interdependence. This is but one of many examples of the unconscious adoption by the New Age of imperial and class based ideologies while pretending it’s all about connection and light and floaty bliss balls.
Of course, practical magic is also ‘manifestation’ under a different guise. As I have often said, I let the magician side down a bit on this front. I have previously explained why I do not valorise or practice magic like this, so won’t go into it much now. My critics on other blogs have pointed out that magic does work, and they even eat based on their practical magic. I find this interesting and exciting, since most people fulfil their regular need for food etc via paying jobs. You know, something you can depend on, at least in the short term. So if magic is that reliable, that regular, it surely must be testable, verifiable in a controlled setting. In which case I suggest these folk contact the Australian Skeptics who’ll pay a $100 000 prize for such a demonstration. I am sure there are other avenues for easy money too.
The simple, bald fact is that no one has yet proven practical magic – or manifestation – has that level of reliability. I would really like it to have, and I am serious about magicians showing of their skills and being tested – I would love to know for sure practical magic works. Until then, I remain open to the possibility but remain of the understanding, as mentioned in this post, that
…the best and most successful forms of practical magic are those performed collectively for altruistic purposes and which work in alliance with spiritual beings under the presidency of the higher powers. These are keys elements: a collegiate experience to go beyond the self; altruistic and transpersonal intentions; working in harmony with beings in the other realms where we at best can but blunder around, and; an attitude of surrender to the One.
From a traditionalist perspective rather than focusing on ourselves being the manifestor, we are called to become more aware of the supreme sacrament of our own manifestation. We ourselves are the manifested. From a Christian perspective, we are the Body of Christ. From a magical perspective, we are the embodied and active component of the Chain of Being leading back to the One. This so far more exciting and wonderful than anything we can manifest. 🙂