Social and Political Change, some lessons from Magic

We will start with singer Kasey Chambers: “If you’re not pissed off at the world. Then you’re just not paying attention.”

Following this, I assume you personally wish for the world to be different and take some action towards that aim. If so you may already be familiar with the three, broad ways of changing the world, which I first learnt with the bodacious Joanna Macy decades ago. I will explore these with reference to the current situation in Australia with regards to asylum seekers and refugees. Do click on the links to find out more – there are some awesome people out there!

  1. Interfering with the systems of oppression or injustice via direct action, peaceful or otherwise. Here think Love Makes a Way and Mums 4 Refugees. This approach does not produce direct change, but rather buys time for the other approaches and exposes the systems of oppression – at the very least to the arresting police officers and judiciary.

  1. Changing the system from within – being part of the system of oppression or injustice to whatever degree we can (and can stomach) to change it or dismantle it from the inside. Here, think Labor for Refugees.

  1. Changing the consciousness of the society itself so that the system of oppression is exposed and dismantled. Here think of those artists and storytellers presenting a different version of the myth of refugees to Australia, such the group performing under the tag ‘We’re Better Than This’.

All three approaches have their strengths and can be very powerful. All three however are vulnerable to the systems of oppression they seek to change. Alternate views within ‘the system’ are sidelined or undermined; direct action protests are often outside the law and thus render participants vulnerable to a range of legal problems; and novel modes of consciousness and cultural myths may receive little exposure or funding.

These three approaches can be viewed diagrammatically as a triangle.

three methods triangle

I place the third approach, the change in consciousness of a society as the basal arm because it is required for any lasting change. For example, unless a society has a consciousness which does not see race as a discriminatory factor, all the laws and advances engendered by working the system and all the continued highlighting of injustice will not be enough. Oppression will still continue. Ask a black woman in the southern USA, a country with a black president and an enshrined equality before the law. Speaking recently to friends from Dallas, they mentioned how many folk there still have not accepted that the Confederacy lost the Civil War. The consciousness abides.

The nub of this problem I feel was unwittingly highlighted recently by Ricky Muir, an unlikely Australian Senator for the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party. Honestly I am not making this political party up. This is Australia.

“Crossbench senator Ricky Muir has revealed he switched his position on same-sex marriage after a fight with his wife in which he said he would disown his son if he was gay.

The Motoring Enthusiast Party senator announced his support for same-sex marriage earlier this year, linking the issue to rural mental health. “I did have very opposing views to what I have now, but that’s because it’s ‘monkey see, monkey do’,” Senator Muir told Annabel Crabb in an episode of Kitchen Cabinet to air on the ABC on Wednesday. “You grow up a certain way, you’re told certain things, you go with it.” (source).

Obviously whoever or whatever hegemonic force controls the lead monkey, showing other monkeys how to act, controls the game. As the world moves to embrace same gender marriage it is now acceptable for Senator Muir to hold the pro view. Really though, he is still a monkey. And so, to a large degree, are the rest of us. I remember being convinced that same-gender marriage would occur in my lifetime after reading a Time article in the late 1980s on how large companies were creating advertisements targeting gay couples with disposable income. Economics demanded equality and so it came to pass.

The question then becomes not how to change personally as society changes, but how to get novel and new justice based modes of consciousness embodied within the culture to produce social change.

To explore this, we can relate these three arms, interference, change from within and change of consciousness to the now famous 60’s maxim: ‘the personal is political is spiritual’.

pps three methods

I read this maxim as magician, someone who sees spirituality both in its traditional forms, which includes converse with non-physical beings and in a broader, wider scope that includes artistic vocation among other things. This is not a valorisation of the contemporary ‘spiritual not religious’ self-focus where we pick and mix our spirituality to accommodate our ego. Spirituality, whether traditional, artistic or novel in form must be concerned with the non-personal and the transpersonal. Fr Matthew Fox sums it up: ‘the test of a spirituality is in its justice making: does it create justice?’

The spiritual then, as the basal arm of our triangle is concerned with justice making, personally and collectively (politically). It is for this reason, Australia’s greatest Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, could make this bold statement about Labor governments (and I would say ANY government):

“In any civilised community, the arts and associated amenities must occupy a central place. Their enjoyment should not be seen as remote from everyday life. Of all the objectives of my government, none had a higher priority than the encouragement of the arts – the preservation and enrichment of our cultural and intellectual heritage. Indeed I would argue that all other objectives of a Labor government – social reform, justice and equity in the provision of welfare services and educational opportunities – have as their goal the creation of a society in which the arts and the appreciation of spiritual and intellectual values can flourish. Our other objectives are all means to an end. The enjoyment of the arts is an end in itself.”

This really says it all. If we work for the artistic and the spiritual we achieve it all.

When we superimpose the two triangles upon each other we can see this. The personal links directly to the personal choice to interfere and risk legal penalties. The political is expressed through the political and economic systems that are changed from within. And the spiritual finds equation with the change of consciousness – except that this is seldom fully realised.

The reaction against religion in Australia and the modern secular west means our artistic and other modes of changing consciousness are seldom seen, promoted or empowered as real spiritual events and actions. The artists We’re Better than This, I mentioned earlier, are secular artists, not religious or spiritual. Yet, I would argue that by seeking to change the dominant myth of refugees in Australia they are seeking spiritual ends. Gough clearly equates the two and clearly places them as the raison d’être of government, as does traditional religion. And here is where liberals and secularists get nervous mistakenly seeing the promotion of spirituality and art as throwback to medieval Christendom or Caliphates. Not so of course for Gough who was modern, western and secular but with a vision lacking in virtually all modern politicians.

Fully linking the spiritual traditions and the non-human spiritual realties to the action to change societal consciousness is seldom done. There are a few traditions and churches that attempt this, but by and large the division remains. We can highlight the effects of this division by looking at magic.

One of the key symbols and tools within western magic is the Triangle of Art. This is a physical and outer representation of an inner construct, created in the consciousness of the magician.  A classic example of such a triangle is this:

triangle_of_the_art_by_arsadraoi

The purpose of the triangle of Art is to evoke, to bring to manifestation in this physical world a ‘being’, typically an angel or spirit,  that embodies or will carry out the will or desire of the magician. This will, in spiritual magic, is always concerned with the spiritual and personal unfoldment of the magician or some repair or healing of others or the world.

The ‘being’ becomes manifest in the centre of the triangle. Around the arms are written divine names of special significance to the magician. When they are empowered and spoken their interior blessings interact to create the inner construct of the triangle and keep it integral and sealed. It is the interaction of theses blessings that creates the ‘interior atmosphere’ that will allow the ‘being’ to manifest. It is like fish bowl or a space suit in function, allowing something not here already on earth to be here temporarily. This temporary quality is then delivered to the magician by one method or another, and she is changed or she becomes the agent for changing the world.

The interaction and interdependence of these three divine names and powers is shown by placement of a divine name, separated in three sections, at each of the three apexes. Here we see this with the name of the Archangel Michael. This placement leads the eyes and the consciousness around the triangle, connecting each side with each other. Another concept in magic is of the ‘Triune Flowing Light’ which inherently is dynamic and interdependent flowing throughout the triad and bringing the interior forces into manifestation.

An absolute clear principle of magic is that outer actions are always mirrored by and embody inner actions, such as visualisation and prayer. Outer actions alone will never create magic.

So with reference to our other we can produce a social change Triangle of Art thus:

ta refugees

At the centre is the justice we are seeking. At the arms we place the interference of the system, the working within the system and change of consciousness. The ‘atmosphere’ that will allow the change we are seeking, in this case humane treatment of refugees, will come about through the interaction of these three arms, these three approaches.

However, this only represents only the first level we examined, the first triangle. To create magic, to bring compassion for refugees into this world, we need to include the other levels: the personal, the political and the spiritual.

Again, I contend the missing element here is the real, authentic, actual spiritual element that includes the reality of non-physical beings, shared consciousness and interior streams of blessing of hindrance. Without this connection, the spiritual dimension our Triangle of Art will remain incomplete and what we seek to manifest will not occur, or will occur partially or in a distorted fashion.

It is interesting that out of all the possible arenas of magical action, personal wealth, love, employment, healing etc, the most seldom taken up is that of social or political magic. It is rarely taught or even mentioned as a primary reason for magic, as I talk about in this post on the Iraq War. In some form though this approach has often been there in western magical and spiritual circles. To quote from my own post:

“Active political magic is one thing, though very much part of the Western Tradition (for example see Gareth Knight’s The Magical Battle of Britain). The inability or unwillingness to look beyond the obvious is another. Esoteric after all means ‘inner’, occult means ‘hidden’. As esoteric students, pagans or magicians we should be looking beyond what our media and our governments dish up. Otherwise we are not being conscious, which is the essence of all authentic spirituality. And once we become conscious of what is actually occurring, we must be moved to act against it, in some manner. After all, another hallmark of authentic spirituality is compassion.”

So to round things off, this post is a call to do exactly what I believe will create an effective Triangle of Art for manifestation of justice: the linking of the spiritual and the political via the personal. This will fully link the non-physical realms to our work and deepen the interaction of interference, working within the system and changing the consciousness of our world. Without this linking our Triangle cannot fully manifest what we are seeking and praying for.

I have attempted and attempt a number of these actions, the most public and recent for refugees described here. This current post is the beginning of a manifestation of more, where you will be invited to be part of healing the world via your person, your politics, your art, your spirituality and your magic. THANKS 🙂

Also published on Medium at: https://medium.com/@mrperegrin/social-change-some-lessons-from-magic-2d95613e535

RIP Gough Whitlam – political ancestor work

gough-whitlamEarly this morning, Edward ‘Gough’ Whitlam, arguably the greatest Prime Minister Australia has ever known, died, aged 98.

His legacy is beyond words. Even today, after decades of conservative politics ripping at the heart of Australia, we see his influence. Aboriginal women, children and men, live on their own lands thanks to his initiatives. Hundreds of thousands of state funded university educated Australians owe him a debt. Our international relationships were fostered by him. Universal healthcare and improved social security came from his actions. The introduction of no-fault divorce, the end of conscription and the end of Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War. He and his wife, Margaret (who died in 2012) were also tirelessly supportive of the Australian arts and protections for the environment.

Not only will he live on in memory, but also within a near universal admiration and willingness to see him as a greater-than-life figure, to focus on his successes and acknowledge, though never condone, his failures (like East Timor). Gough continues to inspire generations of Australians who were never directly affected by his time in politics. This is the mark of a great human being.

Gough will become a political ancestor and we Pagan and magic folk understand how that works.

The memory, the life, the personality of great people become the focal point for universal forces to move through and interact with the world. By offering to their memories, their legacy and lives, their triumphs and continuing presence in the world, we grow and strengthen the ancestor. So they become able to continue to influence the world and be the mediation of the inner forces of truth, harmony and justice that inspired their lives while on earth.

Lee Morgan of My Craft and Sullen Art fame suggested this morning on Facebook we consciously create a ‘Multiple tradition political ancestor cult’ to honour Gough’s memory. She has created a Facebook page to this end, ‘Gough Whitlam Ancestor Cult’. Have a look. Tonight we will hold a ceremony and meal in his honour. You are invited to participate in whatever way you wish.

Shrine to Gough at work

Shrine to Gough at work

Know this: Gough is not actually dead.

I saw him this morning with a sick girl at the doctors.
I see him in every woman who earns as much as her male counterpart.
I see him every hour in the lives of divorcees and the educated.
I hear his voice in the songs of indigenous Australians who now live on their own land.
I see him in the wonder expressed by the thousands who visit the National Gallery.
I see him in those who marvel at the Barrier Reef and the environmentally protected National Parks.

Gough will never die.

Magical Action to Increase Compassion towards Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australia

This is part of an initiative I have started to…well, the title says it all 🙂

I will be inviting all and sundry on Facebook to be part of this – and you good MOTO folk here also 🙂 And please, even if you are not Australian, feel free to be part of the magic. I have a nice little outline of the plan and all in good pdf form HERE.

Of course, since some folk like to just read on screen, I will paste the text below also.

This form of magic obviously does not abide easily with the fourth side of the pyramid – silence. The symbol and principles are out there. However, the individual methods people and groups choose, the names of their sacred One(s), contacts and Gods are not on display. So please keep yours mum too 🙂

In my personal experience I have had mixed success with magic like this. As I recount in this post a similar initiative over ten years ago concerning the forthcoming Iraq war failed dismally. However, as I say in this other post:

In my experience 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.

And this current magic ticks all these boxes. I’ve seen some wonderful results from this form of magic, as well as failures. So we will see on this one…but remember magic is like hugging a tar baby; it affects the magician as much as it does the world. So working inwardly, magically and working hard and non-personally for compassion will affect each of us and move us towards a more compassionate state. And that can’t be bad! 🙂 THANKS 🙂

– – – – – – – – – – – 

  • This is for everyone concerned about the current government’s actions in regards to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. Polling suggests this is well over half the population.
  • While magic is predominately the realm of Witches, Magicians, Pagans, Druids and others, the invitation is here for any and all people to help open the group mind of Australia towards compassion for those seeking refuge.
  • This form of magic does not impede on anyone’s sovereign will. But it does provide opportunities for change should there be an inclination towards that change.
  • The daily reports of appalling conditions in offshore detention centres, the military style secrecy of the Australian government, the universal and repeated condemnation of these centres and practices by international sources and the increasing whistleblowing by those working in these centres is a concern for all Australians.
  • These actions by the Australian government are supported by choices and non-choices we have made and are currently making; as individuals, as groups and as a nation.
  • From a magical point of view these choices ultimately stem from the fabric of the collective unconscious, the hidden side of culture and society where our deepest assumptions and beliefs lie. We have all experienced transformation from reworking the weave of our own inner depths. We facilitate these changes in others through initiation, prayer and healing. Now we need to go broader and work directly with our nation and our culture.

 

INTENTION

To increase compassion towards asylum seekers and refugees within the Australian group mind.

METHOD

Everyone is invited to contribute to this magic which will be conducted in five phases from 9 January to roughly 7 February. The magic centres around the symbol below as a representation of compassion in balance within the Australian group mind and as a focus for the intention given above (please see ‘Notes on the Symbol’ below).

Compassion Australia web 96 J

PHASE 1 – SPREADING THE WORD (January 9 – 16). During this week, please share this invitation to all magical people you know, far and wide, personally, via social media and other means.

PHASE 2 – CREATING THE SYMBOL (On or around Full Moon, January 16). The symbol is created within the ‘astral’, inner realm and strongly exists ‘above’ Australia, and is ‘ALIVE’.

PHASE 3 – CHARGING THE SYMBOL (January 16-26). Additional magic is done to empower the symbol.

PHASE 4 – BIRTHING THE SYMBOL (On or around Australia Day, January 26). Magic is conducted to ‘bring down’ the symbol into the group mind of Australia.

Time of ‘gestation’ (January 27-31)

PHASE 5 – PRACTICAL ACTION (On or shortly after New Moon, January 31). Practical action such as letter writing to earth the magic.

SUGGESTIONS FOR MAGIC

  • Those skilled in magic can readily apply the principles below and should work as they normally do.
  • All magic should ‘start grounded and finish grounded’. This is very important. It means we begin connected to the earth, knowing ourselves and our boundaries, and we finish the same way. Grounding is normally one of the first skills taught in most magical traditions. Grounding exercise examples can be found here.
  • Another key point is that straight after grounding we connect with our Sacred One(s) and ask them for assistance in the magic.

Creating the Symbol

  • Visualisation is the key here. After grounding and asking your Sacred One(s) for assistance, strongly visualise the symbol. Keep in mind the intention. Once the symbol is strong, see it grow larger and larger and rise to fill the air above the whole of Australia. Keep visualising for as long as possible.
  • At this time experienced folk around the country will be working deep magic to create the symbol on the inner realms, so it will be easy for you to add your bit by simply visualising.
  • When finished visualising, thank your Sacred One(s) and spend some time grounding.
  • More experienced magicians can use other methods to create the symbol. A group can use dance, ritual, chant etc. to empower the symbol. Wiccan groups and couples can raise the cone of power or use the Great Rite.

Charging the Symbol

  • Magic here involves two forms of action. Firstly, the aims and hopes of the people of Australia to make a compassionate society are directed ‘upward’ into the symbol. Secondly, the blessings of the spiritual powers and beings we are working with are also directed into the symbol. These may be seen as being directed ‘downward’ into the symbol, but only because these beings are transpersonal not because they are ‘beyond the earth’.
  • So in meditation, in ritual, in group or solo settings, we charge the symbol in these two ways.
  • As individuals (after grounding and asking for assistance) we know ourselves to be representative of the thousands of others in our locales that wish for a more compassionate Australia. As representatives, we imagine ourselves taking their thoughts, wishes and love, as well as our own, into the symbol. We may create a chant to help with this.
  • We then pray and ask our Sacred One(s) to bless the symbol. We see their love and power and light enter and enliven the symbol. We do this for as long as possible as on each day in this phase, if possible.
  • Remember to thank your Sacred One(s) and ground at the end of each session.
  • If you are in a magical group, create sacred space. Have one or two people in each direction. Raise energy and go into trance. Consciously identify the quarters of the circle with the quarters of your city; see the east of the circle as and overlapping with the east of the city and so on – so that your circle IS your city. The people at the quarters now open themselves to represent the people within that quarter of the city. In trance they collect and channel the good wishes and intentions of the people of the city. They direct these, in unison with the rest of the group, into the symbol above Australia.
  • Now invoke in your usual manner your Sacred One(s) and see them enter the symbol with their love and power and light to enliven the symbol. Thank your Sacred One(s), close your sacred space and ground as normal.

Birthing the Symbol

  • We do this on Australia Day, when our nation is self-conscious and open to influence.
  • Again, after our preparation, we visualise the symbol. Once it is strong we again ask for the blessings of our Sacred One(s) to enter the symbol. We repeat our intention strongly. Then we slowly and clearly see the symbol come ‘down’ to cover the whole of Australia. We see it enter the group mind of Australia – see it enter the land, the towns, people in your neighbourhood, people in your city, politicians and media people.
  • Then clearly see the symbol produce results – these may be visualised as you wish, for example newspaper headlines like, ‘Australia Leads the Way with Refugees’ or ‘PM’s New Approach to Asylum Seekers Heralded by UN’. Or see people you know who are not now compassionate expressing compassionate thoughts. Use some clear and simple visualisation that shows the completed magic. Hold this visualisation for as long as possible.
  • Once again, when finished, thank your Sacred One(s) and ground.
  • In a group setting the ‘birthing’ process can take many forms from a group meditation to a full ceremony. Wiccans may like to link the birth to the Great Rite:
  • The Coven once again creates the circle as their city. Then the Priestess and Priest will take on the Gods, standing centre circle. Then the Coven will dance the Cone around them and draw the symbol down to just ‘above’ the Priestess and Priest who then perform the Great Rite, birthing the symbol into the Cakes and Wine. These are then shared with the Coveners, who are representative of the city, and thereby take the symbol and magic into the whole city. Some Cakes and Wine should also be offered to the four quarters of the city by people who live nearby.
  • Other methods of birthing will present themselves to experienced magicians.

Practical Action

  • We leave the symbol to affect the group mind of Australia from birthing (26 January) through the dark moon until the new moon (31 January). This is an important period where the ‘ferment’ of the magic grows.
  • On and after new moon is the time for practical action to fully ground and make the magic work on the material level. Without doing something physical the magic will not work. Suggestions include:
  • Speaking to people about the issues; sharing accurate information;
  • Writing letters to the media;
  • Writing letters and contacting politicians clearly stating how you wish things to change;
  • Creating a simple flyer and letterbox dropping it for a few streets around your home;
  • Donating to various Refugee and Asylum Seeker advocacy groups; and
  • Volunteering at refugee agencies.
  • Groups may like to spend a night writing letters and emails. Each member is assigned one letter to write (to local MPs, the Prime Minister, the Immigration Minister Etc.). They bring along a template, and all of the group copy and write and sign all the letters. These are sealed and stamped and magic done to bless them before posting.
  • On all letters or emails it would be good to include the symbol as this will help bring the magic to the fore for those reading it. The symbol can be found here: small (jpg), large (png), for letters (jpg).

 A NOTE ON THE SYMBOL

  • The symbol expresses the intention. Yes, it is a little twee, but we want it to be simple and clear for people from all traditions and backgrounds.
  • The colours are from the Australian Flag to help link to the Australian group mind.
  • The blue in this case represents the raw consciousness of Australia, which we act on and inspire.
  • The red heart represents the compassion we are seeking, rising out of the raw consciousness.
  • The Southern Cross represents the Australian soul, now surrounded by compassion. It also can be used to bring in the stellar forces for those working this form of magic
  • The presence of the symbols of the Sun and Moon represent the balanced approach to refugees and asylum seekers. The symbols also represent the binaries of the Goddess/God for Wiccans and other polarities for those working them.

RESOURCES

Doing what we can – Iran

The recent actions in the tit-for-tat game between Iran and the west (mostly the US) are reaching a new level. This of course is very worrying. Almost two years ago to the day MOTO warned about this Iran-war rhetoric in this post: Human robots, word trance and the legitimate target of Iran. Sadly, nothing has changed and we seem to be drawn inexorably into a very nasty situation indeed.

I want to be clear I am in no way in favour of a nuclear armed Iran. Then again, I am also not in favour of a nuclear armed US. Or Israel, for that matter. And really, when we look history since WWII the evidence is clear that the nation most likely to invade or attack another nation that is not directly threatening its shores is the US, which just happens to be the most nuclear and conventionally armed of the lot. If that doesn’t scare you, I am not sure what will.

One of the main themes of the original post was that wars and other negative actions mostly happen because we, as group, act like robots and mechanically accept what has been programmed into us. This includes us hermetic magicians and pagans, who really should know better since we work with conscious word trances as part of our daily practice. However, as the lack of pagan and magical support for the invasion and war on Iraq showed, this is not the case. Mostly we tend to accept and believe whatever is pumped into us. I was shown this dramatically when in the month before the Iraq invasion my brother argued voraciously for invasion, and several years later was criticising the politicians for continued Australian involvement. I might as well had read the morning newspaper than speak to a human being, a family member.

As I said in the previous post, two years ago:

“Right now there is a concerted attempt by part of the United States government and military to change our minds. Nothing dramatic is being attempted, but rather a slow and concerted effort, through words, is being undertaken to prepare our consciousness to perceive Iran as a threat to world peace and a future candidate for getting the shit kicked out of it…

US Bases around Iran. How many Iranian Bases are surrounding the US?

If we look carefully we will see the same word games were used in the years leading up to the Iraq War. Foundations were laid in our collective mind space concerning Iraq for years, so almost subconsciously we would perceive Iraq as a threat that we were justified in eliminating. This kind of subconscious influence via words should be readily apparent to all pagans and magicians. We all see it and know it when we say the words “witch” and “occult” around people not of our understanding. We can feel their discomfort, which is based solely on general societal assumptions not actual information. We may have felt it ourselves when we first branched out of the socially acceptable.”

And still, right now in 2012, as we slide towards what seems more and more like a conflict between Iran and the West, or an Israeli attack supported or condoned by the west, we still can act. We still are able to be conscious, to look at things sensibly. We can contact our elected representatives and demand that peace be kept. We can counter the growing trend in our peers and families towards acceptance of our conditioning towards war. And above all, we can do magic, as I discuss here. We can pray for peace, send weavings of clear thought to our politicians, write letters, question the media. We have the skills, we have the practices, we have our traditions – let us use them.

Links and dark humour:

Iran: stumbling into war.

Our Shiny New War Against Iran.

Iran Worried U.S. Might Be Building 8,500th Nuclear Weapon

Human robots, word trance and the legitimate target of Iran

When I was a teenager a school friend gave me a few SF books he had read and decided were too “evil” to remain on his pristine bookshelves. They were the classic Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Reading them didn’t get me possessed but did start a lifelong ride into the weird and wonderful as well as the mysterious Golden Dawn.

St Bob quickly became my favourite author and affected me deeply. Two messages throughout his work that relate to spiritual unfoldment and my topic here are:

  • Most of the time humankind in general (and each of us specifically) behaves mechanically and without conscious thought.
  • We are easily entranced and hypnotised by words.

As an example, St Bob describes an event in the life of P.D. Ouspensky who studied under Gurdjieff. Try as he may Ouspensky could not fully understand Gurdjieff’s insistence that humans act mechanically and robotically. During WWI however Ouspensky happened to see a truck load of wooden limbs being sent to the front, ready for a battle that had yet to occur. As a mathematician he realised the generals in charge of the war had calculated in advance the number of limbs that would be destroyed during the battle. Despite all this being in the future, the generals knew that the battle would ensue, that the soldiers would mechanically charge into battle and that their legs would get blown off. At that moment Ouspensky understood what Gurdjieff meant.

St Bob in one of his books describes a Satori moment of his own in the months leading up to the first Gulf War when he was still optimistic a peaceful solution would be found. Watching CNN late at night he heard a report that thousands of body bags were being sent to the US forces in Saudi Arabia. At that moment he knew war was inevitably, mechanically and inexorably ordained.

I thought I understood all this until one of those weird coincidences that hover around devotees of St Bob. Shortly before the Iraq War, I too was watching the news late at night and saw a report about body bags being sent to the front. Only then did I really get it.

We only act mechanically and robotically, maiming and killing as we go, when we are in trance. We are entranced all the time by words. Everyone knows this at some level – politicians, advertisers, writers and good school teachers especially. And of course Hermetic Magicians.

The careful of construction of words can alter our consciousness and guide us to different thoughts. Take for example:

The war in Iraq

rather than

The war on Iraq

One little word, but a wealth of difference in meaning and effect. Another case is the recent move away from describing someone “as gay” but rather as “a gay” and them being part of the group known as “the gays”. We do not say “the straights” or someone is “a straight”. By this little shift we are emphasizing a person’s sexuality as the defining characteristic of their being. We then can more easily forget that “a gay” is also a son, a policeman, a rugby player or whatever. Having sexuality or any other characteristic as the core identity, and all other characteristics backgrounded, helps us feel better when build up the fires and start persecuting.

Words are used to change our minds. Right now there is a concerted attempt by part of the United States government and military to change our minds. Nothing dramatic is being attempted, but rather a slow and concerted effort, through words, is being undertaken to prepare our consciousness to perceive Iran as a threat to world peace and a future candidate for getting the shit kicked out of it. For example, look here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/feb/18/hillary-clinton-iran

If we look carefully we will see the same word games were used in the years leading up to the Iraq War. Foundations were laid in our collective mind space concerning Iraq for years, so almost subconsciously we would perceive Iraq as a threat that we were justified in eliminating. This kind of subconscious influence via words should be readily apparent to all pagans and magicians. We all see it and know it when we say the words “witch” and “occult” around people not of our understanding. We can feel their discomfort, which is based solely on general societal assumptions not actual information. We may have felt it ourselves when we first branched out of the socially acceptable.

I first noticed phenomenon again as a teenager when I first attended a young socialist meeting. During the meeting it was mentioned we were going to assist a certain trade union. The very mention of the name of the union caused me discomfort as I knew they were “bad” and “corrupt”. However, since I was not one to object to things back then I sat on my hands and thought about how I knew the union was corrupt. There was no discreet answer, no factual evidence in my mind. It was all from news reports and generalisations. So too for most people it was with Iraq. There was and is still no credible reason for the invasion. People were prepared to accept it by a repeated fostering of the general ‘badness’ of the Iraqi regime.

So as the same process of constructing Iran as a legitimate target intensifies over the next few years we have a choice to do something different. As I mentioned in the post Lessons In Magic from Iraq, overall there was little concerted effort within the magical and pagan communities to stop the invasion. Right now we have a chance to stop this occurring again, to think and act consciously and to inspire and ask our loved ones and friends to do the same. While I do not expect many magicians to go down the political magic route, we can make sure we use the gifts our traditions bestow on us to ensure peace not war.

Why I Love Magic – personal, mystical and social.

ctOne of the side benefits from my recent distress at the Golden Dawn community’s continued infighting is that through my keeping up to date I have come across several excellent blogs. Some of these are on MOTO’s blogroll, so have a look. Of particular interest is Soror FSQ’s blog, “Flight of Hermes“. There are several other blogs that interweave magical wisdom and personal experience within the Golden Dawn tradition, but Soror FSQ does it well. Sadly, it is hard to avoid stereotyping here: blogs of the same type by men seldom express emotional authenticity with such grace as this one by a woman. Within the Golden Dawn as a whole the men out number the women, particularly when we examine leadership roles and public presences, yet often the women make the most profound contribution to an Order or working sphere. The same is true of virtually any religious tradition in the west.

I have really appreciated Sr FSQ and other bloggers sharing their personal experience of magic and the Golden Dawn. I seldom have the clarity and courage to do so. Well … I once submitted a lengthy report of my youthful pagan religious and mystical experiences to an anthropologist who was writing a book on the subject and seeking personal stories. The first I knew the book was out was reading a review in the West Australian where my memories were quoted and held up to ridicule by the reviewer who could see no good in Pagan mysticism at all. I am now a little more shy in revealing stuff 🙂

One of the most wonderful aspects of magic is the way it can help us interweave all aspects of life into a single, coherent whole. It can unify the various parts of our lives so we are travelling with perhaps many intentions but of one spirit towards one goal. Magic for me is composed of three interlocking spheres: the personal, the mystical and the social. Naturally we can relate these to the Tree of Life 🙂

Personal Magic

Magic on a personal level helps us change and transform.  To begin any act of transformation we leave what is known as the Path of Return and step off the cycle of repeated existence and habitual thought patterns. We do something different and step beyond Malkuth, or in Golden Dawn terms we enter the path of initiation and leave the path of the Natural Man (borrowed from St Paul). This is the first step and often the hardest as it involves a form of self exile from the herd-tribal mind set and the social-genetic programs we have in inherited from our family and society.

copy-of-tree-of-life-with-three-triadsHowever, there is no point in magic or any spiritual practice unless this transformation takes place. Unless, slowly year by year we are truly changing into a more compassionate, integrated, mature and wholesome person. Often this involves what today we call “healing” and really should be considered a precursor to any serious magical or tantric practice. We can relate these transformational actions to the lower four Sephrioth, Malkuth through Netzach with the prime area of change being undertaken in Yesod the sphere of reactions, the unconscious and sex. Every night I introspect on these three areas and try to see where I really am. How did I react during the day and why? What unknown or uncontrollable personal forces made my choices for me? How was I sexually, either physically or in imagination? I’d wager these are three vulnerable areas for most of us.

It is a common esoteric truism that to fully change any sphere we need to operate from the sphere immediately above it. Our physical bodies are moved by our energy. Our energy is clarified and strengthened by our emotions and thoughts which in turn are effected by our sense of self. So for full therapeutic transformation and to avoid the merry go round of therapy helping to pay for our counsellor’s beach house, we need to access the self, the Sphere of Tiphareth, or more accurately the lower facing aspect of Tiphareth. This is the aim of such ‘transpersonal’ therapies as Jungian analysis, which is wonderful when used in conjunction with body centered modalities but often just lovely mental gymnastics when practiced alone.

Such self focused work involves far more than a few therapy sessions or facing the interior imago of our parents from childhood conditioning. As we said such personal transformation is needed but is only one aspect of the personal change that magic directed by the One involves. Esoterically we are all the central point in the unlimited circle of the One. When I say “we are the centre” I do not mean our higher selves, nor our ‘balanced self’, nor our future self, but who we are right now, this very instant. Even if we are immersed in dysfunction and addiction. We are all the centre of God’s complete love and attention. This is a great mystery. As William Blake puts it, we are all, each of us the Only Son of God. This means God, whose circle of circumference is nowhere, beyond limit has each of us at His centre. Always. Yesterday, today and tomorrow no matter who we are or who we are not.

Once we realize this intense gift we are never personally empty, alone or broken again. The full gaze and love of the One is constantly upon us and therefore our personal lives begin to have meaning. How we act and love and serve in our personal life becomes incredibly important. This realization is not easy and for me my most personal act of transformation is learning to hold this truth for longer periods more frequently. Cleaving to this realisation is an act of standing, as we are, naked in God’s revealing light. Ultimately having the courage to be revealed in front of God is an act of returning love, from ourselves back to God. It is through this love our lower selves, Netzach through Malkuth may be healed. This is expressed beautifully by the great Sufi poet Rumi:

This is Love: to fly without limits
to cut through all the veils – now!
The first instant – to reject the life you knew.
The last step – to give up feet entirely.
To see right through materialism,
To refuse to see addiction as inevitable.

In Golden Dawn terms what we have been discussing is the Outer Order and the liminal grade of the Portal – well, that’s the theory. In practice most of us are still bumbling around with our Yesodic reactions even after we have dressed up very nicely and been declared “Greatly Honoured” 🙂 Grades are an artificial construct and have nothing to do with our spiritual unfoldment or personal transformation. However, even though still only a map the progression through the layers of self just outlined is useful. We all need maps. Nearly all the great mystical and magical traditions have some form of this progression mapped out.

Mystical Magic

There has been much unproductive polarisation of magic and mysticism where the two are seen to be opposite ends of the spectrum of spiritual experience. Maybe they are for some, but not for me and certainly not for the traditional esoteric schools and teachers in the west. Magic is practical mysticism, a series of artificial bridges based on sound spiritual skills to engage the higher aspects of the soul. Here we are specifically referring to the upward facing aspect of Tiphareth through to Daath (if we are blessed). Again there are maps and sequences of unfoldment laid out in most traditions. Mysticism is not a free for all experience of the One complete with visions, spasms of energy and psychic flashes, though it can quickly degenerate into such unhealthy states. For most of us this is almost guaranteed to happen, in some form, if we attempt magic prior to engaging in the self transformation outlined above. The works of St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila are classic examples of the discipline required in mystical work. So too when examined properly and practiced with altruistic intentions is the curriculum of the RR et AC.

It is important to state something again and again, as most of us do not get this, and indeed we cannot ‘get’ it until we have experienced it. This little quote sums it up well:

Spiritual growth does not come merely through intellectual or emotional development. There is another state of being to be reached, another quality of awareness that reveals new aspects of reality. (Theodore J. Nottingham: The Mysticism of Christian Teaching).

In one sense then ‘we’, the regular everyday Peregrin and whoever you are reading this, the person who does the shopping, does not experience mysticism or magic. It is the upper spheres of the Tree, the so called ethical triad of Tiphareth through Chesed which are the vehicles for mystical magic and most of us do not shop or work or even love with these spheres. To enlarge our selves to be active within the realm of mystical activity very much involves dying to who we are. Each time we expand in some way we die; it is a natural part of the process. So, strictly speaking ‘we’ do not think or feel or react when engaged in mystical and magical states of being. We may need the language and concepts of feelings, emotions, thought, bodily sensation and our own self to express the experience but none of these are really the modes by which the experience unfolds. Magic (like Tantra) is the best way for us who are not born mystics to achieve this state. In Buddhist terms magic is the skillful means by which we reach these transformational and blessed states. This is what magic is all about.

Social Magic

Once we have properly engaged in mysticism and magic we have gone beyond ourselves. We thus are waking from the lie that all people believe – that there is a separate being called Peregrin or Mr Rudd or you. This, as I keep talking about on MOTO compells us to compassion. We know we are all interdependent; that we are the asylum seeker on the crowded, fear-ridden boat, that we are the lesbian who cannot bring their partner home for Christmas and we are the rapist locked in internal and external prisons. This knowledge impels us to act; we just have to. And here is the beauty of magic, particularly of RR et AC magic. The very practices, the actual skillful means by which we become mystics can be used to bring about change in the social-political world. The rituals, the processes require very little modification to help us change the world. Isn’t this beautiful? 🙂 Qabalistically of course, we revisit and act in the world of Malkuth where we started, the real world of love and pain, hope and fear.

Joanna Macy, activist, deep-ecologist, writer and teacher talks about the need for change and transformation to occur on three levels. Firstly, there is the activist level, which really is buying us time. Activists however act as the Biblical prophets – they disrupt the social order, the status-quo and hold our choices and injustices up high for us to see so they become conscious. Secondly, the level of internal change within ‘the system’ itself where change agents are white-anting the dominant power systems, slowly bringing about change and new ways of being to foster justice. And thirdly, the level of group consciousness, in magical terms the cultural and society egregores. It is here that magic really comes into its own and can produce wonderful changes. There is not much written about this, though the best examples of the principles behind the processes can be found in the works of Dion Fortune and the magical stream stemming from her work – and of course in the works of Starhawk and Reclaiming.

However, even on the first and second levels social magic is possible and can produce results. I have seen this happen. We can change the outcomes of actions and protests. We can support those tackling the “system from within”. We really can. And this is why I love magic so much – personally, mystically and politically 🙂

Practical or Low Magic

Sometimes I am so in love with universe I want to hug it. Not having arms that wide I tend to go for those close by me; my son, M, my toy rabbit Pooyan. This morning was like this. Driving to work while listening to a Bach Cantata was lovely and I was contemplating two things: this post on practical magic and my sadness that no one had responded to what I thought was a great post on Christianity, Magic and Politics. I get to work start jotting this post during my breaks, and lo and behold – a reply to the post by Stavros whose own post on the use of astrology for “political magic” (my description) is very interesting.

Speaking of doing “good works” – tomorrow my hair is shaved to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation. You really need to sponsor me! RIGHT NOW – CLICK HERE.

Recently I have received a few requests from students, correspondents and former students on the art of ‘Practical’ or ‘Low Magic’. This is magic designed to create changes in our personal lives, to bring us better jobs, new lovers and so forth. Now, depending on my mood, the grade and mental state of the student, I can be quite curt in my reply. As I wrote in the much delayed By Names and Images, “If you are seeking instruction in this type of magic, stop reading now, as you will not find it here”. Sometimes I can even be quite rude as the Golden Dawn quite clearly views magic as a process of linking with the Divine and the natural forces of the universe. There are very few indications in the GD texts that suggest this wonderful tradition may be utilised to for practical magic or sorcery.

However, magic is one of those unfortunate words that have a number of different meanings and which elicit even more reactions when spoken about. Sadly there is no denying that both today and historically practical magic is often linked to the traditions of spiritual magic. I just wish it and other aspects of internal life, like “psychic abilities” weren’t. But they are, so there we go.

Rather than degenerate into a discussion that ‘high’ magic (that which is not for the self) is better than ‘low’ magic (that which is for the self) I want to point out something that is seldom mentioned: most readers of blogs such as this actually do not need any help from magic.  In a world where twenty thousand people will die from poverty and starvation each day, any westerner who can afford time and money to wander around the Internet must be counted as rich beyond measure.  To use our magical blessings, which stem ultimately from the One, to increase our station in life rather than to balance out the stakes a little for those who are literally starving to death says something for our personal magical motivation.  And in this vein, the profusion of spell-craft manuals and coffee table books bristling with all forms of sorcery says a lot for the general motivation of the esoteric and New Age communities today.

This is not to deny the real hardships, financial and personal difficulties we may find ourselves in. For example, poverty, even in Western countries, creates many social and personal problems. These are real, depressing and damaging. However, to reproduce from the sidebar the comments by a living elder of western magic, Gareth Knight:

For most of us however, we only think seriously of food or sex or money when it becomes a problem, which is to say when we feel we are not getting our share.  When we find ourselves in that situation then I regret to say that meditational visualisations are really not the best way to remedy the lack.  This is simply a way of trying to avoid rendering to Caesar the thing that are Caesars.  We are here in a physical condition in a physical world and while in that state we have to abide by the laws appropriate to it.

wicca2Magic is simply not the best way of solving or even helping to solve financial, sexual, vocational, familial or other personal problems. In the modern western world the community practicing practical  magic the most has to be the Wiccans. Now from personal and anecdotal experience over 25 years and in every survey I’ve ever read, there is nothing to suggest the Wiccans are better off than the rest of us. They are not richer or smarter. They suffer the same vicissitudes in love, health and work and are just as likely to have addicts and dysfunctional folk in their community as in any community. The richest Wiccan I know has made his money from sharp and aggressive real estate purchases, not from spells. Of course there is an argument that most Wiccans, despite their cones of power and sex magic are simply devoid of the solid magical skills which we of the GD persuasion have 🙂 However, despite there being less data for the GD community there is nothing to suggest that we are better off either!

I am not saying that practical magic cannot work. I think it can, under certain circumstances. It is however, far, far more difficult than most people think. Tanya Lurhmann in her Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft describes how magical folk alter their own internal reality to make it seem like their magic has worked. This is something I have observed time and time again in the Wiccan and magic-Gnostic communities (since the only GD folk I mix with don’t do practical magic, I haven’t seen it there).

Basically, it is easier to accept our fate and alleviate our problems via material means than magic. We can go on Seek or a dating/casual sex site, attend family therapy or get some emergency financial assistance from an aid agency. We can do something real, earthed and solid.

Also to be considered are the dangers of practical magic. While many practical magic techniques are not in themselves more dangerous than those of spiritual magic, their practice lacks a crucial element always present in spiritual magic – altruism. As soon as we engage in magic for ourselves we are no longer activating the transpersonal, higher aspects of our beings. Our personal desires and wants, even if temporarily let go off for the performance of the ritual, ensures that our consciousness is not fully motivated and infused by the not-self. This means we are engaging in the astral realm without the protection our higher motivations provides us. While nothing dramatic may occur, over time repeated  self-focused practices will hinder our spiritual unfoldment and development.

In addition there are problems of technique that can be dangerous. As an example, Nick Farrell, who is very sensible and adept in the GD, recounts on a recent post how basically there are no listed angels in the western tradition that can ‘assist’ in money magic. One has to resort to the assistance of a demon. I never knew this. Now different people have different views of demons but even if we see them only as personifications of repressed areas of the psyche, there is no denying they are linked to a cultural egregore that is very unpleasant. The adept may have no problem with this but the novice or journeyman may and could come out worse for the wear.

In my experience 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. Even then, depending on the action we often fail in achieving the desired and stated outcome. There is no doubt however that we, the magicians, are changed and transformed. Also the positive ‘energy’ is never lost, the altruism, which is a form of love continues on long after the ritual finishes. Examples of these forms of rituals are sadly lacking in the Golden Dawn and western magical circles, though I have posted one of them here. In this sphere the Pagans out do us so well as the work of the Blessed Starhawk and the Reclaiming Collective show (I’ve blogged about her too).

Finally though, I would be burying my head in the sand if I ignored the fact that there exist many competent writers and teachers who present Golden Dawn derived rituals and techniques as tools for bettering our personal and material lives.  Israel Regardie detailed one such approach in his Art of True Healing essay and recounts how he used such magic to ‘set himself up’ financially upon his retirement. I guess each of us must decide for ourselves on the validity or otherwise of attempts to magically improve our lot in life.