Spirituality vs Personality

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in some time. I have been working flat out on my undergrad thesis, its only a limited thesis of 9,000-13,000 words but being me I opted for a toughie to do research in and I had to gather all my information in a rush. Pretty sure its a travesty of a final year project (FYP), but it is done. Right in the middle of all this some VERY exciting developments happened in terms of further academic study and a research Masters. All of which actually marks the culmination of a series of personal magical workings; so naturally I’m feeling high as a kite with so much hard work – both magical and mundane – preparing me for the next phase of my life. This post is going to do a disservice to the many considered blog posts and topics circulating around the G:.D:. and wider magical blogosphere. Some of the topics that will be blogging about are; Magic for Spiritual or Personal goals (or needs), the Secret Chiefs (and contacts), and a general look at the various milieu available within the Western Mystery Tradition.

Magic for Spiritual or Personal Goals

A fascinating dialogue between Peregrin Wildoak and Dean F. Wilson happened on Dean’s blog, Mishkan-ha-Echad.The dialogue was established in response to a particular chapter in Peregrin’s new book By Names and Images, which put to the reader the Peregrin’s understanding of when it is considered appropriate to perform magic for one’s self or loved ones. I wanted to make some remarks on this issue myself because of my own workings to help me overcome mundane obstacles to my growth in my magical practice, so I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t make come comment or other. I should explain by way of apology to Wildoak that I haven’t read his book yet due to Amazon delays (he was very helpful directing me to The Book Depository website which had copies). Nonetheless I can’t help but see the personal symmetry right now as I mentioned.

I started college in 2006 and encountered many growing periods while I was placed on work experience. Namely I started performing the LBRP and Solar Adorations and eventually I meditated and Thoth came up. After that it was clear that the Golden Dawn was for me. Almost coincidentally Frater Yechidah from Occult Ireland was returning to his interest in the Golden Dawn and we had the bones of a decent study group. Through a series of events we were aligned with Nick Farrell’s new Order called the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea. I liked this focus on magical study because in my own mind I needed to develop my knowledge base and praxis.
As a Witch I had picked up many useful approaches but I craved a structure. I had been a Witch since I was 15 and read heavily on material related to neo-paganism, so I had and still have a positive relationship with my environment. As a Witch I’d performed workings to aid my family’s financial situation, one to get us out of a toxic situation and many to help my brothers facing school related issues from peers. Everything was done with LARGE amounts of time spent contemplating and trying to source mundane ways to solve the problems – a central question I asked myself (since I wasn’t open about my practice then) was what could I do? Later I would come to place specific emphasis on the existentialist nature of my Craft, even calling myself Existentialist Pagan.

Some of the remarks made by Wildoak and Wilson are concerned with the spiritual focus of magical work. My Craft has taken on elements of Ancestral Veneration, and I mean veneration and not devotion or worship, and I had worked with various Gods and Goddesses but I never felt it appropriate to dedicate to any. The neo-pagan concept of “service” to a deity or deities just didn’t feel right. Whether I call myself a Witch or Magician (though I love to be subversive and call myself Túathaid as it means both in old-Irish) I can’t help but feel my spirituality is personal and my service, if I render it, ought to be to the community. Developing a strong affiliation with term Existentialist Pagan again and the sense of placing the individual back in the centre of their Path. This is not to imply that removing all external forces works, such aesthetic approaches might work for mystics alone in the wilderness but for practical reasons this just doesn’t work for modern magicians. Both modern Witches and Magicians in the Western Mystery Traditions tend to concern themselves with the process of Individualization, a Jungian concept. Sometimes this can be conflated with the concept of Elderhood or Adeptship but from my own unfolding understanding individualisation is a process that can happen to some folks that help prepare them. It deals with ‘the shadow’ aspects of one’s Ego.
What of Wildoak and Wilson’s dialogue? Should magic be used to help one’s self in the ‘muggle world’ or solely for spiritual development? In all honesty I haven’t got a definitive answer, but rather than lead you on a wild-goose chase I will say that I can’t see that there is a huge dichotomy between the two. In order to engage with the process of individualisation one encounters aspects of themselves and it has long been said amongst magical practitioners that ‘magic brings you face to face with oneself’. The elemental grades of the Golden Dawn are designed to work on these so that the magician can achieve results that will better serve their spiritual endeavours. The idea of self-awareness isn’t new to people, indeed in my academic studies I’ve often been told that my ideas were the synthesis of societal and cultural influences – awareness enables me as an English and New Media student to factor in other perspectives as I analyse material. Review processes or even talking things through with others often helps to facilitate introspection. Personal workings don’t always come with the freedom to “chat it over” with other practitioners. I should clarify that I don’t believe magic is ‘open source’ and therefore should be openly discussed, usually the delicate nature of the person’s needs/wants and the process of manifestation need to be respected and held in silence.

In short, I can sympathise with Wildoak’s position when he states: “In a world where twenty thousand people will die from poverty and starvation each day, any Westerner who can afford to buy a book on magic is to be counted as rich beyond measure” (By Names and Images, 17), it is clear from the dialogue between him and Wilson that he is referring to an individual’s focus. Many magical practitioners do get sidelined to what Wildoak terms “sorcery” or magic simply for personal gain. This is a risk when one embarks on magical work to solve a problem no matter how one rationalises the situation. My own thoughts are that magic will use mundane methods to manifest the desired result and so exhausting the viable mundane approaches first can help prepare oneself to work with the process of manifestation. I’ve seen people work on personal issues magically and unable to manifest the desired outcome because they felt magic should have taken the hardwork out of the process not added to it. This is of course subjective as it begs the question how hard would the work have been if magic hadn’t been employed? I think its moot the issue isn’t magic but the individual as I said before. They need to be ready to work with the process (and accept responsibility).

If a person is prepared for the entire process of a magical working then I see no conflict with performing magic in mundane circumstances. My understanding of older ceremonial traditions is rather limited but I recall reading in ‘The Sacred Book of Abramelin the Mage’ certain protocols for working in a magical system; like being over 30 or possibly 45, with no dependents (i.e. retired with grown family), and so on. As Wilson points out this isn’t a reality for most modern magicians and why should it since societal conditions have progressed since many of these conditions were recommended. We’re facing new economic situations all the time, if anything its a drive towards engaging with the world around us so that we don’t forget our spiritual aims.

I would like to thank both Dean Wilson and Peregrin Wildoak for their considered dialogue and providing some much needed food for thought. Both bloggers have books out now. Wilson has published his book Enochian Magic in Theory (the first of a two part series, the second will focus on practice). While Wildoak as mentioned has By Names and Images out now. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into both books fairly soon!

Get your copies ASAP! 🙂
Unfortunately I can’t commit to book reviews for either one just yet but from everyone who has received their copies and read them I’m looking forward to doing so.

3 Replies to “Spirituality vs Personality”

  1. A very interesting take on this question, thanks for writing this: it is certainly a dilemma of sorts that I believe many esotericists are occupied with. In one way or another.

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