Horus Maat

Lodge

Magick for Fools

By Nema

The Lovers by Nema

 

Lord, what fools these mortals be. –A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

When I was a child, my father brought home a marvelous, battery-operated toy called the Mystery Box. It was a black box with a switch marked ‘ON’ and ‘OFF’; next to the switch was a covered opening. When the switch was moved to ‘ON’, the cover withdrew from the opening, and a little hand emerged. The hand pushed the switch to ‘OFF’, slid back into the opening, and the cover closed over it.

This is an apt, though simplified, metaphor for Magick. It’s equally as true to say “Malkuth resolves into Kether again, but after a different manner” as it is to say “Kether resolves into Malkuth again, but after a different manner”. Does this mean that the Path of Initiation is a closed circle, delivering you back to your doorstep after a series of fantastic adventures and dire perils? No and yes.

If you rotate your view ninety degrees, you’ll see that what appeared to be a circle is actually a spiral, passing through familiar countryside a few miles down the road from your last encounter with the terrain. This often manifests as a sense of déjà vu in trying circumstances, in meeting new acquaintances or in enduring serious Ordeals. Multiple encounters with the same problem mean simply that not all lessons are learned at the same time, and that wisdom arrives through experiences as well as through revelation.

Neophytes often assume that Initiation proceeds by a linear, though often crooked, path. The experience of walking (and leaping along) that path, however, reveals that each Sphere is revisited repeatedly, each time with a little more intelligence applied to the appreciation of its essence, its virtues and its pitfalls. The same repetition applies to ‘Crossing the Abyss’.

The world of Assiah, the material world and its concerns, has so much gravity and elasticity that it resumes its former shape and immediacy after any number of experiences that proves its illusory nature. Our physical bodies are an essential part of ourselves, and serve to convince us that their surroundings act on them and are acted upon by them. This doesn’t mean that matter is evil and spirit is good, despite the centuries in which this philosophy has held sway. What it does mean is that in working Magick, the Initiate must take into account of certain
inconvenient truths about our engineering, our molecular and atomic makeup, and the impulses encoded into our bodies and influencing our minds.

Many, if not all, Initiates began their pursuit of the High Art with an act of opening the mind to new possibilities. This opening process can be inspired by boredom, desperation, curiosity, rebellion, admiration of a practitioner, or other conditions. If you’re ready for Magick, any specific motive to investigate it soon changes to fascination with it. I remember my own early experiences in Magick, the awe and wonder of learning about the transphysical planes, and then actually venturing into the realm of visions, lucid dreaming, and astral expeditions.

I also remember that my initial ideas about what I was experiencing were somewhat askew due to a lack of sufficient data and a lack of understanding of the larger context of transphysical reality. Images and notions from popular culture, images of wizards and wizards, gods and demons, miracles and marvels, had to be reinterpreted and comprehended anew. When revised understandings began to manifest, I was tempted to explain away a lot of things as being “just a psychological phenomenon” or “just telepathic connection”, positing states read about, but as yet unattained, as mysterious, alien goals to reach.

A sound way of preparing a generation of students to understand more easily Magick and all of its doings would be to teach poetry as a second language. Literalism is doomed to be mired in paradox, impossibility and experiential refutation. If the Bible, both Old and New Testament, were to be read as literature and poetry instead of as a spiritual textbook and historical record, attempts at institutional indoctrination would be futile, and the mind-rot of fundamentalism would be cured.

If a fool persist in his folly, he would become wise. – William Blake

Magick demands a new way of seeing, a new point of view. Conventional reality, as presented in school, church, politics and the news media, is a confused patchwork of guesswork, surmise, and uninformed conclusion. Conventional wisdom, that body of opinion and proverbs that the uninitiated swear by (and often at), would hold a Magician to be a fool. How can ritualistic mumbo-jumbo, divination and healing possibly work?

A Neophyte quickly learns the value of silence in the company of they uninitiated. Only experience in the realms traditionally assigned to myth, legend, and fiction can testify to the truth and reality of Magick. Those without such experience will scoff at astral adventures and laugh at the functions of talismans. Until the inexperienced are treated to a personal demonstration by their Holy Guardian angel, there’s no chance for constructive conversation with them. Magickians tend to seek out each other’s company because of a shred vision and shared experiences, with individualized details.

Remember your first ritual you performed on the physical plane. Didn’t you feel like a complete fool? I know that I did, and I recall the effort that it took to proceed with the words, the gestures, and mustering of sincerity and concentration. Even with extensive reading in preparation for ritual action, I was nervous about embarrassing myself in the actual doing of it. Of course, there isn’t anything embarrassing about doing ritual, but it takes the courage of a fool to begin.

During the early phase of practice, a new opportunity for foolhood opens. In my readings of the words of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, friends and mystics in Medieval Spain, I encountered descriptions of my own experiences in Magick. There’s a period of ‘sweetness’ – a honeymoon, if you will – that encourages a person to keep pursuing his or her chosen path. For Christian mystics, it brings visions and a sense of the presence of God. For me, and for various Magickal colleagues, it took the form of a  form of a coin appearing out of thin air, a sofa moving a few feet during a shared astral working, a potted aloe plant moving sideways fro the top of my refrigerator and crashing to the floor, etc. Minor PSI phenomena like those described above, uncanny ‘coincidences’, significant numbers presenting themselves on car registration plates or on television,  all contribute to the conviction that “there must be something to this Magick business”. If you take it as a confirmation that you’re going in the right direction—and if you continue along in that direction—then the odd events have served their proper purpose.

If, on the other hand, you become enamored of these epiphenomena, and mistake them for the results of your Workings, you might be inclined to pursue them. This doesn’t work for long, and you become the wrong kind of fool, a mere prestidigitator of manifestations. Other than possibly impressing your friends, there’s little point in being able to know who’s about to call you on the phone or in being able to conjure up a changer of weather.

A chela called out to his guru from the far side of the rive, “Watch me, master.” He drew his consciousness into his Manipura Chakra, slowed his breathing, and walked across the water to join his guru on the near shore.
“It’s taken me seven years of meditation and purification by austerities and much spiritual work to be able to do this,” he said. “Surely it means I’m nearing enlightenment!”

The guru shook his head sadly and asked, “My son, why did you not take the ferry-boat?”

The main problem with becoming attached to Magickal epiphenomena and the awe and wonder they produce is that the honeymoon is soon over—in Magick and Mysticism, as well as in romance.

After the sweetness comes the dryness. You notice that the incidence of the little miracles begins to fall. You barely feel the rush of power during ritual, and the astral realms my close themselves to you. No longer do you experience spontaneous visions, or the sense of impending events, or even the bothersome ‘astral chill’. Even more distressing, you begin to feel tired when it’s time to do ritual, meditation, yoga, katas, or whatever your chosen practices have been. You feel the urge to make excuses for postponing or omitting altogether.

The deep, solid core of Will is the only thing that keeps you going. This is similar to, if not identical with, the quality that religious people call faith, but it is based on experience rather than on belief.

If you’re not enjoying the rewards of your actions, isn’t it foolish to keep on performing them? Indeed it is, and it’s in this period that many cease active ritual practice, or stop their meditating. Some revert to armchair Magick, preening themselves on their knowledge without working to apply it.

Others search out other paths and abandon Magick entirely. It takes a true fool to continue in tedium, boredom and frustration, not to mention the lack of spiritual consolation and sense of isolation from all forms of the Divine Intelligence, other than your own.

Persistence pays off, however, and the period of dryness opens into a deeper, subtler understanding of yourself and others, and of how Magick works.

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. – Alexander Pope

A prime opportunity for foolishness to manifest is in the quest for the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, that landmark event in your course of Initiation. You’ve learned that there is a superior, benevolent entity who longs for conscious contact with you, an entity able to illuminate your True Will, to be your intimate mentor, to guide your actions and Initiations. You begin daily invocations of your Angel, invocations that feed your desire for the encounter, that generate a longing for union with this marvelous being.

If you retain a habit of literalism   in your pursuit of the Angel, you won’t be able to recognize your encounters with it when they happen. It’s the wrong kind of folly in this case to have a mental image of the Angel as you think it will appear. Not only will such an image blind you to genuine meetings with your Angel, but it will also provide a template for astral counterfeits of the angel generated by entities seeking access to your lifeforce.

An open mind backed by caution is the right kind of folly. Whatever presents itself should be verified in as many ways as you can think of. Materialists and atheists would call you a fool for entertaining a belief in something you’ve not yet encountered, but your Angel provides preliminary verification of its reality by the void you feel without it.

The attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is necessary to establish the beacon of True Will that illuminates the cluster of choices we face every day. Without is, we’re practicing the wrong kind of foolishness, acting from custom, habit, impulse and other people’s opinions. Without unity with the Angel, we ‘rush in’ to situations that can, and often do, divert us from the course of True Will and from the fulfillment of our life’s purpose.

A fool and his money are soon parted. = Proverb

Perhaps the most significant opportunity for Magickal folly lurks on the brink of the Abyss. If we take ‘money’ as the symbol and talisman for all we value, covet, and hold dear, the parting from it comes scarcely soon enough. The Abyss requires a blind leap, as it were, with no assurance that there’s another side to it. On the familiar side, is everything you’ve worked for, achieved, concluded, attained and accomplished, and all of this must be left behind.

It’s one of the few clear choices in life. Either the world as were born into, with all its physics, characters and quirks, is the ‘real’ world, or it is a phantasm, an illusion, a dream. The world includes not only all physical manifestation, bur also all ideas, words, art, feelings, relationships, knowledge, and convictions.

Leaping the Abyss is like the shadow of martyrdom. The martyr dies gladly in anticipation of the rewards of the afterlife.  Who dares the Abyss has no such hope, for the afterlife is as illusory as this present life. Martyrdom identifies the self with the physical body, since that is what is relinquished in an act misnamed self-sacrifice. The leaping fool relinquishes everything, in a giant spiritual potlatch  that bestows upon him or her the ultimate freedom, even though flesh-life continues—but after a different manner.

What becomes of what the fool gives up on the edge of the Abyss? Who inherits the fruits of experience, the memories of a lifetime, the Initiations and attainments? Specific methodology and results, insights and discoveries can be had from a well-kept Magickal Record, but the deeds and states themselves are absorbed by the Magickal Current and circulated for the benefit of those who attune themselves to the Current.

In the abandonment of all possessions, the leaping fool also sacrifices him- or her-self, surrendering to the Void, becoming a non-person, dissolving into the flow of things. These words are only a descriptive approximation, since the ‘leap’ is more of a recognition of eternal non-entity than it is of anything else. Even the subtlest realization in the course of self-knowledge is a part of the dream from which one awakens to the inexpressible fact of no-thing-ness.

Total surrender is not an easy thing to accomplish; there seems to be a recurring ‘last drop’ remaining after each scouring, a tiny, piping gnat affirming its continuity. The holy fool persists in disowning things; the damned fool is often trapped in the pride of his or her renunciation. The leap occurs when you give up trying to give up. About the only true thing that can be said about crossing the Abyss is that it renders physical death an anticlimax.

The Magickal Current/Tao/Maat of change begins to run your live then, making conscious decisions unnecessary. If you’re gone, what’s left to do or to observe anything? Your bodies (physical, astral, etheric, spiritual, etc.) assume that normality prevails, and they go about their business as usual, only more calmly and harmoniously.

Here, then, is the post-Abyss fool: life goes on, apparently as usual, and yet anxiety is missing. Not much bothers this fool, since she or h sees that all evens are both illusory and perfect. There is no longer a True Will to do, since True Will is the Tao, the Magickal Currrent, the Maat of change, and it is the ‘doer’ in all evens. All of the study, ritual, Ordeals, time and hard work put into the pursuit of Magick has left a worthy vessel in the service of Tao. Specific events are of no consequence.

So it is that all true Magick is Magick for fools, and all false ‘Magick’ is Magick for damned fools. It’s a fundamental aphorism of Maat Magick that “”All valid systems of Initiation self-destruct upon successful completion. “Organizations that grow around an interest in the High Art can be useful in that they can preserve Magickal Records and the forms of effective rituals, but in most cases the organizations harden into institutions that serve the base interests of Ego and spiritual price.

The holy fool is free to enjoy the greatest show on earth (or the only gave in town), with no worry as to how it all turns out. Austin Osman Spare puts it very nicely in his formula of ‘Does not matter, need not be. Aleister Crowley does likewise in the Vision of No Difference.

It’s our brave but doomed little self that moves the switch to ‘ON’ on the Mystery Box of Magick when we first begin our study and practice. This act contains within itself its own opposite state of ‘OFF’, both for the Mystery Box and for its operator.

Nema

First published in 1996 in STARFIRE Volume II, Number 1.
Starfire Publishing Ltd.
BCM Starfire, London WC1N 3XX, U.K.