Monday, May 27, 2013

Poor magicians

One of the reasons that I am welcome as a plague in certain circles is the simple fact that I became a magician to keep the wolf away from the door. I am not in the esoteric arts for spiritual development or to be a service to mankind; I am here merely because I was looking for a big enough stick to smack the wolf on the nose and survive the crisis of being a poor kid and young adult.

Now, there are some that will roll their eyes, and ask how poor could I have been when I entered the field. Let's see, my father lost everything that he owned; I am the oldest of eight kids; and I grew up constantly wondering if I would have a roof over my head tomorrow. Plus, where my next meal was coming from was always a concern. I wore whatever could be brought at yard sales for a quarter. When I left home, I joined the military...because I was poor. I was a high school dropout that got bad grades because my folks could not afford a real babysitter. And I worked twenty years in food service making minimum (or just above) wages.

And if you still don't believe that I know what it is like to be poor, just remember that I have done Tarot readings and practical spells for the payment of government surplus cheese and peanut butter--because all I had to offer was my skill as a magician, and all my clients had to offer was some food (which I was very glad to eat).

Just admitting this stuff bars me from entry to certain select circles. Part of it is simply misunderstandings of what magic is. [If you want to know why I started to think about these matters today, go read this entry on Aaron's blog.]

Talk to most people in the Golden Dawn/Western Mystery Tradition community (and this includes Thelema and Wicca) and you will hear that the purpose of the mysteries is spiritual development and service to mankind. In fact, there are groups that will bar you from entering if you say anything other than those two reasons for wanting to join. Anything else, especially practical magic, is viewed as black magic and power seeking.

But this is what the documented record of Western magic is all about--weather magic, power magic, legal magic, treasure magic, health magic, love magic--all about fulfilling basic needs in a hostile wolf at the door world. Even alchemy was about the practical nine times out of ten. Yet we in the modern world are not allowed to have these needs or desires.

Why? Because H. P. Blavatsky tells us that it is wrong. Yes, the modern view that the only acceptable uses of magic are spiritual development and service to mankind comes straight out of the writings of Blavatsky, the mother of Theosophy. And the modern Orders have embraced this fact, rejecting anyone who admits that they actually need to practice practical magic. Blavatsky made the esoteric Orders into the mystic dreamlands they are today. You can mediate all you want on the glories of the divine, just don't attempt to better your life conditions with practical workings.

Therefore, we do not find truly poor magicians in the ranks of the Orders (unless they lied to get in). The members of a Law of Attraction group are always living above the poverty level. The members of your typical esoteric Order can always pay their annual dues, no matter how much they are. And people can charge hundreds of dollars to do workshops, to teach magic that does not actually work, because everyone who attends can afford for magic not to work. It is all theory and no practice because anything other than spiritual development and service is considered black magic.

In the meantime, people like myself tend to remain outside the Halls of the "True Mysteries" working our small low practical spells, hoping to keep the wolf from the door for one more day. We are simply too poor to be worthy of proper training. And Heaven forbid that we ever decide to retake the mysteries back; after all, we are the unwashed, unsaved, impure masses.


Unknown said...

I am not sure if it was all Blavatsky's fault. Magic in the West had been seen as a tool of the well heeled and the idea that the earth was evil and needed to be escaped from is pure protestantism. But you are completely right, people do say "what is the point of magic if it cannot deal with material things" and yet magic is supposed to be the cure for those very problems. This is because the ancient magicians had little problem with doing that magic which was considered "evil" by Christian counterparts because it was necessary. I think as a result modern magicians are not complete. They focus on the celestial in the hope that its shadow can affect their dark. While there is merit in this, sometimes it is better to negotiate with that darkness and deal with things in terms of the plane you are on. It is better to turn on a physical lightbulb than it is to invoke a being of light, if you want to find your way to the toilet in the middle of the night. It is better to look to the underworld if you want material wealth. The fact that christians call the underworld hell, and the gods who live there demons, does not mean that they are.

Solitary Dawn said...

It is true. But then there are enough people who tell you that you have to decide and set priorities, maybe leave family and partners if you are really devoted. This may be true in some way as there is no way to keep up a daily routine when you have a partner that is not at all tolerant to your fancies to say the least. But what does all the magic and becoming more than human do when you cannot feed your family and yourself (not to mention the cats)?

Anonymous said...

How do you know by doing what you are doing that you are not using magic for spiritual growth?

Anonymous said...

Personal power has long been the bane of the Eorls and Kings.
The "Second Estate" (priests and armies) also tend to find themselves on the wrong end of wealth.

Thus the need to demonise such things to make them a criminal act that only the privileged few are sanctified by god or birthright to have.

The worst crime in humanity (or any pack) is to seek to rise above your station

Peregrin said...

Hi Morgan,

thanks for this great post.

Just one question, if you want to answer or not. You say you became "a magician to keep the wolf away from the door".

Is that what keeps you a magician, or do you now have other motivations as well?

And if so, do you think these other motivations have been generated by the magic itself?

thanks :)

Uri Raz said...

I dislike the attitude magic shouldn't be used for material needs almost as much as the attitude that magicians shouldn't earn anything from practicing magic.

An example would be people requesting a tarot reading about romantic relationships (middle tier of Maslow's hierarchy), then being shocked the reader asked for something in return, on account of the reader practicing spirituality.

Eventually I wrote a page long humoristic message from the angel Metatron stating all spiritual people (card readers, magicians, etc) are hereby grandted a Spiritual Person's Card, allowing them to get everything material (food, housing, transportation, etc) for free, as long as they don't charge anything for their spiritual services.

It was a great way to say "I'm reading tarot cards, but - just like you & your favorite general practitioner - I still have to pay the bills".

Anonymous said...

The "service to humanity" is self-righteous bollocks.

The majority of humanity would prefer to be as happy as pigs in a cornucopia of swill, as long as they themselves are not inconvenienced.
For almost all it is not until they hit that "train wreck" moment in their lives; that descent into ashes (as mentioned in Iron John), that they choose to act to improve themselves. Until then the status quo rewards them, why undertake the pain of self-sacrifice?

Thus if one were truly wishing to "help humanity" then it would be to create the greatest amount of "self-responsibility" possible. I doubt this is truly what most people are willing to undertake...

Rose Weaver said...

One can do both; keep the wolf away from the door while growing one's spirit. This is incredibly rewarding.

Love this entry; and Aaron's.

Unknown said...

My take on it

Scott Mosley said...

Wouldn't a lot depend on your idea of what constitutes necessity in an materialistic sense? Of course we need food and shelter in order to survive, but those principles can be had with basic gardening, and or if you're not a vegatarian, hunting or fishing skills; and basic hard work and design/archetecture know how. Not that magic isn't a useful divination tool for understanding the universe and ones lot in it. But modernity itself has taken the primitive exitance away and forced mankind into a way of survival that is based of conformity to the laws the socio/political structure sets forth as necessity as a form of creature comforts that teaches passivity. It's not really 'real' but a very manufactured form of a reality that human nature becomes subservient. Whether you're looking to 'better' your life through magic, or through college and a good 9-5 job, doesn't negate the fact that you're forced to work within those parameters that 'others' dictate...