Monday, August 09, 2010

Hand-Rolled Cigarettes


Years ago, in college, a friend of mine came back to the dorms after a party and said, "Man, people who don't roll their own cigarettes can't roll a fucking joint to save their lives!"

He had been to Rammstein AFB in Germany during high school, and had spent many weekends in Amsterdam. He had brought back the conceit of handrolling his own cigarettes. He got us all hooked on Drum tobacco, the best stuff for hand rolling, and we had all gotten pretty good at rolling our own. Our joint-rolling skills had likewise improved, in spite of the difference in texture and moisture between pot and tobacco. We'd gotten kinda spoiled, only hanging out with our current circle of friends, we always had nicely rolled joints to smoke. Going out to a public party was a rude awakening.

"That's why I don't even go to those things. Keg beer in plastic cups and shitty joints," one friend commented. "Sums up the people, too." And we all laughed.

I found myself thinking about a similar truth today. People who don't depend on their spiritual techniques to satisfy a daily need aren't going to be any better at the magical arts than an occasional joint roller is going to be at rolling a decent joint. It might get you high, but the experience will be, overall, less enjoyable to the connoisseur.

If you've ever had the misfortune of smoking a poorly rolled joint, you know that at inopportune moments it will develop a "runner," where the paper burns up faster than the pot. The paper holding it together gets burned through and a big lump of burning pot falls off, leaving a scorch mark on the upholstery of your car or couch. Or if it's rolled too tight, you can inhale til you're blue in the face, and you still won't get a hit and it'll just go out. You've got to put a toothpick through it to get a channel for the air to get through, and even then chances are good that you'll end up ripping the paper and ruining the joint.

These kinds of shitty joint experiences are annoying as hell. They interrupt the overall flow of the process, adding stress and frustration to what should be a calm expansion of your awareness while catching a good buzz.

When you're first getting started conjuring spirits, the same kinds of things can happen. You get through the opening, turn to grab the appropriate incense, and then remember you left it in the garage last time you were consecrating the planet's seal. Or you get to the statement of intent and realize you can't read your notes and you've got to improvise, and it's just not as poetic and moving as you wanted it to be.

Like the poorly rolled joint, it still "gets you high," but it leaves much to be desired.

If you take the time to do magic regularly, you'll know what things you need to get together before beginning. You'll find your flow of the ritual is improved, the power rises in a nice smooth curve, the veils part smoothly, and the spirits arrive with grace and beauty. Everyone goes through the shitty joint phase in their work, but the difference between a dilettante and a pro is that the pro does it more often.

A good trick to get better at your conjurations is to need it regularly. Now, no one needs to do magic every day. Magic is pretty powerful stuff, and it doesn't need to be tapped into to manage every aspect of your life. We are created with the powers and abilities necessary to get through most of our daily lives half asleep. And most people do so. So people don't really need to do magic every day the way some people need to hand-roll a cigarette 20 times a day.

But setting yourself goals, like "This week I will consecrate seven planetary talismans and perform a nightly contemplation of the Hermetic Aphorisms" can help you develop the skills that will make your magic not only effective, but pleasant and smooth.