First assumption then: That when something happens like that, it's happening for a reason. The convergence of technology and innovation and necessity, plus experience and education ensure that somewhere, the steam-shovel will be invented. It happened simultaneously because it was just time for it to happen, and nothing could prevent its manifestation.
But Hagbard takes it a step further, doesn't he? "I steam-shovel..." He makes it personal. The statement changes a phenomenon of technological development and turns it into a universal principle that has personal applications. It was destiny that the steam shovel manifest, he says, and if there is a destiny for that huge innovation that leveled mountains and paved the way for global communications and the exchange of information across time and space, by god, there's a destiny for all things, even me. As a result, what I do matters and has global implications on par with the coming of the steam shovel.
It's a leap of logic that can get kind of difficult to support if you spend too much time thinking about it. He is an Erisian, after all. But it's a statement that has stuck with me over the years.
I've been playing with Luck lately. I've been exploring the paths or tunnels between Saturn and Mercury and the Moon. Very fun and interesting stuff. There's a simple way to screw up really badly looking for Luck and good Fortune in the sphere of the Greater Malefic, and avoiding that particular trap has taken a lot of focused intent. It's like a gravitational constant that tries to wrap you up in the decaying orbit that leads to the Terminus. Lots of adjustments need to be made, and you really have to watch the proportions of the mingled forces.
But what I've found is that when you've got it right, you become the driving forces of Fate itself. It's a matter of getting your mind in harmony with the forces of Fate. There are Seven forces of Fate, the Governors of the Planets. Getting the initiations into the Seven Spheres is imperative, I think, and I wouldn't have been able to integrate those forces without my SA* to guide the process. But when I've been "on," and in harmony, I can feel myself changing the warp and weave of existence in every action. I can feel the extended efffects of my moions and mutterings in my basement affecting the mechanisms of the whole around the universe. I can feel the forces moving me right along, and I am as much the Mover as the Moved. It's an at-one consciousness thing with some Right Action thrown in to boot.
And it's not like I'm just doing what I'm told, I'm doing what I want. And yeah, "what I want" is the result of coming to terms with why I'm here, and it's not what I wanted in terms of selfish want, but it's what I WANT from an eternal perspective, and it's even better than the lower-case want I thought I wanted when I started out.
There's a power that is both giddiness-inducing, and humbling at the same time. To be the hand of fate, to Steam-Shovel when it's Steam-Shovel time is to become the creator of the universe for as long as you can hold onto it.
And I think we're all there at some level, but we're not fully aware of it except when we're at-one-ing. The rest of the time we're as much pawns as we are hidden chess masters, and it's not the same thing as conjuring spirits, or meditation, nor is it the same thing as producing whatever it is we produce to earn our paychecks in the mundane world.
But you've got to go through at least an intro level into each of the Planetary Spheres, get familiar with those forces and get them in their proper positions relative to one another in your sphere. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense, so let's use the Microcosm in the Macrocosm example that summarizes things for me best: The Altar Glyph.
Ok, see how everything is laid out in relation to the four corners of the World? The glyph represents how you would see the world if you were looking out from Agrippa's Scale of the Number 4, from Book 2, chapter vii of the Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Because the Altar is always in the physical realm, you lay out your representation of the things Above as if you were seeing them from here Below.
Now we know this isn't "really" how things are. It's a representation of everything as seen from one point of view. The planetary groupings in the Elemental kingdoms follow Agrippa's elemental attributes from Book 1, chapters xxiii-xxix. It doesn't follow the normal elemental attributes assigned by the planetary rulerships of the Signs, and it threw me for a while, until I realized Agrippa is using this to explain how the forces of the Planets primarily manifest in the physical realm. (shit, just hit cntrl-P which apparently publishes the post. woopsie! someone's reading a draft right now. Come back later and see what I meant it to look like if you're reading this before I repost it. And no, I don't know how you're supposed to know that. I guess just look and see if there's more below this point besides the asterisked footnote.)
Ok, so the image is a representation of the relative locations of the planets and elements to one another in the physical sphere based on how the forces of the Planets primarily manifest. The process of initiation into all the spheres builds in a kind of Altar Glyph into your own sphere. The forces are all integrated relative to one another, and you're able to tap into them more directly and clearly, and consciously as you go along in the Work. The forces are purified, strengthened, and you gain knowledge and skill in applying them as needed.
Once they're integrated and you've got a frame of reference for each of the forces, you can start to catch the waves of their mingling and manifesting consciously. It's a lot like surfing. You've got to be aware of where you are in relation to the wave, you have to estimate where it's going to break, position yourself in the right place, and then stand up at the right moment and let the wave take you, guiding it, riding it, moving with it and being at one with the most powerful forces of existence.
But the surfer is passive, sort of. The feeling of being at-one and directing the integrated forces of Fate is much more active. It's easier to start out with one type of force at a time and then start playing with the others as you progress.
Ok, back to the Luck thing. Notice that Saturn and Mercury are both in the same quadrant as Water in the Altar Glyph? Weird, huh. I mean, most GD Hermeticists will tell you Saturn is of the element Earth, right? And they are right too. Agrippa says Saturn is Water and Earth. But he lumps Saturn in the quadrant of Water in the Scale of the Number 4 because that's how it begins to manifest, like fluid flowing down, and it's as resistable as the tide.
Speaking of the Tide, the tide is ruled by the Moon, right? And the Moon is in the element of the Earth in the glyph. Why? Because in the chain of manifestation, the outward form of all Ideas that are manifesting from the Ideal REalm into the Physical is determined and ruled by the Moon. The Moon is the definer of the final shape and outermost form of all ideas as they come into being. So the Earth and the Moon are one in the glyph to represent this aspect of the process.
So my luck experiments consist of taking small amounts of Saturn, large amounts of Mercury, charging the Watery manifestation point, and pouring it out into the Earth through the Moon. When I'm consciously riding the Luck Wave, I can feel the surges from the other spheres I've been initiated into, like hearing the communications between the other governors, but most of my attention is focused into the manifestation of the luck-fate current.
And when it all clicks, and I'm doing here below what I'm doing up above, the feeling is incredible. It is the steam-shovel, it is the creation of the lucky series of events that lead to moments of joy and relaxed reaping of rewards.
And here's the thing: When you're doing it, it's faith. You just know what to do, you believe it, because you're doing it. Like riding a wave, you know you can because you are, and the longer you can do it, the more you know you can do it longer next time. "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed," the old saying goes, "you can move mountinas." But this faith is a gift, as well as a thing earned. It allows the conscious control of Fate, but at the same time demands the conscious acquiescence that the controller of Fate is more than just the part of the Whole Thing that is temporarily manifesting as you or me. It's believing on purpose in what is really true, in spite of the symbolic nature of the things we're using to represent it all.
*SA is the Supernatural Assistant. It is the entity that became, in later revelations, the Holy Guardian Angel. It's purpose, at least, one of its purposes, is to "embalm you as befits a God" when you die. I've mentioned before that this is a reference to the transformation process between a human and a Power of the 8th and 9th spheres. Gods don't need to be embalmed. I see this as a process of aiding in the integration of the purified forces of the spheres into the sphere of the magician, an integration that transforms the whole of the individual being into the next level of incarnation, if they are on the path that leads to through this particular gate. Different strokes for different folks, and all, but for Hermetic magi, the goal is to become a Power.