So, how about that 2010, eh? Could have been better for a lot of folks, could also have been a lot worse for most of the rest. A few had it as bad as anyone else, or worse, and a few had it just freaking awesome and better than they deserved.
And on other days, it just rained.
Politically, my country is a mess this year. It always is, but the mess seems to be more messy than usual. Of course, I always feel that way about government. I don't think I've met anyone who's ever been completely happy with government and politics, if they really pay attention to it.
Economically... well, times are tough all over. And they aren't getting better as fast as they used to. We're still in the midst of a global transition of power and influence, and it hurts. In time, things will get better, they always do, but things will never go back to what they were. And they never do that either.
Spiritually though, these are awesome times to be alive in! The global economic pressures and political tensions are rarely aligned like this, usually only once a century or so. This is the shit Crowley et al went through in their lifetimes, producing more occult resources than we'd seen since the last time the world's power centers shifted. These are the times that shape the future of occultism.
I mentioned the other day that the stresses of existence provide the Alchemical Heat that acomplishes the Great Work. In times of material wealth and prosperity, people are relaxed and at ease with the world around them. They're shallow, lazy, and usually fat. But when times are tough, people get better. Adversity builds character, unlocks potentials to excel and achieve in ways you didn't need to before. It brings out human ingenuity.
When you do an initiation into a sphere, shit rises to the surface, and the stress is a manifestation of the purification process your sphere is undergoing. Illusions are revealed to be what they are, and new forces come to you, forces that you have to learn to control, and screw up with, at first. There's that learning period, that time when you're clumsy and break things as you learn to control yourself. My daughter's in dance, and I watch her little group of friends learning new routines, going from clumsy tentative motions to confident, strong expressions of the essence of their art. It's neat. We do that as magicians too, as we go through initiations.
And all stress produces heat. If you're not doing the GreatWork, the heat just burns out of control, destroying everything around it. It's the prairie fire that consumes everything, kills everything as it passes, and it's only those that come after who receive the benefits of the flames. That same fire can be directed though, can be sent to burn out only the things that need to go. Controlled burns eliminate massive forrest fires, and return nutrients to the soil. Planning the burns brings the wild force under control, gives it purpose and objectives.
Alchemists used various temperatures of heat at various stages of the Work to complete the Stone. Most of the time, the heat was low and steady for long periods, but in between stages, the heat is increased for short periods of time.A low heat produced slower oxidization and created different kinds of crystalization in the Materia, while a high heat allowed the metals to merge, or to temper depending on what you were doing.
When we perform an initiation, we're releasing that heat into our lives in a specific way, with a directed goal. To gain initiation and understanding of a sphere, its power, its landscape, its application. It can be elemental, planetary, zodiacal, or even spheres beyond the map. The rituals direct the heat that's going to be there anyway in your life into the actual transformation you desire.
Times of great global stress produce a lot more heat, and provide the opportunities to ascend higher, to go deeper, to integrate further aspects of the Work than times of indolence and prosperity. Tapping into this and using it to accomplish the Work, to go deeper into the Mysteries puts you in control of the shit that's going down. That doesn't mean the shit doesn't go down, or that life is any less stressful, it only means that when the stress is gone, and only you remain, you'll be stronger, faster, better, smarter than you were, and not just burned, broken, battered, and bleeding.
By taking control of the Heat, you're putting it to work for you. It's going to burn something anyway, it might as well be something that's holding you back, an obstacle in the way, the darkness of ignorance pierced by the light.
Now, change hurts, and honestly, when you look around at the world, it can be pretty frightening when you see that you will have to endure pain. Fear of pain, fear of suffering are my biggest sources of anxiety. I might lose my house, car, food, shelter clothing, social standing, esteem, attainment, ambitions, goals, I might fail, or get burned again as I reach out and try to direct the Heat. Fear.
But I've learned from my suffering in the past a thing that has released me from those fears. I've been through terrible shit, and I've found out that as bad as the worst has been, it wasn't that bad. I made it through, I'm ok, and things got better. There's nothing to worry about. Even the pain is brief, and it doesn't kill me. Facing it, directly and dealing with it calmly and with discipline resolves all problems. And by doing the Work, the pain actually helps.
There is nothing to fear, not from Korea, or Iran, not from the TSA or the corrupt city cops, not from the Republicans or the Democrats, or the aliens infiltrating humanity and feasting on our flesh in the dark recesses of underground cities. These things may very well hurt, frustrate, or make life worse in some way, but you can rest in the knowledge that it's working for you, preparing you for the next phase of your existence. Life will go on, in some way, and you will remain.
In the next year, may you remember that above all else, there is nothing to fear.