First, let's begin with a cool coolio, today's Google Doodle in honor of Les Paul. Right on, mang.
Now, on with Looking Forward to... what exactly?
subtitled: Why I Do All This Shit
Back in the day, my nemesis and I used to argue about charging money for magic. He would accuse me of only being in this for the money, and I would get all offended and defensive, and sooner or later I'd question his parentage. We had every argument about it you can imagine, and the same basic arguments still go on across the web.
These days I don't worry about it so much. If anyone thinks I'm only in this for the money, they're an idiot. The people who "would never charge for magical services" are generally folks who couldn't magic their way out of a wet paper bag anyway. Pagans with more opinions than experience are generally the ones with that attitude. Folks who do conjure magic are used to the transactional basis of the occult technologies we work with, and bringing that down to the mundane is natural to us*.
So if I'm not in this for the fat paychecks,** the question becomes what, exactly, are you doing all this magic for? What are you trying to accomplish, RO?
The glib answer is The Great Work. But what the hell does that mean? I can't turn an ounce of lead into an ounce of gold, I've tried. My life isn't perfect all the time. Arguably, I face more challenges now as an initiated magician with a hefty degree of spiritual authority and power to call on in times of need than I did before I started this process. As the worlds that I consciously interact with expanded from the material realm to the seven heavens and the Eighth Sphere, I ran into about seven or eight times the number of potential issues in any given day that I had before. Life isn't easier for an initiated magician, it's just more fun.
So what's the goal then? The ultimate goal is to return to the spheres we came from. I don't believe we reunify with the Source of All right away after we die. I think that may happen eventually, when time and space are rolled up like a scroll, but that's a long, long way off in the future. As far as I've looked into the mists of time, humanity exists in one form or another.
I'm a reincarnationist, like my Christian forefathers before me. I believe we pass from one incarnation to the next, fulfilling our destinies and continuing the process set in motion when we descended to the material plane in the first place, all those millenia ago. As we go through our incarnations, we gain experience and knowledge that prepares us for our return to our home in the heavens above. The point of the Hermetic path is to attain the power, authority, and wisdom necessary to head back up and stay there.
And that's my focus while I'm in the flesh. See, in each sphere we receive an empowerment and training about how things of that sphere manifest here below. We learn to see Saturn's influence on the world at large, and more immediately on our own lives. We see how the Solar forces drive ambition and bring glory. We see the passions of Venus and the flow of Mercury, and learn the waxing and waning ways of the Moon. We become aware of these powers, receive the power to direct these forces through ourselves into the material realm, and gain skill and talent in the process of creating the world of shared experience. We learn Who we are, and Where we came from. We learn to speak our native tongue, the language of creation itself.
And when we've managed to attain this degree of authority and empowerment, we break through to the Eighth Sphere, where we begin to work not only on the physical realm here below, but on developing the skills to be a Power in the afterlife instead of returning to the flesh for another ride in the rodeo.
And then when we die, we are ready to take the next steps. We leave behind the body. The Divine Pymander talks about what happens to the flesh when an advanced Hermeticist dies, and there are similarities to the Rainbow Body phenomenon. The desires that fuel our activities here below, the things that inspire us to create return to where they came from. The passions, anger, and lust that have fueled our lives go back to their raw state within the unconscious potential of existence. And then we ascend through the seven heavens, leaving behind the negative aspects of each that we carry with us here below.
In the sphere of the Moon, we leave behind the power of growth and waning. In Mercury, we leave behind the planning and the plotting that we have to go through to survive. In Venus we leave behind the lustful desire to create and produce new things. In the Sun we drop the desire to rule, and striving ambition. In Mars we leave rash boldness. In Jupiter we give up our desire for wealth by any means necessary. In Saturn we give up the final lie that is always lying in wait while we remain here below, which I suspect is the lie of free will.
When these are gone, we return to the state of being we were in before we descended through the spheres to become incarnate humans. We've given up the urge to make things happen on our behalf. We come to the Eighth Sphere in our true power, and we take our place as Powers among the Powers, singing "hymns of silence," directing and manifesting the powers of creation as pure spirits.
That's the long term goal for this life. Ascension. Attainment of Power-hood.
To get there, the first thing to do is to establish a firm foundation. You cannot reach the heavens while you're slipping around in a puddle of mud, dodging kicks and thrown projectiles from all around while scrambling for whatever food falls within your grasp that hasn't spoiled yet.
You have to build yourself a tower, or a chariot to reach the heavens. That's why I've been writing the Gates series of planetary magic guides. It's a series designed to put you in a position of authority over your world so that you can stand on firm footing as you reach up to the highest heights. In addition to having a smoothly running kingdom, you'll be gaining the skills and talents that you'll need later on in your incarnation.
* At the most basic level, when we make an offering to a spirit, we're creating a link between our sphere of experiential reality and the spirit's sphere of influence. It's like running a hard wire between two servers to create a network that exchanges information. The exchange of money in the mundane does the same thing. Clients without the initiation or experience to tap the powers of the Spheres on their own can hire someone who can. Purchasing the rituals from professionals is a ritual in and of itself, in a way.
** I figured out how much time I put into getting where I'm at today and figured out how much I've made on my occult business since starting it, and I make roughly $0.79 per hour.