In the past week, I've had no less than five people approach me with the same basic complaint: My life is worse than ever, can you fix it!?!?!? I don't know what's going on in the world astrologically or what, but it's going around big time.
Most of these people are suffering the consequences of their actions, or worse, their lack of planned action. It happens to me more often than I like to admit, so I'm not judging them any harsher than I judge myself when I tell you truly: that shit is just plain old fashioned stupid. "Everything I've done has a consequence, and I don't like the consequence, make it all go away!" I've said that. In those words.
And the basic assumption is that there's nothing in life that's so bad that magic can't fix it immediately and relieve them from suffering instantaneously. That's "magic as my salvation."
Bad news folks, magic doesn't work that way. That's why I wrote yesterday's post about timing and planning your magic because what we're experiencing now is the result of what we did (or didn't do) a couple weeks ago. Or a month ago. Or five years ago. Or twenty. We basically reap what we sow.
Soteriology is a fancy word for "salvation of the soul." Christians are the most famous for their Salvation beliefs because they start conversations with perfect strangers using the phrase, "Are you saved?" One famous Christian Bible teacher used to get so pissed about that. He got fed up one day and asked the person, "Saved from what?" The response was Hell, but he had to point out to the kid, no, not hell, God. Specifically the wrath of God. The wrath of God earned by your disobedience. I liked him, he was honest. Dead now. Good guy though, he grokked the Bible. Course, he read it. That helps.
Hermetics teaches salvation of the soul too. For us, it's most clearly detailed in Iamblichus' On the Mysteries. It pops up in the Divine Pymander too. Our salvation is a process of doing magic to gain initiation and insight so we can return to our rightful place as emanations of the First Father.* We aren't saved from an eternal torment in a literal flaming hell, but we are saved from a series of unfortunate events caused by our own ignorant action (or inaction) that makes our lives into a subjective hell. We can have a better life.
Not a perfect life. There's too much here that we experience that comes from actions made in ignorance, our own ignorance or others' ignorance. The law of unintended consequence sucks big time.
But we can have a better life by making the right choices that lead to our desired results, and by preparing to deal with the inevitable influx of shit that comes from the actions of others in our lives. We learn to make the right choices through the wisdom gained from our initiatory work. We learn what practical strategy to put into place with our thaumateurgical rites. We live a balanced life, sometimes focusing our attention Above, other times Below, following the reflected light of the Moon as she waxes and wanes.
True salvation from all our troubles isn't going to come until we return to our native lands, the place our spirits came from before we descended and became flesh. We get there when we learn who we are, where we came from, and the path back. We get there when we've learned to make this world and our daily experiences as good as possible through proactive magic and compassionate aid. We get there when we understand the image we are made in, and take on the responsibilities that come with being a child of God, made in his image.
And the best way to do that, in my experience, is to hang out with the First Father. Pymander talks about how he sends the evil daimon to torment the impious until they turn back to seeking him, seeking to become what they are supposed to be. If your life is bothering you to the point of rage, depression, and anxiety, it's because you've stopped seeking God. You've stopped trying to get home.
When you're seeking God and trying to get Above, you get perspective on the temporary nature of this world and all its troubles. The same problems that drive you insane with suffering might be there when you're seeking God, but you can see from the higher point in the spheres what led to the problems, and also that they are temporary, already fading away into the unmanifest realm.
That doesn't mean that in a crisis, you shouldn't bother with magic. Magic is the tool we use to get to salvation, to reduce the suffering of our daily lives, and to learn to become what we were meant to be. Magic is good. Crisis is a great motivator. But aim it UP.
Aim for perspective in times of crisis, and see what shakes out. When you've got a good perspective on your life from an eternal point of view, you'll see the things you have to do to get out of the situation you're in. You'll see your options, see the consequences of quick and easy fixes, and see the consequences of making small changes that have less impact and make things better over longer periods of time. You'll be able to come up with better strategies, plan better magic, and gain the peace and calm to get through the shit storm.
So this Father's Day, don't forget your First Father. He may be trying to get your attention. Give him a call, eh?
* That's really the point of Christianity too, but it got bogged down in politics and social rulership. Peter says in the new testament, "Work out your salvation in fear and trembling," and it's caused all kinds of hell in theological circles as they try to figure out how to fit "works" into "salvation" when in other places it's pretty clear that salvation is a function of grace, a gift received, not earned. They don't get that there's spiritual practices that come with the gift that let us have a better life by working towards the end state.