I was reading Gwynt-Siarad's 8 Winds and Broken Vow, and the follow up post. He was going through some really practical Mage stuff, serving his community in the role of the shaman. One of the things he mentioned was how tired he felt after going on a Spirit Walk and encountering a spiritual-beastie.
I totally know that feeling. When you go looking into people's "spheres" to see what's going on in their spiritual life, it can be really draining to you personally. Emotional strain is tiring. It takes a level of compassion and empathy to be able to get a clear reading on someone's spiritual state that can leave you feeling exhausted afterwards.
We're used to dealing with our own stress levels, and we've got the reserves necessary to deal with that on a regular basis. When we start working with other people's stressors, it's an additional load to process, and it can leave you feeling weak, even if there are no entities encountered.
I've seen empaths advise different methods of maintaining a safe distance from your clients, ways to filter out the stressors so they don't impact the empath. It's a matter of maintaining a clinical objectivity while still interacting with some emotionally charged issues. It takes a lot of practice to do it well, and even in the best of times it's still a filtering technique. Filters have holes to let things through that you want, on purpose. Extreme situations (or entities in your clients' sphere) can rip right through the filter.
Like physical exercise, spiritual exercises improve endurance and spiritual muscles. Regular core maintenance rites, like cycling through the spheres, meditation and contemplation, regular observances to patrons and so forth are good core exercises that help build up your ability to deal with other people's shit.
But emphasizing one or two exercises isn't enough. There are people who do the LBRP and Middle Pillar daily, and they've got some really big muscles developed as a result. But when they get put into practical situations, they're like the body-builder who finds himself in a Mixed Martial Arts octagon getting their asses kicked by someone half their size.
Vary your routine, make sure your core practices involve more than just a couple basic techniques. If you have a reasonable expectation that you'll be meeting up with demonic forces or hostile spirits, you need to get used to dealing with them. One of the few things I'd recommend the Lemegeton's Goetia for is training in dealing with spirits with malevolent natures. Don't challenge them to a duel to the death or anything, you know, stupid. But they're safe enough to conjure and interview, when the proper precautions are taken.* They've got a wide spectrum of abilities and specialties, and getting to know them, how they operate, the forces they represent and wield can be a very useful thing when you encounter them, or similar spirits in your Work.
Also, it never hurts to make sure they'll never work against you, especially with all the folks turning to that particular grimoire first when they think to curse you. Rofocal-Focalor (or one of his lackeys or corresponding spirits) will be sent against you sooner or later if you ruffle feathers in the occult community, and feathers are easily ruffled 'round here. Having him show up and say, "Hey, so-and-so sent me to kill you, LOL," is much better than performing an exorcism from a hospital bed, you know?
Now that I'm all side tracked, I'm considering re-releasing the Modern Goetic Grimoire. I've had a change of heart about them recently. An insight into their nature, and their role in the life and sphere of a magician. That's another post though.
This post was about strength training.
daily exercises, meditation, contemplation, opening portals to the aethyrs, travelling in astral form through the elemental kingdoms and planetary spheres, ascending to the highest spheres through the Gate opened by Iophial... These things are important for the magician.
Magicians are like Americans moving back to the countries of their ancestors. I'm French. I have relatives in the Alsace Lorraine region, allegedly. To live there, in the home world of my true ancestors, I'd need to learn the language, figure out local customs and economics, and integrate myself into the system so I could benefit from it, and it could benefit from me. It would take time, practice, and repeated exercises to make a place for myself, and to thrive.
But I'd do it. What else is there than to thrive?
If we're going to thrive as magicians, we need to take time for strength training. Proactive research, conjurations, and the building up of gnosis so that when we are faced with situations that require strength, we have it.
* It's only when you start asking them to influence your life that you start asking for trouble, in my opinion. Not saying it can't be done, if done in the spirit of "teach me to excel" rather than "grant me the fruits of excellence without doing anything for it," but it takes wisdom and patience and work ethic.