Frater Ashen recently wrote a very thoughtful and introspective post about his experiences with magic and religion. In the comments, he voiced some harsh observations about people in various occult systems. He was commenting on how people will claim to have great occult power, incredible self will, and amazing abilities to interact with the forces of creation, yet they live at the poverty line, suffer from obesity-related health and untreated mental health issues, and generally live shitty lives.
What I think he's saying, as he often says, is that magic is awesome, but show me that it works, don't just tell me. He wants to see physical results in the material world. And I think that's totally fair. "I can control the powers of the winds!" Great, can you control the power of your fork? The power of your couch? The power of the porn? The power of your shower?
In other words, can you control your self?
That's hard, man. It's the actual point of magical systems, really. "Know thyself" and stuff. The point of Hermetics, the thing I try to teach in the Red Work series of courses, is how to learn who you are, what you're made of, how to control your own powers of creation. And that's all about learning to control your self.
It starts with choices. The key to your power is your choice. That's how you manifest your fate, that's how you control what you will experience: You make your choices based on what you have in front of you. Minute by minute, you are making decisions that alter your experienced reality. Magic provides you with different choices, it helps you manifest different circumstances, opportunities, people, relationships, different kinds of experiences, but all that stuff has to come into being through your choices.
I'm not saying you choose what you want and everything you experience is all your fault. Shit happens that comes from other people's choices too. We share the world with everyone else. We are not the only creator gods on the planet. Magic will not eliminate the influence and experience of everyone else's joyful incarnations, not even the stupid ones.
But we can choose how we react to things, we can make strategic choices that lead to huge world changing events. Choose to go to the gym anyway, when you don't feel like it. Choose to eat 200 calories fewer a day for a couple weeks. Choose to take a six week ab challenge. Wow, four weeks later, you've lost 10 pounds, and you can see your stomach changing shape.
I'm talking about body stuff because, magician, you don't have a more obvious way to prove that your Will changes your reality than your body. It's awesome, it's responsive, it changes so quickly. Do 20 minutes of cardio three times, every other day, and by day three you will see something fucking amazing: in three sessions, you went from gasping and near death to it feeling, actually, pretty good. Three times. 60 freaking minutes.
And that's exactly analogous to magic. You spend thirty minutes preparing, and you can have one of the Seven Planetary Governors created to manifest reality at the beginning of time by our Source talking to you in a cup of water, tonight. Really? Really.
Do you have immediate power and control and live an awesome life automagically? Does anything work that way? No.
I mean ... well, technically, functionally, yes, but it's not that ... I mean. Hmm.
Here, think about this... you are totally capable right now of getting up and changing everything about your life in an instant: Walk out the door, and never come back.
That's a choice you always have. That is the power to change your world at your command all the time.
It's not ever a good idea, in my opinion (and hard-learned experiences), but it's always an option you have, right now.
Remember that, though, and think about how even the less dramatic choices you make right now, in five minutes, this afternoon, tonight, all those choices are having the same effect: every choice you make is changing your world.
All the time.
Taking conscious control over this stuff is hard, of course. It takes practice. Magic teaches us stuff about ourselves and our power, it brings wisdom and understanding, insight and awareness. It offers a wider selection of choices. It teaches us to be the "deciders" of our lives, to make decisions from higher perspectives that make more sweeping changes across the Heavens and the Aethyrs, upon the Earth and under the Earth, on dry land and in the water, of whirling air and of rushing fire, so that every spell and scourge of god are obedient unto us, which is awesome! Of course!
But it still is only ours to use as we choose.