What is magick? This is the central koan of occultism. There are numerous defintions and I’m sure you, gentle reader, are aware of a goodly number of them. Most of these centre around the creative power of magick – the magician as someone who acts in the world, imposing their Will on reality or extending their sphere of possible action. But depending on one’s esoteric school, and personal emphasis it’s also possible to see magic as a destructive process, or rather a revelatory one. Magick can be seen as a way to strip our awareness back, away from complexity and to regain what Taoists might call the ‘original simplicity’.
Such an approach doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re fallen, that humans are intrinsically wrong or that nasty grown-up society has robbed us of our inherently magical nature. Rather it’s about a dialogue between the experience of living and the need to return to basics – to the lived in existence of the now. For example, as we get older we grow in experience and one result of this process is that we become more aware of what could go wrong with our lives. We can also reflect on those regrets and mistakes we have made, and the impossibility of putting them right. Unlike the immortal feelings of the adolescent, the older individual carries the battle scars of living, a greater awareness of the fragility of life, health, family, and of course a more immediate appreciation of their own aging and inevitable death. For this process to be about gaining widsom rather than becoming paralysed by anxiety we need to strip back these accretions and discover the developing self (whether we imagine that as an unfolding narrative or a monadic point source) within us.
Humour is one way to make this change, being able to laugh at the things we might otherwise cling on to. Another is by relaxing into the passage of time – pulling back from our little ‘I’ focused realiy and seeing the bigger picture of death and rebirth, where our individuality is an essential but tiny element in a much grander process. Then there is the option of counting our blessings, of reflecting and looking back on how many amazing things have happened to, and through us. Then there are all those lovely processes which bring us head-to-head with the now; meditation, certain types of ritual work, powerful entheogenic experiences, accidentially walking into lamp posts – that kind of thing. All these acts help strip away the little knots of fear and bring us into direct communion with the world as it is. Persistance with these methods allows us to retain our wisdom but to step back from the grasping attachment of our lifetimes.
As Steve says in ‘Dark Matter’:
Dark Matter flows through gnostic machinery
Now patent absurdities.
Strip it back
Strip it right back,
and Journey into Space
Remembering your true Self,
Seeing your original face