A young monk was doing a meditation retreat, and every day during his afternoon meditation Buddha would appear to him in a brilliant light. Finally he said to his teacher “Every time I meditate I see Lord Buddha.” His teacher nodded and said “Just keep breathing, he goes away eventually.”
At dinner a friend asked me “What are the signs of a successful magickal working?” At first I gave two answers which dealt more with the path of results, but then I went back to the exceedingly obvious and true answer “What was intended, comes to pass.” Much like the young monk we often get too caught up in the signs during, but really it is the sign after that matters.
When I cook dinner, the sign of a good meal has nothing to do with how the water boiled, if the onion chopped perfectly, or if the sauce bubbled in a specific shape. I’ve bad great meals where everything goes wrong, things burn, or don’t brown right, or nothing seems to happen at all. The sign of a good meal is when it’s all over if it is delicious and well-made.
Every once and a while the debate flairs up about visual/physical manifestation during magick, and I think it deals with the phenomena all wrong. Sometimes when I do magick I get the weird noises, lights, solid looking faces forming out of smoke, stuff moving, glass shattering, and the other woogity. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a dark smoky room, staring at a black mirror and just talking to myself.
The odd part to some people? Just because a face forms out of smoke doesn’t mean I’m any more likely to succeed than the times it feels silent. I think these signs are probably dependant on something why don’t fully understand, some complex combination that people don’t have the whole picture of, and that’s okay. What matters is getting results, especially results with repeated success.
A friend contracted me for some magick last week; he lost something valuable three days before and couldn’t find it. He offered to pay me for the help, and only because he is my best friend did I allow him the deal that I only got paid if I succeeded. So I did a brief divination, which gave an area for him to search, but also said that “yes this item would be found.” I told him that, and then I contracted two spirits I use specifically for lost objects, they agreed to help and said it wasn’t a problem. This was before bed, when he went into work the next morning a co-worker had found the item and gave it back to him. My friend decided that this wasn’t a magickal success, after all, he didn’t have a chance to look where the dice said, and someone just happened to find it and gave it back to him four days later randomly, within twelve hours of my work on the case.
I let this slide, he’s my best friend, I’d help him without the offer of payment, but I was more confused by the idea that the success wasn’t magick. I guess I forgot to stipulate it had to be delivered by blue butterflies, as well as arriving at the right time. The signs of successful magick aren’t what happens during the ritual, aren’t the ways it happens (not necessarily at least), but that success occurs. More precisely though I’d say that success occurs repeatedly, against the odds of both individual and repeated occurrences.
Crowley said “Success be thy proof” not “Crazy-ass lights while you yell in Hebrew be thy proof” or “Your Scarlet Woman coalesces out of thin air be thy proof.” Success people. Magick is a path and all paths are made of goals, look for the success.