“The One Power comes from the True Source, the driving force of creation, the force the Creator made to turn the Wheel of Time. Saidin, the male half of the True Source, and saidar, the female half, work against each other, and at the same time together to provide that force…The True Source cannot be used up, any more than the river can be used up by the wheel of the mill.” – Moiraine Damodred
If you’ve ever read The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, this quote will be familiar to you. If you haven’t read the series, go do so now, I’ll wait…it’s only 14+ novels, it’s awesome. It’s a fantasy novel with a lot of magic (but it’s not magic, they never call it that) but one of the interesting aspects of the magic is there are two ways of using it. (Okay, technically there is a third, but it’s never clearly explained and is exceedingly rare) The True Source is essentially the energy of the universe, but humans can’t access it as it is, instead it is split between the male and female halves –saidin and saidar– and as you’d assume only men can access saidin and only women saidar. These forces work together, and against each other, and that harmony and dissonance causes the Wheel of Time to turn, it lets reality unfold.
(I will get to my occult applications, stick with me) But there is more to it than just one is male and one is female, but the powers themselves are accessed differently, and in some cases used differently. The male side of the power is fought, when a man accesses he’s fighting for his life, he feels as if he is being burnt by ice and torn apart by raging avalanches of fire. If he loses focus in the wrong way and slips his mind and body will be consumed in the battle and he will die. The female side of the power is embraced and surrendered to. It is a river that cannot be conquered, instead you must submit to the river. Both of these actions give the wielder control, men battle with this energy and force it to obey them, whereas women submit to it and by giving up themselves to it they gain control.
While I think Robert Jordan was an amazing author, he wasn’t an occult author. None the less these two powers strike a chord with me. No, not some simplistic notion of male/female which I will reject vehemently, or even that one person is limited to one method, but the ideas of these two methods of power really seem to hit on something with me.
Sometimes when I perform magick I feel as if I’m grabbing the thrumming strings of reality and telling Cosmos to “Fuck off and do what I say already!” It feels like I’m wrestling with the very nature of being forcing myself upon the worlds to make what I wish manifest. Other times I feel that my magick is about submitting to Cosmos and while in this harmonious state of existing the worlds shift to what I want, not by force, but by giving myself up into the flow of Cosmos.
I’ve wondered sometimes if this difference represents the “nature” of what I’m trying to do, that perhaps I have to fight when it’s something not really part of my Path. Then when everything is submission and flow perhaps that’s when I’m really just realigning my Self and my world with my Path. I feel that might be too simplistic of a distinction. If often feels that my Ceremonial Work is more of the wrestling and my Buddhist work is more of the submission, but again that’s too simplistic. After all a lot of my Goetic working has a pseudo-Tao feel to it for me, and some of my Buddhist work has a real struggle to it. It can even oscilate between the same rituals, sometimes it’s fight other times it is flow.
I have no answer for which is which and why it is this way. All I can say is that it is imperative that a good magickian be able to adapt, if you feel it’s something to wrestle be prepared to fight the Cosmos, and if you feel it’s something to accept be ready to submit yourself to All in order to achieve.