(I thought I had posted this, but apparently not)
Recently I was introduced to another occultist by a mutual friend. Friends often know people that I “really must meet” and friends who understand me actually tend to have a good idea on who I’d find a purpose in engaging. When I first started talking to this person (who I’ll call Jordan for no reason other than it is a name from the book beside me) he immediately took control of the social dynamic and began the questioning. I was fine with this, by letting him think he had control of our conversation I could observe him easier without seemingly like I was doing so, ironically I realize also a pattern from the book beside me.
At first Jordan’s line of questioning was fairly typical for such an encounter. He asked about the systems I studied, for how long, were they solitary or group, was I self-taught or did I have a teacher? Very superficial getting a feel for my path, then the conversation went 90 degrees from the direction I expected, I was expecting questions about lineage or practice or results, but suddenly he asked what I was doing in my life. Answer: Going to school for a few degrees. He asked what the degrees were for, so I told him about the job field they prepare me for, he asked why I wanted that field, why I started late on that goal (I was 24 starting University), and questions related to my education and career choices, past and future. I thought I was understanding the general trend of the questioning when he switched it up again, and began asking about hobbies, what I did for fun, and oddly enough he seemed more interested in my talk of playing the theremin and the piano, hiking the Bluffs, and painting, than he did about my brief mentions of Buddhism and ceremonial magick.
I found this entire conversation fairly odd, far more directed than expected, more of an interview in some ways. Suddenly an understanding and appreciation for Jordan spread through me. He was doing what I would like to do in a similar situation, but I find such methods make people feel uncomfortable, thankfully he either didn’t care or realized I don’t respond normally to most social interactions. He was interviewing me frankly, and he wanted to know one thing: was I a good magickian? Too many people on the surface they think a good magickian should have extensive knowledge of systems, have lists of transcendent experiences where the world was revealed to them, have spirits as though on speed-dial ready to help, and many stories of events that just shouldn’t be. Now a magickian can have all of these things, don’t get me wrong, but a magickian in many ways needs none of these things. Jordan wasn’t looking for such stories of magick and mystery, he was looking for the signs of a true magickian.
Success and happiness.
I’d phrase it as progress/functionality and contentment, but his language was success and happiness when I called him on the mode of his interview, so I’ll stick with that. This is what I appreciated, he wasn’t evaluating me as a magickian based upon how much Hebrew I knew, how many Goetic and Enochian entities I dealt with, how many times reality “fell apart” around me. No, he was evaluating based upon my life, my past, my present, my future, and my situation within all of them. He wanted to see where I had come from, where I wanted to be, and if I was on my way. This is what magick is for, at least on this level, not trying to deny a spiritual/religious aspect as possible or important in some cases.
Magick is a tool for being who you are, and becoming who you are to be. Magick is a tool to find your path, to put you on your path, and to keep you there. To Jordan my being on this path was more important than the technical knowledge, practical results here and now. Needless to say we got along well because we began to talk on magick as a practical system meant to get results and our issues with people who use magick more of an excuse than a tool. (And I guess I should be glad that I “passed” his test heh) It was very refreshing to get to talk with an occultist who saw things in this way, as so many magickians (if I decide not to be a judgemental ass) seem to focus on the wrong things. It might be splitting hairs, but this is part of the distinction between magick and faith religions, it’s not about belief or visions, it’s about getting your shit together, and getting shit done.
Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely room and reason for the mystical experiences rather than magickal results, but for the point of this post I’m just harping on the over-emphasis some have on experience to the detriment of results.
After all, Crowley’s definition of magick wasn’t about dreams of the Goddess, seeing spirits, and collecting tomes, it was about causing change.