(Note: I admit, this is a rambly rant, alas without Gordon’s aid of whisky, and unreasonable in some ways, but it’s also true and needs thought.)
Our world is an awesome place, and this is an amazing time to be alive. Our life expectancy is higher than ever, our health and quality of living is on average the best humanity has ever seen. We’re breaking down atoms to find even more building blocks of reality, we’re finding Earth-like planets 1,400 light years away. We’re surrounded by the sum total of human knowledge invisibly streaming past us from computers to satellites to tiny devices in our hands to answer all our questions. This is amazing.
VNV Nation – Nemesis makes a good soundtrack for my thoughts right now.
Four years ago the Conservative Party of Canada rigged an election by misleading registered non-Conservative voters on where to vote, and we’ve had an illegally elected government since then. This government has gutted environmental rights and destroyed huge swaths of a beautiful country; it’s muzzled the media, dismembered support for the scientific and artistic fields, and has shifted Canada away from our role as peace-keeper back towards a military nation.
In the United States gun crime is sky-rocketing to the point where tragic mass-shootings are being run of the mill news stories, there have been over 200 (!) mass shootings in the States this year already. Police corruption and abuse is rising, barely a week goes by without another story about some officer who attacked and killed someone without just cause, and sadly often without even provocation. Despite having a black president racial turmoil is coming to the surface in horrifying ways as the aforementioned mass-shootings, and police brutality are disproportionately focused on the black population.
Greece is on the verge of economic ruin.
DAESH / I.S.I.L. is running through the Near East murdering, raping, and destroying millennias worth of amazing history and threatening entire cultures. (And we still have pagans who seem more upset over the media calling the ISIS than they are about the horrors they are causing)
Globally the rich get richer, and the poor get fucked over. We have the largest wealth disparity in history…and that includes the era of European kingdoms while peasants lived in mud and wood huts. Despite all the progress sexism is making a revitalized stand. Trans-people are being accepted by the media (as long as they’re already famous, and/or beautiful in a heteronormative sense), while trans-people are murdered and harassed by society (and the police). More and more countries are passing pro-same-sex marriage laws, and yet the suicide of queer teenagers seems epidemic. We’re at an ecological tipping point and we might not recover before humanity is eliminated. The world is entering another mass extinction period, and still as a species we slash, burn, and destroy the planet.
This is fucking horrible.
I love this planet. The people on it are amazing beautiful beings.
I hate this planet. The people on it are useless fucking shitbags.
It’s hard to reconcile this. Sometimes when I reach my mind out into the world I feel the beautiful silence of the globe spinning, the waves of force balancing and bouncing back between the heavenly bodies, my mind is stretched between the love and community people have. Other times I reach out and I hear fire and blood, a world screaming, I’m hit by people and gods who are weeping and wailing.
In Vellum and Ink by Hal Duncan, one of the characters is essentially a magickal terrorist-anarchist. He zips through London with his Curzon-Youngblood Mark I chi-gun, blasting orgone bullets through fascist cops, and lobbing jism-laced grenades to distract/destroy the political status quo with intense lust and unstoppable orgies. He fights, becoming a god-demon-hero-villain because he sees the world is wrong, and he has the power to change it…not just the power…the responsibility.
Now obviously that’s fiction, I don’t have a magickal gun that is powered by my tantric control of my life force, but it’s an idea that really hit me when I reread the books recently. Why do so many magickal folks sit on the sidelines?
I strongly advocate for practical magick: stuff to improve your life, move you forward, things with tangible results, and criteria you can confirm or deny. Yet, I cannot and do not deny the mysticism, I didn’t spend months in a temple-closet talking to the wall to achieve communication with my Holy Guardian Asshole because I wanted tangible results, that was mysticism.
Yet with most of us, we do magick that focuses on us, and magick that focuses on the Cosmos, but we miss everything in between.
A year ago DAESH moved into northern Iraq, encroaching on the ancestral home of the Yazidis. In an odd combination of human interest and gruesome voyeurism several news sources started talking about the Yazidis and their persecution, and the fact they were essentially facing extinction. Suddenly out of nowhere people knew about the Yazidi, most knew next to nothing, but they knew they existed. Then in an odd turn I began seeing calls for prays and magick to help save them. Most of the requests and suggestions were based on Western magick (not that there is anything wrong with that, any port in a storm), people making evocations, prayers, Qamea sigils, and the like, things to call upon Melek Tawas, the ultimate angel of the Yazidi religion, and to ask for eir help. Some was authentic, most was created as needed, some was derived from Feri, but it was there. I stepped in, being fairly familiar with the religion, and provided actual prayers and rites from the tradition, and offered up my suggestions.
It was strange, I don’t know what brought the other sorcerers I worked with to the table, but they were committed to trying guerrilla magickal warfare to help the Yazidi. We worked on a variety of things from different angles, persuasion to get the major governments to step in more with evacuation aid, things to obscure and hide the Yazidi as they fled, things to deter DAESH from their pursuit.
I have no idea what good we did, if we influenced anything, or if we were impotently throwing our magickal forces (or just our imaginations) at something far beyond us. 50,000 Yazidi fled, trailed by DAESH militants, only 5,000 were killed. A horrible tragedy, but originally the news was much more dire as they fled up the mountain with no escape, only buying time, a few people predicted none would survive.
Maybe I’m being ridiculous, maybe I’m being unreasonable. But I don’t know why I don’t see this type of action more often.
Make your life better, make your self better, but what about the world? Look at the horrors, what can you do? I’d like to think we’re all doing stuff on mundane levels to help make the world better. That we take opportunities to educate and confront people around transphobia, that we volunteer with those in need, that we protest and petition and pressure our governments to make the right choices. But as always, we’re supposed to be magick workers, and while we’re not out there calling lightning from the sky and working miracles, we are causing change, and if you’re not, you’re not working magick.
Let me repeat that: Like everything in magick, if all you’re doing is magick, you’re not being effective, you should be fighting to make a change on the mundane levels as well, without it you’re just hoping for change, not making it.
Part of this started bubbling up again when Rachel called on us to curse a transphobic preacher. She saw a problem in the world, and wanted to confront it, and whatever she does in her mundane life, she knew she needed to apply magick to the problem. Even if all it resulted in was a magickal standoff of counter-spelling, she saw the fucked up world, and asked us to toss our magick at it.
Why don’t we do this more often? We focus on getting better jobs, more money, and lovers. We focus on skrying the spheres, putting more notches in our black mirror as we try to summon more spirits. Why don’t we focus on the bigger issues. It’s harder for me to believe, the more I realize that my path, and the path of many others, shows the fundamental indivisibility of phenomena, that we’re all connected.
That said, we have to be realistic. We can’t fix everything for everyone. Even the greatest sorcererous miracle workers didn’t save the world, but they shifted it. What happened to their likes? Even John Dee supposedly helped avert a battle with Spain by magickally calling a storm to sink their navy. Magickal journals and literature from the World War II era are littered with people tossing their magick against the Nazis.
Don’t try to fix everything. Pick an issue, pick a strategy, and work on it. We won’t magick our way out of homophobia, but maybe we could protect queer youth until they’re in safer places, and cut the suicide rates. We won’t return cops to a valued and respected position without corruption just by magicking it, but maybe we can make the courts harder on the police brought in on charges of abuse, or make the good cops more able to stand up to corruption. We won’t stop deforestation, but maybe we could move more environmentally minded executives up the ranks, to start shifting policies.
It’s a pipe dream, and it’s unrealistic, but then again, aren’t all great magickal goals? Maybe it will get us no where, or just maybe your hours of effort might save some transwoman’s life, and won’t that make it worth it? Maybe, just maybe, you return some asshole cop to his humanity before he takes a life, and won’t that make it worth it? Maybe, if we’re lucky, you’ll affect a politician’s heart, and they’ll support more resources for homeless shelters and get another kid off the street, and won’t that be worth it?
We have to do more than just Wake up, we have Shake up, and take charge.
I’m rambling, I admit, but I challenge all of you, to find some injustice in the world, something big, something beyond your life, your neighbourhood, your city, something so big you’d never think of trying to fix it. Then make a plan, find a specific element in this injustice, and make a magickal plan, figure out how to attack it, how to shift it, how to heal it. Piece by piece we nudge the world toward a better place, we make change more possible, we make it easier for those of us working on the mundane to succeed to improve these things.
This isn’t your Grandma praying for the “Good Christian” candidate to win the election, this is raw, desperate, but targeted magick, trying to throw a wrench in the gears of a systemically corrupt status quo, and bring some good into the world.
Sometimes your magick should be practical and realistic. Other times you should be willing to throw everything you got into shaking the world, and maybe, just maybe we’ll make it a better place.
VNV Nation – Everything