With this post I’m beginning a basic course in ceremonial magick. From the beginning. It may be too basic for some readers, but if you’re advanced enough to think that, then perhaps these occasional posts will help expand your ideas when teaching others.
Getting Ready for Magick
Among the mystics of India it is said that the path of the Tantric magician is not for everyone. Rather, it is only for the vira, the “hero.” According to this tradition magick is not for the common person, but only for those who are brave.
In the nominally more egalitarian West, to quote the archetypal mage, Aleister Crowley, “Magick is for all.” So is magick for everyone or just for the heroes?
To follow the path of magick is not always an easy one. It can require you to hide your interests when you’re just dying to share. It can mean facing ridicule if your interests and beliefs become known. It can mean the loss of friends. It takes courage to be an individual and not just another faceless part of the crowd. ¬†It means, if given a choice between going out with friends to a club or movie or performing a ritual, you choose to do the ritual. It means long hours of study and practice.
So if you just want to do a spell or two that you’ve read in a book and hope that it will work, only to abandon magick when a new fad becomes popular, ceremonial magick may not be for you.
Okay. Have all the people who really don’t want to be ceremonial magicians left? Good.
You see, magick is for all and magick is only for heroes. This is because anyone who really wants to become a practicing ceremonial magician can do so. And by making this choice, she or he exhibits personal strength and bravery. By doing this he or she takes the first step toward becoming a hero.
Being such a hero is not simply giving up the superficial joys I described above. It’s also finding great friends who will bond with you through common interests and experiences. It’s having “aha!” experiences when everything just clicks and magick becomes a part of who and what you are. It’s the amazing ecstasy of flying across universes and planes and conversing with angels and gods. It’s the satisfaction of knowing more about yourself than the people around you know about themselves. It’s the pleasure in being able to make positive desired changes in your life and the lives of those around you.
Above is the Hanged Man card from one of the very earliest Tarot decks. ¬†In it, the main figure is in a very uncomfortable position. But look at the character’s face. There’s no sign of discomfort, sadness, or loss. This is because the Hanged Man is giving up what is unneeded in order to get something better.
And that is the truth about Magick. If you choose to follow this path, you will become a hero and a Hanged Man. You will give up being common and become something special. This does not mean you are innately superior to others, so get off your ego horse. It simply means you have chosen to excel. Anyone can make that choice at any time. Anyone can choose to be a hero. And if you have made the choice to become something special, if you are willing to dedicate yourself to this path, if you can understand that magick is more than something you do, magick is something you are, we can begin.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
I’m afraid you’ll have to learn to crawl before you can run, so take a deep breath and prepare yourself. In fact, before an infant can crawl, the muscles and motor control have to develop. That control must increase before a baby can stand and walk. And the same is true for becoming a magician.
If you’re ready to dedicate your life to the path of magick, I want you to be around for a long time. With a long and healthy life you can learn and do everything. So step one is this: brush your teeth. More accurately, take care of your teeth. Brush and floss every day. See a dentist twice a year. You see, the same bacteria that causes gum disease is also¬†implicated in heart disease. Gum disease also seems to be linked with diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, respiratory diseases and difficulties with pregnancy. The study and practice of magick takes time, and frankly, if you’re not willing to spend a bit of time on your own health in a way that can extend your life, I don’t want to spend my time teaching you.
Step two: Eat well and get some exercise every day. By “eat well” I don’t mean you have to become a fanatic following any particular regimen. Learn the nutritional value of foods and choose what to eat. It’s okay to have junk food, sometimes, as long as it’s not your only food. By exercise I don’t mean that you have to spend hours in the gym and look like an extreme¬†competitive bodybuilder.
I certainly don’t look like this! You can be short or tall, heavy or slender, and even have physical challenges. The goal for a magician isn’t extreme musculature, it’s health. Some rituals can be quite long. Having the strength and endurance to finish the ritual is what’s important. To do that, you want to maximize your level of health.
So exercise might include going to a gym, or it might be taking brisk walks. It might be lifting light weights while you sit in a chair. A hero challenges himself or herself to be more than what they are. Try expanding what you think are your limitations. Naturally, you should check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine, especially if you haven’t exercised in a long time.
And that’s lesson one:
- Magick is for heroes, but anyone can choose to be a hero.
- Take care of your teeth for a long, healthy life.
- Magick can be physically challenging, so prepare with good food choices and daily exercise appropriate to your physical needs and abilities.
In the next lesson I’ll be sharing how to become more aware of something you normally do every 4 seconds.