The Magician's God
The magician's conception of God is very different from the Judeo-Christian- Islamic conception. This is not to say that one is right and the other is wrong. On the contrary, a tenet of magic is that what is going on out there in the universe is not anything the human mind can possibly conceive of. Therefore all conceptions (beliefs) are wrong. Indeed, a human conception of God, no matter what it is, has definitely got to be puny in comparison with whatever God really is.
However it is instructive to compare the two conceptions of God since the two versions have different implications for how we should behave in our everyday lives. Emulating God, becoming more Godlike, is the meat and bone of any spiritual practice. How we conceive of God will determine what our spiritual ideal is, and what we are trying to accomplish in our spiritual lives.
To avoid confusion, we'll refer to the Judeo-Christian- Islamic supreme deity as "God", and to the magicians' supreme deity as "the Spirit".
Most people believe that God cares about them personally. Conventional religions inculcate fear of death, and then teach people to cover over that fear of death with the promise of heaven. People believe that if they do X and Y and Z, then God will be pleased with them and they will go to heaven when they die.
The magician's path is very different. Magicians know that death is not only inevitable, but is nothing to fear. Death is right there in the background all the time. Magicians learn to feel that they are in the presence of death every minute. There is no salvation. Anything that comes through for them they are going to have to make happen themselves, since the Spirit doesn't care a rat's butt about them one way or the other. Use your head: if God cared about you, would He have condemned you to death? Believing that you're special to God is the acme of self-pity.
Both God and the Spirit are all-powerful and created the universe intentionally. That is to say, creation was no accident, as the materialists would have it.* However the Judeo-Christian- Islamic God is monotheistic: God stands outside of His creation. The Spirit, on the other hand, is pantheistic: the Spirit is everything and everything is the Spirit.
God cares about His creation: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son … ." The Spirit, on the other hand, is utterly detached and indifferent, so that there is no point in worshipping it or praying to it: "The Spirit was so indifferent to the world that it left all sentient beings to figure things out for themselves."
Since spiritual practice entails emulating the supreme deity, evidently caring is a fundamental part of Judeo-Christian- Islamic practice, whereas being detached and indifferent is essential to magic. Most people need the sense of security (from the magicians' viewpoint, false sense of security) of believing that God is concerned about them personally. They need to feel that they fit in and belong somewhere. They must believe that they're not all alone, at the mercy of ineffable, incomprehensible, and wholly impersonal forces of the universe. However, magicians need no such assurance. Indeed, they find such a belief useless baggage which weighs them down.
We all lie to ourselves constantly. For example, we believe that our luck is going to change really soon; or that this person we're in love with is the most marvelous person on earth; and so on. Really, lying to ourselves is about the only way we can keep on keeping on much of the time. The difference between magicians and most people is that magicians know that they are lying to themselves. An example of a magician's lie is "you create your own reality." This is something magicians have to believe, even though they know it's a lie.** Magicians choose their lies with care. Thus their conception of what the Spirit is, is another carefully crafted lie.
Although the Spirit is too vast to have what might be termed a personality, nonetheless it is correct to say that the Spirit is a trickster. The Spirit is a trickster because the magician's reality is a reality of trickery, and you create your own reality and your own deity with it.
Magicians have to trick themselves to stay on the magician's path, else who in blazes would follow it? Magic is a path of utmost responsibility, self-discipline and self-denial. Magic requires being utterly alone and facing up to the truth. No one wants to face the truth; not even magicians.
The Spirit is a trickster because although it will bring us what we want, what we've been praying for all along, it usually does this in such a guise that we don't recognize it for what it is, and we therefore reject it. As an example, more than once I've seen the Spirit bring a person a true soul mate when they were on the rebound from a break-up, and still too filled with self-pity to see that this person they met accidentally was the one they were praying for all along.
How many times have I seen the Spirit bring someone their true heart's desire on a silver platter, yet the person rejected it because they still had too much self-hatred to permit themselves to feel happiness. What keeps us from seeing and grasping the Spirit's gifts is our own self-pity, which blinds us to everything except how much we're suffering.
My spirit guides used trickery as their main teaching tool. Now that I'm more or less on my own, I have to trick myself. For many years I fantasized that one day a woman would come into my life and love me and make me happy (this rather asinine fantasy is common among men. I call it the "Claudia" complex after the character in Fellini's 8 ½). My spirit guides really seized on that one. Every time a likely woman came across my horizon they played it to the hilt: "Oh yes! She's the one you've been waiting for, definitely! Very soon now all your dreams will come true and you'll find true love!" They encouraged me to make an ass of myself and follow every mirage until it too turned to dust. And in my stupidity and desperation I fell for that ploy every time, even long after I understand intellectually what they were doing and why. They were trying to burn that expectation out of me via exhaustion. They always told me that spiritual growth is mostly a matter of exhaustion, of giving up one's own will. They were right, but I'm so stubborn and obsessive that it took me a long, long time to burn out. Now that their tricks don't work on me anymore, I have to trick myself. This is what the technique of Creative Visualization is all about.
The point is that the magician's deity is a trickster because the magician's path is a path of trickery. There is no ultimate truth in this. The Christian and Hindu Gods are Gods of love because these paths are devotional paths. Magic, by contrast, is a very rational path – detached and coldly objective. There's love in it, of course, and joy. Lots of joy, actually. In fact, the joy – the incredible joy – is the only excuse for following the magician's path, because otherwise it's a complete pain in the butt. But the principle mainspring to action is intent. What drives magicians forward is the quest for power and freedom.
Although the Spirit is wholly impersonal and indifferent, it nonetheless can be put to use. From the magical point of view, the Spirit is our servant. Every time we desire something, no matter how trivial, we emit an order, a desire line. Desire lines are actual fibers of light which pop out of our navels. They can be considered commands to the Spirit, who immediately starts racing around trying to fulfill our order.
The reason why most people can't bring their desires to realization is because they have their desire lines tangled up. They don't really want things to spring into existence the moment they think of them, as happens in dreams. Most people are afraid of taking responsibility for that much power. They would prefer to pretend that they don't have that much potential control over their own lives and destinies. They prefer to cringe helplessly and wallow in self-pity rather than take on the awesome responsibility of total control over themselves: control over their moment-to-moment thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Most people prefer to believe in fantasies, like that someday God is going to bring them exactly what they desire, with no effort on their part. This is why they need to believe in a God who is outside of themselves, disconnected from them, rather than that they are the Spirit, and whatever situation they find themselves in is their own creation. To change it they're going to have to change themselves by changing their way of looking at the situation they are in. Average people don't want to have to do this.
The Judeo-Christian- Islamic God pities us and thus mirrors our own self-pity. The Spirit, on the other hand, is pitiless and can only be commanded by erasing self-pity. Power comes from taking responsibility for our decisions. In particular, this means taking responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves in the present moment – dealing with the reality of it instead of wishing it would go away.
Taking responsibility means not blaming other people or the Spirit for our own unhappiness, nor trying to slough off our unhappiness on other people around us. Rather, it means understanding that we have deliberately, if unconsciously, chosen the circumstances of our lives, and only we can change them. When we truly understand this in our hearts, when we resign ourselves to this truth and begin to act on it, then we become one with the Spirit.
(Copyright © 2009 by Bob Makransky. All rights reserved).
"Excerpted from Bob Makransky's free monthly ezine Magical Almanac, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac.
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