Avete #3 – Magic is Not a Hobby
A friend of mine once asked me what I would do (magically speaking) if, suddenly, I had little or no leisure time left. He gave the extreme example of being stuck out in the bush and having to do my utmost to merely survive, not knowing whether or not help would arrive. Of course, the question is equally relevant to those of us who have jobs, school, families, and/or any number of other responsibilities.
My response probably came off as being a bit self-righteous, but I still stand behind the sentiment of it. Magic is not a hobby. It is not something that a person does just for the excitement of it. In fact, those who would try to use it as a means of excitement either are delusional or will quickly become bored and disappointed. Magic frequently takes a great deal of tedious work and preparation without much in the way of immediate reward. Likewise, magic is not something that a person could pick up in a weekend intensive and immediately achieve awesome physical results. If you’re a total beginner and you don’t believe me, go out, buy a medieval grimoire or one of those commercial spell books, try to make any of it work, then get back to me.
Magic is something to which a person must dedicate their entire life. Every act in life eventually becomes magical insofar as it furthers one’s magical development. Those who believe that magic is purely about fulfilling each and every whim and material or sexual desire will be as disappointed as the excitement seekers.
Let’s look at Wicca for an accessible example. Anybody who has read an introductory book on Wicca has run across the Wheel of the Year (the solar holidays, or Sabbats) and the importance of the Lunar cycle (the various lunar phases, or Esbats). Even in Crowley’s Thelema and in the Golden Dawn’s system you will find hymns and prayers to the Sun during different times of day and spiritual empowerment ceremonies timed to the Equinoxes. To some, these may seem like pointless little holidays or more excuses to party. Even many Neopagans take the Wheel of the Year and the Lunar cycles that way! I will not argue that they are perfect times to party and have fun, but that partying spirit goes along with the reverential treatment of the natural time cycles. “Reverence and Mirth” is a common phrase to hear in British Traditional Wicca, and it is also a good general approach to magic.
The celebrations of the Solar and Lunar cycles are not mere celebrations, but instead serve as a powerful magico-symbolic (or mytho-poetic, if you prefer) means of drawing even the most mundane aspects of life — those which we take most for granted like the phases of the Moon, the rising and setting of the Sun, and the amount of daylight during each season — into the realm of the magical and mythological. It is a means of both “materializing the Spirit” and of “spiritualizing matter,” not to mention of exalting the practitioner’s own awareness of these things into true consciousness.
Even the simplest spell often takes months of preparation, if you take into account all of the training that you must go through before you can make that spell work (not to mention gathering the various components and so forth you might wish to use). There is a degree of beginner’s luck in magic, whereby a total newbie might find that their first halting spell or two come out brilliantly, but you can’t count on that sort of good fortune to carry you through.
I will argue to my last breath that it is not outside the realm of possibilities for nearly everybody to find half an hour to an hour a day (as a fair minimum) for meditation and basic magical training. Even five minutes every day is better than a full hour only on Sunday. I repeat: magic is not a hobby. If you really want to be a magician, take the time and put in the effort and you will achieve your results. All the reading and talking in the world will not make you a wise mystic or powerful adept. Magic is a difficult way of walking the Path of Perfection, often creating as many obstacles as it dissolves, however it is also a means of finding Reverence and Mirth in every moment of life. Those of you who work and play hard in your magical quest will surely find the Grail.
©2007 by Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey.