Magic and Human Constructs
The popular and established view, indeed dogma, within most modern magical groups is that magical results are achieved through an ‘Act of Will’. Unfortunately, discovering the difference between what is the ‘True Will’ and what are the dictates of the ego is a momentous task because the ego is highly adept at fooling and misleading us, as psychologists will confirm. The ego, of course, provides us with our sense of personal identity, the part of us that distinguishes us from others and the rest of the Natural World. But effectively to be a magical person we somehow need to transcend the ego with its artificial sense of separateness and predisposition to narcissistic self-interest.
If we accept the view that the human mind is a microcosmic emanation of the Macrocosmic Mind – what some describe as God – then it seems likely that the Macrocosmic Mind expands awareness through a multitude of forms within Nature, one of which is human consciousness. In other words, the Macrocosmic Mind and the human mind are expressions of the same unified conscious energy. This means that any distinction humans tend to make about the nature of reality stems from a tendency of the ego to compartmentalise and is contrary to the real nature of existence, which is holistic.
For example, a popular assumption among some pagans is that magic has many ‘levels’, which can potentially deny its holistic nature. For example, it is generally accepted that magic conducted within a ritual framework must be distinguished from magic conducted within what some would regard as a mundane framework. However, as Crowley points out: ‘Every intentional act is a Magical Act’. By intentional he also includes acts supposedly unintentional when regarded superficially because, as some psychologists and neurologists claim, at the profoundest level of our psyche all acts are probably intentional.
What all this means is that any distinction between one form of magic and another is arbitrary and the result of human constructs. Constructs, it has to be said, are necessary points of reference when relating pragmatically to the so-called external world. But it is vitally important to recognise that constructs are no more than artificial and manufactured devices and do not in themselves constitute holistic reality. From a magical perspective, attaching significance to constructs can potentially result in fragmentation with the result that distinctions are drawn where no distinctions in fact exist.
Such compartmentalised thinking can sabotage the magical potential of the mind. In falsely externalising the source of magical energy we unconsciously put it beyond our grasp, thus making our magical intentions much more difficult to achieve. In a sense this is rather like NLP principles – if by subscribing to the view that something is outside of us, or belongs in a specific compartment independent of oneself, then one reinforces the idea subliminally that it is potentially unattainable or difficult to access, which defeats the purpose of magical thinking.
For example, if God is externalised and perceived as transcendent, then a potential barrier is created, which can make it impossible to attain unity or a sense of ‘oneness’ with the Divine. Mysticism, for example, seeks to become one with God by transcending the artificial barriers we construct. These barriers might assume the form of religious observations, belief systems or theological ideas regarding the Nature of God, but rather than serving to unite us with God they often tend to maintain our sense of separation. Physical separateness between an individual and the external world is of course perfectly real when interacting with the mundane world. But such ‘real’ barriers between oneself and the invisible realms have to be dismantled because the intellect and ego seek to reinforce such constructs and the sense of separation they impose psychologically. Perhaps a musical example to express the idea will make it clearer.
A novice musician will naturally regard his chosen instrument as existing physically separate from himself, which commonsense informs him is actually true in the literal sense. We would be justified in suspecting insanity should he say otherwise. However, to reach a high level of artistry the musician must change his perception to one where the instrument becomes an extension of his very being. Instrument and player must become as one. If this quantum leap is never made a barrier between player and instrument remains in place. Instead of expressing music effortlessly and emotionally, the musician remains locked at the level of a beginner and continues struggling to gain mastery over his instrument. Consequently, the musician may try all the harder, but the harder he tries the more difficult it becomes.
Psychologists refer to this as the Law of Reversed Effort. The problem faced by the musician is also one a magician has to address because the latter must train the mind to dispense with constructs that reinforce a sense of separation from the object of the intention. The magician must become one with the universe if Magical Energy is to be un-hindered by inappropriate thought patterns and artificial barriers.