Many people have asked me to teach them spells. My response is always the same. No. Mainly because they are young kids who want to be able to wiggle their nose and have the world change. Mostly they don’t realize just what a double-edged sword they are asking for. Many, if not all, have not learned self-discipline. It is the single most important thing that any magician or warrior or Martial Artist can gift themselves with.
So this is the journey that a prospective magician will tread when starting to learn spells. There are many things and skills they have to have before speaking their first incantation or chant. It is analogous to giving someone a loaded pistol, without them first learning basic safety, how to aim, maintenance of the weapon, or even what to do. Because this is what magick is; a loaded weapon. The skills that I lay out here are just as important as learning which end of the pistol to hold when attempting to fire it.
Self-discovery. Finding out why you tick the way you do. The most important part. Through meditation and constant questioning of “why” you will get a sense of yourself and your motivations for most everything. But be honest. If you know why, don’t say “I don’t know”. Lying to yourself is a sure way to get you into trouble. The more you are honest with yourself at this stage, the more you will be able to learn and figure out the why later.
Unless you do this, you will never develop the Will to use Magick effectively. Will is the key to magick. Knowing yourself is the key to Will. Control of the mind becomes easy when these techniques are applied. The mind is not used to discipline. So teaching it is a long process. It may take years. But once applied, the discipline will become second nature. You will gain confidence, self control, and be able to apply lessons in a useful manner for the rest of your life. Especially in magick.
In “Empire Strikes Back” Yoda says to Luke at one point that he must learn control. This is what you will be, in essence, doing. You will learn to control your mind so that you will not be distracted from what you are trying to learn, and practice.
The actual stages that you will go through follow:
- Fear of probing the hidden areas of your soul. Bringing the Dark up to the Light and making it visible to you again. Learning all about that area. Many people bury the dark stinking parts of their soul and never think about it again. This is wrong. In order to be a whole person, you must come to a working partnership with that dark area. Dark thrives on lack of light. It grows stronger. That is why so many people in our society have problems with trauma and self-destruction. They bury the negative and forget it. But that part has not forgotten you. If you learn to use it , it can be a powerful tool. You have to recognize the times and places when it is appropriate to use that part of you.
- Trauma again from re-living some of the memories and re-experiencing the actions that caused the problems in the first place. Dangerous stage. Many loose it here and go never to return, either into insanity or away from this path altogether. Not so much from the study of their dark areas, but from remembering past traumas, such as abuse, molestation, and many other things. THIS IS A NECESSARY STEP. It cannot be avoided. During this time it is advisable to have someone nearby to help you through the trauma associated with these memories. You will also find areas that are dedicated to the destruction of you. It is your job at this point to convince them that they need to turn their attention toward outside sources. They won’t care that they will destroy themselves by destroying you, that is their job, total destruction.
- Acceptance of that dark side. Most never get here. “Better buried than stinking again.” The only way to heal some wounds is to cut them open again and let them heal properly. Learning to live with the scars and while not glory in them, but to at least acknowledge that they have taught you something.In “Star Trek V, The Undiscovered Country”, Captain Kirk has a line that goes, “I need my pain. The Pain has made me who I am. I won’t let you take that away.” This is one of the truest statements ever made. We are the sum of all our experiences. All of us have been affected by what we have experienced, and nothing can change that. Even people who bury memories of living through something are still affected by that memory, whether or not they remember it.
So coming to terms with that dark side is important. It cannot be ignored. Dealing with the trauma that happened caused by things that happened is something else entirely. Many people need to deal with memories and trauma in various ways, but you need to learn to recognize when a bad experience is affecting your judgment or actions so that you can break out of that cycle.
- Doubt of yourself and your environment. Some even doubt of the Gods. This is NORMAL. Self-doubt is a good tool to keep from becoming another Napoleon or Hitler. It teaches us. And while self-confidence is a good thing, too much leads to hubris. The belief that “I am not really doing this… It’s all in my imagination.”Many people get to this stage and give up. Part of coming to terms with yourself is to look at your confidence problems. Also many of us attracted to this kind of work have very vivid imaginations. So it is only natural that many of us will think that we are crazy and none of it is happening. But remember something, “As you believe, so will it be”. If you think and believe that you are imagining it all, then you will be. The good thing is that as you progress through these stages, you will come to know just what is you and what is something else. The parts that are you and what is another need to be very clear. You can make it so. And then taking action is simple.
- Trust that you are doing something. That your abilities are making a difference. That the Gods do care. In your teacher. Etc. Again, normal and positive in this arena. Without this trust, no further advancement can be possible. This stage is what I call the “Shot in the arm” stage. It is confidence, but many times it is still tinged with doubt. As time passes though, it moves into the next stage.
- Megalomania and hubris are next. Dangerous again. The problem here is “I have some training, I can do anything I want and no one can stop me.” Kind of like a beginning student in Martial Arts who is getting a Head. Usually the Master will have to knock them down a few notches to get them understanding that there are bigger and bader things out there.I went through this stage and it taught me a lot of what I am. I looked at myself and thought that there was no one out there that was a good as I was. I had Will, the tools, the knowledge and many other things that I thought I needed to win in any conflict I needed. No one could match me in my chosen arena. Then I watched as someone I was going to get rid of critically injured most of my allies. I came close to having to kill my wife in order to banish a creature I had conjured. Scared the living daylights out of me. I never made that mistake again.
- Doubt again after getting sense knocked into them that they really couldn’t do this. Phantasms created by the mind to release tension. Not being able to see the effects of their Work and doubting that it happened at all.Now is the stage where your confidence is shot by the previous stage and you need to get it built back up again. Like in the movie “Top Gun”. After his RIO dies and now Maverick needs to go on with his life. He’s not so cocky again. While everyone is compelled to try to figure out what happened so that applied learning can be used, but not to the detriment of your piece of mind and your confidence.
This is usually the shortest stage. Many people when they go through this, come out the other side a better person in general. Then they move along to the last stage.
- Peace, not only with the Dark, but also with the Light. Inner Peace and a stillness of soul that many would call “steady”. Acceptance and wisdom in this area. Pretty self-explanatory.
Learning: Actual study of materials from various sources.
Book knowledge is always an excellent source.
- A book doesn’t have a job it has to be to tomorrow.
- A book can cover more material than a person can
- Other books fill in gaps in knowledge
- A book can spend more time with you than a person usually can
- Self-paced teaching
- Only one way to do things. If it doesn’t work for you too bad.
- In depth, but holes in information
- Can’t directly answer your questions
- Not really as good as someone who is right there with you.
- It gives you no real-world knowledge or experience. Just someone else’s interpretation.
Tutoring by someone who has “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt”
- custom lessons
- paced differently
- answer questions when asked
- alternative techniques
- help through traumatic events and counseling
- Doesn’t know everything
- Hasn’t necessarily had the same problem
- Personality conflicts
- Can only speak from his own experience or those he has witnessed first hand
Instruction in a group setting
- freer exchange of ideas
- fluid environment
- everyone at same stage
- group feeling intensified
- personality conflicts ad-neausium
- Cult recruitment (personality, religious)
- Non-customized lessons
- “Lowest common denominator” problem
- not much flexibility unless the class is extremely good
- Lectures followed by Q&A. Might forget Q.
- have to take notes (handwriting)
- Etc… See High School or College
Discovery is best, but many, many drawbacks
- self custom knowledge
- Learn the best way for you.
- LOTS of practice
- Discover things others said couldn’t be done
- Miss many, many baby steps
- Can’t find out “what happens if” unless you do it.
- NO ONE else’s experience to draw on
- Can’t get out of a bad spot with another’s help, can only do it on your own
- Easy to make a “fundamental” mistake and keep repeating it for years since there is no one to correct it.
Practice: The first steps in casting and using magick. Usually simple things for knowledge. Divinations, invocations of the deities, spells to help you remember what happened in a former life, and such. Many of these spells are what any initiate learns on whatever magickal path they start on, be it Cabala, Wicca, Satanism, or whatever. That is due simply to the fact that most of these spells are hard to mess up too much. They are pretty much “shoot yourself in the foot” proof. By the time you get to actually learning spells, you will have the knowledge to be able to write your own spells, and know why you do this and such.
- Integrating dark with light. Acknowledging the darker traits and realizing that there is a time and a place to use that aggression and hate, but not letting it dominate you. In this area of “Empire Strikes Back” Yoda was wrong. Just because you use the negative aggressive tendencies does not mean that you will become irrevocably evil. Using is not the same as being. The aggressive tendencies will always be easier, but you don’t have to be dominated by them.Have you ever met a cop, and known that this man would keep his calm under the most stressful circumstances? He is someone who has learned to integrate that dark side with himself. He is “Centered” or “Balanced”. One of my greatest friends has that same aura of calm. He is the gentlest of people, but don’t cross him. And he will remain calm the entire time and not shed a tear about having to hurt you, if that is what it takes.
- Protective magicks are some of the easiest things to do, and very hard to mess up. Learning these is very good practice for what will come later. Shields, wards, and the “Tai-Chi of Magick” all fall in this category. Many Earth-based religions teach these, but there are many holes in the teachings, so keep looking. The “Tai-chi” reference I made is using your opponent’s energy against themself. It is working with natural flows, and cycles of nature.Once again, it is not too hard to muff a spell of this type. The worst that can happen is that the protection does not take, and you won’t know that until you are under fire.
- Offensive magicks are the next. Intentionally hurting someone is a last resort, but sometimes it is the only one left. No shame in it. Especially if that person is intent on hurting or killing you or someone you love. Greater risk here though, since it can be turned against you. Hexes and curses along with esoteric things like levinbolts.These you need caution for. Too many of these can come back on you if you don’t do everything just right. Practicing and going slowly through the steps can give you the mastery of these kinds of spells.
Let me say now for the record, I am Wiccan, but I am also a Guardian. I do not advocate violence but I will use it if there is no other way to accomplish my goal. I will not use it to kill, unless there is no other choice. I am always cognizant of the Law of Three, and as such I make damned sure that I am in the right before proceeding to this stage. The Rede is not a death pact. It is a moral code, but sometimes you have to circumvent that code to accomplish a greater goal. Just be willing to pay the consequences if you prove to be wrong.
- Healing is a dangerous skill. In order to heal someone, you must first know how to harm them too. THIS IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS. You are mucking around with someone else’s body, mind, or soul. You can do PERMANENT harm to them unless you know exactly what you are doing and why.I say “mind” and “soul” because these are as valid a healing as any done for the body. Psychologists and Priests do this kind of healing all the time. Why can’t magick be used to do these same things? I myself am a Spiritual healer. I have some knowledge of physical healing, simply because of my studies, but helping someone’s soul to be healed of the darker areas that they are in possession of is so much better. One leaves you with a healed scar, one makes you a better person altogether. The techniques are very different though. Mostly they involve listening.
I have messed up in this though. It was a question of not listening when I should have. Blind luck is all that saved my patient and I from something terrible. She was almost changed from what she was permanently. And that is the basis of my cautionary warnings. It can be very dangerous for any number of reasons. True, you won’t be hurt, but there is still the insidious little thought that you could have done more, cared a little differently, or tried something else. Ask a doctor who lost a patient sometime how they deal with it.
- Finding allies is also in the category of very dangerous to you. Many prospective enemies are in guise of allies. How better to defeat a budding magician than to know what they are planning? YOU MUST KNOW WHAT EVIL LOOKS LIKE TO BE SAFE. And by that I mean what the soul looks like. This is one reason you must know yourself so well.This mainly involves looking around you for potential friends or companions. DO NOT OFFER YOUR SERVICES TO ANYONE. This seems a bit harsh, but there is an old saying that goes “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. I have found this statement to be true in more ways than one. Applied to this, it is even truer. When you are ready to have someone in your life to help you, someone who wants to help, and who is willing to believe will come along. You simply have to be prepared to accept them and protect them, and analyze what they can offer you in the context of what you need. It may be that they cannot give you very much, but you can still be friends.
A cautionary note here. Try not to get too involved in established covens or working groups. You will be the outsider and an invader to their established pecking order. Normally this will not be a problem, but you never know. Politics is the worst problem we as a community have. And that goes for Wiccan, American, Office and every other kind of group that one can belong to.
- Working with other beings is the same danger level as finding allies. Many extra-planar beings are malevolent and waiting for a chance to reduce the forces of good. This is where your Will comes into play. On other planes, the one with the stronger Will is in control and will win. You can be attacked from any direction, even internally with your fears, and you must know those fears so well that they have no control over you.You must understand the inherent danger. Many things that are ironclad here on the physical plane are fluid on the Astral plane. Up is not necessarily up anymore. Hitting someone is more likely to hurt you than him. Many, many problems. I highly advise putting off this kind of spell until you get greater experience with traveling there. By that time you will be known to those who dwell there and not be a threat anymore.
Honing skills: Once all these basics are mastered, then you are ready to take on the TRULY dangerous and important things that you were born to do. Don’t worry, if you make it to this level, you will have more than enough experience and knowledge to make your hardest problem that of not having enough hours in each day to do everything.
I say this tongue in cheek, but I a quite serious. You will know yourself and your environment, and more importantly, you will know your limitations. Most of the magickal courses of study I have seen are designed to get you to this level. Power has to be paid for. You will pay this price again and again in blood and sweat, along with using all your resources in any endeavor. You will know how to partition your Power out to the most advantageous use. You will know how to husband your resources and how to use the environment and any tool that comes to your hands.
The following paths are all ones that I have personally traveled at one time or another. One thing, you do not have to loose your connection with Humanity. Some think that by being a Magician, that you loose your “humanness” or your connection to people. This is not so. If you do loose that connection, then you are in danger of becoming a danger to magicians in general. So, keep those ties with your family and friends. Understand that they do not see the same things as you do, and do not look down upon them for their lack. It is your job to take care of them.
- Defending defenseless. Basically you will be a trouble magnet. You will go looking for fights, but like the wise warrior you will be, you will pick your own time and place to strike a blow for justice. (Sounds like Superman. Not far off. You will be doing just about everything he did. And all without the thanks he got.) In my experience this is taking care of problems on the Astral Plane. Not really looking for trouble, but taking care of troublemakers. To a point, taking care of irresponsible people here and now who are messing with Magick that they don’t know how to use, but still mainly on other planes.
- Healing Earth: Hugging trees is all well and good, but getting corporations to stop taking what they think they need is much better. Honoring means stopping the madness before Gaia is dead, then fixing it. This is a long and possibly fruitless process, but it is one that needs to be done. If not, one day we will wake up with no air, a sun that gives third-degree burns with two seconds exposure and most life dead. Basically environmental activism. Not the spiking trees, or chaining yourself to sewer lines, but volunteering with the Sierra Club, petitioning the community on a topic of concern.
- Things you don’t know why you’re doing is maybe one of the most frustrating parts of this life. You will wake up in the middle of the night and know you HAVE to do a ritual RIGHT NOW. But you will never get it explained to you why you had to. Get used to it. Part of the job.
- Moving to the will of the Gods. Also frustrating, but at least you can see the results of your labor. In the process of self-knowledge you will acquire a sense of who is speaking to your thoughts and what is going on. You will labor and sweat, but you will have a concrete result. You still may not know WHY you had to do that, but “you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.” Like writing this article has been for me.
Just as a safety valve, try to find someone who is experienced in this work and stay with them. You will need their support when things get to be too much for you. Mental, emotional, and spiritual fatigues are very real in this kind of work. You will need a good support structure in order to cope. Preferably someone who has done this for a while and who can talk you down from the stress this will place in your life. It is only sensible to have this kind of support, if only to swap stories with and to vent to. And one day… you will have to do this duty for another. Probably the one you are going to, for who heals the healer? Why… another healer of course.
Stars light your path.