Personal Transformation and Magical Principles
Part of the great work of being a magical person is to begin with practices, activities, and pursuits that urge us, over time, to our highest potential. Our “potential” is a moving target. It’s not a destination we just arrive at and check it off our list. We grow and evolve over time, especially if we make a point to always be seeking new ways to understand ourselves and the world around us. A term I enjoy thinking about in this regard is alchemy. Alchemy was a sort of grandfather-ish to chemistry, but with more mysticism and less scientific method. It gave people the idea of experimenting with materials to try to find the purest form, the highest principle of a thing: in essence, to transform something basic into something divine. Here’s a nice, brief page about alchemy that’s easy to read:
This lesson comes in two parts; one in application to the growth of your spirit and one applied to the addition to your knowledge.
Part 1: Growing toward radiance
The world around us is a thing of infinite beauty and wonder. It is a powerful, terrifying, amazing machine. So, too, are we. Sometimes, human beings have forgotten that we are in union with the rest of creation, and we manage to hurt our environment, hurt each other and hurt ourselves.. In order to enter a beautiful magical relationship with the magical world, sometimes we need to brush up a little bit, and dust off the pieces of the identity we built for ourselves that aren’t helping us or anyone else. In foundations, we spoke about cleansing energy in your space, and spiritual cleansing of the body. You should do those things regularly or as you begin to feel that you need it. However, we also must make a conscious effort to resist the self-oriented culture that we come from and attempt to re-enter a bit of union with the world around us. It’s a bit of a paradox because in serving the rest of creation, you actually improve yourself as well, so in this regard, service is self rewarding. In the second half of this lesson, we will review a few magical principles from western mystery tradition. One of these is related to the laws of correspondence, and how we can understand a very large concept by examining a piece of it. As we progress in our work, we want to be glowing with the radiance of the natural world we are part of. By understanding the radiance of ourselves and how we impact the web of magic, we will come closer to understanding that great web in larger detail. There are parts of ourselves we need to understand and work through, and there are parts of ourselves that we can cultivate which will help draw things in the world toward us that we desire. One path toward our own personal evolution is to be of service to another part of the natural world, whether that be people, animals, habitats, the land, or whatever else. When we serve others, it helps us to grow. We transform from something basic into something noble: an alchemy of the self.
This concept is prevalent throughout many of the spiritual traditions of the world, but my favorite expression of this is from the Legends of King Arthur. The legends speak of Arthur and his Knights who gathered around a great round table in fellowship, and in commitment to support each other and the commitments they made to their kingdom. The stories speak of the great table, inscribed with the words, “In serving each other, we become free.” I like that image.
We’re sharing ourselves and being a blessing in some way to the great web of energy that we will be learning to work into our magic.
Reflect on these ideas and write a few notes in your study notebook, journal, or medium of your choosing:
-What does “justice” mean to you? What does compassion, kindness or service bring to mind?
-In what ways can you be a blessing to some part of the natural world, whether the planet as a whole, or wildlife, your fellow human travelers, etc?
Exercise: Write yourself an action plan with one measurable goal to work on throughout the coming few months. Write a goal regarding how you will promote justice, serve something outside yourself, be kind to someone or some thing, or be a blessing to the world around you. In this way you are making *yourself* an offering of magic to the world. In all of your magical endeavors, there will never be an offering you can give this world that is better than yourself, so now is your chance to begin. Just choose one goal in which you offer yourself to be a blessing in some way to this world. It could be volunteering, or intentional kindness in your daily interactions. It could be individual environmental efforts, caring for wildlife, tending to the broken heart of a friend, or taking a weekly walk, collecting and disposing of litter. It could even be offering a portion of your time to meditate upon peace. There are lots of ways to offer your energy to the wholeness of our magical world. In doing so, you not only provide blessing to the world, but you begin your own transformation.
Part 2: Magical Principles
There are many books written about magical principles and magical laws. Throughout your growth in your practice and our discussions, you will reach some of your own conclusions about these. However, if you have not had an introduction to the seven “Hermetic” principles yet, I’d like to review them in this lesson, as they have some bearing on Part 1, above. Below, I’ve included a couple of links. One is to a fairly user-friendly site that discusses the laws. The next is to the original text of volume from the 1900’s that really illuminated the discussion in concrete terms for study by anyone that wanted to study these concepts. Take a look at these, focusing particularly on “The Law of Correspondence” and “The Law of Cause and Effect.”
What did you learn about the law of correspondence? You may have heard (or read) “As above, so below” a ton of times if you’re read any neo pagan, new age or magical books at all. It is a way of explaining that changes made in any of the realms can make changes in the other realms too. So, if you have done magical work to create something in the spiritual/astral space of your magic circle, you can make that thing or event happen in your physical life too, or that’s the concept. It has other aspects as well, including the idea of attraction, in which your way of thinking, acting and feeling can impact what types of circumstances, conditions and experiences you will have. Can you see some ways in which this magical law comes into play when we are doing our work from section one? If you are radiating justice, compassion and service in your daily activities, thoughts and interactions, then by the law of correspondence, you are also manifesting these things on other planes of the universe, which will come back to you. By intentionally creating kindness, you are creating kindness in the world for yourself too. In offering yourself in service to help others with their needs, you create a spirit of service around you that helps you to meet your own needs. This is a supernatural concept that underlies a whole lot of how magic works. However, it’s also a very practical matter, if you think about it. Put simply, if you bring blessings to the lives of others, they will remember it, and someday someone you touched may be in a position to help you in return. In any case, bringing blessings to the lives of others increases your own experience of oneness of all beings, which help you feel more connected and less alienated. Either way, you have managed to bless yourself when you blessed others. By embodying a characteristic that you are seeking such as justice or mercy, you also bring those experiences to yourself, which helps you evolve in your harmony with the natural world. This is probably the root of Wicca’s “threefold law” which says that whatever you send out into the universe returns to you, but magnified by three. There’s no historical reference to the “three” part that I can find, but the “what you send out returns to you” is a valid conclusion. How it returns to you, I don’t know. Like I said- it’s probably pretty practical. If you walk in beauty, you will see beauty. If you walk in fear, you will be afraid. That doesn’t take a medieval mystic to explain. If you want to grow and bring positive changes to your life, you do your best to bring positive experiences to the world around you, because (number one) it’s the right thing to do and (number two) you will benefit in the end. This is part of the process of your personal alchemy, or alchemical magic- the magic of self development.
I think of correspondence in a few additional ways when it comes to applying magic to practical matters. Magical people often use the intentional process of a spell, or magical ritual, to manifest or influence a situation. This magic is usually to meet needs or solve problems. We will talk about correspondences in practical magic in a future lesson (or this one will get really long!)
Now, what did you learn about the law of cause and effect?
Cause and effect are not a huge mystery to most of us. It’s a well known scientific concept: action-reaction. It’s also something we learn very early as young children. If I touch a hot stove, my hand gets burned. This concept is considered “magical” by mystics, but I think it’s scientific and sociological as much as anything else. So, in section 1, we have been working hard to radiate justice or compassion out into the world. In addition to creating an energy attraction of good things to yourself, you are also creating cause and effect changes that can benefit you as well. It helps you grow. You may not always know how the effects play out, but sometimes you do know. The simplest example is the human response to a smile. If you smile at someone, quite frequently they smile back. If you are kind to someone, they form a positive feeling about you. If you are a jerk to someone, they don’t like you so well. This is when your efforts to radiate justice and service come back in some pretty concrete ways. Over time, your consistently fair treatment of others becomes noticed. You build a reputation of trustworthiness. The reputation spreads. You may not even know it. Perhaps it spread to the people who hear your name and pass on a good word for you to just the right person who is in charge of screening applications for a job you have applied for. Certainly, you couldn’t have known or controlled how your behavior came back to reward you in the end but it did. This is “magical” but the vehicle for it is human interaction, society, psychology. It’s mysterious only insomuch as we have no idea how to anticipate how it will happen. The law of cause and effect gives magic a lot of opportunities to find creative ways to manifest what you are trying to bring into your life. There are times when it’s perfectly obvious how the law of cause and effect worked in your situation because it’s noticeable and fairly immediate. In the same way, you can utilize the law of cause and effect to help you make magic happen in your life. You can also pay attention to the law of cause and effect in your life to try to help yourself avoid getting an “effect” you don’t want, whether in day to day life or a magical endeavor. Therefore, the law of cause and effect is also at work for you when you pursue your personal alchemy. Not only do you radiate energy that attracts corresponding similar energy (correspondence), you also have positive service behaviors that can lay foundations for wonderful rewards that pour out in a very simple, physical way you did not expect.