5 lessons you can learn from a fantasy book about magic

One of my favorite fantasy books is The Soulforge by Margaret Weis (affiliate link) and one of the reasons its one one of my favorite books is because it has some valuable lessons to offer about what it takes to practice magic. Now, you may read that and wonder why a fantasy book would have any valuable insights to offer about real magical practice, but as I’ve discovered time and again, some of the best lessons you can learn about magic come in the form of stories.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the book, it’s a story about how Raistlin Majere becomes a magician. In the story, Raistlin has to make some critical choices that test who he is and defines how he becomes a magician. I want to share some of the key lessons we can all learn from this story and discuss how they apply to the practice of magic.

How pop culture spirits evolve

I’m always fascinated by how pop culture spirits change with the times. Older spirits are more set by the context of the cultures they originated from, so although they may change somewhat through the lens of modern culture, pop culture spirits are more flexible and fluid in some ways. Yet they too can become fixed and set to some degree by the expectations of the fans that enjoy the pop culture they originate from. And yet sometimes a spirit can break out of the mold in unexpected ways.

Recently I went to see the new Joker movie. I saw it once and I went back and saw it again in the theater (something I normally don’t do). Why did I go back? Because the Joker movie isn’t really a movie. It’s an experience of a person becoming the Joker. The second time I saw the movie, I watched how Joaquin Phoenix used his face and eyes to convey the gradual evolution of Arthur into Joker, but what I also saw was a dynamic rewriting of the pop culture spirit of Joker, in a direction that no one else had taken him.

Wu Wei and Magic

One of the books I’m currently reading is Effortless Living by Jason Gregory (Affiliate link). In that book he shares the following: “When we fervently seek power or use force, we exhaust our system by swimming against the current of life instead of flowing with it. A sage or an artist allows life to present itself instead of dictating toward life…When you finally realize…that the whole universe is happening to you right now all at once, you will cease projecting yourself onto the world, because you will become receptive to the universe. This will align you with a real trust in life that confirms that you belong.”

Over the last couple of years my approach to magic has shifted toward a similar outlook. Instead of trying to control everything, I’ve surrendered myself to the experience and allowed the experience to speak through me and take me where I need to be. That kind of approach to magic can seem to be contrary what magical practice is, but I think that’s because a lot of how magical practice is discussed comes from a place of control (and I say that as someone who’s written about magic from that perspective and still does sometimes).

My work with Planetary Pentacles

I recently acquired two planetary pentacles, The Second Pentacle of Jupiter and The Second Pentacle of Mercury from Alison Chicosky, of Practical Occult. I acquired because I was curious about how I could apply them to my own ongoing with planetary magic, as well as for other purposes and so far I’ve been very pleased with the pentacles. I want to share here how I’ve applied them to my magical work, but I also recommend and vouch for Alison’s work.

When I first got these pentacles, I spent a few days just working with them. I kept them on my person during the day and put them under my pillow at night. I had vivid dreams the first couple nights, where the spirits of the pentacles came and instructed me in the basics of how to activate and work with them. During the day I’d touch them and soak in the experience, not just of the metal, but also of the planetary powers the pentacles represent.

How to design your own daily workings

One of the challenges that I notice some magicians have is committing to daily spiritual work. I get it, especially if that daily work doesn’t really do anything for you and isn’t spiritually fulfilling. I think if we do daily spiritual work and it doesn’t fulfill us in some essential way, then its worth revisiting why we’re even doing that spiritual work…and whether we should do something differently. And if you come to answer that you need to do something differently, there is no shame in coming to that answer. If anything, you are to be congratulated for being wise enough to realize that something isn’t working for you.

I think one solution to a situation where you aren’t feeling engaged with your spiritual work can be found in the choice to design your own daily work. The choice to design your own daily work allows you to take the helm and create something that has meaning to you. It may be highly personalized and it may draw on elements of previous daily practices that you’ve done, but it may also speak to you in a way that nothing else does.

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Statements and questions as magical tools

I was watching a video recently where the person being interviewed made a rather interesting statement. He claimed that statements limit and/or close off probabilities, while questions expand probabilities. I thought about it and found myself agreeing that if you look at how language is used from a probability angle, then yes language can be used to either limit or expand probabilities. Let’s consider that angle in further detail.

A statement is typically used to declare an opinion or a fact. From a probability perspective, a statement would seem to typically limit the probabilities available because a statement is describing and defining what is being stated. What we need to understand about statements is that in doing all of that, what’s really happening is a defining on the basis of the agenda of the person making the statement. A statement is really an attempt to describe what something ought to be. And that is pretty accurate in terms of limiting the probabilities through language, because if we’re describing and defining what something ought to be, we’re also trying to rule out what it shouldn’t be.