What problems does magic solve?

What problems does Magic solve? I've been thinking about this question for a long time, though perhaps not with that wording. Only recently has that wording come to me, in large part because my experiences as a business and social media coach has helped me recognize that pretty much everything a person does is motivated by solving some kind of problem that the person has. And the major motivation for utilizing technology is also to use it to solve a problem. I count magic as a technology, and I recognize that I've used it numerous times to solve problems, whether its a short term problem or a long term problem. I've used magic reactively to handle situations, and I've also used it proactively to address issues.

So it seems like I already have the answer, but the reason I'm asking this question is because it's a big question to ask when you start looking at the process of magic and how it works. What will this particular magical process, act, working, spell, etc., solve and how will I know? So the emptiness working, as an example, solved a problem for me that involved coming to terms with emptiness and how I felt and expressed it to myself and others. And while I couldn't predict the outcome, I did know that I had a problem I wanted to solve and that motivated me to do a year long working with emptiness.

The process of doing that working was defined by recognizing what the problem was, and what would be solved by using that magical process to address the issue at hand. If I hadn't understood that there was a problem, I never would have even done that working. It wasn't until I recognized that there was a problem that I could recognize as well the value of the process I wanted to implement to solve that problem.

When you do a magical act or plan one, spend some thinking about what problem this act will solve. Define the problem, and then define the solution(s). What makes a magical act better than a mundane act in this case, or should they be combined? By addressing these questions and similar ones you may come up with, you will get a lot of value out of the magical work you do. Define your problem, so that you can then define your process.

Elemental Emptiness Month 12: From Zero to One

9-24-09 I haven't been able to update since the esoteric book convention. It highlights how busy my schedule has become and how problematic that can be at times. I'm not sure I like that, so I'm looking at what I can change in my life to give me a bit more time. As this elemental working winds down to a close, what I mostly feel is tired. This has been such an intense year, and the second intense year in a row. I need a break from intense years...and although it has been an intense year for me, I feel like I've drifted away from my spirituality to some degree in the process of doing this elemental work. And I guess that makes sense, because in some ways I've had to let go of everything important to me, to make this year's emptiness working work. The path of the abyss is one where everything is sacrificed as journey through it. At the same time, I feel a kind of anticipation about the end of this one. I know all the work I've put in is going to payoff and that the payoff, for me, is really being able to move past so many conditioned responses and behaviors that used to hold me back. I'm tired, but I'm also at that last part of the journey, where you push through the tiredness and make it to the end, because you know its part of the journey. 9-28-09 There's not really much to write. Unlike all the other months, what I really feel right now is anticipation, or being in the center of the eye of the hurricane. I can look around me and see everything I've been dealing, but also recognize where I am and know I've moved past everything. Now it feels more like making a choice and getting ready to move ahead, free of the rotting putrefaction I went through, because the refinement is here.

10-01-09 I've been playing the Force Unleashed recently. When I first started my emptiness working, I played that game a fair amount. It represented, for me, the feeling of emptiness at the beginning. It doesn't really anymore because I no longer see emptiness as an antagonist. It's something I can see as part of me, instead of against me.

10-02-09 I reflected today that to truly experience emptiness I've had, in one form or another, to really become empty, to really see everything I hold dear fall through in some form or manner, if only to convey to me the full depths of emptiness. Recognizing that everything could be taken away, that's been hard, but useful as well.

10-06-09 On a really deep level I wonder how much this year's working has really helped me. I've been exposed to what drives me toward feeling empty, come to a really good understanding of it, but I don't feel like its really solved. There's still a part of me that just wants to find someone, something that will somehow meet this very intangible need I have. It's a very primal, emotive part, not something rational that can be reasoned with. And it's likely always going to be there. I guess I've learned better strategies for handling it and recognizing it when it comes out...and maybe I feel a bit less driven than I did before, but I also feel like somehow I just haven't really "solved" the core issue for me. I don't know if I ever will. Maybe, all I'll really come away is a better grasp of my emptiness and a better way of handling it, when it comes up in potentially unhealthy situations.

10-08-09 I woke up this morning thinking about D. D was someone I met when I was twenty. We became lovers. She was seventeen years older than I was, a gifted magician, and very experienced when it came to life, and for that matter sex. I never fully, consciously realized until now just how deeply she imprinted me, or how much the relationship not working out would affect me. The majority of women I've been attracted to have always had a connection to Babalon, Lililth, or a similar type of goddess, i.e. the sacred whore archetype and I think it's because of that imprint from D. This person made a really strong impression and I never fully got to satisfy or see where that relationship would go. So I see it as the root of a lot of my longings and seeking when it came to possible partners and sex in general. I've been trying to find someone with this particular current for a long time but I never fully understood why that was the case. And now I do...I really understand some of my choices in a very different light now than I did before.

10-10-09 I've been thinking further about what I wrote above, about the person I contacted, etc. I look back at various activities, various sexual encounters and I see this particular need trace itself through most of my relationships in a manner that never fully addresses it in a satisfactory way. The two partners I ended up with in long term relationships never embraced that particular archetype of the sacred whore. And conversely I've put myself in situations where I could almost have that relationship with someone who embodied that archetype, but then would take it away from myself, too afraid perhaps of getting what I wanted, or perhaps just not ready. I'm tired of that pattern. I'm tired of the hurt it's caused me and others. And while I do love my wife very much and take genuine pleasure and joy from her presence in my life, I also have to acknowledge that this current is in my life and likely always will be. It's something I want to explore with someone, safely and sanely.

10-11-09 One of my problems or flaws is that I put expectations on a lot of experiences, people, etc. In a conversation with a friend this morning, I thought about that...really thought about how much those expectations have actually caused me to miss out on some good experiences. I know I've placed expectations on so much of my life, and I'm even relatively sure of where that pattern came from. I also know those same expectations create a lot of the emptiness I feel as well.

I've been reading the Doctrine of Awakening by Julius Evola. It looks at some of the earliest tenets of Buddhism. I'm finding a lot of it speaking to some of the struggles I've been experiencing for a long time. And I've been reminded that I'm not really drawing on all the tools available to me. But I'm not surprised by that either. I've needed to fall apart this year, to see my flaws up close and personal as well as understanding the cause. It's when you know the cause that you can start at the beginning with awareness and readiness to move forward. So falling apart has been discovering the causes...and starting the healing. I'm just about ready to move forward.

She said: "all you have to do is look around you and really see, not the image of your life but the real life. When you can define yourself alone, all the emptiness goes away" The image of my life is the desires, the expectations, the fixations, everything that haunts me because it isn't realized. The real life is accepting how little any of that matters and how much what does matter is less about expectation and a lot more about the experience.

10-12-09: Further discussion with D, as well as thinking about something written in The Doctrine of Awakening, which stated that when a person "needs" another person they are spiritually weak. Not need as in rely on a person to back you up, but need as in codependent need, trying to find someone to fulfill something within you. As we all know by now, my emptiness working has at its core been dealing with that very issue, and on a very primal level, sex as a shadow activity can be expressed that way. Sex becomes a connection, the intimacy a doorway...the problem is it can also be addictive...it's a drug like any other. You become a junkie, looking for your next fix. And for me, sex, like so much else, has been a way to avoid emptiness, to try and fill it up, and otherwise shut it out, but it's always been a temporary fix. And it's always been more about a constructed reality than an actual acceptance of this reality.

I know that now. That's really what this year has been about, is finally, finally tracing the emptiness to every single root event and coming away with a profoundly different awareness of my emptiness in the process, as well as myself. And always going away with the awareness that I have a choice, have always had a choice, but now have more awareness in making that choice.

10-16-09 I volunteered at a play party tonight, to help out with one of the communities I'm part. After finishing up volunteering, I watched some people play and was struck with a feeling of incredible loneliness, and later a feeling of anger at myself and others for the last few years. I feel really alone. I have for a while. And a lot of it's my own making. Seeing the fun and intimacy others were experiencing tonight just brought it home to me.

10-18-09 I ended up writing a long post about how I was feeling the other night on another site and got some useful feedback. But it also seems that the last couple of days has conspired to put me in touch with some possible interests...and I kind of laugh about that, because it's the end of the emptiness working...and that ending is going to be opening a lot up for me. Last night I had a dream of a silver web and in the middle was a glowing orb and cracks were starting to appear in it.

10-20-09 I went and got the tattoo for Xah. The artist, Alice Kendall did an excellent job . You can see a picture below of the sigil for Xah, as well as the saying "From 0 to 1" Tonight, I went into my ritual room, and painted my body with the sigil of Xah, while vibratingh isn ame over and over again. Eventually, the fox lord came, eyes laughing, tongue lolling out. "You've been through a lot this year. What have you learned?"

"I've known myself at my weakest, all my faults, flaws, and reactions exposed to myself. I've known myself at my strongest, confident, secure in who I am, able to achieve anything. And I've known myself as a mixture, and I am humbled by everything I've experienced. And I'm ready to move from 0 to 1, from a place of reactions to the past and old wounds, to a place of conscious decision and acceptance of the consequences."

Then I, for a while, just meditated on this last year, on what I'd learned about myself, and my choices. This has been the hardest year of my life, in terms of really facing myself, and fully coming to terms with my emptiness. I've had to dig up all my core wounds, come to terms with some different people and their effect on me and also more importantly come to terms with my choices and how those have really effected others. I can't say I'm a better person, so much as I'm a much more aware person after this year, after, the last five years really...and that awareness provides me an opportunity to be much more mindful of my choices. This year has been the culmination of a lot of internal work. I don't even recognize myself sometimes, because so much has changed...but I'm ready to embrace this person I've become, and let go the weight of the past.

At times I wondered if I could make it...I spoke for a while just to myself about this last year, about what I learned, about who I've decided to be. And then I told Xah I was ready to finish this year, and move into the next one. I decided to use a bit of sex magic and brought myself to ecstasy, and in that ecstasy gave myself to Xah again and felt him enter through the sigil I'd placed on my arm and then felt the zero crack open and from it came forth the direction I've chosen...then a shower to wash the paint off...and now it is the 21st my Birthday. And I've made it through this year of emptiness and found myself and found clarity and sanity and peace with myself. For yes, there is emptiness, but now I no longer need to fight it or run from it. Finally, finally, I have accepted it.

I read through my entries on emptiness...it's about a good four pages worth Just re-read everything...from start to now. If you go to the categories dropdown, you can select emptiness and read every entry...go back four pages or so...start at the beginning...You'll read a journey of this last year, of a person's journey to find himself and find resolution and closure with an element that most of us in the West would rather ignore.

Below is a picture of the tattoo I got as a tribute to this last year.

Happy Birthday to me.


She came to me

She came to me tonight as I was being massaged and said, "I would have an audience with you tonight." I said I'd prefer if this audience occurred when I was alone, for since this was part of my emptiness work, that needed to be part of it. She smiled and said, "I'll get you some alone time in a bit." And she did deliver for Lupa was contacted and asked to help with something that needed to be taken care of tonight. "Will you be okay with that?"

"Certainly, go ahead."

After Lupa left, she came back and said, "So about that audience." I nodded, and went over to the guest bathroom and started up the bath water, mixing in oils as well. Once the bath was ready, I sank into the hot world, and she appeared before me, in all of her awful majesty...my lady Babalon. Her eyes were as red as blood, her hair the darkness of pitch, her skin ivory...and she looked through my soul and words poured forth from her perfect lips:

"Almost a year ago you entered into me, and through me descended into the abyss. You took on the rotting that was predicted to you, when you chose to stay here."

I nodded.

"You've come through this admirably. You've rotted and that was my gift to you, not a punishment, but a gift, for you fully needed to feel helpless, fully needed to feel the strength of your desires even onto addiction itself, to fully come to to the root of what has caused your pain and emptiness. You never would've come to this realization if you'd gone out there, and so you would have remained a beast...but now you have traveled through your abyss, through your own rot and dis-ease, and horror and fear, and come through it with a clear understanding of what has held you back."

"I agree. I felt a lot of regret and guilt over what happened, but as I went through this year and came to fully face what has haunted me so much of my life, as I rotted, I finally could find resolution to so much of the pain and emptiness that had previously driven me on. I finally came face to face with each of my core wounds and came away healed."

"This year was your abyss walk, but also the culmination of the previous four years of work. You chose to walk into the abyss through me, as all magicians must, for it is only in facing your desires and facing the shadow behind them that you can move to the next step of your journey. You are no longer a beast, a pashu. You are now a person, a human."

And then I said, "And if still I have the same desire after all of this. I've accepted I may never have that desire fulfilled and accepted that its best to enjoy what comes my way, but still I feel it, even after all of this. I feel it in a conscious way...recognize it as more than just an attempt to fill something up."

She smiled gently. "After all of this, I will tell you enjoy what comes your way and what you have, but I will also say that what you desire will come when the time is right, and in a way that doesn't involve you leaving the Earth you've come to call as your home, and also in a way that respects fully what is already there."

"I'm still one of yours aren't I?"

She smiled again, and said, "You never stopped being one of mine. But you are not a beast to be ridden either. Remember what you've said yourself, 'Both parties create the relationship and choose what it will be.' And what have you chosen with me?"

"For you and I, Milady," I said, "I choose to walk with you at my side, even as I am at yours, devoted to you and your mysteries, but also free to be me and continue on with the journey I've chosen."

"And that is how it should be with you. For you are your own star, and must shine that light on the path you walk. And you and I both know that you've chosen to walk a very particular path, to bring forth the unorthodox and unusual, and manifest as well that success which is yours to claim."

Then she kissed me on the lips, her energy melding with my own, and looked into my eyes with her red eyes and said," Tomorrow you'll move from Zero to One, from Something to Nothing, and mark it with the sign of Xah....Tomorrow you will start your re-birth, and claim your freedom from the abyss. Remember, I'm always at your side, never too far away...and you are one of mine, even as you are your very own self. Enjoy what's coming next...you've earned it."

Then she left, milady Babalon, just like that...and I climbed out of the bath...and readied myself for tomorrow, purified and ready for the rebirth.

Elemental Emptiness Month 11: The zero is about to hatch

8-20-09 It's hitting me that in two months this working will end. I'm sort of surprised it's such a short time away, because in a way I've felt like I've lived more than a year's time with this working. And maybe in some ways I have.  The metamorphosis I've been experiencing and still am experiencing is monumental. I know what's at the end...actually had a number of different people pick up on the end result, so to speak, but the journey is how the end manifests. Would the end exist if the journey didn't? 8-21-09 When I'm situations where I'm dealing with subcultures, whether the "occulture" or the "goth" or any other, what I'm well aware of is a sense of discontent on my part. I thought about it, meditated perhaps, on it tonight while dancing and realized at a certain point that all this feeling of discontent, whether it's about subcultures, or about my dating life (or lack thereof) is really just my issues...it's no one else. It's all my perception and it's all my clinging, holding me back from really letting go and experiencing emptiness. At some point I thought to myself, "Why am I continuing to struggle with these issues so much" and the response I got was, "Because you're trying to hard and you want it too much" And that pretty much is it...I want it too much. I want to feel belonging, acceptance, be desired etc., and it puts a lot of pressure on me, which I've never really acknowledged before.

8-22-09 Thinking about the feeling of discontent further, it's a feeling of not fitting in I've felt a fair amount, but also a kind of clinging to wanting to belong.  The question then arises...when do you embrace your space and accept it, regardless of how much you fit in or not? And that's a question I've struggled with a lot...and it's fitting that its coming up right now in this work as I near the end of this year. Where do I really fit in? Does it matter if I fit in? Does anyone get me? Does it matter if they or don't? These questions might seem like ones only asked by teenagers going through existential angst, but I think people of a wide range of age/life experience ask them. And whether that's the case or not, I know I'm asking them as part of dealing with some of my own attachments and blockages around acceptance and alienation. And I feel comfortable with that.

I went to a guy's night out with some friends...not something I've ever done before. We went to a bar with a karaoke machine, played pool, drank beer. It was an interesting experience, and a little surreal. I'm generally working on projects or playing games. I enjoyed it in some ways, but I don't see myself doing it very often. But sometimes putting yourself in unfamiliar situations can be useful, and I felt that way this time.

8-23-09 As I find myself in various social situations, I'm struck once again by the realization I had some time ago...I'm more comfortable in situations with specific functions attributed to those situations. It's an odd realization that I struggle with at times. It makes sense, but it also illustrates a source of my discomfort with different interactions and social situations.

8-27-09 I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to update this, but today's meditation got me thinking. Basically, what stood out about it was how much my mind kept wandering as I focused on two different issues: sex and business. I've been going through a period of celibacy and it's reaffirmed some of my recognitions about sex, while also digging up how I deal with sexual frustration, as I've needed to be a bit creative with that. But I think also I may take some of the celibacy a bit further, to complete celibacy, just to see what happens. And business...given my journey into self-employment, I'm not surprised it's in my mind when I'm meditating. I can see where stress from both is coming out in my meditation, but I think that's good, because it means I'm able to focus in on those particular areas and spend some time with them, instead of just letting them slide and create problems down the line. In fact, I tend to find that meditation can act as an early warning system, an identifier of stress and blockages in one's life. It's not so much for emptying the mind, for me, as it is being more aware of what's going on in the subconscious and working with it proactively, instead of letting it bubble up in ways that could hurt myself and others.

8-29-09 I think it fully hit me today that one of my issues with sex has always been a fear of having my desire fulfilled and then taken away. This issue actually extends to further beyond that, back to when I'd be told I could have something such as a game, and then have it taken away shortly thereafter for whatever reason or none at all. But in most areas of my life, I have a lot more control of whether something can be taken away. But with sex, a variety of control issues arise that make it all a very weird tangle. For example the desire to be dominated, mixed in with a desire to be in control at all times, makes for a real contradiction and some confusing signals. Or the desire to be dominated and the fear of being controlled. So I see these issues and it suddenly makes a lot more sense why certain relationships never took off, because of triggering issues that I hadn't fully resolved in my sexual identity, or overall identity. Now I'm aware of these issues and left thinking, "now what?" I have contacted one person where this occurred and explained what happened on that end of things. What I'm realizing at the ice-tip as it were is that there is a lot of control issues around sex for me, which has hurt others occasionally, but hurt me much more because I haven't really been able to get clarity on what I want and what I can really handle.

8-31-09 In a week or so I'll be meeting with an ex...timely for us both, because she's leaving Oregon shortly after that and I'm wrapping this emptiness working up. Relevant as well to my sexual celibacy and issues around it. I think it'll be productive for us both.

9-02-09 I'm going to the Fall Equinox festival (held on labor day weekend ironically). It's a strange feeling of anticipation. I *know* something will happen there...yet have no idea or expectation of what will occur. It is just my intuition speaking up, offering to me a realization that I need to go to this event and be there...that something needs to happen and whatever will happen will be significant for what it will offer to me. So much of this last year I've felt so much of what I valued lose meaning, lose significance...so to feel it is comforting, and also in some ways, a reminder that a shift is already beginning to occur. Nothing is moving toward something, 0 is becoming 1, potential is manifesting into reality.

9-03-09 It strikes me as very interesting that the majority of women I'm attracted to usually are working with darker, more sexual goddesses, and tend to have a lot of sexual energy. I'm more overtly aware of this than I used to be. And I'm getting more comfortable with it as well.

9-07-09 Back from Fall Eq. What a weekend for me. I went alone to this festival, left Lupa at home. Having some of that freedom was nice, especially in terms of being able to flirt with people, without feeling like someone might be looking over my shoulder. I didn't hook up with anyone, but the flirting and feeling attracted to several people I met gave me a lot to think about when it came to my sexuality. Spending time at the Tantric temple also helped, and I used it as an opportunity to meditate on my fears.

What really helped however was the Lakshmi ritual. The first part of the ritual involved making a sacrifice. For me the sacrifice was my fear of failing at my business, my fear of my sexuality, and my fear of asking for a specific desire I have. Giving up those fears was a relief to me. The second part of the ritual, where we asked Lakshmi to bring prosperity to our lives was also efficacious for me. I lit the candle and saw a vision of the goddess and she told me that there was light at the end of the tunnel for my emptiness working and that everything I've been working toward will manifest if I stay consistent with what I'm doing. And I got evidence of that when I got home, both in some constructive discussions with Lupa and in some welcome news on the business front.

9-10-09 Some realizations about how I handle fears and such. Sex, in its own way, is a security thing for me. Losing myself in the pleasure is a way to also temporarily forget about whatever I fear in that moment. As I come to a close on the emptiness working, I've been feeling regrets about how certain situations with lovers in the past turned out...the past two years anyway. Feeling those regrets isn't necessarily bad, but I realized today that if there's one thing I want from this emptiness working, it's starting with a clean slate. So I guess I need to resolve those regrets. Already have with one...the rest will get taken care of as well.

9-12-09 I had a really interesting conversation with Lupa today, which resulted in me realizing that the real trap in my life has been the act of trying to escape from situations I didn't like, as well as my own feelings and actions in those traps. Each time I've "escaped" I've just put myself back in the same trap...even if I didn't realize it right away. The last five years has been, for me, the journey to realize that I no longer need to escape the trap...I just need to change my awareness about that trap...instead of trying to escape it...sit with it, understand it, come to acceptance with it. My trap has always been my emptiness, my attempts to fill it and escape from it. But I could never escape it or fill it, and so this last year in particular I finally allowed myself to feel it, and accept it...I'm no longer in the trap, because there no longer is a trap. I'm just about ready to let the 0 manifest into the 1.

9-16-09 Today I hit bottom. I felt like everything was hopeless, empty...and frustrated. And then I rallied, talked to friends, went out to a networking event and realized it's all about perception. Emptiness is a perception...one that is given reality with what you are willing to believe about it.

9-18-09 We drove into Seattle today. Always when I come back here, I feel a palpable tension in the air, and today is not different, but I feel comfortable handling it for a visit. On the drive up, I thought about last night at the Goth, feeling no real sense of longing or need to fill something, where at one time that would've been all I felt when I looked at other people. Now it's just a feeling of acceptance. I know there's nothing that can "fill" me, but then, I don't need anything to fill me up either. I'm comfortable with my emptiness, comfortable feeling it, for it's no longer a trap to escape from. I may never "fit" in, may never really feel I belong, but how much of it is perception on my part? A lot of it...and so if that's the case, it's up to me to come to terms with that perception, which has been the theme of this month. And all that said, I'm more comfortable realizing my boundaries as well and knowing in that context what I can or can't accept about particular subcultures I sometimes visit and even ones I may belong to (such as the occult subculture.

The zero is about to hatch...The inner alchemical changes, for this element are just about complete. I'm ready.

Continual shifts in my philosophy of magic

My philosophy and overall approach to magic has shifted  a lot in this last year in particular, but even in preceding years before this. It has become less about overt rituals and sigilization and other more visible techniques of magic and has moved into a quieter and more subtle practice, even as my studies and experiments have moved more toward a deeper end of the pool. The exploration of the concepts of identity and their relationship to magic has necessitated a very different approach, because its rooted much more in what I would consider the core of a person. It's not about fixing a situation or getting a job, so much as its about making changes at a deeper level of being, which when realized, changes the surface layer very quickly, because the changes have been building up and moving through the various layers of identity and personality to imprint themselves on the embodiment of selves I manifest in this life. I'm continuing to move further and further away from traditional concepts and definitions of magic. While to most, magic may be the art and science of causing change to manifest according to the will, that definition feels inadequate to me, and pretty much always has. But even the definitions of magic that I do have respect for...there's something missing. The last few years, with the continued internal work has continually shown me that. The more I read outside of the occult books, the more I recognize perspectives that could contribute to much to magical experimentation and process that are mostly ignored because they don't fit within the occult paradigm perse.

I don't identify with the mutant occulture movement. I don't identify with the chaos magician, the ceremonial magician, or any of the other labels. I don't identify with the occult culture. My time spent studying and learning the various perspectives and approaches to magic provided me a useful process and way of examining my relationship with the universe, but it wasn't until I actively started looking external to traditional occultism that I began to develop an appreciation for taking a more detailed look at the microcosm, and how I did or didn't impact that microcosm, or how it effected me in turn. The original impulse for getting into magic was to claim some form of empowerment by getting involved in it. That impulse has changed to a more introspective approach. Empowerment can be found in a variety of outlets, but what then is empowerment? What does it really mean to "have" power? And do we really have any of that? And where does it really come from?

If Magic is a process for change where is it most effective to enable that change? And beside the overt change in the world as a result of practicing magic, what is the more subtle change, if any which occurs? I think about these questions more than I used to, especially as I continue to research and explore alternate perspectives and beliefs involving a person as a change agent. I'm questioning my spirituality, my beliefs, and my identity, because in the questioning I'm finding myself visiting places I never thought to go before...but where it'll go, I'm not sure. And that seems to be a good thing...not knowing where it'll go, what will develop as a result. That's been the emptiness working for me...but its also the rest of my workings as well. It's moved out of experimentation for experimentation's sake and into experimentation for as a journey and evolution.

Elemental Emptiness Month 10: Love and Longing

7-18-09 I got a comment on my last entry on emptiness from a reader, who is a christian, who said I should turn to the christian god to fill up my emptiness. I wonder if she really read the entry, or for that matter read any of the others or just decided on the spot that prescribing her religious beliefs would somehow make everything all right. It reminds me of the various times my mom has tried to convert me to her belief system, without really trying to understand my choices. Eventually she stopped and listened, but occasionally I still catch her trying to be an evangelical with me, instead of simply treating me like a person. It highlights my own issues with gods of any kind and any religion, and is one reason I favor the Buddhist conception of gods, at this point in my spiritual journey. Before I go into my commentary on that I do acknowledge that I have readers who have perfectly functional and happy relationships with the deity or deities of their choice. If you find yourself reacting to this commentary, I ask that you stop, take a breath, and then respond, with the realization that what I'm really presenting is my interpretation of relationships with deity AS IT APPLIES TO ME.

Truth to tell that comment embodies a feeling of objectification (and emptiness) via religion, in my mind. The belief that some exterior force can somehow solve all my problems or even just the feeling of emptiness is a belief I've not found to be true. In the end, the emptiness has still been there, and no god bandaid is going to fix it or make it go away. If anything, I tend to agree with the Buddhist concept of the Gods as powerful beings, who nonetheless are trapped in their very attachment to their own power. Certainly, looking at various mythologies, what most stands out to me is just how human the various deities are in terms of their emotions and actions. And how often those emotions and actions seem to entrap them.

I think deities have their place, but I don't feel the need to be 'saved' by any of them. If anyone is going to save me, it'll be me, as in the end, I am responsible for myself.

7-19-09 There are times when I feel very distant from my wife. I feel like I don't get her, that I don't know her...and I wonder then how she ended up with me, how this relationship even still exists, and whether I will ever "get" her. And then I read Epstein who discusses his own awareness of the distance between himself and his wife, and I read an online friend's feelings of emptiness and unhappiness with her relationships, and wondering if she'll ever find someone who "gets" her, and I realize this feeling is far more common than just the insides of my own head. It's likely a feeling that everyone experiences at some point or another. I also recognize that even if S wasn't in the picture I'd still feel this way sometimes (and have in the past). Her relationship with him highlights some of the feelings I have, but they'd be there regardless. For what I'm really dealing with is the feeling of emptiness that I feel when I recognize the distance between this person and I.

Lupa tells me that it's my expectations about connection that makes me feel this way, and Epstein would seem to agree, in discussing his own awareness of the emptiness and distance he felt with his wife. And I can see it as well with other people, because there's a cultural belief in finding "the one", as if there is some person out there that can complete you or fill you up, similar to what I mentioned about gods above. Yet, I can't say for myself that it's really about having someone fill a hole, so much as being with someone I feel I can relate to...which doesn't take away from the fact that there could be some projections/expectations, etc involved. What I'm really aware of however is that whatever sense of emptiness I feel about this ultimately is my own. And when I stop trying so hard to bridge that distance that I perceive, it actually can become less, because I'm no longer allowing it to control me. I can appreciate the moments of connection I do have, instead of trying to find some idealized connection.

7-20-09 In further discussion with Lupa, I was able to voice something I've felt, but not spoken of before, which was feeling a deep feeling of unworthiness for this person, and realizing that the basis for that feeling originates from so much of my early familial interactions, where I was treated as being unworthy of whatever I got. Recognizing that and voicing it was liberating.

7-25-09 As I've been working with the element of emptiness, I've been able to identify situations that bring it out more and in those situations, work with the feeling proactively. Feels pretty good when I can take that kind of control over what I'm feeling. I'm not stopping the feeling or repressing it, but I am finding healthier ways to express it and let it go.

7-26-09 There was a point tonight where I realized with vivid clarity something about a situation in my life, which allowed me to see that situation in a completely different light and realize that continuing to put energy toward it was needlessly wasting my energy and mental and emotional health on something which didn't matter. But until you have those realizations, you do put energy toward whatever bothers you about a situation. I've done it, other people have done it, and it will happen again and again. But you challenge the patterns that inform that direction, the history, and you can begin to change the pattern to something different. That's how I feel as I've continued working with my emptiness. I've challenged and changed the patterns, instead of continuing to act in the same old ways I used to.

7-27-09 Been mulling over the last nine and a half months of this emptiness working. It's an interesting experiment for me, as much as it's a chance to continue refining who I am. The conscious choice to shape my identity, and also to sit with my emptiness. The last couple couple of days has given me ample food for thought about my family and how they've influenced my life, up to and including my emptiness, but also how much of that can be changed by being able to recognize the influences...and also my own role in sustaining and passing on those influences.

7-30-09 Yesterday, I felt really empty inside at one point. I looked at everyone around me and I felt like they all had something I didn't have. I know that's an illusion, because I'm sure at least some of them feel empty as well. After sitting with the emptiness for a while, I stopped dwelling on it and focused on interacting with the people. Later that night, Lupa and I had a long talk about our relationship, and about the distance we sometimes feel towards each other. It was a rough conversation at times, but it was a good one, because we put it all out on the table. Afterwords, I felt closer to her, because I felt like we'd acknowledged something about each other. And thinking about it further, I have to admit that sometimes the distance I might feel is perceived distance, which doesn't make it less real, but does mean some of it's in my attitude/approach to the relationship. But I'd rather admit there's distance and know I need to talk about it, than bottle it up and not resolve anything.

8-04-09 Spending time with a partner shows you what their good and bad aspects are, as well as your own. For me the last weekend was tough because it was hot out and both Lupa and I were irritable with each other. Even so, every time after I felt that irritability, I also felt recognition of the bond that connects us. I have been doing some thinking, though, about what I'm looking for in another partner. I no longer feel that I'm trying to fill up or cover up my emptiness with relationships. I know, realistically that'll never happen. But when I still feel desire to have a companion, I can now be more honest about that desire with myself, and others. I know what I'm looking for in a partner and why that's important to me, and I've decided that it's time to put some magic into the process. It's always worked before, and I'm ready to handle whoever manifests in my life, because I no longer am trying to fill up my emptiness with someone.

8-06-09 Had a nightmare this morning where I ended up alone and could not find my way home, because every road lead south and my home was to the north. I woke up, feeling alone, scared, wanting to reach out and touch my partner, but also not wanting to wake her up. Later today Lupa offered to do a soul retrieval for me, noting that when people feel emptiness, it could indicate that they have lost part of their soul. While I agreed to let her do so, I did point out that a lot of the stigmatization toward emptiness focuses on trying to fill it up, as if it should not exist, instead of trying to simply acknowledge and accept it. As much as I have struggled with emptiness, and I have, and still do, that lesson of acceptance has repeatedly been what has helped me come to moments of peace with it, moments which are slowly growing, as I learn to struggle less. I think emptiness is part of the human condition, something we all experience, even if not all of us will admit it. It is easier, on the surface, to just fill it up with activities, consumer goods, sex, lovers, friends, etc. But to feel it...to really feel it is some times the most exquisite experience I have felt. And other times the most painful.

8-09-09 This month has been interesting to observe for I've seen it essentially as a month which has really forced me to focus my awareness of emptiness on my relationship with Lupa. I don't think this is a bad thing, if anything it's been quite an enlightening experience. It's fair to say that I've come to feel a better sense of appreciation for her presence or are relationship despite, and perhaps because of some of the adversity we've been dealing with. It has been helped by coming to closure about how I feel about other relationships that impact our relationship, and recognizing from those other relationships where I've been and also where I no longer am. Getting clear on my feelings, in concern to those relationships has taken a long time, and a lot of thinking, consideration, and feeling. I feel like I'm starting to arrive, which probably doesn't make sense to most reading this, but makes perfect sense to me...I've been in the zero of emptiness for just about ten months, gestating...I'm just about due.

7-10-09 One of my favorite anime series is Rah Xephon and part of what I like about it is the music. All of it is very evocative music. Some of the music is very sad in its sound. When I listen to this music, I listen to it at times when I feel melancholic...and find release in what I hear. The same has been true of a lot of the music I've listened to with emptiness. I'm evoking emptiness through that music and coming to a place of emotional closure.

7-11-09 While I was visiting an acupuncturist I'm doing a business trade with, I did my daily meditation and ended up meditating about a conversation that focused on sex magic and the traditional role vs the contemporary role of the woman in sex magic. What I realized was just how idealized the role of the woman in sex magic is, regardless of whether it's traditional or non-traditional. There's this kind of approach, for male magicians, and I include myself in that, where the female is idealized, but also objectified by the idealization...and for me realizing how much of that idealization has really been a desire to somehow feel completed by this person, as if everything would become perfect through the union of opposites. Maybe it would for a second, or maybe it's just a delusion fed to the self as a way of trying to strive for something. But whatever is attained, still more is wanted, because there is no sense of satisfaction...that's my conclusion about the idealization of women in sex magic, but also in some senses just another layer of recognition, another set of scales falling off the eyes (though this particular set had already mostly fallen off).

7-14-09 I find guilt to be  mostly self-indulgent feeling. I know some readers will recoil when they see that, for isn't guilt supposed to show that you feel bad for whatever it was you did? And I suppose it shows you feel bad, but if guilt only does that, it seems to mainly be a way of flagellating the self, for the self's benefit and perhaps to show others that yes I recognize I did or didn't do something. At the same time, while guilt puts on a good show of displaying how bad someone feels, unless action is taken, it's ultimately superficial. You can feel bad for not doing what you could do, but if you choose not to change it, all that feeling bad really does is give you an excuse to say, "See I know I'm bad." Great, you know that...and?

Different people, in the past, have argued that displaying and feeling guilt is good...that it shows that the person is aware of what s/he did...but guilt without action is merely a reaction and self-indulgence for getting caught in the act. It is only when you decide to take a course of action to change the behavior that caused you to feel guilty that you can then say guilt has served a purpose...motivating you to be better because you don't want to hurt someone the way you did before. I say that with the weight of experience, for this emptiness working, and the other workings of the past few years have all been motivated by a desire to change from who I didn't want to be, to someone I could like and respect...and someone who would do his best not to hurt the people he cared about. I think I'm much closer to the latter person than the former, which is something I couldn't have said even a year ago, but all of this work is tempering me, and the dross which falls away is left behind, not really needed anymore.

In thinking about the emptiness working, I've realized that I haven't actively worked with the entities I associated with it for quite a while. At some point, I realized I couldn't continue to hold on to their hands...I had to let go and fall, and hit bottom. Xah is still a distant background presence, but the emperor is gone...he served his purpose and left, on to others to teach what they could learn. But Xah is both near and far...he doesn't need to be directly involved, but at the same time, he keeps a watchful eye on me. Given that he is me, I shouldn't be surprised...but all the same I do feel alone in this working at this point, and I'm rather content with that. The last few months has also seen my magical practice not so much fall to the side as take a backseat to my business. My business is where my manifesting energy is going...and while magic is still important, I also feel it fits the emptiness working. Everything that previously had meaning in my life has in some form or another gone away, become empty, because you can't really experience empty you've given away what had meaning to you. I know, I'm busy with my business, which must have some meaning to me...and it does, I won't deny that, but my business, the actual business really came into existence during my emptiness ritual...I see it, ironically, as a manifestation of meaning that brings me the greatest level of comfort I've ever felt. I couldn't find that comfort in the arms of others, or in the usual distractions I provided myself. I could only find it in exercising my skills and talents, while also substantially changing the superficial layers of myself to reach into the depths and pull out the meaning I really needed to see...in myself and in what I can meaningfully offer to others.

7-17-09 Seems kind of appropriate that this entry ends on the first day my wife is gone on her first of two trips. This month has felt like the emptiness perspective on my relationship with her. It's been a hard month for me, and her, for various reasons. Yet at the end, I can't help but note that I do miss her and her presence. My house is empty right now. There's something missing, something essential to the equation of this home. I know it will come back, but I also know it is not there. It's a good reminder that no matter what tribulations you experience with someone, what you miss when that someone is not around speaks louder than any of those tribulations.

Researching the Emperor

Reprint of an article I wrote on doing internal work back in 2007. So I mentioned in the first month of the emptiness working that one entity that I ended up working with was The Emperor or Darth Sidious. He's an excellent embodiment of the negative emotions associated with emptiness. Tonight, a friend had linked to a wiki that's exclusively focused on Star Wars and it was quite fascinating to read the character biography of this character. Intriguingly enough the character had apparently written a book called the book of anger. What I found so intriguing was the focus on how the core centers of the body process emotional energies. Given that in some of my meditations the emperor has spoken at great length about anger and how to balance it, it was pleasing to verify that in the creation of this character some work had been put toward how the character conceives of and handles feelings of anger.

Over the years, and even recently I've got a lot of criticism about pop culture characters and how realistic it is to work with said characters. But when I find independent verification of concepts that I'm learning from a pop culture character, it's also verification that there's more to pop culture and it's integration into magic than people realize or may be willing to concede. The disdain and disapproval I have sometimes received is ultimately a reaction to the efficacy of what is being worked with. That I choose to find value and meaning in something many other occultists might never touch has increasingly become a source of strength for me, for it shows me that what other people are willing to close their minds to can be a great source of inspiration if one is willing to allow it to be that. Certainly, my work with anger and its relationship to emptiness has profited by working with the emperor.

The dedication to the Element of Emptiness

On Saturday I finished my elemental love working and switched over to the element of emptiness. When Babalon took me and handed me off, she handed me to XAH, the fox lord. XAH is part of my personal mythology, the core of my being, a fox lord, and yet so much more as well...He is not a being I've ever written about before...I've kept him secret over the years. I suppose it's appropriate he comes out now when I'm doing this work at the very core of myself. As soon as I was handed to him, I felt him take me into the center of my being, into the emptiness, with lots of potential, but also an aching sense of nothing...this which has prompted so many of my choices. I painted the elemental symbol of emptiness on my chest and then I felt JAH possess my body. I hunched down on my four legs, one eye open, the other closed, my mouth a rictus snarl...I felt him speak:

"I am the emptiness you fear, the emptiness you seek.

I am the mote of light in the darkness that shows so bright and entices so much,

but leaves you always longing for more.

I am the fox-lord XAH, I am the core of your spirit...melded with you since you were seven...you are mine now...for this year we'll get to know each other well, and see if we can't find some peace with this emptiness.

We sat down and he took my hand and started painting, the painting to represent his face, to represent his presence:

Today, my birthday, I'd told Lupa that I'd be going on a solo hike. I normally spend my birthday with her, but since this the element of emptiness, I told her she was free to do as she pleased and she opted for getting together with a friend. As I saw her leave this morning, I felt a sensation of abandonment and XAH stirred and grinning told me, "Return to Source"

I headed out to the Multnomah Gorge, listening to Current 93 and as I sang along with the songs, I felt XAH stir again and the energy within me seemed to focus on feelings of abandonment, guilt etc...reminded me of something I was told on Sunday, to let go of the guilt others had put on me. The abandonment is a core emotion for me. My earliest memory was of being given away to my dad by my mom, sometime after they divorced, and the theme of abandonment has played out numerous other times in my life. Realizing how tied abandonment has been to my feeling of emptiness was enlightening for me...it's a gateway emotion, but also a distraction from the emptiness.

When I got to Multnomah falls, I got my gear and started to hike. I'd actually had someone recommend a place with caves for today, but I chose where a lot of people went, because many of my experiences with emptiness have happened around people, the feeling of not really belonging, of having no connection with those people...so it seemed appropiate that a contemplation of emptiness in my life start in a place with lots of people.

As I hiked, I felt empty, but also felt emotions come up. Emotions of abandonment, not fitting in, jealousy, guilt, anger, hunger...all the emotions that signal emptiness for me. And I acknowledged these emotions and let them fall away, because again they were distractions...something to acknowledge, but also something that sometimes only allowed me to experience a surface knowledge of emptiness. As I hiked further in and dealt with emotions that came up, I also felt more and more comfortable with the emptiness. I came to a point, where no one was hiking except for me and I was in a place I hadn't been and I felt a great sense of contentment sweep over me and I felt empty and it was good...it was a state of profound observation and awareness, with no mental chatter. I looked around at the way the light kissed the trees and the ground, the way the wetness permeated the air and I felt alive, at peace, empty and free. I realized emptiness itself has never been the issue...it's been the emotions leading to it, the focus on negative experiences and the association that arises as a result. I continued hiking. XAH would occasionally make himself known to me, offering bits of advice or suggestions about where I could go. The gentle humor he offered, as well as the integration of our respective energies was quite comforting. I came away with a greatly enhanced appreciation of what I was experiencing. The emptiness was a place where no thought needed to arise, no emotion needed to be felt. You just experienced. I don't think I've ever felt as close to nature as I did today. The place I was in had a twilight appearance.

I eventually turned around and came home, but I felt touched in a way that is so silent, so graceful, so different from so much of my life. I think I will learn a lot this year.

Book Reviews and a meditation on Emptiness

Book Reviews: Grammar for the Soul by Lawrence Weinstein While not a typical book that one might associate with spiritual techniques, this book proved rather intriguing because the author examines how punctuation, tenses, clauses, passivity, etc is used in language to communicate and also empower an individual. As someone who consistently is interested in exploring the connection between language and spiritual techniques, I also found this book useful for considering how I could not only improve my writing, but also improve the efficacy of my magical workings when it came to using language.

Each chapter is only a few pages long, but the author manages to include a lot of information as well as samples for how grammar can be used to empower and communicate, as well as create personal change. The author's narrative is friendly and approachable. I didn't feel lost in a sea of grammar rules. If anything, I felt that I could easily navigate grammar's laws and use them to my benefit, both for my writing and my sense of self.

If I have one quibble with this book, it's that the author didn't include exercises for the reader. While the examples he used were illustrative of how to improve one's writing skills as well as how to use writing to effect personal change, the lack of exercises can keep the reader from realizing the book's full potential, unless they are already active writers. That said, I'd give this book a 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: The Mind and the Brain by Jeffery Schwartz and Sharon Begley

This book was probably the most fascinating book I read about neuroscience and that's saying something since I find all of them fascinating. In this book the author explains neuroplasticity and how it continues to work in the brains of an adult as well as a child. The author also reviews many of the neuroscience experiments and projects done by various people as well as how those projects have confirmed the efficacy of mindful practices in controlling our habits and thoughts.

What I found really fascinating was how the author's work with OCD patients help them overcome that affliction by learning how to rewire the thought patterns. Equally interesting is the focus on how we can deliberately change our brains not only to heal, but also to continue sharpening our skills. For people interested in the intersection of neuroscience and magic, this book is a must read. 5 out 5


A Meditation on Emptiness

Last night, while at the Deacon X fetish event, I again felt myself feeling empty...I think it was a continuing realization that with everything going on there, I had a sense of loneliness, a sense of not feeling satisfied...a realization, again, that this emptiness is not something that can be cured by the presence of anyone person...that it is something that can be ignored or sometimes not felt, but it is still a fundamental part of life. I felt a moment of anger and frustration...part of me wanted to walk out and just keep walking...but instead of doing that I sat down, and start a Taoist breathing meditation, opening myself up to that feeling of emptiness, accepting it. As I breathed I circulated my energy into that feeling of emptiness and felt my emotions swirl into the energy until I felt very calm. And I felt the emptiness reach out and start teaching me something I could do with the circulating energy to not only calm myself, but direct the emptiness I felt. I directed it into my hands, which I would later put to good use at said event ;)

Still what I came away with is that emptiness can be worked with...not just felt but worked with, which will make the oncoming elemental year very interesting indeed.

Elemental Love Working Month 11

This weekend is the one year anniversary of when Babalon indicated to me that I would be spending a year working with her and the element of love. This last month has been one of memories and regets, and I suppose that's fitting in some ways, because it's also been about me coming to terms with how much this year long working has changed me and is changing me.  And increasingly this last month I've also been coming face to face with the feeling of emptiness and hunger that has sometimes motivated my actions. Sitting with that feeling of emptiness and hunger has not been easy, but I recognize that it is something that has motivated my search for love. I think one of the deepest moments I had was when I was hiking with Lupa. She'd gone up the mountain trail a bit further and I was sitting and I began meditating about love and it's place in my life and I think I finally, really realized just how much I had treated love as a kind of cure all...a means of filling up that emptiness in my life, as if I could somehow find someone who would make it all better. I had, I realized, focused so much on filling that feeling of emptiness that any interaction in a romantic sense was ultimately based on that desire as opposed to being mindfully present with anyone. That's a hard realization to have because it calls into doubt any relationship I've had with a person. And yet by acknowledging that emptiness and just how much it's motivated my search for love, it's also helped me see who I am, as well as the cause for a lot of my behaviors. Later when I talked with Lupa I admitted to her just how much my desire to find particular characteristics in a person was motivated by trying to fill that emptiness...the realization that my relationship with her had been based on that and how hard it had been for me to accept that no relationship I could find would really address that feeling of emptiness. The responsibility for dealing with that emptiness ultimately falls on me...it only took me this long to realize that.

Throughout all of this I've felt Babalon's presence in a subtle way, though the other day it manifested a bit more directly when I ended up sitting beside someone involved in an organization focused on Babalon. I found it amusing, and also relevant...it's her showing me that she's here, that she's continuing to help me through this process. She took me on, and only required that I strip away all my illusions about myself. I have one more month with this year long element of love...Seems strange to think that this will be done in just a month.

The next element is...

Even though I have two months to go to finish up the elemental love working, last night I got definite confirmation on what the next element will be. I'd actually been getting some hints before this, but last night brought it to the fore quite nicely. I find with this kind of work that you usually do get notice a couple months beforehand. It's really a transition period. You move out of one element and into the other. So what's the element I'll be working with come Mid October?

Zero, Emptiness, the void.

Last night My wife and I went to the Deacon X Fetish night. We danced some. At some point though as I looked around at all the beautiful goth people decked out in their various costumes, I felt no connection. I could hear in my mind the hungry ghosts of desire as I watched some people involved in kink scenes...how much I yearned for certain experiences, as well as regrets about certain choices, thinking for a moment I could've had that...I felt empty and with that emptiness came up all those hungry ghosts, all of those desires. I looked at the various people and I felt empty because whatever they were experiencing wasn't something I could have in that one moment. So I sat and I watched the people in their play and dance. And at some point the voices of those hungry ghosts quieted and I felt just emptiness, nothing else, and there was peace. I felt a great calmness enter me. I began doing the Taoist dissolving breath and meditated while I watched those people. I still felt no connection to them, but I felt a great emptiness, a great circle of zero and I was content. There was nothing and with nothing the potential for everything. I sat there for a while and meditated.

Working with emptiness next makes sense to me, because a lot of the love working has involved revealing that emptiness to me. With my interests in Buddhism and Taoism, it will be interesting to see where this takes me, but for now I've got another two months for the love work.