The Power of Limitation in Magic

limiration In the Process of Magic course I discuss the principle of limitation to some extent in a way that challenges the perceptions of limitation as an obstacle or something is containing you. In my experience limitation is actually a very useful magical tool that can lead to many breakthroughs in your life if you know how to use it. And the fact is that you can use any limitation you encounter, because as much as it may seem to limit you, the limitation also effects other people, and it can provide you with opportunities to think and act on novel methods for dealing with the limitation. I favor using limitation in a few different ways in magical work.

1. Use Limitation against itself. Limitations are usually imposed by authorities as a way of constraining what people can do, but those same limitations can also have a similar effect on the authorities that enforce them. So why not use the limitation to your favor? For example if you choose to go to trial for a ticket, try delaying the trial for as long as possible. Aside from the fact that such delays keep the ticket in a limbo it also can work in your favor against the memory of the person who gave you the ticket. Thus you use the limitations of the legal system against it as a way of gaining leverage. You use the limitation in your favor to achieve a more favorable result.

2. Recognize that limitation defines the situation. Limitations define the parameters of situation, at least on the surface. But actually if you examine limitations you'll find that what they really do is only define the obvious parameters. A limitation is very distinct in what it define as well as what it doesn't define and you can use what isn't defined to get a different perspective or discover a way to work around the limitation.

3. Focus on discovering possibilities. Similar to number 2, recognize that limitations actually provide possibilities for you to explore. While a limitation limits you it also provides possibilities that occur as a result of having the limitation. If you cultivate the right attitude you can discover a lot of positive possibilities that come from limitations. The Book The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz is an excellent example of how to use limitations to discover possibilities of empowerment. A good example that comes to my mind about this principle is from the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. In one episode the character is formless, able to change into anything, but unable to do anything. A horizontal line ( a limit) is provided and suddenly the character the can walk. The point is made that while the limitation limits the character's ability to be anything s/he wants, it also provides him possibilities. He can now walk, when he could not do anything before. In our own lives limitations perform a similar function, enabling us to do a lot as a result of the limitation, even as the limitation limits us in a specific way.

In magical work limitations are a useful part of your process because they help you understand what will or won't work but also challenge you to discover how to use those limitations in your favor. Additionally limitations provide you definitions for what you are doing and what you are effecting. Everything is limited but those limitations provide you empowerment because something can be changed. Without limitations no effective change could occur because we'd live in a constant entropic state. So I think limitations should be embraced as useful tools that when applied correctly can make life easier instead of harder.

Limitation and how to work around it

I've been thinking about this post I wrote recently on limitation, especially in conjunction with my evocation practices. My approach to evocation, whether its evoking an entity or a specific type of energy, involves the use of a painting or drawing as a gateway. The act of creating the drawing or painting is the initial evocation of the entity, usually finalized with a consecration of some sort.

However, once the drawing or painting is created, the evocation portal is also created. Nothing else needs to be done, save to make sure you close it when not evoking the entity or energy in question. The entire point of it is to remove a lot of effort out of the equation, by making it simple to access to the entity or energy in question when needed, whether in a strict evocation, or to enhance a magical working being done at the time. But it occurs to me that this is also a way around limitation, as R. J. Stewart discussed it. Specifically if the spirits you work with are going to limit how much you can draw on, why not instead create a way to tap into the power current when you need it, where you have a consistent flow of energy or access to enhance or power up your magical workings? You won't necessarily move beyond the limitations imposed, but instead of having to do a lot of work each time, cut down on the effort involved and get the same return you'd have gotten before. It seems like a short cut, but my reason for creating such an approach to evocation was to make it easy to access whatever it was I wanted to work with. I figure if such an entity is willing to work with me, I have its blessing to make that process easier for both of us.

This also depends on whether or not you accept that such limitations occur when you evoke or invoke an entity. Personally I'm inclined to believe in those limitations as my own experiences suggest just that. For example invoking an entity to do a full on possession of the body takes up a lot of energy, and not just for myself but also the entity. At a certain point there is a strain for the entity as well because it is placing itself in a foreign environment that its not necessarily suited to. An evocation portal provides a different level of interaction and one that's not as demanding on either side of the equation. The limitation may still be there, but it'll take longer to come up against, which can be useful for prolonged magical workings. It comes down to being aware of a limitation and the figuring out how to bend it, to make it work for you, instead of against you.

Book Review: The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely

This was an intriguing and occasionally amusing book about the behavior of dishonesty and how dishonest people are in general. The author provided a variety of experiments and show cases where he demonstrated that there is some degree of dishonest in most people's behavior, though not so much that everyone is a thief or a crook. A lot of dishonesty ends up being based partially on altruism and in general people don't always weigh the benefit of being dishonest, so much as decide to do so for less rational reasons. It's a book I'd recommend anyone read to better understand the role of dishonesty in our lives, and how it shows up in our own behaviors as well as the behavior of people around us. It can also be useful as a way of looking at dishonesty on the level of an organization and business, though the author doesn't offer too much in the ways of solutions for handling dishonesty, so much as demonstrating its presence in our lives.

The value of limitation in magic

The first time I encountered the principle of limitation it was in The Cube of Space by Kevin Townley, where he discussed a little known quabalistic glyph and the principle of limitation as it applied to magical work. Recently, in reading R. J. Stewart's The Sphere of Art 2, he also discusses the role of limitation in magic:

Only when we understand how protected, how beneficially limited we are, in our sacromagical work, can we begin to be truly effective. In the classical magical worldview, such wise limitation is often associated with the North, the cosmic Laws of Being the element of Earth. Such limitations associated with Earth require that to take form we must limit force.

It's a point well made that often isn't as appreciated as it could be. Limitation has value as a principle precisely because the movement from potential into reality involves the focus of force into the creation of form. Magic isn't about tossing fireballs or levitating. It's about the focus of force to create measurable results or changes within a person's life, but even change is limited to some degree by the physicality in which it is expressed in.

The realm of ideas is also the realm of endless possibilities or chaos. Nothing is true and everything is permitted, but without limitation all that exists is endless potential. The change from possibility to reality involves some form of limitation. This is why a magical working is really a descriptor and definer of the possibility being brought into reality. In other words, a magical working in and of itself limits the expression of possibility into specific results. The benefit of this is that you achieve a specific result that can be applied to your life, other people's lives etc. The more improbable your possibility, the harder it is to bring into reality, for the simple fact is that it requires more "energy" to overcome the distinct limitations that we deal with on a practical level. At a certain point the exertion of so much "energy" becomes more and more impractical.

Limitation provides an awareness of boundaries, but also provides the magician something to strive for, in terms of bending the rules. While force must be limited in order to manifest form, drawing on force is necessary to create form. Potential doesn't become reality unless force is applied to potential. The realization of form, or the result, is due to the application of force to potential, shaping it, defining it, limiting it, and thus creating form. Force is needed to create form, but the application of force necessarily is a fixation on a specific form or result.

Limitation, in and of itself, is a form of force, in the sense that the limits we encounter actually serve to create possibilities that we can interact with. Sheer potential, which has no limitation, can't really be worked with, until some form of limitation is imposed on it. A blank sheet of paper is raw potential, but once you draw a line, you've limited the potential and started to create the form. The limitation of potential still creates possibilities, but those possibilities are defined by the limitation, and have a relationship with it. The exploration of that relationship is what allows a magician to discover possibilities and begin to move them from potential into reality via magic.

Book Review: The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain by Judith Horstman

This was a fascinating book to read because of the information it provides on the brain in general, as well as what occurs as your brain ages. The author provided useful advice for keeping your brain sharp as you age and reducing the risks of Alzheimers and Dementia, as well as explaining what types of activity keep the brain stimulated. What I enjoyed the most was how the information was presented without a lot of technical terms or jargon. Anyone could pick this book up and learn a wealth of information about the brain and how it works as well as how aging effects it.