I'm reading The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire by Storm Constantine now, for my pleasure reading, but also to get reacquainted with a magical system I work in, called Dehara. There's a lot of magic in the books themselves, but continuing to develop a magical system around those books is something I've felt called to do lately. Some of that actually relates to a couple of my previous posts about service and deity, and being pinged about this particular matter. But more on Dehara later...this is a post about something else. I've been thinking lately about the characters in the Wraeththu series, and in particualr Cal's journey. I have a lot of empathy for Cal, because I definitely feel like I'm on a similar journey of purification and self-knowledge. At one point Cal is told, "The Path is Hard," when he complains about it.
Yep...the path is hard. Really hard sometimes. A person might be tempted to say, "Well it's only as hard as you make it". A flippant response, but not entirely incorrect. There is some truth that the hardness of any task is at least partially determined by the person doing the task. But even when a task could be easier, that doesn't mean it's not hard. A good example, for me, comes from earlier today, when I meditated and was confronted by an aspect of myself, which essentially said, "Stop pretending I don't exist, or I'll continue sabotaging you." Certainly it was easier to dialogue with that aspect, then continue denying it. But that didn't mean it was easy to face that aspect. Suddenly, I was facing again all those times where I hadn't really been honest with myself about it or the needs it embodied, and well...some problems occurred, because of actiosn I took. I'm responsible for those actions and the effect they had on others, but moreso I'm responsible for the effect it's had on me. The denial I've caused to myself inevitably inflicts harm on myself, and so while my path is easier, it still involves facing that harm, coming to peace with that as part of coming to peace with the aspect.
Throughout the original trilogy and even to some degree in the second trilogy, Cal is portrayed as a toxic character. He embodies what happens when you do not know yourself...the toxicity he spreads is chaotic. He shakes up the lives of everyone. Even in the process of learning to be honest with himself, to cleanse himself, to come peace with everything that occurred in the past, he's still a chaotic influence, but he begins to stabilize as he continues on this path of self-realization.
Sometimes I think what makes the path so hard is that awareness of toxicity in myself. I can be toxic, to myself or to others. The potential is there for everyone. I can be a toxic flower, beautiful to behold, but taste of me and I will surely wreck your life. That's one way to look at it.
But I also have to remind myself that it's growing pains, don'tcha know? Really. I'm not always toxic...I might not be at all. I'm just someone muddling my way on this path I call life, learning as best I can...It's far easier to be hard on myself than to recognize that in fact I don't have to be that hard. So where does magic fit into all of this?
Magic, in my experience of the last few years, involves a lot of internal work, a lot of internal change. I can't say I always felt that way...For a long time I considered magic to be more or less external. Some internal awareness was there, but I was mostly concerned with getting results. I could summon up entities, do sigils, etc, and get results, and that was all that mattered. Magic was great for solving external problems, but I didn't really think about where the root of those problems was coming from (or at least my responsibility for those problems). Only in the last few years did my magical approach shift to the internal, so that I do most of my work internally and then let the changes manifest externally. Doing the internal work meant really starting to be honest with myself about why I was even doing magic in the first place and what it was I was hoping to get out of it.
I've come face to face with a lot in the last few years. I'm currently working with the element of love and facing all of the internal demons associated with that concept for me. And so, just as Cal discovers, the path is hard...but it does get easier as time goes on. Because the more you work through, the less baggage you have holding you down, and the easier the external situations get...and then you realize the real strength of magic isn't found in the neat special effects or even in making results happen (Though those are always nice perks)...its found in really embracing the reality of yourself on all levels, without attachment...without lust for results...
Not being...not doing, and in all of that finding something we could call freedom, self knowledge, enlightenment...whatever you want, or not. I'll call it a lifetime of adventure, discovery, and experience. Or walking the path...it does get easier, really.