Recently John Beckett posted about poor magicians being poor magicians because of the chaos in their lives. Some of the responses to what he wrote ranged from agreement to arguing that he was making statements from a place of class and privilege. Shortly after John wrote that post, I found another post by Frater Barrabbas, which may or may not have been a response to John's post, but which I like because of the some points he makes about wealth and success as it relates to the practice of magic. Jason Miller weighed in on John's post and makes the point that a magician can be good at magic and still be bad at handling life skills. John Beckett wrote another post in response to Jason's, where he essentially agrees with Jason's take on the discussion. All of it makes for fascinating reading, in relationship to a few topics: Wealth Magic and its efficacy and place in the magician's life, the definition of success and what that really looks like, and finally defining the relationship between magic and living a "good life". So here's my take on this conversation...
Being good at magic and being good at life are not necessarily one and the same. They can be linked together, but they don't automatically go together. I have known many magicians in my life who are good at magic, but nonetheless live chaotic lives. In fact, I'd argue that sometimes their very skill at magic actually contributes to the chaos in their lives. Why? Because so much of practical magic is reactive magic, done as a response to situations and problems that occur in the life of the magician. I used to be one of those magicians. A problem would come along and what would I do? Look to magic to solve the problem. I'd do a magical working and the problem would be resolved, for that moment. Eventually the problem would show up again in a different guise, but nonetheless similar enough that if I knew what to look for I could recognize it for what it was. It took me years to realize something significant about the problems and chaos I was dealing with in my life: I contributed to and helped create the problems I was dealing with. I lived my life by reaction and consequently practiced my magic by reaction. And there are many magicians who do approach magic in just that way. It works great for the short term, but has little long term value.
The secret to wealth magic is that you figure out what you really want and make that the drive of your life. But what you really want needs to be greater than just meeting materialistic needs. It needs to speak something deeper within you, something that connects you to other people and to the world at large. It's that drive which will fuel your actions, bring you success, and help you design your life. Without that drive, you'll be like so many other people, caught in the minutiae of life, being ground away because some deep part of you is unsatisfied. So what is it you really feel called to do? What is it that brings you deep satisfaction? What is it that allows you to contribute not just to the well-being of your own life, but also to other people and to the world at large? Take the time to explore what you feel called to do and make that the focus of your life's work. Just remember one thing: If you choose to pursue what you feel called to do, don't assume it'll be an easy road to travel. It can and does take a lot of work, but if it's worth doing, you'll do the work because you know doing it will be fulfilling for you.
In my other business, I'm a business coach and what I teach my clients to do is run their business by design instead of by reaction. This same practice applies to living your life. When you plan by design, what you are doing is determining what you want for your life and what you will need to do in order to achieve what you want. Seems simple enough, but its a lot harder to execute than you'd think because so much of what people think they want is short term desires, material desires, etc., and curiously enough its actually harder to stay motivated and focused on achieving short term desires, because of how transitory they are. What I really teach my clients is how to reach past the short term desires and get in touch with what they are called to do, get in touch really with their core values and ideology. If you aren't in touch with your core values and ideology its hard to plan your life (or business) by design because you don't really know why you are doing what you are doing.
However it's not enough to define what you feel called to do. If you really want to pursue your calling, then be proactive and plan for it by design. Look at what actions you will need to take in 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, a year, etc., to get to what you want. Define each area of your life that will need to change and develop action for each of those areas. If this sounds systematic, it is, because when you apply a systematic approach to your life, you start to prioritize what's really important and cut out what isn't important.
Planning by design also means you take a critical look at your life (or business) and examine who and what is in your life as well as analyzing your own behavior and actions. Are you happy with your life? Are you happy with your relationships? Are you happy with what you are doing? All of these are good questions to ask, but you have to be honest with yourself in regards to the answers. Most of you have to recognize how you contribute to the state of your life. If you aren't happy with where your life is you do need to acknowledge and own your part of it. You can't control everything around you, but you can control your reactions and responses to situations. In fact one book I'd recommend reading is The Magic of Thinking Big, because it teaches you how to look at any situation you are in and find a way to make the situation better or make it work to your benefit. It's one of the best books on wealth magic, that isn't overtly about wealth magic. It teaches you the real power of positive thinking, which isn't the law of attraction schlock that's out there, but instead is focused on acknowledging the environment and circumstances you are in and looking for the available opportunities that will help you achieve your goals.
Planning by design also means you look at the material aspects of your life and determine what you need to support your calling. It doesn't mean you have to make a 7 figure salary to be wealthy, or even that money or material wealth should be your primary focus. It does mean you define what you need and you make sure you can get it, and you also learn the necessary skills to keep it and sustain it. A lot of people mistakenly assume that wealth magic is about money and how much you have, but that's short term thinking once again rearing its head. Unless you know what you'll use the money for and how you'll use it, it doesn't matter. Defining how you'll use money and what you'll use money for is far more important because then you understand money is a means to an end and as such your focus is on achieving the end and using money for that purpose instead of simply trying to acquire money.
Along with planning your life by design, I recommend also doing some internal work. Internal work isn't just getting clear on your core values or what you feel called to do. Internal work also involves working through your internal chaos and dysfunction. We all have it, to one degree or another. Internal work teaches you how to diffuse your reactions, work through your triggers and as a result control your responses. It takes a lot of work, but it is worth doing because of the clarity it brings to your life. Don't be surprised though if in doing this you change the relationships you have in your life. In the decade I've been doing internal work, a lot of my associations changed. As I worked through my internal chaos, it caused me to look at the circumstances of my life and the people I associated and make changes to both, based on what I felt would be healthy and supportive for me accomplished what I feel called to do.
Magic by design is good magic. Part of planning my life by design is utilizing practical magic in a proactive role. Instead of simply reacting to problems with magic, why not look at how you can integrate magic into your life design? For example, my work with the goetic Daimon Bune has involved getting his advice and suggestions on what resources I need to develop a successful business. In the years I've been working with him my businesses have improved quite a it thanks to his advice. Another example of proactive magic has involved learning to work with my body and the microbial life within in it to optimize my health. Practical magic doesn't have to be reactive, and when used from a design perspective, it makes it easier to navigate around potential problems instead of having to react to them. When you use magic from a design perspective, you are actively shaping your life around your life purpose, around what you feel called to do. That's how you mix life skills and magic in order to come out ahead.
Since we're on the topic of wealth magic, check out the latest podcast interview with yours truly by Occult Sentinel where we discuss wealth magic, identity, and other concepts relevant to the post above.