Friday, February 24, 2017

Hardship as a Gauge of Progress

Study the occult long enough, especially contemporary Western Occultism, and you will come across sentiments like "a poor magician is a poor magician". If you can change the universe to give you what you want why wouldn't you conjure yourself a pile of cash and live as a king? Mundane things like rent money should be no problem for an adept magician. If you struggle to provide yourself with food and shelter and comfort despite being in contact with gods, angles, spirits, and demons then you must not know what you are doing.

I can see the logic of this statement and to a certain extent it might be true. If you are constantly struggling then something is indeed amiss. At the very least a magician should be able to use divination to find the reasons for their struggle and ameliorate it if not eliminate it.

But I would also suggest that occasional hardship can actually be a positive thing for a few reasons.

First, let us not forget the lessons of the Wheel of Fortune tarot card. All things run in cycles, alternately expanding and diminishing. To be in a period of diminishment is not a failure, it is a way of becoming ready for expansion to come.

Second, it is one of my firm beliefs that things happen for a reason and that valuable lessons can be learned from every situation. A hardship now may lead to benefits later or the hardship may teach you a lesson that you can impart to the world for the benefit of all.

Third, and for purposes of this post, most importantly, hardship builds strength. Another popular aphorism in this culture is "if you want to get stronger lift heavier weights", which I will certainly agree with. When that heavier weight is first lifted, however, it is uncomfortable, it is a struggle, it is a hardship. The building of muscles by lifting weights literally tears the fibers of the muscles and the repair of those tears is what makes the muscle physically larger. There is often soreness and sometimes injury. Building strength is a kind of trauma.

As a magician, building spiritual strength can also be a kind of trauma that can affect one in unpredictable ways. Changes in emotion, health, and material wealth can all easily be affected. As one explores the nature of spiritual entities change should always be expected and I would suggest that if there is no change in one's life then they are not actually doing spiritual work. And even if one is working with a spirit known to be a spirit of compassion, like Tara or Jesus, that is no guarantee of comfort.

I say this to you because it is a lesson I am learning now. Do not despair, magician, if you go through a fallow period or a lean time. These come and go as the cycles turn. Stay true to your goals and know that your hardship will pass. Beware of giving in to fear, you are getting stronger.