From my very youngest years, I’ve been fascinated by magick. Since the age of 13, I’ve played with spells, rituals and incantations. And I’ve gotten results.
Over time, I’ve managed to manifest everything from multiple job offers in my field, to a stable of close friends in a ruthlessly materialistic city while having no job and no money, to full-fledged miracles like a healed medial meniscus tear in both knees.
At the same time, there have been spells that just didn’t hit their mark. For years now, I’ve been trying to manifest a better place to live than the run-down, unheated slum I currently inhabit, tapping into everything from Santeria to Christianity. No luck.
I also attempted to manifest $170,000 for my ministry using Satanic Psalm magick. Nothing.
I’ll admit it: I’m not where I want to be in life. But I’m doing a lot better than a lot of other people I know. So on the whole, I’m ridiculously grateful.
But there’s no denying that I’m not living the prosperous, comfortable life that I always imagined when I was younger.
No amount of magick has changed that.
I long for a cozy and well-appointed home, adequate health care, a comfortable income, a lover who I can truly relate to.
And I spend a lot of time wondering: Why is my magick not working?
I’ve come to some pretty interesting answers at this point. I’ve come to believe that magick is another word for personal power.
As many of us have learned in this therapy-saturated culture, a major part of claiming our personal power is developing an ironclad belief in ourselves.
In order to become truly magickal, we have to respect, know, and honor our Selves, and be in a state of complete alignment with Ma’at, or Divine Law.
This can be challenging for everyone, especially those who abused their power early on. It’s also a state of being that is usually not accessible to the young.
While magick CAN work for those under the age of 30 or 40, becoming a true adept requires a level of moral and psychological integration that takes decades to manifest.
At that point, once we have become comfortable with our strengths and weaknesses and healed our psychic wounds, our Will can be directed in the service of the Self.
For those born to the occult, the younger years are usually fraught with a series of tests, psychological dilemmas that call for profound moral courage.
Young adepts-in-training are often confronted with situations in which they acquire great power, and are presented with a question: Will they abuse it and wander off the Path, or will they steward it responsibly and stay focused on their sacred duty?
It can be a question of life or death.
In my case, I know exactly what the problem is. An acne-spattered, big-boned mixed-race duckling who was tormented in elite private single-sex boarding schools, I blossomed in my early 20’s.
Beauty was my test, and at the turn of the 21st century in blonde, stiletto-ed New York City, the temptation to abuse it was strong indeed. Sultry, glamorous nightclubs and lounges beckoned. Everyone seemed to be sleeping around and playing the diva.
The test was deceptively simple. Would I remain humble, grounded, date appearance-blind and refuse to turn into the immoral people who’d tormented me?
Or would I turn rotten, drink the Kool-Aid, spend too much on eyeliner and stay silent when men talked shit about fat chicks?
My very future depended on the answer to this question, although I didn’t know it then. Imprisonment, insanity, even death – all beckoned on the other side of this shamanic initiation.
In the end, I did ok. I didn’t escape the labyrinth unscathed, but I managed to heave my way to sanity without landing in a state hospital or on the streets. So I consider it a win.
The problem is that I sold more of my soul than I’d like to remember during those chaotic early years.
My self-respect has taken a huge hit – I shudder to think back on the many small instances in which I betrayed my ideals, threw my weight around or willfully shut my eyes to other people’s pain.
I suspect that this is why it’s often said that it’s easier for a camel to travel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the “Kingdom of Heaven”. After all, beauty is a type of wealth, isn’t it?
Today, I can clearly see that my anguish is holding me back.
We live in a magickal world – magick surrounds us. So many opportunities surround me, chances to start over, create a better life for myself.
But I’m bitter, angry and hurt.
Instead of the peace I’d feel if I had stayed true to my ideals, I’m wracked with confusion, guilt and shame. I definitely do NOT have an ironclad belief in myself; in fact, I’m often disgusted with myself. That interferes big-time with my magick.
And I have some karmic debts that are really putting a cramp in my style. Bad karma can seriously hinder our magick, to the point where we might have repented completely on a conscious level, but still end up experiencing years, decades or lifetimes of bad fortune.
For example, breaking up a marriage might earn us 7, 14, or 21 years of misfortune, depending on the severity of our indiscretion. If we were once a great king responsible for a genocide, we could be cursed for lifetimes.
At 37, my views on magick have changed. While it can be useful as a tool, it’s not the easy answer to all our problems.
When we’re honest with ourselves, most of us will admit that we’re not living right; we’re not in a state of alignment.
More often than not, we know we’re trapped. We’ve been separated from our power.
Also, as humans, our appetites are insatiable. If magick worked like Santa Claus, we’d quickly be asking for more as soon as we got what we wanted.
As aspiring adepts, we must not allow ourselves to be seduced by the prospect of great power – it’s a trick, a distraction that keeps us enslaved to our urges.
Our goal as metaphysicians and students of the occult is not to use our personal power to satisfy all of our hungers and desires.
Instead, our goal must be INTEGRATION: the healing of everything that tortures us and keeps us enslaved to our lower nature, our lust, greed and vanity. Our mission is SERVICE: a life of sacrifice.
When we devote every personal resource we possess to the business of Integration, and every ounce of Will to the act of Service, we purify our karma and make it possible for our highest good to manifest.
While magick is useful and fun, we shouldn’t stress ourselves out trying to get our spells and rituals to give us what we think we need.
Instead, we should focus on strengthening our magick so that, eventually, when the stars align and our karma lifts, we will get what’s right for us.
How can we integrate our personalities, perform Service, and strengthen our Magick?
As a lay Kemetic-Buddhist nun, what works for me is journaling, writing as community service, meditating, studying the sacred scriptures, talking to trusted friends and therapists, making films and performance art, and fasting.
I also enjoy all kinds of magick and ritual, including ritual baths, candle magick, sacred fashion, altar work, hedgewitchery and green witchcraft, channeling, and divination.
I’m no masochist, denying my own right to pleasure in favor of some specious idea of a Greater Good. And I’m no martyr, sacrificing my own happiness for that of others.
My happiness is at least as important as the world’s.
But by this point in my life, I’ve come to recognize that happiness doesn’t always lie in satisfying every lust of the body. There’s a lot more potential for happiness in learning to submit to morals and higher virtues than there is in getting a new Tesla.
And ultimately, I’m willing to bet that the key to my Magick lies down that road too. I started this journey of adulthood convinced I wanted to be a high-powered lawyer or celebrity professor with a townhouse.
20 years in, I’m a minimalist who’s pursuing performance art, filmmaking and writing. Who knew it could be this perfect?
At this point, I’m addicted to the Path… and watching with glee to see what comes next. It’s not a bad place to be.
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About the Author:
Mariam is an author, performance artist, aspiring filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, and lay Kemetic-Buddhist nun from New York, NY. She took her vows at 33 after a lifetime of trauma and running from her demons, and now lives an often-exuberant life of art and meditation. Her interests include disability rights, gender and sexuality, mixed race issues, mental health, workplace and school bullying, and spirituality. She is the founder of Grey Priestess Press and Grey Priestess Productions, and is working on several major projects. Find her online for now at Order of the Grey Priestess, or keep up with her on Facebook or on Twitter.
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