Practical Magic


Frequently in my writings I refer to “magic” but why do I use the word “magic“? Well, mostly my use of the word is to capture people’s attention but I also use it as a means for exploring a place that is found in all of us that is connected to the source of our being and the incredibly fantastic and magical things that can happen when we make that connection.

There is so much more to magic than meets the eye. For the past two weeks I have been writing about what I call “practical Magic”– the magic of the everyday. I’ve even shared a story regarding the psychological underpinnings of the process of developing greater wholeness of the human psyche. Following the studies of C.G. Jung regarding the psychoanalytic implications of Alchemy I’ve jumped into a deeper realm of my own psyche.

In studying the concepts of Practical Magic I’ve run across a number of occult references, all interesting from a psychological projective standpoint, but relatively unhelpful when it comes to the art and practice of transformation.

While digging into these various disciplines, however, I have found a philosophy that makes a great deal of sense and seems, at least to me, to have useful value for the practice of Practical Magic.

I thought that I would share a summary of a portion of what I’ve discovered. In presenting it I have scoured all references to the ancient Asian linguistic traditions that are attached to the philosophy. I’ve done this because it’s made it easier for me to understand and follow through my own linguistic and cultural traditions. I am aware that the cultural tradition of the Asian world is significantly different than that of my own– the western European– and because of that many of the concepts don’t translate well but what I present here is a rather simplified understanding of the foundational concepts of what I’m calling “Transcendent Magic” (not my own word for it has oft been used before and not to be confused with the occult Transcendental Magic) where one allows for the transcendent spirit of the divine to make itself known. 

Basically, “Most people are so busy “doing” their life that they don’t step back and consciously experience the “being” of it. We are all too often “human doings” and not ‘human beings.'” Another way of experiencing the transcendent spirit is to experience more “beingness”.

The following is my take on how one can practice the art of Transcendent Magic that to me is the kissing cousin to Practical Magic.

1) Begin with embracing ‘not knowing’ and see what you get. Knowing fills the mind and crowds out the empty spaces where the spirit dwells. Walk outside in the early morning to greet the rising sun and with your eyes closed listen to and feel the world around you. Do this without labeling the experiences.

2) Approach every experience as though you were a child having its very first contact. Be curious and live in the incomprehensible (the already explored and comprehensible is of the small self–the limited self, the ego. Why explore what you already think you’ve visited?)

3) Try to see and feel with your heart. The head has its place in the realm of things, but you now want to transcend the world of things. It is the soul that reigns in the greater world of the spirit.

4) Expect nothing because expectations only limit you to what you already think you know and will prevent you from experiencing what is.

5) A singular point-of-view rules out all others and leaves you spiritually myopic, so surrender that willful point-of-view. Basically, decide nothing– deciding is the act of extinguishing all other alternatives and creates only expectations (see above).

6) Give up control. Control is of the ego-self i.e. the small self. It is part of the defensive self that is only needed if you don’t feel safe. Hint: you’re not in control anyway.

7) Expand what you are open to by embracing vulnerability. The opposite is to be defensive and that puts up walls and closes down possibilities.

8) Daydream a little. Einstein was expelled as a student for daydreaming too much, but it was in his musings that he touched the ineffable and discovered the secrets of the universe.

9) Imagine what can be. Imagining broadens the realm of possibilities and encourages you to see what’s around the next bend.

10) Be a little impulsive and less reasoned. Too much cause/effect reasoning can stifle creativity and creativity cannot be found in a box with rigid boundaries. It is timeless and not to be found in the past­ which is gone–or in any future–which doesn’t exist. It grows out from the moment. Be where you are.

All of these tasks are about transcending our illusions and becoming more in touch with the reality that runs all around and through us. This is the way one transcends their ego-self and opens to the spirit.

 Most of these are deceptively simple but devilishly hard to accomplish requiring the stamina and heart of a hero to achieve. And the hero’s journey doesn’t end when you’ve won any or all of these tasks because the transcendent isn’t a place, or a thing to be –it’s an ever-moving context for all that exists and can never really be grasped and held onto. But oh those moments when the soul has brushed against the ineffable face of God… the spirit of the depths of our being!

A bonus, personally experienced on many occasions, has been that by holding as much as possible the above approach to the every day has often resulted in unbidden “Peak Experiences”.  According to Abraham Maslow Peak Experiences are moments in life where one experiences a deeply emotional or  spiritual moment that often involves feelings of the mystical, spiritual, aesthetic world and  are defined by an intense feeling of happiness, wonder, and a sense of knowledge or understanding of a higher truth or unity. In the aftermath of these moments a person can find themselves uplifted and with greater creative energy, empathy and a greater understanding of their purpose in life.

There’s a caution here, these peak moments cannot be conjured in that they do not come at your bidding i.e. you cannot control or ‘will’ them into being. Basically they are the very definition of grace, something you cannot earn nor do you deserve. Trying to get one by following the philosophy outlined above in the art of Transcendent Magic will not produce a peak experience.

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