Out of the Broomcloset
So here we all are, entering the darkest part of the year. As years go, this one should end as quickly as possible and I suspect we are in agreement here. As this column is being written, things continue to fall apart, both home and abroad, and this will no doubt be the case when it sees print. Some things are just beyond our control, and some of them, at least, provide an opportunity for schadenfreude. All in all, old man Saturn with his sickle can just finish this all off right now. Let’s move on to 2020, turn the page, and start anew.
Fear not, change is coming; and let’s be honest, change is always coming. For some of us, it’s a welcome notion, for others terrifying. While despair is always an option, it’s not a very useful one. It’s the straw that those desperate to forestall change cling to most, but, as one of the three pigs learned, it doesn’t make for a very dependable shelter.
What, you might ask, does any of this have to do with a column that ostensibly has to do with magic? While I would never presume to speak on the particulars of belief of all magicians of every variety, there are some general principles held mostly in common, which are useful. These are not tenets laid out explicitly in the general occult texts on the shelf but do underlie them.
So, here we go.
One is that while there may have been a mythical past where everything was perfect, unchanging (and may come again, depending on the belief structure), that is not where we are right now. For better or worse, we sometimes have to live in the now and deal with it. If it’s a philosophy good enough for the Dalai Lama, we can all learn from it.
Existence is a cycle of coming into being and of dissolution. They happen simultaneously. Through this process, things pass away and new things come into being, hopefully “better” depending on the individual’s viewpoint. Among other things, this is one of the tenets of alchemy, dissolution and transformation. The old may need to experience violence, out of which comes the new. Stars do it all the time; every molecule forming you and everything around you came into being because of this.
Along with this we have the Cycle of the Year and the concept of things being cyclical. Generally: to everything there is a season—and all that. Darkness dominates the cycle for those of us in the Western hemisphere right now and provides a space for regeneration. The times before time, in most cultural systems, was the dark and formless (why not quote Genesis the book, not the band, at this point).
And what exists in that darkness are not only our fears but all the possibilities of what is to come, quite literally, to light.
Part of being a successful, satisfied practitioner is to realize while you may be able to effect change, to influence the course of events outside of what others might conceive as their normal course, your capacity is not infinite. You cannot not bend all and everything, all the time, according to your will. Well, unless you are a three-year-old or the president, in which case this state would seem entirely reasonable.
Why do social workers and caregivers burn out? Because it’s difficult to not want to give all that you can, all of the time. There’s always going to be something or someone else that needs attending to. This way lays collapse. Pick your battles and keep focus.
Finally, much as we each would like to assume the mantle of omniscience, it’s a garment that fits no one. Choose carefully what you wish to exert influence over. It is difficult to run through all the possible consequences of your actions. A love spell, directed at gaining the affections of a particular individual for instance, can make for fairly messy consequences. It’s better to work towards a general effect rather than a pinpoint goal.
May your New Year bring you joy and happiness, time to rest, and a time to study. There’s probably a test coming for us all in 2020 and hopefully we’re up to it.