Friday 19 June 2020

First principles for the magician

This is a repost of a piece I wrote in August 2016, while I was in the midst of a breakdown. I had forgotten I'd written it. Back then, every day was an aching, gnawing ordeal. Someone mentioned it today, and told me that they come back to it often.
We would see ourselves as the secret witnesses of the world, you and I, but that would be to overstate our importance; we live in secret, inasmuch as everyone does. And we pay our attention to the moment. We claim no special status beyond the simple fact that we are magicians.

And we are magicians, you and me, the users of the imagination we have, tradition such as it is, and the will that we impose upon our selves. We strive to create; we work to make things true; we never lightly choose the place to settle our faith.

We are the people whose inner lives extend far beyond our bodies, who understand the interplay of connexion that joins us with the people who live around us, that inspires in those of us who perceive it a living relationship with the world and the human race. It is this we call the evidence of God, or perhaps it itself is God; it makes no difference.

We see a shared inner light, and through it we share a sibling bond, a confraternity of kindness.

Be kind. Kindness, kindness is all, and ours is the kindest heresy. Ours is the easiest of practices and the most difficult, for it is through the discipline of kindness that we gain our power, but the practice of compassion for the sole purpose of gain is no compassion at all, and the effort is wasted, and gains us nothing.

Ask questions, hard ones, even of your friends, especially of your friends.

Always allow others to have their time to speak. Listen. Recognise pain, and the anger that comes from lifetimes that have suffered poverty, injustice and oppression, and do not attempt to moderate that anger in others, for that is not kind.

Understand that in being the centre of your own world you are not the centre of anyone else's.

Choose your family. You might find you choose your own blood if you like, but make the conscious effort to choose them anyway, and don't be ashamed to choose others if you need to.

Use tools that are old, or ones you made yourself, or made for you. Find a stone, or a piece of driftwood, or a heirloom watch, or a writing implement worn with the years.

Your name is a tool, and these things need to be true of your name. Don't choose a name made from something banal or mass-made, or plucked from someone else's imagination, that was reproduced and sold, no. Choose a thing that has weight and time and meaning for you. Don't be grandiose.

Be honest.

Be honest, and recognise how rarely facts are the truth, and how often the empirical lies.

Learn another language, and use it for your workings. Let it reshape your paths of thinking, drive you into another space. Learn its cadences and strengths. Read its poetry. Use its literature as a repository for magics.

Understand how silly all this seems to everyone else. This sort of writing is never important on its own. It's as if something inside takes the words and the way we perceive them, mixing them and refining them so wisdom comes out. Don't take this too seriously. Don't ever take yourself seriously.

You have a light.

Call yourself a magician. Dress like a magician (that is, just like everyone else, only knowing you're a magician). Talk like a magician (that is, just like everyone else, only a little less, listening more than talking). Write like a magician. Make things like a magician. Love like a magician.

Love like a magician.