When one looks close enough, one can see sorcery (or magick) in every aspect of life. It is not necessary to join a coven or a cult to become initiated into sorcery. As with most wheeling and dealings in life, if one can do something by oneself then it is the most rewarding; and at the end of it no dues are owed.
If one joins a group to acquire knowledge, a price must always be paid – you may get to ‘expand’ your mind but you will become connected to the group mind. While there may be pros and cons of this, self discovery through idiosyncratic means is usually the best way. As others before have said, Be a Light Unto Yourself.
It is an unusual person that goes through life without ever asking, Why? Why am I here? Why must I die?
Alas many who have asked these questions do not receive their answers; and over time the youthful light of this inquisitiveness burns itself out. Why is the answer not forthcoming? Now that is a good question! A question that can open the door to magick; and to more questions.
If one has a personal conflict or a burning discontent with the world, then there are always questions. If one is bored with life, this is also a ‘problem’ that cannot be avoided without asking questions. A man without questions is a remarkable individual indeed. When the old questions become dry and withered, we must replace them with new, vital ones.
If you can be in revolt while you are young, and as you grow older keep your discontent alive with the vitality of joy and great affection, then that flame of discontent will have an extraordinary significance because it will build, it will create, it will bring new things into being.
~ J Krishnamurti
Old age is a harrowing prospect for one who does not have answers to his questions, and has let them fade away. Why is life so stingy in revealing its answers? To find the answer to this, one must explore the very question-answer paradigm and, in doing so, discover what facilitates the revelation of an answer; and discover what gives life meaning.
A sorcerer might consider that life, the cosmos, has no inherent meaning. That does not mean meaning cannot exist, just that it is not absolute – it can be fictional. Ordem ab chao – from chaos emerges order. From darkness comes light; the sun is born of the night sky. Horus is begotten by Isis.
So the magician or, perhaps more accurately put, the occultist goes about exploring the hidden (“occulted”) forces of the cosmos, and uses himself as the focus of the experiment; the guinea pig. It is the occultist’s role to discover how to facilitate and expedite the process of asking and receiving; though for him this may translate as alternative actions of willing and manifesting. And in doing so, he opens a channel of communication with one of man’s greatest works of fiction – the subconscious.
Carl Jung recognized that one’s self identity, the persona, has its shadow counterpart, the anima/animus. The effort to maintain one’s preferred image of oneself creates a nemesis of sorts that operates from the shadows; the anima sabotages the persona.
Identity with the persona automatically leads to an unconscious identity with the anima because, when the ego is not differentiated from the persona, it can have no conscious relation to the unconscious processes. Consequently it is these processes, it is identical with them. Anyone who is himself his outward role will infallibly succumb to the inner processes; he will either frustrate his outward role by absolute inner necessity or else reduce it to absurdity, by a process of enantiodromia. He can no longer keep to his individual way, and his life runs into one deadlock after another. Moreover, the anima is inevitably projected upon a real object, with which he gets into a relation of almost total dependence.
~ Carl Jung, “Definitions,” CW 6, par. 807
The use of sigils in magick aspires to implant a desire or intention into the subconscious, so that it will work in tandem with the conscious and not oppose it. The sigil is an unintelligible depiction of the specific intention of the practitioner who, at the time of its inception, consciously gives it ‘charge’. There are various ways to create and charge a sigil (not detailed here); this can be with emotion, or using electricity, and so on. Then the practitioner must try his best to forget all about his intention so as not to interfere with the germination of the seed that has been planted in the subconscious by means of the sigil.
This is where the idea of the ‘higher mind’ becomes significant. In the deliberate avoidance of the conscious intention, one is carrying out a ritual of sacrificing the lower mind for the sake of the higher mind. In what might seem a counter-intuitive measure, one does not dwell on one’s desires so that they may manifest themselves.
This sacrifice motif has of course been butchered by religions that demand the forsaking of the lower mind simply because it is ‘wrong’ to persist with it. The sorcerer approaches it in the spirit of trade; of giving and receiving. The religious type sees it as a moral imperative and, by identifying with this persona, ends up projecting the anima. The religious hypocrite.
All habits and behavioral automatisms function as sentient familiars, and, once recognized and isolated, may therefore be induced to set themselves to new tasks.
~ Austin Osman Spare
The revelation imparted to the sorcerer can be an iterative process. In magical terms obsession is the action of any number of these independent thought forms impressing themselves upon the sorcerer from the subconscious. These automatons (Jung calls them ‘autonomous complexes’) are also known as spirits, familiars, sometimes as daemons. They make a nice, cozy family residing in the psychological space of the sorcerer. These familiars can also reside in animals, or in any living organism; germinating a plant for example while making a ritual can help the thought form piggy-back its growth and development.
Magical obsession is that state when the mind is illuminated by sub-conscious activity evoked voluntarily by formula at our own time, etc, for inspiration. It is the condition of Genius.
~ Austin Osman Spare
Returning then to the original point, we asked: how does one find answers to questions? We have already (sort of) answered a similar question: what connects a question to its answer? And we have seen that by establishing a way to “frame” the question (can be a sigil, but some people do this quite instinctively) and then to forget about it – prepares the terrain for the answer to develop.
The freedom and power of a sorcerer go hand in hand. If he relinquishes the idea of a rigid self independent of the world he perceives, and integrates the two, then for him the world becomes an interactive reality. The world responds to his will; it gives him the answers to his questions. Synchronicities (or such ‘synchro-mystical’ events) may play a part in this and these, like sigils, are often unintelligible. The revelation of meaning is particular only to the practitioner or augur, it is unpredictable – beyond the scruples of the scientific method.
And perhaps then, the ultimate question might be: what is it that renders meaning? Or more simply: what is the meaning of meaning? Meaning is revealed to the augur over time; it is an emergent or immanent quality. And if the intent is to discover an absolute or transcendental quality of meaning – for which none exists (outside of a fictional setting) – then conflict is inevitable. The sorcerer therefore does not expect to find an answer to the unanswerable.