Magickal vs. Spiritual Practice: The Art of Balancing Theosophy, Thaumaturgy, and Theurgy
Since I’ve already talked about why I don’t blog a lot about magick, but probably should, it seemed natural for me to choose this topic for my first post of 2016. This post (or thinly veiled rant if you prefer, possibly narcissistic), of course, was inspired by a conversation I had with a new practitioner of Daemonolatry who was only interested in the spiritual.
I want to say up front that it’s okay for one to have JUST a spiritual practice. However, I have to admit that my identity as a magician ties in deeply with my spirituality, and therefore I find the idea of solely “Spiritual Daemonolatry” rather boring, tedious and not worthy of my time. I’d rather have a conversation with the wall in front of me. At least then I could imagine it responded with something interesting. Yes, I realize that’s a completely snotty thing to say and it makes me sound like an arrogant bitch, but it’s the truth and people might as well know this about me up front. Especially if they expect me to converse with them about Daemons. If you are only into working with Daemons in a manner where you worship and pray to them (and only want to use magick as a last ditch effort to get your ass out of jail so-to-speak) and nothing more – then that’s where our paths deviate and we likely have little in common other than our deep, loving respect for Divine Intelligence. I likely have little to offer you beyond what’s in my books.
That said — it’s no secret that dabblers drive me insane and I kind of view solely “Spiritual Daemonolaters” as dabblers when it comes to magick. There – I said it. Hate me if you must. I have no patience for those looking for a quick fix any more than I have patience for someone who calls oneself a magician but spends their entire magickal career reciting old books, doing rituals on the astral plane or meditating in a candlelit room with nothing to show for it.
We should probably define my terms right off if people are to understand my point of view. In my view, dabblers are people who claim to be magicians, but who can’t even manifest basic creature comforts for themselves including happiness, being able to do what they love, maintaining solid relationships, maintaining a life relatively free of ridiculous soul-sucking drama, and enough money to, in the very least, pay their bills (which requires having a job of some type). Or they’re the types who only want to use magick to “get stuff” when they most need it. A quick fix to life’s little annoyances and problems. The pagan and magickal world is rife with these people. They’re also usually the first people to look down their noses and scoff at the magicians who, for the most part, actually do have their shit together. Go figure.
Dabblers sometimes hop from one religion to the next, searching until they find the right fit, or they’re practicing magick as part of their social “image”. By this I mean they play the part by looking the part. Black eyeliner, black hair, black clothes and metal anyone? Or at least that’s what it often looks like in the LHP camp.
No group is free of dabblers though admittedly different groups tend to focus more on different aspects of magickal and spiritual practice. For example, I find Luciferianism, many “spiritual” Satanisms, and numerous left-hand path philosophies highly theosophic with mild-dabbling in theurgy. Clearly some practitioners take this further than others and even fewer still jump feet first into actual thaumaturgical practice with success. One can only meditate on the black sun, or XYZ Daemon for so long before one actually learns to APPLY the concept or energy behind said Daemon or concept to produce something tangible that actually benefits the magician in the real world beyond a quick fix, “a feeling”, a revelation of knowledge, or “personal gnosis”. That isn’t to say those things are bad, or that theosophy or theurgy are unnecessary. On the contrary – they are important parts of the magickal process, because if one is to master thaumaturgy one must have some solid foundation in theosophy and theurgy.
The problem is most practitioners immersed in theosophy and dabbling in theurgy never take it further unless they have adequate motivation/desperation to do so. Then, statistically, their magick has a 50/50 chance of working (higher if the magician actually learned anything from their theosophic study and theurgical practice). A lot of the time a “magician” who does a lot of meditation, poetic lamentation, and thinking just *thinks* their magick is actually working because they don’t do enough of it to find out if they just got lucky or if it actually does work.
If you repeat the same operation six times and it only works 2-4 times out of the six, then you might need to go back to the drawing board until you’re getting 5-6 (ideally 6) successful results with said operation. Just sayin’….
So let’s talk about a spiritual vs. magickal practice.
A practice that is primarily spiritual includes theosophy, philosophy, and theurgical practices like leaving offerings, prayer, meditation, and burning petitions with blood-letting. This would be your standard Daemonolatry practitioner. A practice becomes truly magickal when we move beyond the basics of theosophy, delve beyond basic theurgy, and begin practicing invocation/evocation with theophany as the desired result, practicing divination or spirit communication beyond the simplistic talking or praying to deity to “give one a sign”, building magickal constructs with purpose beyond balance, doing successful spells for personal gain (low magick), doing successful self-work (high magick) and ultimately transforming ourselves into a divine creative force that manifests its will in the physical world.
I have noticed that not all magicians start in the same place. Some Daemonolatry practitioners start in the spiritual. Their interest in Daemon worship is in the worship and nothing more, then grows to slowly include a magickal practice. Others have an interest that starts in magick and moves toward the spiritual. Those who start as Daemonic Magicians fall here. For others still, they begin with the belief that it’s all interconnected. For these people – they are, IMHO, the born magicians who make it their life’s work to know the divine and spirit worlds, to manifest the divine within, and manifest one’s personal divine will in this life through the process of creation by becoming the creator and drawing the divine through the self.
Theosophy is the wisdom of the divine. It involves practices wherein one gets to know the divine and the divine-self. This is where a lot of meditation, philosophizing, and study comes in. Most people who are occult researchers with a lifestyle obsession (to use a phrase coined by my friend Andrieh Vitimus), or armchair magicians as I call them, tend to be content to stay in that theosophical arena. Sometimes they’ll venture into Theurgy via prayer, offerings, more meditation, and plenty of poetic lamentation, and if they’re really adventurous, they might actually dabble with Thaumaturgy by attempting a spell or a ritual meant to actually manifest something tangible in the physical world. A lot of the time this happens as the need (or desperation) for a “quick fix” to a problem presents itself.
Those of us who are serious magicians will spend equal time with attention to all three (theosophy, theurgy, thaumaturgy) and make it our life’s work to not only study, but actually develop (through rigorous practice) enough spiritual understanding and rapport with our higher selves and the spirits, so that we can manifest our will here in the physical world. Hence my view that anything less is dabbling.
Again, this is not meant to minimize the importance of study or doing basic meditation rituals (modern LHP books are full of these meditation rituals) which are excellent foundational practice – but to actually apply what one learns from all the philosophizing, studying, meditating, praying, etc to bring about actual change in accordance with one’s will — THAT is magick. And this is where I find myself annoyed with purely spiritual practitioners – because they don’t understand that while we may have our spiritual leanings in common, I’m not like them and do not come to my spirituality from the same place. I’m not just a Daemonolater – I’m a Daemonolatry Magician – and they’re not the same thing.