The occult arts are no light thing to just pick up, fiddle with, and set aside. Sure, some things like energy manipulation, astral travel, and other basic skills that are available to everyone, or mostly everyone given a little bit of training. Divination is a useful skill and can be picked up from a book and a few weeks’ worth of practice, or more depending on the system to be studied. Talking with spirits, ghosts, angels, and the like can be fairly easily accomplished given a willingness and openness to perceive and talk with them. Meditation is something everyone should be doing no matter what their professions or hobbies might be, it’s just that useful and applicable.
No, dear reader, the real heart of magic is way up above us, quite literally in the stars themselves. The seven planets of the old Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks, starting from our worldly plane of the four elements and rising up through the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, past the final barriers out into the sphere of the fixed stars, and thence outward into the unlimited and unending Source of all the light we see as starlight down here. That’s the magic I’m talking about, and dealing with the different and higher levels of reality, whether internal consciousness or external planes, is difficult, dangerous, and so very, very worth it.
I mean, all our (human, mundane) lives, we’re used to living down here in this world of matter, laws, money, borders, and machines. We spend most of our time awake and aware of what’s going on within and outside our physical bodies, and we don’t often have the chance to see beyond the material into the higher levels of things. For one, it’s an institutionalized de facto law that anything besides what’s materially apparent doesn’t exist, no matter how influential it may be; most modern science and the philosophies of New Atheism and scientism reflect this, that only what’s independently, objectively, numerically, repeatedly verifiable can exist and nothing else. For two, even the old cosmogonies and creation myths that describe a spiritual human entity and its creation also describe how it came to live and be imprisoned down here: the Abrahamic fall from grace, the dharmic creation of karma, the gnostic archons and demiurge, and so on.
All of these myths and stories have the same fact at their cores: humanity is amphibian, living in worlds material and spiritual, but can be so much more if we tried. Becoming more than just material is the essence of the Great Work, and can be stated in any number of ways. Any religious or spiritual path with godhood, apotheosis, or reunion with the Source as its goal fulfills the requirements of the Great Work, so by all means, dear reader, pick and choose which path is most suited for you. Don’t expect any of the paths to be easy, fast, or simple, though, because the word for “work” in Latin, opus, doesn’t have the other meaning of “burden” for no reason.
Living a magical life and carrying out one’s Great Work is hard work. It takes practice, it takes time, it takes tolls, and it takes sacrifice. One cannot simply turn lead, moldy fruit, or buckets of urine (handle and all) into the purest gold without a complete upheaval, extreme heat, profound darkness, and constant cleansing. It’s like that for one’s life, as well. It may be easy to go “this looks cool” or “let’s try it, it sounds like fun” from an outside perspective, trying out alchemical phases on inanimate objects, but when you try it on yourself, you probably won’t be thinking that for long.
Magic is hard. The constant practice, vigilance, dedication, and obligation one has to burden oneself with only gets heavier with time and, though one may get used to it, it doesn’t get any easier. Worldly pleasures, social interaction, and even common livelihoods may often have to take a back seat, even one’s marriages or families, because magic calls one to things higher than any social, institutional, or worldly order. Sure, “as above, so below” and all, but when you’re stuck seeing things only from below, you miss the bird’s eye view from above and are going to be ignorant to a lot of higher things that make the entire machine of the cosmos function. It’s going to suck only because you’re not used to being otherworldly.
Magic burns. Flying up amongst the stars, immersing oneself in their heavenly lights, and incorporating their celestial rays into one’s sphere is blissful, but you’re also dealing with light of the most rarefied, pure kind. Light that strong, that bright, that close up will burn, and there’s no way around that. Some people don’t like having their darkest secrets illuminated to themselves and the world, and some people cling too much to old infested huts to let them burn down so as to build newer and better palaces. You’re going to have to burn things down so as to burn back up as well; only by setting oneself on fire can one be holy and powerful enough to ascend to the highest reaches of the heavens themselves. It’s going to suck only because you’re used to not being on fire.
Nobody who wasn’t lying ever said that magic was easy, and those who actually live the magic don’t lie about it. Not everyone was meant for magic, and even if you were meant for it, you’re going to have to change things around to get used to it. If you don’t want to pay the cost for magic, don’t do it. If you want to pay the cost and get a huge return on your money, do it and deal with it. I’ve been burned by the stars before, and although it sucked, it was one of the best experiences of my life. It’s worth it. How did I manage to survive being burnt by the stars? Stay tuned.