Monday, October 7, 2013

The Fiction Of "Will", Part One

"Submit your life force to no one and no thing." -Victor Anderson
When I was first passed this bit of wisdom, it was couched in a neo-Thelemite, Will-is-paramount, rugged individualist, kind of wrapping. "Don't take shit- even from the Gods." was how it was passed to me by that teacher. I have come to understand a different way of looking at this phrase, one that is not swayed by ceremonial magick and is more Crafty in its outlook.

As I advanced in my studies, gnosis, and understandings, I have had many teachers in many traditions. I have listened to the spirits. I was initiated and the floodgates opened to Mysteries I am still unraveling (and will be for a lifetime). I have done more work on myself- and as I did all of these things, I came to understand this phrase a bit differently than it was taught to me.

My Witchcraft comes from (for lack of better, less appropriative, less commonly-understood words) a more indigenous, shamanic practice than some. It is often at odds with neo-Wiccans and ceremonialists (or at least novices who seem to think ego puffery is a hallmark of their tradition- not the "higher ups" who have a bit more wisdom and experience) who think the individual, and its "will" is ALL. You know the type: standing in their "protective circle" and bullying entities. "I command you forth!" or "We invoke you!"

I have been there, doing those things and saying those words before- but it always felt weird. Not because I felt that I was less important than these other entities (many in certain religions feel that we are puny and must grovel- this is not what I mean)- but because I felt I was a peer to these non-corporeals.

Frankly, I have always hated bullies. And to me, some of this magical posturing smacks of bullying. Who wants to come to a party when you know that when you arrive, some jerk in a robe holding a knife or wand is gonna tell you what you can and cannot do- like they are the boss? How does this build peers, friends, and allies from other realms?

When I was a baby Witch (1989!) I lived with a boyfriend who was in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He was a good guy, a talented artist, and a gifted magician. He taught me many things and helped me memorize all the lists of correspondences (holy crap, those folks like to compare everything!). We always fought when we did ritual together. I did not have the words back then to make my argument clear, but I do now. It started when he wanted the altar in our rituals to be in the East, and I wanted it in the North. (Back then, I had a neo-Wicca orientation that North was earth, and his orientation was East was air.) He would say, "East is air- it's the human mind, the seat of intellect." This was less than compelling for me. My argument was, "We humans are not the center of the universe. Intellect only goes so far. We must start outside of ourselves. Magic/k is not *just* in our heads."

That was the beginning of me becoming disenchanted with many traditions I once sought and communed with- ones that favored human beings over the rest of creation. Ones that feel we are more special or chosen over the rest of the worlds. Ones that believed that all we needed was will (which assumes individual will and possible force. Many ceremonialists try and bully spirits into doing their bidding. I don't like this behavior in the human realm and I'll be damned if I promote it elsewhere.).

It comes back to Victor Anderson's quote in the first paragraph, above. My teachers simply used that phrase to mean "Don't take any shit." One even said it to me when a particular god was asking me to do things for him. "You can say no." she said. To her, the requests coming to me from this god were possibly irritating and/or overwhelming. She was completely ignoring the thrill that I had that this magnificent creature was communicating with ME, consistently and clearly, and I desperately *wanted* to take on his requests. To me, after years of seeking, it was a miracle that I was getting such information from a non-corporeal being and that it was verifiable as coming from him, and not my imagination or wishful thinking. I was a little disenchanted with her "sage advice". I went home and started the work requested anyway.

I believe Victor's quote has been abused in Witchcraft circles. I think people, including many teachers who should know better, have used the phrase in a rugged individualist way and it DOES NOT MEAN THAT. They are conflating "life force"  with Will (what the ceremonialists call True Will). And life force is not the same thing as Will (with a capital W).

I am much more in line with Robert Cochrane's "Law" of the Witches, rather than ceremonial magick's take on Will:

  • Do not do what you desire -- do what is necessary.
  • Take all you are given -- give all of yourself.
  • What I have -- I hold!" (this has multiple meanings, but one is akin to "Submit your life-force to no one or no thing.")
  • When all is lost, and not until then, prepare with die with dignity.
Stay tuned for Part Two, later this week!

*"Sleeper" or "Sheeple" refers to someone who goes through their life in the mundane world without knowing about or understanding the other worlds. It is someone who denies that we are all connected. It is someone who thinks of themselves and not the impact of their words and deeds on others. It is mindset devoid of the divine. An awakened person is the opposite. They understand that we are all connected- that everyone makes an impact with what they do and say. They understand that there is a larger picture that they, as an individual, are a small (but important) piece of. Interpretations vary on this theme- an awakened person can call themselves a Witch, a Buddhist, a Christian, a Sufi, or anything else. It is HOW they interpret the external trappings of their religion that matters.

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