Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Fiction of "Will", Part Two

Last blog post, I started talking about how one of Victor Anderson's quotes has been misused. "Submit your life force to no one and no thing." I stated that "life force" was being falsely conflated with the concept of Will. As a Witch, I know that will (with a little w) is ego and individual desire and Will (with a big W) is just a synonym for Fate.

So let's break it down further, shall we?

 What is Will?
Will to me, which the ceremonialists call "True Will", is not about individuals at all. Finding "your True Will" has so very little to do with what you like and don't like as a person. It has precious little to do with following desire. Desire is will (with a little W) dressed up in ego's trappings. You can choose to follow desire if you wish- but that is not actually Will. That is Ego. And it makes you a Sleeper*, not someone Awakened.

So what is Will, in my tradition? This may squick some of you, but Will is Fate. Fate is God Herself. She is living through all of us and has a consciousness. She occupies Time, Space, and Matter simultaneously. Will has precious little to do with you as an individual as you know yourself. That is merely ego. You? You are a nose hair of Old Fate. Perhaps a toenail cell. You are small and a piece of something larger. You are important in your lifetime to the whole- but make no mistake, you are tiny and will die and the whole will live beyond you just fine, thank-you-very-much. Cells die and are reborn in our bodies daily. Do you hold wakes and funerals for your dying cells? No, of course not.

We are all connected, because we are ALL Her- Fate. When you occupy time, space, and matter simultaneously, you don't have any illusions that time is linear. Fate can make anything happen, in myriad ways across many timelines and places. And when she does that, it is like a body carrying out autonomic or conscious functions- certain nerve cells will transmit messages, muscles will move, actions will be taken. All for the greater whole. And you- you are a muscle cell in a larger muscle, flexing to do work you cannot even see, most of the time.

Will is not an individual discernment ("I am following my True Will!" "I am learning my True Will!"- statements like this make me groan). Forcing stuff to happen that you "want" is akin to Mickey Mouse in Fantasia (and often yields the same results). Often your Will has nothing to do with YOU at all (or what you know as "you". "You" are merely an instrument of Fate and because you have been chosen to be that instrument- it involved "you". People who say the above statements are mistaking small w will for big W Will. "Small w" will is all about you and your ego. Big W Will is about something larger than you and you are moving and doing things- being swept up in the Flow of things. It may appear we are "doing" to manifest Will. Will is more about recognition than about decision.

This is why I am wary (and weary!) of messages from spiritual teachers talking about Will and Desire. Desire comes from an individual- it is a product of Ego. Rugged individualism is not really a Crafty outlook. It is one that is very comfortable for human beings, and I can understand why a teacher crafts a message for a larger audience that involves desire. Humans love to believe that they are special and have free will. But that idea, while comforting, is not true. Yes, most Witches are quirky, odd, and appear as "individuals" that cannot make it in Sheeple* society. But one should not mistake square pegs not fitting into round holes as "individualism". It isn't.

Ego can be involved (although you should always check yourself before you wreck yourself...) in day-to-day decisions (because they matter so very little in the larger scheme of things), but the big decisions? They were never really up to you in the first place. Sounds scary, huh? It is. It's terrifying having that knowledge on a daily basis. It's perpetually uncomfortable skating between my desire and Fate. It has been crazy at times and led to some serious loss. I watch people comfort themselves with cute notions of "free will" and "choice" and smile, but smile sadly.

So then, what does the Victor Anderson quote actually mean? What IS "life force" if not Will/Fate? Life force is the stuff that connects you with all of creation. It makes you no more and no less important than others. When you submit your life force, you make someone else more important than you. Going back to the analogy of a cell in the body- if you submit your life force, you do not function as the cell you need to be- you give up that purpose for the sake of another cell. We all have done this, in myriad ways- here's a small mundane example of one of mine:

When I was married, my wife was what I liked to call "a militant sharer". Everything had to be fair, even food types and portions. If we were splitting something, we adopted her "one person cuts, the other person chooses method". When we ate at restaurants, she would fret unless we both got something we would both like and then we shared meals, halfsies. This worked out OK most of the time, but there are things that I liked that she did not, such as cruciferous vegetables. I went for 10 years without eating broccoli because my wife was a militant sharer. If I tried to assert my preference and order something that we would not share, I would get pouts and sulks. Now, this is not a huge issue. I ignored it and went along with it for a decade. Then we broke up. And I could order anything I damn well wanted. I came to realize that in this small way, I was submitting my life force to my wife- and I chose to do so. We all chose it when we do it (never play the "I had no choice game, in this realm. It is hardly ever true.).

So- to rap up: You are important, but no more important than any other living thing. That's right- you are as important as a dandelion or a crow or the President of the United States or any of the gods you traffic with. You do not have free will. You have some leeway in your day-to-day decisions, but mostly Fate decides what is happening. If you fight it, chances are you will hurt yourself and not get your way anyway. (Think of the muscle cell working with all its might against the flexing of the others. It will likely not work, strain the muscle and harm that cell most of all.) When Victor was talking about not submitting your life force- he was trying to get most folks to realize that we are peers with the gods, that we are gods ourselves, because we are a part of the divine. Most people give themselves away in a series of small actions each day. This is an important habit for a Witch to give up as quickly as possible. It interferes with understanding of Fate and how She works. It reinforces the idea of free will, even as you surrender yours.

*"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.


  1. Thank you for your clear writing about this. I know that magical experiences can be hard to put into words, but I get really annoyed by how often people throw around words and terms without a clear explanation of what they're trying to say. At best I think it's an attempt to communicate with limited tools; at worst I think it's an attempt to sound self-important, as people often won't challenge you when you say something like, "Ooh, that's a total Black Heart outfit you've got on!"

    Giving myself away in small pieces each day is something I've been reflecting on lately. I'm wondering how you balance that with the need to be in community as you wrote earlier? Is it just a practice of mindfulness, like saying, "I am deliberately choosing to let someone else take the lead here"?

  2. HI there! What a fascinating question. I wonder if you perpetually find yourself in communities where someone else "leads", or if they always have "leaders"? Reading your question, it seemed like you were contrasting being focused on self with being in community. I don't always find that they are opposites.

    It really varies, depending on the communities, you know? It has taken me a long time to find communities of folks where everyone is valued, at least in theory. Practice is always a daily thing nad varies from person to person and day to day. Being a decent human being all the time is a mindfulness practice too!

    I do of course let other people "lead" (which is different than bossing folks around- leaders lead by example and do the work too- bosses yell a lot and end up doing much less work than others). I cannot possibly be an expert on everything and there is so much to learn and so many to learn from. I really enjoy beginner's mind, when in a respectful environment. Right now I am studying acupuncture and TCM and have lots of teachers and leaders to defer to!


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