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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 13,208,437  

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Question of the Week: 53 - 8/6/2001

What is 'Will' or 'Willpower'?

Okay, now that you're all rested up from your fun festival experiences, time to stretch the ole brain cells once more: What do you think the human/spiritual/magickal 'will' may be? Where does it come from? How do you get it? Is it a function of the brain, of the spirit? Does it emerge from rational mind processes/training or is it an instinctual survival method? How might 'will' be used to produce good ends and/or how might it be abused? Do you believe that a person or persons with 'will' can affect the processes of the natural world or change the course of history? If decisions and the course of human/political/social events are determined every day by people and systems with an agenda, how could/would (or not) Pagans use their own 'willpower' to either aid or deter such agendas? Finally, do you believe- REALLY believe- that one person or a group of like-minded persons with sufficient will can change the world? If you do, then why does it seem that so few people are actually working at doing so?

 Reponses:   There are 19 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I've Been Reading Things About And By Aleister Crowley Lately. From This... Aug 11th. at 11:51:33 pm EDT

Brightarrow (San Leandro, California US) Age: 46

I've been reading things about and by Aleister Crowley lately. From this source I get the impression that "Will" is not simply your own impulses; it's more like your purpose -- the reason the universe produced you. When he says "Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law, " he means (apparently) that you have a right to let NOTHING get in the way of your reason for existing in the universe -- of being your most honest authentic self.

(Wait, though. What if it is your "will" to be Hitler? Well, it is other people's "will" to be the Allied Forces. And I'm not sure that it's a very good analogy, anyhow; I keep coming back to the belief that if Hitler had figured out how to live by "love under Will, " the Shoah [Hebrew: "outrage"] would not have happened.)

But this isn't defining Will, is it? Only describing its ideal effects. Let me try again: Will is the discovery of your purpose. It is the drive to living authentically. It is the hunt for the place or places that turn you into a fountain of life from which anyone in need may drink WITHOUT robbing or diminishing you.

"Will" is, in short, "la chasse spirituelle." Excuse me, folks, I have to go write an epic poem now. Damn.

The Fact That People Even Have To Ask What Will Is Shows... Aug 10th. at 11:15:38 pm EDT

gnothi (Jacksonville, Florida US) Age: 39

The fact that people even have to ask what Will is shows that they don't really know what they are.

Will's just desire. Simple.

Action takes place when three things fall into place:
1. an Idea of how things could be
2. a Plan for how to make them that way
3. Will (desire) to do the things in the plan.

Life's not that simple, as I'm sure you've noticed. Will gets conflicted. You have lots of Ideas and Plans, and the strength of desire (Will) behind each one is different. Sometimes you have to choose in this moment between two plans that you desire about equally in this moment. Sometimes you have a clear strong Will to do a plan and afterward you have a Will not to have done it (regret).

The more benefit you picture yourself getting from a plan and the less cost, the stronger your Will to do the things in that plan.

Usually, the closer you are to your reward, the more real it seems to you and the stronger your will to do that plan. That means you have to specifically hype yourself up to build will (desire) to take action today on your long-term plans. You have to pay attention to your future today or else it won't be there when you're ready for it. This is called "wisdom" and it's way different from "knowledge".

You're composed of three things (maybe more, I dunno) 1. a "window" on infinity - your ideas come from somewhere. If they were all just rehashes of things you've already experienced, there would be no such things as imagination, invention or creativity. Some people seem to see farther into infinity than others, maybe they have more ability, maybe they have more desire, maybe they have fewer inhibitions, I dunno. These are your geniuses and people who train their creativity. From here comes your ability to picture how things could be.

2. a "planner" that can figure out (based on past experience) how to get things done.

3. a "spark" - this is your Will, your sense of self, the part of you that cares about stuff, that has preferences. Seems to be stronger in some folks than others.

A word to folks who are in mental distress because they think they can't control their behavior: Funny thing about "unwise" behavior - Those who have a lot of stress and pain over their unwise behavior are the ones who do have a lot of Will. If you didn't have Will to do the right thing, you wouldn't care that it's not getting done. Notice that sometimes you want to do the unwise behavior and sometimes you want to do (or wish you had done) the wise behavior. The times when you want to do the unwise behavior, I'll bet you a dollar, are when the immediate reward from the unwise behaviors are staring you in the face. Later on you think about the long-term consequences and you do definitely care about them - you do definitely have Will to do the right thing. One of the tricks to getting through those moments of temptation is to put some effort into thinking about the costs of the unwise behavior and the benefits of the wise behavior. Use your imagination and build up some emotional steam behind it. I'll bet you another dollar that in those times when you were tempted and chose to do the right thing instead, you had a strong picture of the costs of the unwise option and/or the benefits of the wise option.

What Is Will Or Willpower ? I Have Asked Myself That Very Thing... Aug 10th. at 12:45:34 pm EDT

Rae (Tunbridge Wells, England UK) Age: 28

What is will or willpower ? I have asked myself that very thing a fair few times this last year.
Sometimes I have wondered if I actually had one - a "will", that is. I have sunk so low in my life (now happily on the climb up again) at times that it has seemed that my will has all but disappeared. Each day has seemed like utter torture. Yet I have slugged away still, existing, as so many lost and desolate people do.
And I suppose that *that* proves I didn't lose my will - I kept on keeping on, when even it seemed pointless. But where did that desire - or at least that ability - to keep on come from ?
Well, it certainly wasn't to do with hope - cos I had given up on that. Nor was it love related - love was the biggest of my problems, actually. Too much of it from me and not enough from other people, FWIW. It wasn't to do with responsibility to a family or dependants - haven't got any (or any that really would have noticed if I had dropped out of sight). It wasn't due to faith in the world being a better place somehow when I awoke the next morning. There was nothing, it seemed, in me worth keeping on keeping on *for*. Yet I still did it. Yet I don't know why.

"Will", I think (amongst other things), is the ability to carry on when nothing else is left. It can take care of us (for want of a better expression) when times are very bad, just the same as it can sustain us and level us when times are very good. It is the knowledge that we are a sentient being in the world, and that even if we feel we have no control over our destinies or our current situations or our future, we really *do*, because in our hearts, we still have "will". The will to live, or the will to die. Or the will to just carry on. Is this part of our soul, or part of our hearts or part of our instinct ? - Who can say. Will is utterly personal to each and every one of us - we use it how we please, for good or bad or just to survive. We can certainly change ourselves with it - whether we can change the world, as such, is purely down to personal opinion. If you live your life by saying "The world will be as thus within the reach of my arm" then you *have* changed - or at least maintained - the world - your world, at least. But what effect does that have on someone else and their world ?
It's all a matter of perspective, I feel. Like so many things !

What Do You Think The Magickal Will May Be? We Need To... Aug 10th. at 2:05:32 am EDT

David (OZ, North Carolina US) Age: 1

What do you think the magickal will may be? We need to ask some of the people on the site that shows that Carlos C. was scamming, I'm not sure the exact site ( The will comes from are desire, need to survive? How might the will be used to produce good ends or be abused? Some people want to control the occult com. so they offer a portal that limits knowledge that works, but increases a hodgepodge of things that do not or only work a little. Love those Healing Requests, why so few using them? Can people affect their will to change things. Have some posts up from Denessa Smith on in O&E section, clearly shows that Tempest was taunted way before she showed an interest in wicca. You are not going Fritz to make her into a call to arms for wicca and the occult com. the way it is said on your post earlier. Am having trouble getting posts through now. Denessa is a tough but kind women. How can Pagens aid or deter social events? Witches Voice is doing a excellent job in getting people in wicca to nibble on everything except wicca. People don't want to change the world because that means their life as they know it. Wren and Fritz play around at the corners and are the church in mask.

Gee Whiz, You Guys. This Stuff Really May Be A Matter Of... Aug 10th. at 1:53:19 am EDT

Dances with Shadows (Catalina, Arizona US) Age: 47 - Email

Gee whiz, you guys. This stuff really may be a matter of opinion to you, but it old and well covered ground in established occult circles. I think that most of you are trying to re-invent the wheel. Don't you ever study??????? or read the classics???????

First read Tarostar's response to this question. Next read some of the classics in Occult literature, try starting with Theosophy. Take a few years, maybe 7.

This stuff is so basic. To me, most of you sound like you are giving differing opinions on the spelling of cat.

Testing: Hello... Aug 10th. at 1:38:34 am EDT

nury (oz, North Carolina US) Age: 1

Testing: Hello

Will Is... The True Voice Of The Soul. Much As The Desire... Aug 9th. at 11:42:26 pm EDT

Coyote (Clifton, New Jersey US) Age: 30 - Email

Will is... the true voice of the soul. Much as the desire to know itself caused the One to will forth existence, Will is what keeps us rooted in and directs our course in this universe. Sometimes distractions or obstacles can cause us to turn aside from our Will, but somewhere in the back of our heart & mind it is always there. You know what is true for you.
Through Will we can change ourselves. By changing ourselves we can change the way we interact with the world (ordinary & non-ordinary). By changing the way we interact, we can change the world. Even if it starts small, say by convincing your neighbor to turn down his radio at night. Your act lets everyone around get better sleep and they go through their next day perhaps a little more relaxed and interact with the people they meet as such.

It's Free Will. Just Like The Books I'm Reading Say. No One... Aug 9th. at 10:25:30 am EDT

Ciarrai's Two Cent (Somewhere in Somerset County, New Jersey US) Age: 34 - Email

It's free will. Just like the books I'm reading say. No one coerced me into a magickal lifestyle. No one converted me to WitchCraft. The Craft found me and my desire to study it is of my own free will. Will is of body/mind and spirit. I do think it is also instinctive. Just like our own reflexes. Say a reflex of the spirit, of the soul, of our "self." My will affects all around me. The will of others dually affects me. We all have willpower, but we all don't know how to use it. I am a firm believer that a Pagan lifestyle does promote positive use of willpower through adherence to the Rede as well as through living a magickal life. It is amazing what one person can do. It is amazing what Witches can do. Every day.

Things go wrong b/c of two things: (1) bureaucracy, and (2) lack of common sense. We really don't give ourselves the credit we deserve. We will to do we we will.

"An it harm none, do as ye WILL." I think there's more to that than just just doing what you want to do as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. I think we need to control our "will" as well as our "willpower." Or, as Mr. Crowley says, "Do what they wilt shall be the whole of the law." I don't quite understand Mr. Crowley, but it screams logic about will, free will and willpower.

At least this little mouse thinks so!

Peace, Ciarrai (aka Kerry or KC)

So Many Questions, In Such Small Font! I Think I Want To... Aug 9th. at 3:28:14 am EDT

Liz Law (Salt Lake City, Utah US) Age: 22 - Email

So many questions, in such small font! I think I want to focus mainly on the last two. First, I absolutely believe that one person or a small group of people can change the world with their own 'willpower'. It's all a question of perspective. What is 'your world'? Who is 'your world'? What makes 'your world' crumble? As I was growing up and my world expanded beyond my backyard, and then beyond my block as I began to attend school I learned a very painful lesson... I will never be able to know everyone who is alive (let alone who has ever or will ever live.) This was very hard for me, but I quickly learned that I can choose what is part of 'my world' and what is not. Once I found out who I was and what things I wanted as part of my life, I began to see how someone or something could add or detract value from 'my world'. This may seem arrogant, but please understand I do not think I am better than anyone else, but if I passed out at the sight of blood, I would decide that phlebotamy is not what I should be doing in my life. This is the kind of choosing I am talking about.

So, we create our own worlds then decide who and what we let in. These people can change our immediate worlds. A kind word at the right time. Or an understanding silent nod... these small gestures can change the world of an individual. To assume that this ability stops when we begin to look beyond our little circles is like saying that water will only help the plants in your garden grow.

Then why, you ask, does it seem that so few people are actually working at doing this? I am reminded of my high school Humanities teacher, John Jackson. He introduced me to books such as Siddartha (Herman Hesse) and would ask, "Well, will this bring Siddhartha the answers he is searching for. What do you think?" The most common response was "I don't know." and I never tired of his response, "What do you mean you don't know? You are a graduating high school senior, about to go out into 'the real world' and you don't know what you think? I don't believe that. I believe that you don't want to share what you think. You need to stop assuming that what you think can't be right because you thought of it." How does this relate? It is a sad thing, but many people lack faith in themselves. Not us Pagans/Wiccans/Witches/Heathens though right? We have found truth, beauty and magic in everything. We believe in things that we were told are figments of our imaginations. We evolved past that left level, right?

Wrong. We work towards it and perhaps our spiritual paths help us reach these conclusions sooner than others. But how many of you worried about doing something wrong the first time you went to a festival or public ritual? Anybody worry that they might forget which direction they were facing and call to the element of fire while facing west? It is human nature to worry that you are doing something wrong. It is Divine Nature to know you are Divine and as a result, if you follow your heart, and trust in yourself it will be right. Until more of the human race realizes their Divine Nature, there will always be too few who trust in the words "So mote it be!"

To "will" Something To Occur Takes Focus, Determination And Dedication (until The... Aug 8th. at 9:48:00 pm EDT

Lynne-Renee (rural STL, Missouri US) Age: 29 - Email

To "will" something to occur takes focus, determination and dedication (until the achieved goal is resultant). This takes brain function, connectedness to spirit and comes built in and can be honed.

My main point here is that we do have "will" whether we notice it or not. I once truly lost my will. Heck, didn't even know it was there before.

Shortly after making my peace with impending death, it was lost. There was a nothingness that was an abyss. I don't mean that poetically. I cannot was an "oubliette." Living in this world without your will is a condition so unnatural and completely wrong that the Universe reached right out (after some hours) and sent someone to me. At the time I thought she was human, now I understand she most definitely was not. Anyway, the beauty of this was how easily it came back or "the cup was refilled." It took simply her brushing back my bloody, vomit-filled hair and saying, "Baby, you've been so sick." I looked at her and instantaeously was in this world. She disappeared without bringing me any mundane help but all I needed then was WILL.

An earlier post said something about our will being part of the "Diving Will." I agree. I believe that even 1 person can change the world but few do it because it is extremely difficult to maintain focus that strong while denying the physical world (which would need to be done for significant change, I think).

An Excellent Set Of Questions! Here Is My Opinion On What They... Aug 8th. at 2:28:18 pm EDT

John (New Naumkeag) Age: 34 - Email

An excellent set of questions! Here is my opinion on what they boil down to and what my answers are.

1. What is will?

Will is deliberate desire. Will is chosen desire. Will is determined desire. As focus is to sight, as yearning is to heart, as concentration is to mind, so will is to desire. Will is the focus of our beings for achieving desire.

Since our being has several aspects (physical and metaphysical), so too does will have several aspects (physical and metaphysical). And since will is about achieving desire, it is a faculty that is both passive and active. Thus, it is a faculty than can be cultivated and developed.

2. Can people use will to cause change?

Yes. It is one step among five in the general process that people use to cause change. They are: the need, the goal, the power, the means and the will. The process works like this:

--First is the need, which is strong desire.
--Second is the goal, which is concept of what would satisfy the need.
--Third is the power, which is the potential to achieve the goal.
--Fourth is the means, which are the forms of the actual into which power is set to manifest the goal.
--Fifth is will, which is the focus of our beings that connects need to goal, power to means, potential to forms of the actual. (That is also a way to understand the Threefold Rule.)

3. Can people use will to change the world?

Yes and no.

Yes, people can use will to cause change in the world, through the five-step process that I outlined above. Millions of people around the planet are, right now, working very hard and with very focused wills to change their lives to what they will. Change in the physical realm (and thus in the world) takes time; but then, what is time except change in the physical? Also, with millions of people each working their own wills, there is often conflict between wills. Considering that plus natural law and Divine will, it shouldn't be surprising that not all will manifests. Also, when will does manifest, it can do so in unexpected ways. That said, yes: people can and do change the world with their wills. Often the change is in mundane tasks -- things that are not usually considered to be examples of change but which really are: raising children, feeding families, and so on. But, there is other change -- the kind that is usually considered to be "change." Around the planet, people are working to change their material living conditions for the better; they are working to change their societies (governments, cultures and so on) to be more free, fair and just; and when they succeed and notice that there is something Essential missing, they (hopefully) work to change their religions too. This is especially true now and in the previous century and probably in this new century too. Hence, we are witnesses to (and participants in) enormous amounts of change in the world and of the world, change that is mundane and extraordinary, change that is willed by millions of people around the world.

No, people cannot change the world itself, when the "the world" is understood as Nature Itself. That is because of two general facts.

The first general fact is that we, this planet, the physical and metaphysical dimensions, and the lives we live therein are parts of Nature. Thus, human will is a part of Nature. And Nature has laws for how its parts behave. (For example, one such law is that change takes place through time.) Thus, the manifestation of human will 1) must occur in compliance with Nature's laws for its parts and 2) must occur through the processes of Nature.

The second general fact is that Nature Itself has a will. Put another way, it seems that Nature is not just the sum of Its parts; It seems also to be a Whole that is more than the sum of Its parts. This, I think, can be observed and inferred and believed in, but not proven. Yet, because it so often observed and inferred and believed in, I treat it as a fact (albeit, an unprovable one). And, it can be theistically or atheistically or agnostically understood, perhaps best, as Being-Becoming. As Being, It is infinite. Thus, Being is "beyond" everything that is finite. As Becoming that which is finite, Being is everything and is infinitely in everything. And Being-Becoming --precisely because It is becoming-- has (or, can be said to have) a will. And that will is everything and is in everything and is beyond everything. Thus, human will is an aspect of Being-Becoming; thus too, human will must comply with the will of Being-Becoming (Nature-as-a -Whole) in order to manifest.

It also means that people whose wills are exceptionally attuned to Divine Will (or, the Will of Nature-as-a-Whole) can sometimes seem to do exceptional things. For example, those whose orientation to reality is through knowledge and whose wills are exceptionally attuned to Divine Will can produce exceptional knowledge, as shown (for example) by modern science or by other forms of scholarship. Those whose orientation to reality is through love and whose wills are exceptionally united to Divine Will can love in exceptional ways; such people are usually called the saints.
Those whose orientation to reality is through work and whose wills are exceptionally united to Divine Will can produce exceptional work -- for example, through the arts or through business or through society and politics or through technology; sometimes, their exceptional results are regarded as miraculous (Divinely or demonically) by the ignorant. Likewise are those whose orientation to reality is through mysticism or magic and whose wills are exceptionally united to Divine Will; their prayers seem to be granted to an exceptional degree and their magics seem to manifest to an exceptional degree, and their exceptional results also seem to be miraculous (Divinely or demonically) to the ignorant. The key for all of these --for producing exceptional results through human will-- is for human will to be exceptionally attuned to Divine Will, and the price of that key is usually exceptional renunciation of the will of self, for Truth.

In sum, people can use will to change the world, and millions of people are doing so in mundane and extraordinary ways. However, humans and human wills are but parts of Nature; thus they must comply with Nature's laws for Its parts, and thus too human will must manifest through Nature's processes --including taking time and often being conflicted by other wills. Also, Nature-as-a-Whole has a will. To the degree that human will complies with and is attuned to these is the degree to which human will manifests. If it does manifest, its form of manifestation will also be shaped by the will's conformity to Nature's law and attunement to the will of Nature-as-a-Whole.

4. "Then, why does it seem that so few people are actually working at doing so"?

If it seems "that so few people are actually working at" manifesting change in conformity to will (including changing the world), it is because that perception is inaccurate -- probably because of an inaccurate understanding of will and of change. To review:

--Will is the focus of our beings for achieving desire.
--Achieving desire is done through a five-step process, the culmination of which is will (which is the focus of our beings that connects the other steps: need to goal, power to means, potential to forms of the actual).
--People can cause change to occur in conformity with will 1) to the extent allowed by Nature's law, through Nature's processes and 2) to the degree their wills are to attuned to Divine Will; and
--Millions of people are causing change in conformity to will, right now, around the planet, in mundane and extraordinary ways.

All of this takes time. Also, with millions of wills, there are plenty of conflicts of wills. Hence, particular wills do not always manifest; when they do, they can manifest in unexpected ways.

5. How can people use will for good or evil?

Morality lies in the wielder of a tool and not in the tool itself. Will is a human faculty; nevertheless it can be used as a tool, for good or for evil.

Leaving aside the issue of what counts as good and evil, it is useful to recall *what* good and evil are. They are qualities by which we describe aspects of existence; they are not Existence Itself. Rather, Existence (Being-Becoming or Nature-as-a-Whole) simply Is. It thus includes but is not limited to what is finite, including qualities used to describe It.

Paradoxically, this means that Infinity includes but is not limited to the finite, that Truth includes but is not limited to ignorance, that the Will of Nature-as-a-Whole (or, "Divine Will") includes but is not limited to human free will . . .
and its various choices for good or for evil.

That also means that there is also ultimately only Divine Will (or, the Will of Nature-as-a-Whole). People eventually discover that (in this lifetime, the afterlife or another lifetime), in large part as they experience the consequences of their actions --i.e., as they are rewarded by their good deeds and as they are punished by their sins. And in that sense, the Divine Will --which is all, which is in all and which is beyond all too-- is good, though It includes (but is not limited to) evil.

6. So what is the real issue regarding will?

As focus is to sight, so will is to desire, and people shall always have both as part of their being -- a being that is always becoming. Hence, the issue regarding will is *what* people desire. For, "We are our deepest desires. As we desire, so we will. As we will, so we act. As we act, so we become." (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, chapter 4, section 4, verse 5.)

Blessed Be.

What Is Will? Can Will Work? Will Is Energy In The Form... Aug 8th. at 2:04:15 pm EDT

mik63033 (Ferguson, Missouri US) Age: 41 - Email

What is will? Can will work? Will is energy in the form of concentrated desire and intention. It can and does work. I proudly call myself both Wiccan and Witch and (to any anal-retentive types - prepare to clench - to me the words are synonymous; tomahto, tomato, what-EH-ver) can claim that my Majick (or will, if you will) has worked something like 14 out of 15 times. I am a solitary, and if one person can be so effective, of course more people should naturally increase the energy, IF that will is combined with concentrated energy raising and direction, usually , but not always, visualization, and assurance. To my sister and brother Wiccans who have possibly let the latest "findings" erode their confidence in their Majick i would say this: take the so-called research with a grain of salt. I don't buy into it and if i did, it still wouldn't change what i know i (and the Goddess through me) have done and of course will always be capable of doing. Archeology is not exactly an exact science. Scientists whether they may like to admit it or not, are not infallable. They're not robots. They're human, subject to subjectivity. Put 10 archeologists in the same room and you'll have at least 4 different theories or conclusions that are promoted and bandied about. Then debunked. Then believed again. I know. I've seen it on PBS. Bottom line is they're just people trying to make pieces of a puzzle fit all nice and tidy. You have the answer. Don't let the argument of origin interfere with what you know. So our religion was reformed 50 yrs. ago. And? So Indiana Jones has yet to find the lost continent of women - And?? That doesn't change the truth or our tenets. Raise energy, direct it, visualize(especially with candle Majick). KNOW it has worked even as you are doing it. Know thyself.
Goddess bless

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