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Article ID: 4595
Age Group: Adult
Posted: July 29th. 2002
Powering Up Your Magickal Will...
That's one dang scary Witch face ya got there, Wren..." I muttered to the reflection staring blearily back at me from the mirror. It had been a long night and a much too early morning and such things don't wear all that well on a fifty-something complexion. But the small smile that began to form as I thought back on the remarkable rescue of the nine miners who had somehow survived being trapped 240 feet underground for three days helped a bit. At least I wouldn't be scaring any small children when I took out the trash.
This whole week has been tough. Two little girls were abducted and later found murdered. One other little girl also was kidnapped, but somehow managed to escape. More killings occurred in Israel and across the world, more corporate scandals were revealed and more accusations of abuse by clergymen rose to the surface of public scrutiny. And cancer survivor Lance Armstrong won his fourth Tour de France. Emotionally, it was an up and down roller coaster ride with many people screaming to be let off. Such highly charged events --whether they seem to be for good or for ill -- can be draining and exhausting. When they tumble over one another as they did during this past week, it can easily leave one emotionally reeling and feeling somewhat psychically disoriented. That is where the power of will comes in. But just what is 'will' anyway?
Religious Context: The word 'will' is sometimes used as a substitute for the words 'stubborn' or 'contrary' as in, "She is such a willful child." There is an essence of some sort of 'disobedience' inherent in the will of the child here in opposition to the authority of the parent. 'Will' is also used in affirmative statements, such as "I will too and you can't stop me." Here again, such a statement can become a 'negative' premise easily enough (as an act of verbal defiance via the child) or as a corrective statement should the parent wish to declare that "I will not tolerate that sort of behavior, young lady!" In cases such as these, 'will' seems to butt right up against obedience to the will of another person, idea or spiritual tenet.
A religion or spiritual discipline that declares the power and/or directions of a god or gods to be absolute will place great emphasis on the surrender of the individual human will to that of the supreme being or beings. Thusly, it would be more 'spiritual' in these contexts to defer one's individual wishes and desires to a higher authority. Such godly 'parents' tend to prefer obedient 'children'. The trouble is, the 'children' don't always feel like obeying. They may want to do something else. This ongoing and seemingly eternal conflict between the role of human free will and the divine authority fills pages and volumes of religious and philosophical works. It is a delicate balance and an uneasy truce.
Many Pagans (but not all) view their relationships with their own Gods as more of a collaborative effort than one of a strict spiritual hierarchy. The Gods and/or Ancestors are to be consulted and revered, but not necessarily unilaterally and subserviently 'obeyed' without question. But the role of the individual free will versus that of the powers that be exists here as well. Wiccans, for example, may find that one true definition of what 'harm none' means can be quite elusive and arbitrary. A fall back position to relativism is not always intellectually satisfying nor is the concept of infallible dogma one that many Wiccans would tend to be comfortable in embracing. Reconstructionist religions, such as Asatru, tend to have more clear-cut tenets of what is considered right and wrong behavior and the role of the individual will and the relationship to the Gods. Even here however, some ambiguous boundaries remain a topic for discussion and further religious introspection. The role of the human free will in religion and/or spiritual practice remains a complicated one. The role of the will in magickal practice then may always be influenced in some measure by one's religious upbringing or philosophy even when 'magick' is performed in other than a religious setting.
So the first step then in understanding the role of will in your magickal life is to look at your personal religious beliefs and attempt to understand and reconcile those influences in your magickal workings. This may well be the most arduous and time-consuming part of the process. The complete elimination of conflicting emotions is not the goal. Such may be not even be desirable as a person devoid of any doubts about the correctness of his or her own will in all matters may easily fall into despotism and/or lunacy. But without some measure of reconciliation --that uneasy truce -- further progress will always be hampered by an inability to act because one has no real idea of where one stands on the religious implications of such an undertaking.
Feelings and Emotions: This is one of the two main schools of thought regarding the engagement of will. On this side of the matter are those who profess that one must be charged up with some deep or strong emotion in order to work one's magickal will to best effect. That one's will is naturally attracted to both the feelings of pleasure and the avoidance of pain is undeniable. The main purpose of a love spell would be to obtain the affections of one whom you desire to be with. Healing spells are constructed to alleviate pain and suffering either for oneself or for others. In both cases, although the first might be considered to be more 'selfish' (or self directed) and the latter to be more altruistic (or other directed), at the foundation is this same driving pleasure/pain principle. If one has not reconciled the religious principle as outlined above, such workings will be further compromised by emotional and/or spiritual doubts over the 'rightness/righteousness' of one's actions. The opposite can also be true. Magickal workings enhanced by religious/spiritual conviction or context can add power to any spell.
The other concern regarding basing one's magickal will work upon emotional energies is that emotions and feelings are often fleeting or transient. The person who made your world spin this month may give way to a new contender for your heartstrings in the next. Anger or the desire to exact revenge upon a rival or adversary may also be misplaced (the person is innocent of the 'crime') or physically non-sustaining (you may get over it in time). Human emotions are in a constant state of flux. Basing your magickal workings upon feelings and emotions seems -- to me, at least -- to lack a necessary solid base of operations as it were. Asking yourself if this is really your 'will' or is this merely your 'whim' is helpful. Such a question would, of course, require curbing the emotional impetus driving such a desire in the first place and which is difficult to do when one is in the throes of love, lust or anger. That many folks cannot do this very thing is, I think, one of the strong appeals for some who embrace the magick-is-best-when-emotionally-driven mindset. Strong emotions are difficult to sustain over the long term and are quite physically, emotionally and psychically exhausting even as a more fleeting impetus for action. Such workings are best left to the adept (see below). However, for short-term results, emergency situations or in workings where feelings of compassion, empathy or even outrage (as against some act of injustice) may play a role, emotion can be a welcome ally and aid.
Knowledge: How we choose to act or engage our will is often based upon the information that we either gather or already have in our possession. The more knowledge that one has concerning a situation or concept, the better it is that we can weigh costs and benefits or how likely it is that our will might indeed prevail. Experience cannot but add to the power of magickal will working. Knowing what has worked or not worked in the past gives one a store of relevant criteria not available to one of more limited experience. Seeking the knowledge gleaned from the experiences of others (via books or personal training) is a part of experience- as-guidance but it is no substitute for one's storehouse of personal experience and seasoning. A new pot remains a new pot -- no matter how long one might have it in the cupboard -- until it is actually used.
There is no armchair equivalent for the actual doing in the beginning although I know of one or two adepts who 'do' quite powerfully without ever leaving the armchair! Engaging the knowledge base within oneself tends to bring in the rational side of the brain. Logic, deep reflection, patterns of history and the foreseeing -- and thus the weighing -- of benefits and risks may sound stodgy and rather counterproductive to the new or emotionally driven budding mage and thus they are usually not attracted to this school of magickal thought in the working of will. Experience is then what they will gain, but it may not be of the type that they bargained for! The only way to become an adept is to become adept in the doing of what it is that makes one become an adept.
Putting it All Together: Working one's magickal will can seem to be an either-or proposition. Either one does so as driven and impelled by some fleeting strong emotion or one logically sits down to assess the situation and to consider what --if any -- action to undertake. In actuality, the blending of the two schools of thought -the emotional/feeling and the knowledge/logic- are continuingly overlapping even in those who strongly endorse one way or the other. For it is always some sort of 'feeling' -- whether that feeling is a personal one or one geared to a wider company or issue-- which impels one to even consider taking some sort of magickal action in the first place. What one doesn't care about, one is not predisposed to engage in.
As action is contemplated (or urged by an emotional impetus), the need for knowledge on how to approach or institute an action that will attain the desired results comes to the foreground of consciousness. Past experiences may either encourage or hold in check the emotions driving the current urge to act. But one cannot call up these past experiences unless one has indeed actually had some considerable experiences from which to draw and can summon up the necessary dispassionate focus with which to analyze them logically. It is then the first work of the will to not only integrate the emotional impetus with the practical application of an action, but to also then put the entire process into one's own spiritual or religious context to see how it all measures up. When these three elements are successfully integrated, your will can become fully and freely engaged. Ultimately, it is this then that causes the 'movement' in the structures or situations upon which your will is focused. And from movement comes change (by definition) and from change comes more experience.
Doing 'as ye will' can be a very powerful force. While many have their own preferred quote or definition of 'will', I happen to like one by Norman Cousins: "Free will and determinism are like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you is determinism. The way you play your hand is free will."
Play your hand well!
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, July 29th., 2002
Photo Credit: the beautiful 'vine inlay' image on our front cover and detailed just above is actually the cover to a box that Wren scored at the local thrift shop earlier this year.
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