Thursday, June 18, 2015

Practical Magic

Really interesting couple of blog posts that got me to thinking about the way I approach magic in my life:
This got me to thinking about my own approach to magic, which has a very specific and strong bias, based on my own personality and needs. If you're working along with the PMPM posts (or would like to start), then you should be aware of this because it colors the way I work and the way I present my workings.

Full disclosure: I am completely, unalterably, and deep to my core a fundamentally practical person -- results oriented all the way. Even my hobbies are practical (knitting, canning, baking, painting -- but only sigil paintings)! It's like if there isn't some obvious purpose or result, I just can't even bring myself to do it. Just fucking around? Wandering aimlessly without a goal? Going with the flow? Doing magic for the sake of the magic? Yeah, not really capable of that.

This isn't necessarily a good thing. It's benefited my career obviously, and it means that I do tend to get results (because results are what I'm after, natch). However I'm not unaware that this tendency is both annoying and limiting in some weird ways.

First of all, because if all I want is results, then well, results is all I'm going to get. Which isn't bad necessarily, but striving and achieving without enjoying is a hollow success. Not to mention that getting stuck on the hedonic treadmill is a huge risk for me. Sometimes I achieve goals not because of any actual desire for the goal, but because just having a goal is such a comfort. And I'm not just talking about money here (though there is often a link between goals and money). Sometimes the goals I set don't have any financial advantage and could even cost me money. Sometimes they are about completely non-material things.

Second, because life isn't enjoying meeting a goal, it's all the living you do in between reaching goals... and it's the living you do while you're not reaching goals too. Being in the moment is a critical skill for spiritual development and its always been very, very hard for me. I don't think it's that I'm a future focused person, necessarily. It's that if I'm not striving NOW for something, then I'm not happy. The trouble is enjoying the now (whether or not I'm striving).

St. Ferris of Shermer

Third, because I realize I can be annoying to others. My spouse says I approach problems like a stereotypical man. I want to get enough data and then start proposing solutions. Sorry, I don't have time to listen to your feelings. I have to force myself to silence when my friends call just wanting to vent. I have to wait and then remind myself to ask whether they might like a suggestion. Because my instinct is to write up a 10 point action plan and check in with you to make sure you're following up. I'm sorry. I know that sucks.

One of the ways I mitigate this tendency in myself is to draw a pretty hard line between my magic and my spirituality. This sounds odd, since I talk about calling on spirits in magic. But for me there's a distinct difference. Magic is one of the things I do to achieve goals. I may recruit help from various entities to do so. My religious practice on the other hand is for no other purpose than to honor the spirits/Deities/ancestors, enjoy the wonder of the universe, and experience the magic already inherent everywhere I look.

If I didn't distinguish between the two, I'd run the risk of polluting my spiritual practice with all kinds of demands and losing sight of the amazingness of everything... which is hard enough to see in our society and with my own personal tendencies.

Hey Grandma, I know it's been a while, but can I borrow some money?

Some make the objection that if you want something there are easier ways to get it than through magic. I've heard this a lot and I really just don't get it. Yes, getting something purely though magic is probably going to be harder than through mundane means, but why are they mutually exclusive? The easiest way of all is do do both the magic and mundane work... to weave them together so that you are achieving the things you need to and living a magical life all at the same time.

For example, if you want that promotion and you suck at your job, straight up enchanting for it is going to be a challenge (and if the enchantment works, you're going to be screwed because you don't know what you're doing). But if you work hard to be good at your job already, why not throw some magic in there too? It's not one or the other. Magic is not just the last resort, when everything else has failed (though I've used it to make the Hail Mary pass, I admit). Magic should be the first thing you do, the first step in your planning. And it should happen right along with the mundane work.

Everyone has certain "super" powers. Things they can do that other's can't. For example, my spouse can manipulate the hell out of your emotions with an instrument in his hands. He always knows what will be best on a menu (I just have what he's having). And he always finds the best shortcuts. My kid knows instinctively what people are feeling and where they're hurting and can lie like no one's business.

Mine are:

  • The ability deliver critical feedback and still have the person like and respect me (I don't know how I do it either, it's a native talent that I try not to think about too hard)
  • The ability to fold space while packing luggage so as to fit twice as much in a bag or box as possible by the laws of physics (I actually get into an altered state while packing and I'm always tagged to do all the packing for the family)
  • The ability to project manage... which is, yes, something I've learned through experience and study, but also seems like something innate to my being
I don't really like to criticize, and I'm not about to start some kind of packing business. But I spend an abnormal about of my time thinking about project management (especially since I do it all day at work) so I thought I might put that particular quirk to good use.

The thing is that not everyone is like me, nor should they be. Extremism of any kind is probably a bad thing. Each person has to find their way of relating to the world. And if they are more happy than not, they should be OK. And I admit I'm more happy than not. So I figure I'll spin this uber-practicality of mine into a net positive.

I do it in my career (Aimless? Let me direct you. Confused? Let me prioritize. Lost? I've got a process for that!). And I do it here on the blog. The thing you have to remember is that the PMPM stuff on the blog is very targeted and focused on reaching goals through combining magical and mundane means. It's not the only thing to do or way to be or approach to take. This isn't the whole of anything. If my PMPM stuff is useful in helping one person reach a goal that they've set for themselves, then that's MY goal.

... Just don't get addicted OK?

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