I always wanted to be a magician. From an early ag,e I knew that was the way for me. Not your rabbit from a hat prestidigitator nor vanishing cabinet illusionist. No. I wanted to be a real magician, a student of the magic arts. But where to start and what indeed made up those magic arts? I found The Magician, His (sic) Training and Work, by W.E.Butler.
Aha. "Magic is the art and science of making changes in consciousness according to will," I read. Here was a definition I could take on board. And from these first readings I was led to The Mystical Qabalah, written by Dion Fortune. In the back of this book was a brief discrete note that the Society of the Inner Light offered courses. So, this fortuitous chain of events led me to those who offered training in what I wanted to do.
The journey began, first with that Order and then with The Servants of the Light when the Society withdrew from teaching. What made this so wonderful for me was that back in those days, the middle of the last century, there was very, very little published on the topic that was from a reputable source.
But, no matter where my studies took me, that first definition of magic remained my touchstone. It guided my learning, both in the occult arts and in more usual skills, skills more closely related to making a living and developing my own life, needs, preferences.
In the course of this I found another aphorism that resonated: "What is above is like what is below, but after another fashion."
Studying above and below in terms of supposed "Planes of Existence," the finer ones stacked upon the most physical of everyday outer experience, led easily and logically to rephrasing the rule as, "What is without is like what is within." This is in terms of the one being derived from the other. I had learned that the outer world is a manifestation of some inner forces or principles, so I decided that the inner and outer nature of me, of people, was exactly the same, built upon the same dichotomy and relationship.
My first pathworkings and fantasy journeys were specific individual journeys to experience principles, thoughts, feelings on the inner that would flow out as changes to the way I related to the outer.
When the "New Age" mind-and-manifestation people did their inner visualizations to obtain an item in the world it often worked. But, it did not work because their inner mind power had created or manifested that item in the outer. Nor was it because their inner work had attracted the item to them. It was because their inner work had led them to see details they might have missed, to sometimes choose between options with values changed by inner work, leading them down different paths to those that would otherwise have been taken. They achieved the objects of desire by the interaction of their changed inner nature with an unchanged outer world. Their work did not lead the item desired to them. Rather, it led them to the item. A new harmony between within and without had been created.
This is magic.
And this is why the great writers of the last century emphasized inner change, changes in consciousness in accordance with will.
It was not long before I fell in love with the Pathworking method and studied and worked towards building an integrated set of workings that would address different aspect of my inner nature, my imaginings, my thinking and the dynamics behind my decisions to action.
After some time, some experimentation, some testing, and some research, I had built a structured intertwined set of pathworkings to address how a person presents in the world of their experience and to give that person subtle control over their world of both action and thought. I assembled these into a book, The Magic of Pathworking.
I read somewhere that, "the beginner magician takes his (sic) armor off when the battle has just begun." I cannot find that reference now. It may have been Aleister Crowley. The magical task of restructuring the inner self to no-fuss archetypal principles is like putting the sports clothes on before the event, perhaps even before warming up.
If we want to see events in the world unfolding according to our inner nature, then the first task would be to synchronize that inner nature with reality, to bring inner and outer into accord. Once in accord an examination of where inner thoughts, feelings are heading may well give an indication as to where outer events are heading. Once inner and outer match, then reading the winds of change within may give clues to the winds of change without.
And this brings us to magical ritual.
Ah. The regalia. The accoutrements. The barbarous words and phrases of power. A wand, cut at the right time from the right tree, lovingly shaped and inscribed with mystic symbols. Barbarous words of power in a long dead language. An old magic mirror, bought at auction.
You will find that all magic is performed on the inner. Outer regalia and tools serve only to help the mind set the scene. Outer movements and spoken words assist others of a group to synchronize their inner working, which is where the real magic takes place. My priestess and I make the three circumambulations to open the circle for our group. What we are really doing is ascending a spiral staircase together in the turret of a castle. Or sometimes we are walking a circular track up a conical hill in the centre of a plain. All our group participants are in the same inner reality.
One of my teachers said that a group of magicians could perform a rite while riding on the subway. Magicians can perform, and have performed, rites in the same inner space while physically scattered across the globe.
Magic takes place on the inner. And the technique used for this is exactly the same as pathworking. I have set this down in a new book that is just about ready for submission. Some might say that I am giving away secrets here. Well, the second book on magic I acquired was written by Dion Fortune, and she was wont to say: "The greatest secrets of magic can be shouted from the rooftops, but only those with ears to hear will hear."
But why do we do these things at all? To gain power and riches? To bend others to our will?
Perhaps some do.
I happen to think that the true worth is changing oneself in ways that let those positive changes within flow out into reality, lifting it. It is a "rubber sheet" theory. If you take a rubber sheet with the edges fixed in place and pinch and pull one point upward, other parts are also pulled upwards to varying degree. If the magician rises, they pull up others with them.
I say "rising," but only by means of illustration. A better fit is the idea of a journey, a quest, and the distribution of benefits or a return with the prize.
What is it all for? This brings us to mysticism.
My mysticism is always Quest-and-return. The Qabalistic magician might ascend the Tree of Life in their magic, the way of evolution, later to descend the way of involution, bringing back the Prize to make it real or available for others and themselves. The Quest is a fundamental theme in human tales going back into the mists of time. It appears in those modern science fiction tales where the hero, gender irrelevant, alone or in company, attains something that benefits all, or saves the Galaxy. And it occurs in the stories handed down among the First Australians, some going back well over 20,000 years. A quest or task, pitched against trial and adversity, to achieve a prize, not for self but for community, local or global. And often with this is told the price of failure. Or misuse.
Among many Europeans, and especially those of British origins, the Quest of Quests is that of the Grail. This is why I have prepared a work of pathworkings that take the practitioner in the steps and through the adventures of the knight Percival. The attaining of the Grail and the just as important return of the Grail's mystery to the kingdom of everyday life are foundation themes in European cultures.
And this takes us beyond.
For the Grail is but one expression of something fundamental embedded in human nature—the Quest. Be it the Grail, lost treasure, artifacts on a distant world, lost treasures in this world, the ancient Teacher in the Himalayas, the unattainable lover, the Beatrice, the Dulcinea, El Dorado, Shangri-La, and so many more, it is the attainment of the unattainable object or person of desire. It is the Impossible Dream made real.
The idea that this is fundamental to human nature is a subject of mysticism. All magical study and practice leads to this goal. And it all boils down to some quite simple principles: lost and found, separation and reconciliation, exile and homecoming, and more.
In the quests there is the start, the goal, and the journey between. This is followed by the return that is the resolution of the opposites. These are three parts, the two poles and the between. The between may be a path or a barrier.
There is here a core theme of human existence. My current work is not a set of pathworkings. It is a presentation of the many different forms of this foundation principle. Each chapter addresses an aspect of separation/reconciliation, such as exile/homecoming, personality dissociation/reintegration, separation of lovers and their reconciliation, the Fritz Perls empty chair/two-chair tool, and much more.
It is written in two styles to present the resolution of poetry and prose into a whole meaning. Then the resolution is wholeness, and resolution occurs at the boundary. The boundary that initially separates becomes the solution that unites.
The mid Twentieth Century jazz pianist Thelonius Monk, who had a Middle Eastern musical background, once said that he would play two adjacent notes to hint at the quarter note between them. So this work consists of chapters in two parts, a grail motif in a poetic story form together with a psychological exegesis on the theme, with references to supporting academic literature. This work is current, nearly complete in story, note and reference form. I hope this little essay has given some idea of what I am about and what I am attempting to say. But more than that, I hope it has been useful in its own right.
May your travels be rewarding.
Simon Court was a senior supervisor for the Servants of the Light and he organized the Rainbow Serpent Lodge in Sydney. He has organized eclectic magical gatherings in Melbourne and his home city of Brisbane. ...