The Dangers of Magical Practice – Ego Gratification vs. the Divine

As transiting Neptune slides into Pisces, many will become more interested in the occult.   If you decide to dabble in anything more strenuous than practical household magic, it’s worth keeping in mind one point that just might save your life.

In his excellent book, The Philosophy of Magic, Arthur Versluis reminds us that in both Eastern and Western traditions, Magic has always been worked for the grace of God – not for ego-gratification.

Sadly these days, however, the situation is quite the reverse.

“As a result, one can see today a situation arising which involves the greatest possible danger to those who misguidedly become involved with ‘pseudo-traditional mysticism’ or ‘neoshamanism’, not recognizing that these are, for reasons we will discuss later, but ‘inverted’ images of the traditional, be it Buddhism, Islamic or Christian, and can well lead to the psyche becoming irremediably lost in the labyrinthine confusion of the ‘second world’.”

At the foundation of Western magic, lays a Platonic universe consisting of three inter-connected spheres.  According to the Corpus Hermeticum, after being created in the image of the highest sphere – The Divine – man descended through the starry heavens to the planet of illusion – the moon – whence he landed with a resounding thud.  It was there while gazing in a pool of water, that man fell in love with his own reflection thus binding himself like a slave in chains, to the lowest sphere – the material world.

Since then, man has worked through magic to transcend his ego (which through an illusion of immortal permanence in a constantly changing mortal world, keeps him firmly earth-bound) and ascend back up through the spheres to be reunited with the Divine.

According to Versluis, in correct magical practice, the magus transcends to the higher spheres when his ego is subsumed by celestial realities.

However most modern magical practices work in reverse – keeping the ego firmly in charge.  As Versluis points out, the dangers of this are significant and real.

“…(i)f the visualization is of the Divine, enclosed within tradition, then one ‘ascends’ and radiates beneficence.  But if the visualization is, inversely, governed by ego, outside tradition – then one ‘descends’ and is overwhelmed, destroyed by the infernal and malignant.”

As an example, he cites the experience of the Belgian spiritualist Alexandra David-Neel who during a ritual in Tibet created a small round-faced monk who was greeted by others as quite real.   The monk, a product of David Neel’s own mind, eventually became so independent she could no longer control him and it was with great difficulty that he was dissolved.

“This story carries within it the implicit danger of ritual visualization, for the ritual changes the very nature of one’s relationship with the celestial world.”

Some years ago while innocently dabbling in Wicca (with what I believed was proper supervision),  I myself had a similar experience that made me physically ill for many months.

The lesson to be learned here is to take great care when following any ‘spiritual path’.  Without proper grounding and years of trainingwithin that tradition – you might just find yourself getting more than you bargained for – dumped head first into the proverbial deep end unable to swim.

2 Comments

  1. You give your subconscious mind a command, then it follows.

    You give your subconscious mind a command which is conflicting with your self image, your subconscious mind resists.

    You push it even more,it punishes you through your body.

    Limbic systems and vegetatives neural nodes, let`s not be that dry.

    I used to have stomach cramps and a funny gall-bladder because of this.

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