Why Do Magick?

Published September 28, 2019
A. J. Olvera 2012

After decades of trying every kind of magick I could discover, my conclusion is that magick is something you do on yourself. Your “will” cannot affect the mathematical laws that govern the universe. You cannot interfere with the natural processes of cause and effect. What you can change is your response to the world around you. That is a powerful thing.

Changing oneself is a life-long task that can be undertaken in several different and equally successful ways. The important thing is that you remain honest with yourself as you proceed. Self-deception and unconscious delusion are the downfalls of a mage. We are no different or better than anyone else, we simply take more responsibility for the shape of our lives.

When I was young, I did magick rituals for every little thing. Perhaps, I needed to. I was learning about myself and my place in the world. But, over time, my daily existence came into alignment with my highest will. Making constant tweaks to my lived reality isn’t necessary anymore. I rarely “do magick” at this age; instead, I live in accordance with my principles and experience a profound sense of gratitude for all that I have.
Honestly, isn’t that enough?

In general people do magick for only a few reasons: to change something, worship something, or to celebrate something.

Change something. You can do magick for change, but realize that material change happens on the physical, earthly plane. In the words of the late, great, mage Infek bin Laden, “a guy with a shovel can get more done in an hour than a room full of mages mumbling in the dark.” Yes, it is true. Change requires work – work done in the living world, in real-time, with concerted effort. Magick can change one’s attitude toward that work, or perhaps illuminate a different way of achieving it. However, the work itself will still require dedicated effort on the part of the mage. Magick cannot remove this fact.
Doing magick to subvert the will of another conscious being is ethically questionable and pragmatically ill-advised. Even if you could influence the will of another being, the amount of force required would change you far more. Further, it is a mighty arrogance that imagines others as passive objects to be affected. People come to a new understanding by revelation, not force. The wise mage does her own work.

Worship something. If you believe in external god forms and you want to worship them, go for it. I consider ritual worship as a form of art. When art is exceptionally well-executed, it enters the realm magick. Great art illuminates timeless wisdom, communicates the sublime, and has profound effects on those who interact with it. Great art is magick. Bad art is just bad art. If you are going to make worshipful art, give it your best effort. You are trying to make your idea of the sacred visible. Don’t be half-assed about it. There is a reason why ancient cathedrals and churches are so aesthetically wondrous – they inspire the masses.
God forms are part of the collective human consciousness, and as such, part of ourselves. They are the more significant, better aspects of human potential that we strive toward and hope to become like. Worshipping god forms as a means for improving or expanding on desirable elements within the self, can be beneficial. However, pinning one’s hopes on an external mechanism of imagined power can lead to delusion and greater unhappiness. It is this indulgence in magical thinking that caused me to reject organized religion. I cultivate personal integrity, not handy rationalizations.
As a psychedelic chaosatanist, I do not worship any gods. I refuse to grovel before any image or idea. I stand humble before the majesty and mystery of the universe, but I am not a beggar, and begging does not dignify what is divine.

Celebrate something. The key to a happy life is gratitude or cultivating a strong appreciation for what is already good about one’s life. The religious admonishment to “count your blessings” is actually a beneficial practice. When we focus on what we love about our life, rather than what needs changing, happiness can manifest immediately. If our gratitude is so great that it cannot be contained, then our hearts overflow, becoming rich enough to give without expectation. This generosity of spirit is contagious and extends benefits throughout our entire sphere of existence.

Giving from a place of ‘need’ is transactional, it exacts a price for the exchange. It is not an act of magick, merely the business of mundane life. When we come together to celebrate our excess of love, we have truly arrived in a magickal place. Ritualizing this kind of celebration means turning it into art, well-crafted art: Art that reflects the truth of our sacred ideas and inspires others.

It is not always possible to think and act from a place of gratitude. Many of us experience disillusionment and despair more often than contentment. If you feel only what you lack, then there is no real abundance to be shared. This isn’t a value judgment, merely an observation. A young mage may still be trying to put his life in order, and therefore will most often be working with magick to make change. Not everyone can celebrate the abundance of their lives. Indeed, my magick has evolved with and adapted to the seasons of my life.

The crafting of a personal religion is my longest-standing art project. It began in 1988 and continues to this day. On this blog, I will share some of the art, rituals, and texts I created in this effort – not because I think they are right for everyone, but because they helped me find my way. The curious reader is welcome to mine them for what feels relatable and ignore the rest. That is what I have done. My ideology is an amalgam of everything I liked about everything I’ve learned. It’s a work in progress, always changing, and dynamic.

There’s no recipe for building a personal spiritual paradigm, except the conventional wisdom of the ages.
‘Know thyself.’ (Oracle at Delphi)
“To thine own self be true.”(Shakespeare)
And a few things I’ve found helpful…
Strive always to observe your own true nature, and improve it.
There is no shame in a mistake if you learn from it.
Radical change starts within. You incite your metamorphosis.

There are two things I consider “real magic”: Love and psychedelics.
Magickal practice is a kind of art. Therefore, make your art the best you can. The more you love it, the better it will be. When you begin to treat your life itself as the work of art, then you have entered the realm of the mage.

May you be blessed on your journey.