The Magic Of Self Transformation
Onslow H. Wilson, Ph.D.
According to the Dictionary of Mysticism, Edited by Frank Gaynor (1953) the word “Magic” is derived from the word “Magi”, which itself means “The Wise Ones”. In this regard, “Magic” is defined as “the mastery of occult forces and their use in order to produce visible effects. White magic is the use of magic powers for beneficent purposes; black magic is the use of supernormal powers in nefarious practices, for a selfish or evil end”.
Based upon the above definition, it would appear that the Magi, or “The Wise Ones”, have access to “occult” or “hidden” powers and are capable of rendering the effects of these “hidden”, “occult” forces “visible”. This implies that having access to occult or hidden powers is the key to “real” magic as opposed to the magic of “the theaters” in which trickery or “hidden”, physical forces are the real causes behind the sudden “appearance” or “disappearance” of persons, animals, objects, etc. So the question arises as to “how” does one go about getting in touch with “occult” forces in order to render their effects possible? In fact, the mission of esoteric organizations is to assist interested aspirants in their quest to discover, in their own way, the answer to this important question.
Regardless of orientation or approach, however, all authentic esoteric organizations present techniques, which are designed to assist the aspirant in “rending the veil”, which separates him or her from the divine source within. In the final analysis, regardless of orientation or technique, the aspirant is required, in his or her own way, to master the four alchemical elements of Earth (Memory), Water (Emotions) Air (Reason) and Fire (Will or Volition). But in order to “master” these four elements of self, which, in and of themselves, are but “tools” at the service of the fifth element, Aether, the aspirant must learn to be inwardly “quiet”. In other words the aspirant must learn to be an “observer” or, as expressed in the Buddhist Tradition, one must master the art of “non-attachment”, for until this inner state of “quietude” is attained, self-transformation is not possible. So what is the nature of this fifth element or the Aether?
A quick answer to this question is “one’s highest ideal” or one’s definition of the “cause of all causes”. The only problem is that although, under normal circumstances, one may “profess” certain ideals, when one feels stressed the directive power of this idealism is often usurped by some “unconscious memory” and one then behaves in ways that are inconsistent with one’s professed idealism. When this happens, and things return to “normal”, the subject usually experiences a sense of guilt, which opens the door to “punishment”. A case in point is a situation recently brought to my attention in which this aspirant claims to have been “cursed” by Templars because of acts committed in the past. The individual concerned was requesting “forgiveness” on the part of the Templars, a request which leads to the following questions: Is it possible to be “cursed” by others, regardless of their “spiritual prowess”, if one does not carry a sense of guilt? And insofar as “forgiveness” is concerned, who is in the best position to forgive this aspirant? From my personal perspective, if the “cursed” aspirant is able to forgive “himself/herself”, then the “curse” would no longer have any power over him/her.
Interestingly, during my many extended visits to Africa and my encounters with various “medicine men”, I was struck by the fact that one of the first things that these “practitioners of occultism” do, or attempt to do, is to discover where one’s fears lie. Once discovered, in a manner of speaking, the medicine man then has easy access to the “inner workings” of the subject’s inner consciousness and, in so doing, usurps the power and authority of his/her Aether or “cause of causes”. And, depending upon the “inner character” of the “medicine man”, he or she can practice “white” or “black” magic by having manifest in the subject’s life, the effects of the “occult” forces, which are resident within the human psyche. Therefore, the challenge to each aspirant is to become his or her own “medicine man”. Again the question is: “how”? Let is take a brief look at the role of “Memory”, associated with the element “earth”.
When we really stop to think about it, “memory” consists of “significant events in the consciousness of the individual”. But what makes certain events “significant” and others not? Again, when we stop to think about it the answer that pops up is “emotional impact”, whether the emotion, which rooted the event in memory, is “positive” or “negative”. And, in the final analysis, what evokes a “positive” or “negative” emotion is very much rooted in what one considers “pleasing” to, or “supportive” of one’s unconscious self-image, as opposed to what is judged to be “unpleasant” to or “unsupportive” of that same unconscious self-image. Therefore, it would appear that among the first steps in “rending the veil” which separates us from the source of the “hidden”, “occult” forces within us is becoming aware of that “unconscious self-image”.
How was that self-image formed? What “significant experiences” were laid down in one’s inner consciousness during childhood? Undoubtedly some were “pleasant” and others were not. But “who” decided, during childhood, that “such-and-such” an event was “pleasant” and “such-and-such” was not? Certainly it would appear that we are each born with definite ideas as to what, for us, is “pleasant” and what is not. But in order to “decide” or “make a judgment” as to what is “pleasant” and what is not, there must be some form of “reasoning”, and as a tool of consciousness, that “reasoning” must be under the control of one’s Aether or “ideal”. In this regard, is it possible that we are each born with the ability to define “self” by identifying either with the body, thereby reliving the symbolic “Fall of Adam”, or with the “divine spark” within us, thereby reliving the resurrection as symbolized by the Master Jesus? If this is indeed the case, then it could be argued that our “childhood interpretations” of events are either “materially oriented” or “spiritually oriented”. If they were materially oriented, then by way of interpreting certain events as “positive” or “negative”, one has contributed to the “creation” of the relatively dense veil, which separates us from our own innate divine nature. If, on the other hand, events were interpreted as “positive” or “negative” because of one having identified more with the spiritual aspects of one’s nature, then the veil is likely to be much less dense, much more transparent.
Having determined that “such-and-such” is “positive and “such-and-such” is “negative, be it from a material or spiritual perspective, volition or will is then engaged to direct one’s activities in such a way as to “protect and defend” that which is most important with regard to the preservation of one’s unconscious self-image. Therefore, the four alchemical elements of Earth (Memory), Water (Emotion), Air (Reason) and Fire (Volition or Will), as tools of consciousness, are brought into the service of the “self”, whether that “self” is materially oriented or spiritually oriented. Thus it is that the four alchemical elements are instruments of service to the self.
But here let us be aware of the fact that to this point the relationship between the “material” and the “spiritual” has been treated in the context of “either/or” rather than in the context of “and”. That is to say, for the vast majority of individuals “matter” and “spirit” are considered to be “opposites”, devoid of any possibility of reconciliation. In this regard, we find ourselves in a world of “conflict” in which the “materialists” – scientists – are conflicting opposition with the “spiritualists” – religious fundamentalists. On the other hand, those who are considered to be “The Wise Ones” tend to see “matter” and “spirit” not as being “opposites” but rather as being complementary, namely two different expressions of one and the same thing. In fact, from the perspective of this author, “magic”, as an activity of the “Magi”, is not possible in the absence of such a reconciliation. Thus, if such is indeed the case, how then is “The Magic of Personal Transformation” possible? From the perspective of “The Wise Ones” the secret lies in “interpretation”.
What if one were to consider “matter” as a manifestation of “universal, divine memory” and, as such, being born into a body is but a manifestation of being immersed in this “universal, divine memory”? Could it then be possible that being immersed in this manifestation of “universal, divine memory” is but an opportunity for us to become more and more “conscious” of our own innate divinity? If such were the case, could it not be possible that events which we interpret as being “pleasant” are indeed opportunities for us to draw upon the “occult, hidden” forces within us, thereby facilitating our reinterpretation of “unpleasant events” as being opportunities to seek guidance from the “divinity” within us, so that we may engage in the “magic” of “creating” positive, constructive outcomes? Under such conditions, events which would otherwise be interpreted as being “unpleasant” would, instead, be interpreted as welcomed opportunities for one to commune with the “ultimate cause of all causes”, upon which some insist upon affixing an “image” and refer to it as “God”. But in all fairness it should be pointed out that one’s “image” of the “ultimate cause of all causes” is but a devise by means of which one permits oneself to commune with the “ultimate cause of all causes”, thereby engaging in true “magic”, The Magic of Self-Transformation”.
Therefore, Dearly Beloved Reader, if indeed you are committed to engaging in true magic, The Magic of Self-Transformation, then I strongly recommend that you heed well the following admonition of Thackeray:
Watch your thoughts
They become Words;
Watch your Words
They become Action;
Watch your Actions
They become Habits;
Watch your Habits
They become Character;
Watch your Character
It becomes Destiny.