Are you getting a Return on your Magick Investments?

Frater Barrabbas posted a very interesting post yesterday – interesting in that it hits at something that has been playing on my mind over the last few days. Are some of my Magick Practices actually getting me anywhere? Am I actually getting any results from my efforts? Is there any sign of a return on my Magical investments?

In the post, Frater Barrabbas  states “The real issue here is whether the magic that one practices actually makes a difference in the life the magician” and this struck me as very important to consider. Am I blinding following practices in the hope of some future reward or am I getting benefit in the here and now? I am pursuing pointless exercises?

Are you?

THE REWARDS OF OFFERINGS
I have been thinking recently that I do lots of stuff in my daily practice that I hope builds up to something, but has currently shows no actual results. Since I started The Strategic Sorcery Course last October (2016)  I have been doing daily offerings mostly to “Ancestors Known and Unknown” but also to specific Ancestors, The Mighty Dead, All  Souls and the Dead who I have known but weren’t related to me. This was instigated not only by Jason’s work, but also Gordon and a few other sources. It seemed like a good practice to do. I have linked some posts in the NOTES section below.

Mostly the offerings comes in the form of a candle or spring water but I have been quite specific at times – a ginger cake for my Grandmother, a can of Guinness for my Granddad – that sort of thing. I also have used rum, vodka and numerous incenses. Prayer also plays a large part.

The conclusion that I have come to is that this has made zero change to my life, my world, spiritual view, I don’t feel any closer or connected to my Ancestors or am I aware of any benefit to me or them.

This is six months of a daily offering practice and I don’t feel I have gained much, if anything from it. The only feeling I got at any stage during the six months, and it was more just a slight hunch than a real proper experience or feeling, was that I was bothering them.

Magick OfferingsWHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING?
Good question, I’m not totally sure. I began the practice as it was told in many areas that it is a great way to improve your relationship with the spirits – so that was my main goal. That is the main reason I began this practice. However, I don’t feel my relationship with the spirits has improved or changed in any way over the last six months. Good or bad. I feel no closer or more distant from them, or even the idea of them.

Second, your Ancestors are seen as the spirits who are most likely to want to help you so I was hoping for some help in my day to day life. My life is in no way different from six months ago other than I have less work and less money than I had then (which, however, is something that cycles for me anyway- being an artist means that you have feast and famine cycles, I am in no way complaining –  that’s just how it is). So, I would again put this down as no change.

Within this time I have also prayed for them, spoken to them, asked them for help or their blessings, asked for guidance – but nothing significant has changed, improved, worsened, or happened in my life from  this six months of doing daily offerings and prayers for the dead.

The question is how long do you keep doing something before you decide that it doesn’t have any benefit?*

LACK OF REWARDS FROM MEDITATION?
Take meditation – it could be countless years before you get any actual results or deep insight (in fact, some claim you will never get any and if you do you should ignore it).  For all my meditation practice I have gotten way more benefit to my inner mind by giving up caffeine than by meditating –  within days my stress and anxiety levels reduced measurably, my inner chatter lessened, and my frustrations were more manageable.

Of course the kicker is – would I have given up caffeine had I not being meditating?  How could I know?

I don’t feel I get much benefit from meditation but I still do it daily in the hope that at some point in the future it will become beneficial to me. I find it a chore mostly, a thing to be endured.  But like I said, you aren’t meant to expect any results from meditation, it’s just something you do now, everyday, for the rest of your life.

Very seldom do you hear reports of people having massive insights after six months of Meditation,  but you do hear lots of stories of how a week or days of Offerings have changed people’s lives or caused a significant incident. Of course – people.claim.shit – and this has to play a factor in my expectations, but I do feel that I should have at least had SOMETHING to show for my six months, no?

This makes me think about other Magick I do, am I actually getting any benefit from it? Am I just really just LARPing? Sincere and genuine, but LARPing none the less. I am hoping there will be an effect rather than there being an actual effect of my magick work, and that’s not good. **

Magick Offerings
SO WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?
I guess I am not really saying anything, more asking the question:
How long should you stick at a particular Magick or Spiritual practice – where you are getting no results or benefit – before you should decide that it doesn’t work and stop doing it?

What is a good judge of knowing when something isn’t working or whether it just needs more time? Would Daily Offerings open up amazing spiritual paths to me if continued for another year or another five years? How can I judge if it is  a worthwhile investment or not?

Is your/my Magick actually a worthwhile practice ultimately?  Is the results you get equal or more than the effort you put in? If it doesn’t seem to work, is there a point to it? What part of our daily practice are we doing that doesn’t actually help us in any way? Should these elements be dropped?

Or are we to be happy with so little return on some of our investments?

I’m not.

——-
NOTES AND FURTHER READING:

*I am aware that Offerings aren’t actually for your benefit they are for the spirit’s benefit. I am OK with that, and have no problem with occasional offerings or prayers for the Spirits or the Dead, but the sort of Offering practice is presented as a more reciprocal thing – like the GEBO rune, which means gift but implies a trade or some sort of give and take or obligation on the receiver.

**When I say LARPing, I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t take it seriously or was just going through the motions.  I mean more than if you are doing magick and it isn’t working, are you just pretending?  Also, In case there is confusion – I am not saying Magick doesn’t work – it clearly does (at times anyway) – just is it worth the effort?

– Also, but sure to note that I’m not coming from a “I tried this once or twice and it doesn’t work” – it’s more a “I have tried this consistently over a period of months and it doesn’t work” – I feel that is important to clarify.

– ALSO, I am not picking on Offerings, it’s just the example I choose, I could have easily have gone with something else – chanting, evoking etc. Or could have replaced Dead with Gods. Same outcome.

– THE POWER OF DAILY OFFERINGS
– WHY MAKE OFFERINGS TO BEINGS WHO DO NOT NEED THEM?
– How to Trade the Troll Market: Offerings
– Offering Disposal

 




15 Replies to “Are you getting a Return on your Magick Investments?”

  1. Good, honest article Tommie.

    I’ve been a magician/mystic for a few decades and I would break down “best practices” in the following way.

    Meditation is #1 (Read “The Mind Illuminated” by Culasa as the best guide to a Buddhist style of meditation that can be imported into any path)

    Energy Work #2 (I would recommend a Qigong practice like Spring Forest Qigong by Chun yi Lin, “The Way of Energy” by Lam Kam Chuen which is very simple standing qigong, or Robert Peng’s system as presented in “The Master Key” both the book and the audios. I would supplement this with the practices in Robert Bruce’s book “Energy Work” which dramatically helps one to feel their energy as one participates in any energy practices.

    Self Hypnosis #3 (I recommend Adam Eason’s “The Science of Self Hypnosis” as well as the book “Powerful Mind Through Self-Hypnosis” by Cathal O’Brianin. Master trance and the magickal world is your oyster so to speak.

    Offerings #4 (Offerings to road openers like Ganesha or any other deity one is drawn to….as in your more recent blog article.)

    Psychic/Clairvoyant development #5 (Use a system like The Silva Ultramind ESP System to sensitize yourself to both energy and spiritual phenomena….you can supplement this course with a book like “You are Psychic” by Katz)

    Do these things alone for a year and you will find that the benefits you receive from any form of magick you choose to practice will increase manyfold.

    The real benefit of magick, in my opinion, is the spiritual growth element but that only comes into play when one is involved with a system that supports that.

    For a unquely powerful and visionary take on magick I recommend the Quareia system by Josephine Littlejohn http://www.quareia.com

    If you are into Witchcraft I recommend the Temple of Witchcraft Tradition by Christopher Penczak http://www.templeofwitchcraft.org

    If you are into Golden Dawn Ceremonial Magick, I recomment Nick Farrell’s Aurora Aurea order which is Golden Dawn based but has expanded and deepened the work from what I’ve heard. http://www.auroraaurea.com/en

    To add…

    I believe that the only reason those who teach don’t recommend a year of meditation, energy work, self hypnosis, psychic training, offerings, etc. alone is that it would be pretty hard to get students that way. To be fair, teachers like Jason Miller try to strike a balance so that their students feel like budding magicians which is more likely to keep them interested and on the path.

    However, I just don’t believe that paid teachers go as far as they could or should, keeping students to the bare essentials for their first year of training. I don’t blame them, especially if teaching magick is a large part of their income. Despite my misgivings, I’d likely do the same thing if I were in the same position.

    Of course, some students start out highly intuitive and sensitive to energy, for example, so they can jump right in and find themselves quickly benefitting from early magickal work. However, most are not that gifted and, as such, would benefit dramatically from getting a solid basic mastery of core skills down.

  2. Good, honest article Tommie.

    I’ve been a magician/mystic for a few decades and I would break down “best practices” in the following way.

    Meditation is #1 (Read “The Mind Illuminated” by Culasa as the best guide to a Buddhist style of meditation that can be imported into any path)

    Energy Work #2 (I would recommend a Qigong practice like Spring Forest Qigong by Chun yi Lin, “The Way of Energy” by Lam Kam Chuen which is very simple standing qigong, or Robert Peng’s system as presented in “The Master Key” both the book and the audios. I would supplement this with the practices in Robert Bruce’s book “Energy Work” which dramatically helps one to feel their energy as one participates in any energy practices.

    Self Hypnosis #3 (I recommend Adam Eason’s “The Science of Self Hypnosis” as well as the book “Powerful Mind Through Self-Hypnosis” by Cathal O’Brianin. Master trance and the magickal world is your oyster so to speak.

    Offerings #4 (Offerings to road openers like Ganesha or any other deity one is drawn to….as in your more recent blog article.)

    Psychic/Clairvoyant development #5 (Use a system like The Silva Ultramind ESP System to sensitize yourself to both energy and spiritual phenomena….you can supplement this course with a book like “You are Psychic” by Katz)

    Do these things alone for a year and you will find that the benefits you receive from any form of magick you choose to practice will increase manyfold.

    The real benefit of magick, in my opinion, is the spiritual growth element but that only comes into play when one is involved with a system that supports that.

    For a unquely powerful and visionary take on magick I recommend the Quareia system by Josephine Littlejohn http://www.quareia.com

    If you are into Witchcraft I recommend the Temple of Witchcraft Tradition by Christopher Penczak http://www.templeofwitchcraft.org

    If you are into Golden Dawn Ceremonial Magick, I recomment Nick Farrell’s Aurora Aurea order which is Golden Dawn based but has expanded and deepened the work from what I’ve heard. http://www.auroraaurea.com/en

    🙂

  3. Another brave and honest post, Tommie. You really do lead the charge in reality-checking our magic.

    I personally don’t believe in ‘daily practice’ except in bursts for a specific outcome or to develop a skill or attribute quickly. It’s no way to live life. Donald Michael Kraig used to compare daily practice of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram as like doing your laundry, inasmuch as it was not special but you had to do it or problems could ensue. But who does their personal laundry daily?

    Furthermore, by analogy with physical exercise, the more intense the exercise, the more likely it is that you’ll need to take a break for a while afterwards. Rundown and burnout is a thing in occultism.

    By analogy with diet, studies show that our bodies don’t freak out if we eat a load of carbs one day, pound down protein the next and fast the day after that. You don’t need an obsessive food groups balancing act each and every day, let alone every meal. Why should any other part of our lives, like magical practice (or — gulp! — meditation?), carry suchlike expectation of frequency and consistency?

    My understanding of the offerings thing is very much informed by my distinction between magic and religion. I treat offerings as evocations, which is to say that:
    1) I believe in treating spirits as people. This means that my involvement with them is a bit like any human relationship: there’s running across them somewhere, there’s introductions and ‘what do you do?’ type conversations, then if we hit it off there’s hooking up from time to time and seeing what develops. Are we gonna be friends, or is it going to fizzle out? What are they like deep down? Will we get to work together? Will they like my other friends? Will my other friends like them? The fun of finding out.

    2) Since nobody I know would tolerate me standing in the middle of the room they’re in and talking or mumbling to nowhere in particular before setting a cup of tea down somewhere and leaving with no actual conversation or direct contact, I don’t expect that of spirits either. Therefore having done my bit I listen for a response right then and there, expecting contact. By response I have in mind the psychic equivalent of a smile and a thank you, whatever that may be to you. I’m not looking for a massive oracular proclamation or anything, okay?

    Faith goes wrong when it allows us to speak and act without expectation of a response then and there. From there it’s easy to produce ’empty’ ritual. It doesn’t matter if I don’t discern any response, but if that keeps happening I’ll review my methods. The faith of a magician is in this circumstance much like the faith I have that when I invite a friend over for a brew and a chat, that a brew and a chat with my friend is on the cards. No more, but no less.

    Speaking of expectation of response, I should probably shut up for a bit now 😉

    Kite

    1. Interesting reply, Kite…
      there’s one thing I’d like to address because I’ve heard it being said in “chaos magic” (deliberately leaving out the “k” because what the heck) circles for more than two decades. For much of my 20+ years in chaos magic, I regurgitated it without really thinking about it:

      “Faith goes wrong when it allows us to speak and act without expectation
      of a response then and there. From there it’s easy to produce ’empty’
      ritual.”

      This is, and has always been, a hollow, cliched phrase. I know, I know, Pope Pete writes about it, Phil Hine too, and all the other old-timers and modern-day chaos magic writers, as well. But all that repetition doesn’t make it any more true. All the people of different faiths I know and have met and have prayed and celebrated with, all these people who are real, serious believers, ALWAYS speak and act to their deities WITH expectation of a reply. All of them.

      Especially chaos magicians are eager to point out “hollow rituals” of religious people. But seriously, religious people who don’t expect a response from their gods are not religious. That’s the point. If you’re religious, you believe in the power of god(s). If you’re paying lip service, you don’t — but you’re not religious, either.

      To me, claiming “my practice is better than yours” is spiritual hypocrisy and arrogance. And yes, I’m going to say it because it’s true, claiming “my practice gets more results than yours” is a huge waggonload of bullshit. The gods simply don’t give a fuck if you use freeform, traditional or no rituals to contact them. Your dead relatives will help you or not, but that does not depend on how often you “work” with them or do your daily rituals. If they liked you in their lifetime, they’ll most probably help you if you just ask them.

      All of this (daily) ritual business with the dead is ridiculous. Maybe, MAYBE, with the exception of meditation — but if you’re not cut out for meditation, no amount of time spent doing it will help you. I know people, among them old Catholic farmers in the hinterland of Bavaria, who have such an intimate relationship with their God and gain so many “benefits” from that (but that’s a side effect, it’s about faith, not profit) that it would make all “magicians” out there green in the face.

      1. Norbert,

        I stand by everything I said. Describing something of my own insight as ‘hollowed, cliched phrase’ is extremely disrespectful to someone whom you don’t know has worked this one through at some cost, and whom … well, you don’t know. I don’t know whether Carroll or Hine ever said any such thing nor do I care even if you could produce precise citation. That you have repented of your mindless regurgitation of it is, I suppose, something to celebrate, but not because it’s wrong. Rather, it’s a description of a certain approach to practice only, hence the qualifiers in it which you seem to have missed.

        I don’t attack religion as such. As a guy who grew up into a Catholic Pentecostal, I have stories to tell of the power of prayer and I dismiss none of it. I left religion on friendly terms, so to speak. My argument is with ’empty’ behaviour as such. If you reread my post carefully you might notice that the empty ritual I was referring to was magical, not religious. That’s what I was talking about a the time. Evocation.

        Nowhere do I use the expression you put in quotation marks, “my practice is better than yours.” Nowhere. Mostly because I feel much the same as you do about such comments. So I hope you weren’t insinuating that it’s an opinion of mine.

        So don’t generalise about chaos magicians, just as this chaos magician isn’t generalising about religionists.

        One last thing. Your last paragraph seems to me to hit the nail on the head better than all that went before — your mention of “an intimate relationship with God.” Or indeed, whatever spirit you’re working with. It’s not about putting a penny in the slot and getting a favour back, We don’t treat our human relationships like that (do we?) so why should we think that spirits will take that sort of treatment? As I indicated above, it’s about developing a relationship with the Other, engaging with Mystery and entangling with it. Your (and my) friends who are devotees aren’t in it for what they can get out of it. And more powere to them. And to you.

        Kite

        1. It’s good that we are passionate about these things, but let’s not argue. We’re all, more or less, in the same boat – just trying to find our way.

          That’s maybe part of the problem, in my case anyway, where I am probably looking too much to some authority or expert, or someone who knows – rather than sitting with stuff myself and seeing what works for me and what doesn’t. That all comes from the way we are taught anything – you learn from those who did it before you. But perhaps with spiritual matter it should be different? I dunno. I’m rambling a bit here.

          All of this stuff is so subjective and everyone’s road is so different (and the same) that it is hard sometimes to know what way to go.

          But I do like the idea of listening and expecting a response. That is what I will try to do next – wait to see what the reply is 😀

          Thanks for the responses and discussion folks, much appreciated.

          1. Point taken. Norbert, I seem to have come across as harsher than I intended. Furthermore, looking back on the posts, it looks to me as though I had inadvertently pressed what may be a hot button for you. If so I apologise as I hadn’t meant to do any such thing. Kite

          2. Text is so terrible to gauge tone. For instance I was paying someone a compliment of Facebook the other day and she totally took me as being rude and sarcastic. I can understand why people over use emotes 😀 😀

          3. Alyster, no worries 🙂
            I have taken no offense, and I surely did not intend to sound condescending. Text only really is the worst possible medium for discussion 😉

            What I meant is many chaos magicians call religion empty though real faith is the exact opposite. And where religion consists of empty ritual, it’s not religion, it’s empty ritual…

            Sorry for the misunderstanding.
            And all the best to you and yours!

          4. Dear Alyster,
            thank you. Reading through my reply once more, I discover more and more things that will probably be misunderstood (and rightfully so, should have phrased them differently). Please allow me to add one thing:

            Honoring your ancestors or praying for their souls is important. I haven’t gotten many tangible results in terms of practical magic, but what I got instead was the knowing that their souls were guided and guarded by St. Christopher/Hermanubis because I pray to him and ask him to take good care of them. Catholic saints (just as Hindu gods and Germanic fairytale characters, there is a huge overlap) help our souls and those of our families. In my opinion, this is a huge relief, just as is knowing that Jesus died on the cross, taking our sins away forever. These are great things to work with.

            Namaste,
            Norbert

  4. Great article, thanks for sharing, Tommie.

    I have asked myself that question a lot over the last five years. Finally, ironically after getting admitted to the FB Chaos Magick Group (and leaving it a couple of days later), I found the answer, and it’s a resounding: No. I’m not getting a return of investment in magick. Honestly, I practiced it, on and off, for more than 20 years, and the ROI always was ridiculously low.

    What gave me peace has always been my faith (Hindu, bhakti yoga) — interestingly enough, belief and faith is exactly what chaos magic laughs about. But I’d rather take my chances with a system that’s been practiced with good success for thousands of years, by millions and millions of people.

    I agree with you, magic does work, at least sometimes. But all the effort only increases my attachment instead of helping me to calm the fuck down. On top of that, I knew preciously few “magickians” who are genuinely happy and/or content. That is no coincidence. Magick, as defined by people like Gordon White and Jason Miller, is nothing else than a system built on protestant work ethic: the more practices you do, the better your relationship with/position in the universe is supposed to be. It’s not. It’s not, but it helps sell books and build a reputation as “true magickian”.

    Magic, to me, used to be the imprint of my Will onto the world.

    Magic, to me, now, is nothing else but elaborate prayer. It’s a plea to Divinity, a cry for help and cooperation. My own power is only as great as Divinity allows it to be. At least, this is my personal experience after “doing magick” for 20+ years.

    Good luck to you,
    and be blessed.

    Norbert

    1. Norbert, thanks for the message.

      Funnily enough “protestant work ethic” was totally in my mind over the last few days. I grew up in a Catholic family/society so I have more “catholic work guilt” 😀 but I totally see and understand where you are coming from on this.

      I also find it peculiar that Chaos Magick laughs so openly (at times, and not everyone) at faith and Belief when the WHOLE system pretty much relies on them, and was built round it. The biggest problem (that I see) in Magick circles is that they are full of x-Christians trying to run away from anything that remind them of it and unfortunately throwing a lot of babies out with the proverbial bath water. Again, not everyone but enough to make a general statement.

      Good luck to you too, and pop in every now and again and say hello!

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