Get Off Your Ass and Work: Magic and Politics

One of my colleagues on Twitter, Joseph Magnuson of Candlesmoke Chapel, made a few tweets over the past few hours that struck a nerve with me describing a general reluctance for magicians and spiritually-minded people to get involved with politics, legal affairs, and current events:

  • “I wish you’d just tweet about magic.” Well, laws are Big Magic/rights are Big Magic. Invisible ideas everyone follows. Words made manifest.
  • Magic isn’t just reading a book and collecting Supernatural DVDs. It’s all around us in most all movement. Do you not see this?
  • Magic shouldn’t be safe and silent/not seen and not heard…especially by “witches” and “magicians.” It is not a special effect.
  • So tired of this: “Politics? Not for me. They never got political on The Craft or Charmed. Besides I don’t want to hurt my witchy brand.”

I mean, it’s kinda true.  Spiritual people, especially those of a new age bent, tend to be reluctant to watch televised news or read news articles (excepting things like the Wild Hunt or a variety of Patheos blogs), and even more reluctant to even get involved with politics or current events.  They see it as beneath them, considering the news to be “a set up to keep us from manifesting the best reality for us”, and that “spiritual people know better than to get caught up in the illusions” (courtesy of Ernesto Mercer for that quote from one of his own conversations with someone he didn’t think highly of).  And you know what?  Some people aren’t meant to be worldly or get involved in worldly affairs.  Some people are meant to be hermits or monks or recluses that shut themselves out from the world, whose arms are no longer fit for the work of the world, who are here for purely spiritual experiences.  That’s okay.

You, dear reader, aren’t one of them.

Chances are good that you’re of a spiritual bent, dear reader, and chances are also good that you’re a magician in some regard.  You’ve read me talk about rituals for this and that, sometimes on thaumaturgy and sometimes on theurgy, sometimes on conjuration and sometimes on oils.  You have the whole internet at your disposal, and a cascade of links, even on this very blog, to direct you to awesome resources for magic and supplies beyond your dreams.  You’re educated enough and powerful enough to do some magic.  The only thing you really lack is awareness of the world around you, because if you were that spiritual enough to have the capacity for magic, you’d have the compassion to use it for the betterment of the world.  So read the fucking news and do some fucking magic, dear reader, because the world around you needs it.

I’ve been chatting more and more with my gnostic friends lately, learning more about the Apostolic Johannite Church and Gnostic Christianity.  I come from my Neoplatonic and Hermetic background, but my background philosophies and those of Gnosticism share much in common.  One thing that we kinda agree-disagree on is the nature of the world around us.  In some ways, the world we live in is the crowning pinnacle of all creation, the final and most glorious stage where everything is brought into completion and can play out the mind of God in all its finery and accoutrement.  On the other hand, the world we live in is also the Auschwitz ass-end of the garbage heap tossed unceremoniously into the night outside the walls of the real Kingdom; we’re just the refuse that couldn’t make it any better.  The Hermeticist view balances the two viewpoints, though modern Hermeticists tend to be biased towards the former; the Gnostic view has always been solidly focused the latter argument.  Both are true, really; the world is an amazing place, a place that feels good, a place where we get to learn and experience so much.  It’s a lot like going to college, really, and there are good points and bad points to the world here.  That said, we’re here for a purpose, a worldly purpose.  If we didn’t have a worldly purpose for being born into the world, we wouldn’t be born here at all.  And if the world is broken and requires us to act our parts and make the world a better place, bringing the kingdom of Christ into existence in the here and now or opening the 32nd path or what-have-you, then what excuse do you have to not do this?

People are dying from being oppressed and discriminated against.  Whole governments are broken and corrupt.  Countries die of famine and plague and war.  Families are torn apart and grieve and tremble in fear because of murder and intimidation.  There is a litany of things wrong with the world.  Surely you must be aware that these things happen literally all the time across the entire world.  Or do you feel nothing?  Are you so apathetic that all you can do is shrug and say “we have to rise above it” because your new age spiritual avoidance of current events prevents you from getting your hands dirty?  Are you imprisoning yourself into a hermitage of your own making where you can wash your hands of interacting with the world while still being delivered its goods for as long as you’re here?  Are you so numb to the pain of others who allow you to benefit from the world while keeping yourself from being a benefit to the world?  Are you so wrapped up in your own white-light illusions that you’d rather commit spiritual suicide to avoid any responsibility or call to action in the world?

Please tell me that I’m wrong.

Better yet, show me that I’m wrong.

We’re fucking magicians, the successors to the priest-astrologer-philosopher-kings of the ancients.  We wield celestial and infernal powers; the gods hear our calls and walk with us; we name the ineffable itself; we understand the mechanics of cosmic systems; we light candles, lay tricks, wave a stick in the air, spin in a circle, splash some rum on a rock, mumble some incomprehensible moonspeak and shit just happens.  We have known for millennia what hackers have known for only a few decades, that any complex system can be broken into and manipulated.  The archonic owners of those systems do the same every day those systems have been around, every day the mere ideas of those systems have been around.  And we, better than anyone, have known that when the systems have exiled us, made us powerless, and stripped us of all legitimate access, we will always be able to act upon the system itself and topple it down from the outside and from the inside-out.  We only let the archons win when we let them strip us of our will to get up and fight back and succeed.  We only let the archons win when we let them make us resign ourselves to spiritual impotency and kill ourselves.  We cannot afford to do that; humanity cannot afford to let them do that.

Magic has always been regarded as the means of last resort by the respectable communities of the world and all its systems.  The world is the last part of the cosmos.  We are the last thing created.  There has never been a last war, last plague, last famine, last death; these things are lasting.  Magic is not the means of last resort to action, it is the lasting means of action that has enabled us to cope with, fix, and make better the world.  You have better things to do than claim you’re better than the people down on the ground fighting; you’re already down here with us, and we’d really appreciate it if you got off your ass and gave us a hand with the burden.  We’ve asked too long what we can get out of the world; ask now what we can do for the world and for each other.

Read the news.  Fix the world.  Do some fucking magic.

Gaza and Palestine.  Syria.  Greece.  Turkey.  Iraq.  Ferguson, Missouri.  Los Angeles, California.  Gang wars.  Police brutality.  ISIS.  Hamas.  Chrysi Augi.  Racial oppression.  Sexual oppression.  LGBT oppression.  Political oppression.  Religious oppression.  Ebola.  Measles.  HIV/AIDS.  Floods.  Earthquakes.  Fukushima Daiichi.  Fracking.  The list is long and getting longer, and every time someone says that they want to abstain from the political aspect of these things it gets harder for everyone else in the world.

Everything is politics; it’s a system.  You can’t just decide to abstain from it, because you’re already in it.  It’s your duty to do your part either as part of the system or as an infiltrator into it.  Do not be idle; you have work to do.

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About polyphanes
I'm a software developer and Hermetic occultist living near Washington, DC, USA. I claim that I'm youthful, dashing, daring, and other things. I make things and chant stuff, and periodically write about them.

23 Responses to Get Off Your Ass and Work: Magic and Politics

  1. Pingback: Read the news. Fix the world. Do some fucking magic. | The House of Vines

  2. Duffi says:

    *yay!!* the call to arms I’ve been waiting for. Stepping up to the plate, swinging my bat! I’m not much, but I’m one of ten thousand.

  3. Pingback: Gods Mean Something. You Can Too. | PAGANARCH

  4. This is a well written and timely call to arms.

    I originally wrote those tweets in full-on frustration mode. To ignore what is happening around the world, as well as in our backyards (hell, FRONT yards) is one thing, fine, one’s prerogative, but to actively use up any amount of energy to deride someone for sharing progressive viewpoints on multiple matters is appalling.

    I feel as though there are a lot of people who only take magic as far as the last page of the book they just bought. No abstract thought, no further application of methods, no blowing open the mind to apply magic to anything other than the usual reasons for most “armchair” magic.

    The witch, mage, magickal child, hedge-tripper, seer, shaman, of the real New Age will need to be able to digest magical texts with an Adbusters chaser in order to do some bad-ass juju on the true enemies of our times. Red rose petals work great to gain favor in love, but Black Dog Hair, Coffin Nail Rust, and Asafoetida will do wonders when ground up and burned in a petition paper printed on the Latest Horrible Corporation’s corporate symbol or logo.

    In my opinion magic needs to merge with a few side ideals to be truly powerful going forward. High ceremonial magic and feminism, low magic and Buy Nothing Day, powerful female deities, gods, saints, and spirits teamed up against Oil Companies and Poisonous Fast Food manufacturers. Etc, etc, etc, ETC. The possibilities are endless and all important and needed right now.

    What happened to the accumulation of previous decades of occult actions? It is here, all around us, and is a extremely sturdy foundation (hell yes it is) in which to start a growing movement.

    There is nothing more powerful than Nature and all she controls. Even death is only a way station to her/him/them/IT. Harness the overflowing energy and direct some back where it’s needed. Prop up the needy, the poor, the outcast and target the greedy, the grossly destructive, the uncaring.

    Make magic. Do magic. Expand MAGIC.

    Just remember to dance, laugh, and have a stiff drink and a heady smoke every now and then, okay!?

    -Joseph Magnuson
    Candlesmoke

  5. Roy Kirkland says:

    If one is not fighting “the system”, then one is supporting it. Sure, fighting the powers that be gets in the way of some of our processes, but this is something that our Buddhist brothers worked with dozens of years ago – spiritual activism. Why do the Shaolins take a vow to defend the weak and the helpless?

    There will always be people offering charms for love, money and other personal obsessions. I don’t need to be one.

    Trying to save the planet and humanity is not something better, it’s just different. It takes a warrior spirit, and the willingness to tear down all that most hold dear if need be, but for us warriors, we know good and well that big alliances are needed to do big jobs, and the gift of such alliances can’t be measured in sex and money.

    So get down, sorcerors in the making. You’ll be surprised how interesting life gets when you realize the only way you’ll ever see a re-enchanted world is if you (and maybe only you) make it happen – and not by wishing the disenchanted one we share away!

  6. Pingback: Speaking of making a difference through magic | The House of Vines

  7. Marybeth says:

    You know, it would be really awesome if we could get groups of people working together on projects at a time. It works *really* well for Anonymous.

    • polyphanes says:

      Perhaps a locked subreddit that’s granted to people who’re approved to post could work.

      • Marybeth says:

        Should I set up a board? I’ve never used reddit but I can probably figure that out at least over the next couple of days. I wouldn’t know who to include, though.

        • polyphanes says:

          It’s not hard, and I can do it, too. Reddit is something everyone should be using even more than Facebook, I claim. :P Let’s let this idea simmer for a bit and see where it goes.

  8. Duffi McDermott says:

    I love this idea. A board for focus would help a lot.

  9. Pingback: A prayer for those being oppressed in Ferguson, Missouri | Rebalancing Acts

  10. Pingback: Religion and social justice; or, spirituality and politics (various) | Your god is a fraud

  11. More revolutionary action, less arcana. Too much time and energy are wasted; Spellcraft and prayer are delusional, escapist crutches and will not improve the world.

    • polyphanes says:

      Glad you think so, too, but don’t believe for a second that you’re saying anything special or new to our ears. Worldly results needs worldly action, but it can be backed up by ritual and magic work. Jason Miller describes this whole approach as “strategic sorcery”, and it’s no shock to find that slaves and oppressed people in the Southern US, Haiti, and Cuba used their magic and ritual to overthrow their oppressors, but it had to be paired with, again, physical action.

      Of course, none of that really matters if you just came here to proclaim that magic and the occult are mere “delusional, escapist crutches”. I hope you didn’t mean to come across like that.

  12. Sable Aradia says:

    Reblogged this on Sable Aradia, Priestess & Witch and commented:
    Yes, exactly. NOW is the time!

  13. Reblogged this on adayinthelifeofawitch and commented:
    Will be posting some ideas soon of how to cast political magic for those less able (for whatever reasons) to also go down the more ‘mainstream’ activism route, like protesting in person or whatever.

  14. Rachel Izabella says:

    This hits home so hard, Sam. I don’t watch the news because I have anxiety disorder and the news makes it skyrocket. But there are small things I can do. Fuck, there are big things I could do if I got off my ass and did them. As a trans woman this especially hits home for me. Trans women are subject to harassment, prejudice, and violence every fucking day. I could do something about that, but I’m not. To be fair to myself I also suffer from depression. But instead of just doing sigils to make convenient things happen for me and my friends I could call on the celestial and infernal powers you speak of and cause real change and not just do it to wank off spiritually. Your article is painful to me but yet inspirational at the same time. Thank you for writing this.

  15. Rachel Izabella says:

    Reblogged this on The Way of the Transgressor is Hard and commented:
    Polyphanes here writes an article both painful to me and inspirational. It’s time for me to get off my depressed ass and do something big for a change to make the world a better place. Please, y’all practitioners out there, read his article and just start fucking making the world a better place in whatever way you can. I plan to. I plan to start today. May the Gods bless you. Much love — Rachel Izabella

  16. Raven Nightsong says:

    Reblogged this on Raven's Coffee Chat and commented:
    This is an absolutely awesome article! A must read that transcends every religion and spiritual path. It has an important message for us, but will we hear what it says? Or are we too stuck in complacency?

  17. Pingback: Let the stupid destroy themselves | satanicviews

  18. Pingback: Magic is Work | The Digital Ambler

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