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Friday 22 March 2013

Why magical rituals fail

Some rituals have the best intentions

Although occult books are full of yarns about magic’s success stories there are few tales of what happens when magic goes wrong  I have been noticing that a sector of my life is largely immune to magic of late.  I have tried a number of different rituals to over come this problem and nothing has worked.  As a result I have been focusing on the issue a fair bit and I am looking to find a solid rule for magical failure.
I have been playing devil’s advocate on Facebook on this question to see what people’s thoughts about the matter are and it was about what I expected.  Occultism suddenly becomes a religion when things go wrong.
Magic is about you having some measure of control over yourself and your inner and outer environment.   At some point you have be able to decide what you want, and make it happen. A ritual is designed to make this happen.   The opposite side of the coin to this is religion.  In religion you pray to your chosen god and ask it to make it happen.  
In my Christian days it was drummed into our heads that “God always answers prayer; it is just that he sometimes says “no” or “wait.”   The flaw in this approach is that you may not get what you want and if God keeps saying “no” there is nothing you can do about it.
When I asked on Facebook why people think that their rituals failed I got the following answers:

Technical reasons – your ritual was badly written or performed incorrectly.
This is not always true.  I have written rituals that worked once or twice and then failed for some inexplicable reason.   I am pretty good ritually and most of my performances are not different enough to have made any difference to the rite.  Astrological conditions can make a ritual more difficult (or improve them) but a magician is supposed to master the stars not the other way around. Generally it makes sense to avoid the tricky configurations anyway.

God tells you to Go forth and multiply
God has forbidden it to work 
Many rituals include the phrase “if it pleases the Divine” in their intention.  This means that if the ritual did not work then obviously it was blocked by God.    But when I started looking at some of the rituals that went wrong, it was clear that could not have been the case.   For example, a flat I was living in had mould and it was making me and my partner sick.  It was also falling down and the neighbours had become intolerable.  It was also too small to do regular meetings and was too expensive.  Why would God want me to stay in a house in which I was getting sick, was interfering in my work, and was too expensive?  If I am an expression of the One Thing, then I am torturing myself by saying “no.” Besides if God can veto rituals in this way then we might as well be praying to it and not doing magic at all.

The Ritual did not accord with your True Will
His is a modern variant of the “God says no” argument above.  The answer is similar it cannot be my true will to suffer and be miserable.

Your Higher Self wants you to live here
Your Higher Self has a bigger and better plan. 
Well the Higher Self should inform me why it wants me to die from breathing toxic mould and it had better come up with a damn fine excuse.  In fact I think this idea of the Higher Self being seen as a separate entity is a bad idea.  It ends up with the Higher Self replacing God, when it isn't.

You have somehow blocked yourself from attaining your goal
Normally this block is unconscious in that you think that you should not have the thing you desire.  Now this is a good point in that the unconscious would have created the “lack” in the first place.  But one thing I have noticed is that this lack should not apply to rituals worked on your behalf.  While I might not be able to get my house ritual to work, someone else should.  I know a few magicians who could do the job for me and yet they can’t do it either.  The point here is that my unconscious must be putting a mother of all blocks on things.  The only weak side to this as being the main reason why a ritual would fail is that overcoming these sorts of problems is exactly what magic is designed to do.  Nick Farrell might not be able to overcome his problems, but if he gets the help of an appropriate angel then he should manage it.  After all Michael is the Angel of the Sun and that energy is pretty damn powerful.

Nothing wrong with prayer, just ask a male praying mantis
These are all good reasons, but you notice how close they are to religious ones? God says no, Satan has stopped you?  God has a perfect plan for your life, you have to wait upon him. You are a poor sinner, a slug who is born to suffer and  who can’t overcome a minor problem that others are good at.   This sort of attitude is nothing like such affirmations like “There is no part of me which is not of the gods” and other sayings which hare supposed to model who we are in terms of the universe.
I mentioned that I was playing Devil’s advocate when I asked my question because I expected those sorts of answers.  Other than an interesting suggestion that it might be because I was not prepared to use black magic, they were statements that had been given to me by my teachers over the years: more or less “just have faith.”
Golden Dawn chief Martin Thibeault came closer to my way of thinking when he said that magical failure did not really exist.  He wrote: “Magic is like any other form of has an impact on the world but sometimes the world is not so easily moved.”
He added that a ritual was a form of worship in its own right and even if it did not work it still had value.  Martin and I have something in common that we do not believe in karma or fate. That being said  he thinks that will is the varying factor for rituals to 'succeed' or 'fail'.
Now I agree with some this and so I will post a hypothesis to be tested as to why magic fails.
The world is made up of patterns, cycles and flows which make things happen.  Some of these are the consequences of our actions, others are consequences of God’s.  A magician wants to step outside these patterns and move the elements about himself.  Some things are easier to change than others.  A ritual for me to get $5 should be easier to achieve than one where I win the lottery.  Other things are harder for me to achieve because I have patterns which I find personally challenging, perhaps because of my own experiences.
Hoover dam could be damaged by one person
with a sledgehammer or an energetic ram given
enough time 
These patterns are changed using power which is bought into play by a ritual.  However like some power complexes require a little bit of power, other things require a lot of power bought into action over a longer period of time.  Thus a short ritual, done often enough, will bring about change eventually, in the same way that someone armed with a sledgehammer will eventually collapse the Hoover dam.  In this respect all rituals work, but some will not have enough power to change the flow of energy which creates the bad situation enough.  The rituals need to be repeated, or a more powerful ritual developed.
So if you have a ritual that does not work, the suggestion would be not to give up. Instead do the same ritual several times until it does.
Now, there will be those who do sigil magic, or who followed the BOTA course who will disagree with me here.  Both those systems suggest that you should do your working and forget all about it for it to work properly.    I am not sure that is right, because you end up trying to make some of the excuses I outlined above.   However I have not had much luck with sigil magic either. BOTA would say that you are giving your unconscious a negative suggestion by repeating the working.  The answer to that is that is no more negative than what it already has to work with.  Instead you are giving it a more suggestion that it has more power to work its magic.
The aim then is to keep doing your rituals until the power has reached a point where there is a tipping point and reality is forced to change.