Perhaps it wasn’t always the case. Maybe throughout most of human history, a materialist fixation hadn’t yet obscured perception of spiritual domains. But it’s certainly the case now. Any phenomenon that cannot be precisely determined as the result of a physically measurable cause is presumed “merely” psychological or the outright delusion of a wishful thinker.
I’m a huge fan of the scientific method, and I feel it should be used more frequently by occultists. But it’s deviated from being a practical tool of natural inquiry into a limiting function on what questions are even valid to ask. We have become addicted to determinism and to our physical means of measurement. The unfortunate consequence is a society that rejects anything not observable between the smallest point under our microscopes and the furthest expanse of the circle seen in our telescopes. In the modern Western World, we have become nihilists–a culture of matter that doesn’t matter.
Thankfully, there are still exceptional individuals who yearn for the Mysteries, spiritual awakenings, and mystical encounters. Fortunately, there are those who have seen past the matter-illusion and are guiding these exceptional individuals to bear witness to the same.
As a magician and an alchemist, I’m supremely optimistic that the “exceptional individuals” will win the day; mankind is evolving spiritually beyond nihilism. Alchemy exposes the mechanism of this evolution. Magic provides the demonstration that this mechanism transcends the material domain. Even at it’s most dark, this is just how the world looks as it undergoes the great transformation. More accurately, this is just how the world appears to those in the midst of their own spiritual evolution–that’s us! As our view of reality is elevated, so is our perception of the world and what seems to emerge there.
Indeed, working with dangerous chemicals and fires should not be a requirement of all spiritual seekers. However, the advantage to the laboratory alchemist is that they experience concrete examples of the universal mechanism of evolution. Once sufficiently realized, this process can then be applied (via abstraction) to the inner alchemical growth of the human mind. The exploration of both provides a feedback loop to expose holes in one’s understanding of the other. As gaps are filled through continued experimentation, the resulting formula can be employed as repeatable and dependable as any scientific process.
What follows is my attempt to provide a partial explanation of this mechanism to explain why successful magic is the key to unlocking one of the most robust locks on the doorway unto the Greater Mysteries. “Flesh is a trap. Magic sets us free.” (wink)
Though the term alchemical gets thrown around these days as a mere synonym for transformation, when practicing alchemists use the term, they are referring to a precise formula of evolution: solve et coagula–separation, purification, reconstitution. A specific example goes like this. Out of the chaos of the first matter is separated the dual solar and lunar fumes. From the process of this separation and their interplay the four elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire are made to appear. Through the purification and recombination of these elements the principals of Mercury, Sulphur, and Salt are exposed. These undergo further purification and cohobation (repeated distillation and re-emersion in a bath), and once perfected become homogenized into a new singular element: the Quintessence. Whether the subject is plant, mineral, metal, or the human person, the method can be understood through this same formula.
Spiritual evolution seems simple, right? It is simple, but it’s most certainly not easy. The devil is in the details, and the purification of that Salt is a real bitch!
In the human, this Salt lies in the domain of the physical body, its DNA, and the very configuration of neurons in the brain. It’s the fixed story of nature and of one’s personal upbringing and behaviors. It manifests as the cause of our habits and impulses. If we were all robots (caugh–we’re-all-robots–caugh), this Salt would be the hard drive embedded with our current programming. It’s related to what Kabbalists call the Nephesch.
Fixed means it’s static and very resistant to change. And even when change is achieved, it tends to retrograde back to the previously established state. As we undergo the process of our own spiritual evolution and growth, we go through countless attempts at recognizing and changing our fixed nature. We struggle to remodel our character toward a more productive end. But success is NOT generally pleasant. For the fixed Salt to transform, it must first be volatilized and made malleable–the matter must be retrograded back to a state of chaos from which a new substance can be separated and rematerialized.
This is exemplified through trials of health, jobs, relationships, or anything that compels the individual into the chaos of unknowing. Before the crisis, one is convinced they know some particular view of themselves and the world. During the crisis, this “knowledge” is thrown into question and unmade. After questionable preconceptions are un-known, out of chaos higher truths can be extracted and solidified. This is the process of debugging our software and reprogramming our Salt / Nephesch into something more productive.
Now, one of the most fixed and hardcoded habits is our intuition about physical substance and the seemingly external world of our senses. It’s therefore easy to understand why it’s so damn difficult for the modern person to question the status quo and seek answers that lie beyond the natural senses. Science has done exceptionally well at predicting how the world will appear from one minute to the next. This has reinforced the habitual programming of the matter myth. Though the Ruach of a person is relatively easy to alter through new patterns of thought, logic, and reason, the Nephesch (being more fixed) is best changed through experience, proof, and demonstration. Only then are new habits written.
This is why I maintain that one’s exposure to successful, repeatable, and verifiable magic is so absolutely vital. It serves to convince the fixed lower mind that there is more to reality than meets the eye (literally). Whether one evokes to physical presence a celestial being, works with intelligences in the astral plane to secure a predicted outcome, or even creates a talisman to manifest a new job, the effect will demonstrate a potential antidote to the materialist habits of the lower mind. As results are repeated over and over with growing success (and extreme specificity is the key here), the fixed Salt will be softened and made volatile, ready to fly over the still head. Only when the Nephesch is convinced she is not bound to the earth can she grow wings.
Yes, this is only a very focused view of one stage in the process of one’s spiritual evolution. When it comes to rewiring the materialist attachments, it doesn’t really matter what type of magic is used. But the goal chosen will reflect the depth that one has achieved in one’s own enlightenment and illumination. Magic is a tool, and it can be used by the Adept and the vulgar alike.
Regardless, the world needs more witnesses of magic to challenge the nihilistic obsessions of the modern world. And those who have repeatedly experienced evidence of non-material causes for physical effects are desperately needed as teachers and mentors now more than ever. And if you fancy yourself an alchemist, magician, or occultist and still can’t let go of your belief that matter is more authentically real than that which cannot be measured by physical instruments, I say it’s time to start demanding more of your magic.
And then can the greater work in the next phase of spiritual evolution begin, free from the chains that bind us to the earth and to the stars.