The journey of magic that touches real power is a long and convoluted road that triggers ever deepening awareness of inner powers, consciousness and our own inner spirit and outer body. That long journey takes us down many roads of learning, not just about magic, but about power, energy, and our bodies.
In a recent student debate, the issue of emotion and magic came up repeatedly, and maybe this is a subject matter that might be of wider interest in the magical community. There are many different roads of magic, many different forms and systems, and they all express differently in the relationship between the magic, and the magician. But regardless of ones’ own path, it is really worth knowing what dynamics are in action, what they are, how they work and why.
This post talks about moving emotion to one side or focussing out emotion from a magical task, such as when you are doing a specific ritual, vision or visionary ritual, sigil working etc.
This is the same dynamic as when an airline pilot is struggling to control a damaged aeroplane, or a paramedic is trying to stop someone dying, or a doctor is doing emergency open heart surgery, etc – there are times when emotion does not help and has no place. There are times in magic when emotions also have no use or place and should be moved to one side for a variety of reasons, some of which are outlined in this post. Such ability to compartmentalise emotions is not a natural ability for most people and is something that is acquired through training and practice.
To really understand this dynamic of magic +/- emotions we first need to truly understand our bodies, our minds and our spirits. Mystics and magicians have struggled for millennia with this understanding and decided to approach it in a variety of different ways. Once immersed into real magic and mysticism, the person begins to understand that the emotions, the urges, wants and needs are all of the body, and the connection and communication with everything inner(i.e. not physical realm)/Divine/inner worlds is of the spirit. The body is the vehicle of the spirit and through the body the spirit can immerse itself in the physical world, and the body can experience the inner none physical - it is a symbiotic relationship/agreement/construct/externalisation.
When we look back in history and look at the time just before Christianity emerged (say from 500BC) to when Christianity was starting to become a force (say to about 600AD) people explored this relationship deeply and came to different conclusions. Some realised the separate but entwined dynamic between body and spirit and reacted by rejecting the body in favour of the spirit - they starved themselves, denied themselves, and some groups used suicide to release the spirit. Others went the other way and immersed themselves totally in the senses of the body. Both are unbalanced extremes, but they were valid experiments that we could learn from.
What has this to do with magic? Emotions are a form of fuel, they are also a survival and bonding mechanism, and they are complex necessity for our physical survival. They are purely of the body - they are essentially the product of neurotransmitters - endogenous chemicals, a highly complex signalling mechanism that operates the body and brain, and pushes the body to react in various ways. That is normal, and every normal magician (and person) has them...without them we cannot operate as a living human being nor as a species. Feelings of holiness, glory, majesty, power, eternity, perfection, along with happiness, depression, fear, anger, etc all fall into the same emotive category - they are a body reaction to contact, power, energy and connection. This doesn’t make them any less true and real, rather, it is simply important that the magician is fully aware of the mechanics of every aspect of their body, and also their lives.
And this is where it gets interesting and also complicated. When an inner being, Divine force, an inner power spot or construct is in contact/connection with a human body, it triggers an emotional reaction in the body. This is a signal to the human body to say 'something powerful, Divine, and/or conscious is connecting with you'.
This is the reaction for example of the mystic where an inner consciousness reaches out to connect with them, or the mind of the mystic has touched upon a deep inner world place or being... it is a symptom of that connection, it is not the actual connection itself. The emotive reaction triggers a cascade of neurotransmitter activity in the brain and body which protects the physical substance of the body from the power, and in turn makes it easier for the spirit of the human to interface with that inner connection: it forms a bridge of connection.
This is the process whereby, for example, the magician or non magician (happens to both) is walking among trees and has a sudden unexpected awareness of the living conscious creation all around them - some will interpret this as a 'god moment', some as a 'nature moment', it doesn't matter how the brain processes it.... they have a moment of fleeting deep and life changing connection, an experience which changes their life forever... it is something that can be experienced through music, through nature, through walking into a sacred space, whatever.... it can be simply just walking down the road and boom…. it happens. Just because we understand the chemistry of the reaction does not make it any less real.
Emotions can bridge communication and a deep emotional reaction burns something deep into our memory that never leaves us... these are the things that keep us going.
So let’s imagine a road, with a bridge, and beyond the bridge is a door. The door is access to the inner being/inner place, Divine experience and so forth. When there is an unexpected encounter, you are stood on the road, and the door appears directly in front of you, bypassing the path and bridge. The power on the threshold of the door wishes to 'touch' you or awaken you in some way, so it reaches out to you and connects - the vocabulary/language of the being, and your vocabulary/language are not the same - so the being connects and your emotive system becomes the translator. The emotions generated are not the message, they are signals telling you a message/connection is 'incoming'. Your deeper spirit gets the message, and your conscious mind can then take years to grasp the meaning, and such experiences often can trigger in people a whole new path in life as they search for the meaning of that experience.
In magic we are into a whole different ball game. Those unexpected connections still happen, as they are part of the constant interaction between the physical and the unseen. However, what a magician does is learn how to walk that path, cross the bridge, open the door and step through it to converse with the unseen in a conscious and intentional way. The path is magic, the bridge is the magicians’ skill. That path has a lot of good and bad 'people/beings' upon it, which is a part of its natural defence mechanism. Some help (for example Companions) and some hinder (parasites, destructive beings etc). A helper will walk alongside you and at times, nudge you out of the way of danger. A parasite or destructive being will try to engage you emotionally to distract you, entrance you, unravel you, or even destroy you. They are just doing their job, and at times, looking for a meal (inherent reward built into the job).
Emotion is the only common language when you are not fully trained in magic, and a lot of magical training besides the obvious, is learning to know thyself - know what is truly you, what is your own body and brain chemistry, what is your own baggage etc. The more you experience for good and bad, the more you learn, the more discernment you get. Slowly, the magician starts to realise that the emotive reactions they have when they are working in magic can at times cause more problems than they are worth, as they attract the beings that are trying to block them, feed off them, or distract them. So when the magician is engaging in a magical act, their emotions and emotive reactions are moved to one side so that they are not vulnerable or even visible to those destructive beings. A human full of emotion lights up like a Christmas tree and can be seen to everything around them. The magician triggers or builds the bridge (magical technique), still in silence and invisible, goes to the door, opens it and steps through (visionary work).
This does not mean that a magician has no emotions, or does not have profound emotional experiences, it means that while in the midst of a magical act, communication, or working, emotions are moved to one side: they are focussed out. It is like learning how to sit in a classroom for two hours and not getting up to go to the toilet every time you think you might need to pee.... emotional control in a magician is like potty training.... and it doesn't come from suppressing the emotions, it comes from learning silence, from learning to observe emotions for what they are, and learning to focus beyond emotion.
The magician stills and clears themselves before the work, they then work in a none emotional way, and then they finish. They do not 'run with' the emotional cascade that can happen after or during a working, they simply observe. Once the working has cleared and the body has re set itself back to emotive normal mode (can take around 12 hours), then they are back to being a normal thinking feeling human being. Should a strong emotion present itself during a working, the magician observes, recognises it for what it is, no matter how grand it may seem, and simply continues without engaging that emotion.
And this is also why it is always best to never theorise on anything to do with power/magic, but to first experience, then gain knowledge, understanding and wisdom through long term repeated experience. The deeper into magic you go, the more dangerous it potentially becomes, and knowing yourself, knowing your body, your mind, your spirit, and all the strengths and weaknesses you have, is the key to adeptship.