Monday, August 9, 2010

Example of Opere Ex Operato

In my Post "Opere Ex Operato Baby" I tried to point out two principals that I think are essential to magic and spirituality, but which seem to run against the common wisdom of the times. Those points are:

1. People need to stop fixating on customizing a path that fits their personality, beliefs, and proclivities. If you tailor your path to who you already are, it is not going to be a useful tool for transforming you into what you can become.

2. The idea that belief is the key to magic is bogus. There is a lot of magic, most in fact, that will work just fine if you simply follow the instructions. Your belief will be generated by results rather than the other way around.

I will give one example of how these two things work together. I was talking with someone about the pendant I was wearing, known as "The Miraculous Medal". I first learned about it from a group of what must be described as a coven of Catholic Witches at a shop in Pt Pleasant. They regaled me with stories of how The Lady of the Miraculous Medal did amazing things for them and their family. The very next day I was visiting my Grandmother, and noticed that she had one that used to belong to my Grandfather. I told her how just the previous day I had learned about it, so she gave it to me.

This particular medal has a specific history and use. On Nov 27, 1830 a French nun named Catherine Labouré reported seeing the an apparition of the Virgin Mary displayed inside an oval frame, standing upon a globe, wearing many rings of different colors, most of which shone rays of light over the globe. Around the margin of the frame appeared the words Ô Marie, conçue sans péché, priez pour nous qui avons recours à vous (in English, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee). As Catherine watched, the frame seemed to rotate, showing a circle of twelve stars, a large letter M surmounted by a cross, and the stylized Sacred Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns and Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. Asked why some of her rings did not shed light, Mary reportedly replied, "Those are the graces for which people forget to ask." Catherine then heard Mary ask her to take these images to her father confessor, telling him that they should be put on medallions, and that all who wear them and speak the prayer as they put it on shall receive great graces.

There are a number of Novenas surrounding the Miraculous Medal as well as shrines dedicated to her. The person who noticed that I was wearing the medal asked if I thought it would be good for her to use for a particular thing. I said of course, and even pointed out a Novena online aimed at exactly what she wanted.

A few months later I was talking to this person and she told me that the Medal did not do squat for her situation. This honestly was the first I had ever heard such a report. I asked if she said the prayer when she put it on, and if she did the Novena I pointed out. She answered  that she doesn't believe in the Virgin Mary like that so she had to change it to Sophia which was an concept that she could deal with. She re-stated the prayer and Novena to refer to Sophia and also to acknowledge other gods that she works with from several different pantheons.

Now, was she doing magic? Yes.

Was she using the Miraculous Medal? NO.

I mean, how hard is it? Enity appears to a mystic and says:" Tell people to do this and say this and I will work for them." But because we in our modern world have allowed the "it's all in your head" and "everything must be customized to fit ME" zeitgeist to run away with the whole of magic, we cannot stop ourselves from tinkering with even the smallest thing.

This person was faced with three good choices:

1. Find a ritual that they jived with better. There are oodles of techniques from all over the world. Find one that you jive with.

2. Suck it up and just do it as described. Mary is there whether you believe in her or not. She loves you whether you believe in her or not. By doing the ritual you are opening yourself - that is all that is required.

3. Write your own thing. Nothing wrong with that, lord knows I do a lot of work that is my own. The thing is I realize that if I re-write the LBRP to use Septagrams and invoke Sumerian Gods, it is no longer the LBRP. It is my own thing.

But no, because according to this person "belief and intent are the most important things anyway, it shouldn't matter". In her mind she was doing the same ritual and so should have expected the same result. The problem is that when you change the ritual keys to that degree, you may be doing magic, but you are not doing THAT magic.

I want to close this post with a personal than you to the Lady of the Miraculous Medal. The reason that this story even came to mind that she has been helping me out recently and turning up results that are , well, miraculous.

Next Post I will be exploring the flip side of this argument: the place of personalization, antinomianism, and customization in magic and spirituality.


yuzuru said...

Good story, really show the point. Thanks.

Jack Faust said...

Okay. I agree with all of this, and I think I have a better understanding of what you're saying.

But... that's crap magick. It's a stance of Absolute Relativism, and that only ever works in theory.

Miss Sugar said...

I like option #3, it's what I generally do :)

Alphonsus said...

Mama Mary's always been good to me. She holds a special place in my heart under her titles of Maris Stellae, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Notre Dame de Sous-Terre. If you want really fast help, I recommend praying to Saint Philomena. I've ALWAYS had results with her. Especially when I address her as "my little Princess Saint."

Frater Serpentis et Aquila said...

Strangely, a friend of mine gave me one of these a few weeks ago. He practices a blend of Catholicism, Wicca, and Native American spirituality.

I am curious, however, because he didn't give me that much information about the medal. How have you used it? What prayers have you used in conjunction with the medal? I am interested to see how I can make better use of it myself.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, with a great example.

There is certainly something to be said for intent, but the wave of 'The Secret' confused people. ;P It's like someone someone who realllllly wants Dark Cherry Bomb going out and buying themselves Vanilla - certain that if they just focus their intent then "poof"!

Sure, it's ice cream and all...

Kim @redhandferi