Thursday, July 29, 2010

Opere Ex Operato Baby

There are a lot of you out there who are deeplyy concerned with whether your magic and spirituality is a good fit for you personally. You want a symbol to excite and tickle you just in the right ways before you use it. You want the lessons to conform to your beliefs and expectations. You want spiritual teachings that make sense to your views of the world and you want your magic to be done in ways that you are comfortable with. You want to be told that while there are all these traditions, lineages, practices, materia, rules, and procedures that ultimately what feels right to you, is what is best. Want the path that is just right, for you.

Get over yourself Goldilocks .

Ultimately you need to make choice in how to persue spirituality and magic. You can make your path conform to your beliefs and ideas OR you can let your beliefs and ideas grow through working your path. Option one is a door to comfortable stagnation. Option two is hard because sometimes you will be doing things that you do not immediately click with, things that seem counter-intuitive, and sometimes even things that you do not believe in at all.

Here is the thing though, belief is over rated, that includes belief in the magic that you are doing.

I know, I know. This runs counter to everything that you have been told in the past about how your belief is what makes the magic work. The truth is though that while some magic (the weak watered down stuff :-) may depend upon your person belief in it, most of it does not.

When I write about Hekate I tell people that you no more have to actively believe in her to get her to answer your call than you need to actively believe in your car to get it to start. When a student asked Dr Kioni once whether it was ok to call upon Jesus even though he was'nt Christian, Dr Kioni said, it doesnt matter what you believe, that name has power because it has power and meaning way beyond what you could ever give it.

A few months ago someone in my course mentioned that they felt no "click" or attraction to the planetary sigils, but that they would use them anyway. They came back and admitted that they worked like a charm. This same person did not like my the Song of the Serpent, some of my invocations, and my approach to zone rites. They worked with all of these and have now made them part of their regular practice.

The term Opere Ex Operato is an ecclesiastic term that translates as "it works because of the working". It arose as a church doctrine as a response to competition between priests claiming to give more effective sacraments than other priests because of their proper view and purity. The doctrine basically states that if you have the magic Jesus Juice (is Holy Orders through proper succession), and perform the rituals in the right way, that the Priest is just a medium - his personal purity and views have no effect. Even a person who leaves the church and starts doing their own thing is giving Sacraments that are Valid but Illicit (they work, but are unsactioned by the Holy See). The same is true of good magic - there is more to it than just how you feel about it.

For lent this year my Bishop asked me to do an accumulation of the Prayer of the Heart (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy Upon Me a Sinner) that is linked with the breath. This was a major issue for me because while I do consider myself a Christian (among other things), I was not in the habit of begging for mercy and not all that hung up on the concept of sin. I did it anyway. I did it because a teacher I respected asked me to and because if we only do things that are comfortable we never grow. It turned out to yield amazing and potent fruit which furthered my evolution as a mystic and a magician.

Now, does this mean that every spiritual practice is for everyone? No.

Just as the student I mentioned above put aside his personal inclinations to find that some sigils and rites actually worked whether he liked them or not, another student attempted some rituals earnestly and found that they did not work for her well. This happens. Not everyone is served well by every practice.

My point is simply that your immediate attraction or rejection of an idea should not be the test of whether something works, nor should whether it fits your current world view and idea. In the spiritual world, it is often exactly what turns us off that is exactly what we need. I sometimes wish I could gather up those that love dork paganism (oops... I mean dark paganism) and enroll them into a white light crystal waving school.

Your belief doesnt matter as much as you think it does.
Your intent doesnt matter as much as you think it does.
How you feel doesnt matter as much as you think it does.
Sometimes it works because of the work,

Suck it up. Do the work and find out.


Jack Faust said...

The problem for me is that I tried the crystals and for the most part they didn't work. And I tried the Pranic shit, and was bored to tears. But, in actuality, it did work. And well. And I'm not sure I'd be able to maintain my use of Gazes without it, because I'd lack any focus what-so-ever for that.

That said, aren't we supposed to try and counter-balance just about everything in one way or another? Or am I way off on that?

Balthazar said...

Oh gosh this is such a good post Jason, if I were on that side of the pond I would shake your hand. It should be required reading, I think.

Freaking Amen brother.

I think folks who want to make up stuff to fit their comfy expectations before engaging with traditions as they stand are often coming from the dubious place of "it's all made up anyway". When you think everything is all made up anyway, you get made up results.

Like you say - powerful systems work, because they have been worked.

Unknown said...

How True!

I remember before my initiation into a BTW group that I was agonizing over various thing, mostly because I had (up until then) been walking the path of the solitary and had been modestly successful with it. But in taking on things in the forms and structures recommended has totally been transformational, and brought new depth and focus into the solitary practices that I kept.

razorsmile said...

An interesting post and the over-emphasis on belief has definitely proved troublesome, although there is something about the way that belief can be made to work and does already work that is still fascinating. I was also reminded of Horselover Fat's definition of reality when I read this piece, that is:

reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away (P.K.Dick: How to build a universe...)

Anonymous said...

This is so spot on, and so timely; I'm happy, thankful and in love with my path of almost 20 yrs (Feri initiate), and my energetic and shamanic work as a practitioner.

Still, something moves within that demands response...this started with exposure to the Chod practice, years back now. And listening to this desire to learn Chod, led me to Vajrayana.

Right now, this new path is making me squirm with great discomfort, even as I feel a homecoming. I relish breaking open further, wider, into some unknown, so I press on.

"In the spiritual world, it is often exactly what turns us off that is exactly what we need."