Greetings, my Pagan friends; may your Gods be well disposed to you; may the bugs flee your patch as from a crow; may the gentle rain fall softly on your flower beds; and may your lovers be all you wish them to be. Now at the season of long lovely days and short passionate nights, when our Mother the fair Earth is at her richest and most bountiful, it is hardly the season for deep thinking.
When nature is at its very best and the season most enjoyable are we not all of us tempted to shut of maymental processes and enjoy life in a purely sensual mammalian way? Of course we are, to do less would be an insult to creation.
At this glad time, here comes that old pest, the heretic, like the ghost at Caesar's feast. Consider, dear friends, even as the screech owl is put into this world to scare goose bumps on our backs, the here-tic is put into the world to ask hard questions and discomboomerate the quiet mind. The only place on this sweet earth where we can look for a quiet unchanging stay is a graveyard. It is so with me, even as with you.
The other day when I was minding my own business [a most hazardous occupation], a stranger came to me with a request. He wanted me to magically restore to him a lost love. It seems that he had, by his own actions, turned his lady's love if not to hate, at least to an active dislike. He was sorry. He knew it was all his own fault. He agreed that she was justified in leaving him. He beat his chest and cried `mea culpa', but he wanted her back, and he wanted me or someone to, as he put it, "push the right button", and change the situation. Before he came to me he had been to a friend of mine. The friend is a scholar and practical magician who is rather more daring than most- he had by magic means caused the lady to recall the best of the past. With that, the lady consented to talk with her ex-inamorata, and discuss, in a civilized fashion, her decision to be done with him. At that, the magician bowed out. He pointed out to the petitioner that from there on, it was up to him. My friend maymagician can be, when he has to be, a most impressive man, and I gather he dismissed the `lorn lover' with a definite dismissal.
Then he came to me. I pointed out that there ain't no free lunch in the universe and I had no intention o making on a karmic debt of considerable proportion for his possible benefit. I told him that it is easier to move a mountain than to move a human mind if it will not be moved. I told him that he was trying to find someone to do for him what could only be properly done by himself. I pointed out to him that his situation was an effect of a cause, a cause that he was responsible for. I told him that magic is fine as a last resort, but hardly to be considered as first aid. I told him...I wasted my breath. Such a one hears only what he wants to hear.
The petitioner only said, "I just need someone to push the right button - she used to love me. I am not asking much, I just want things to be like they were."
I refrained from pointing out that Hitler could have said the same thing in the bunker. Then he said, "I am willing to pay you. Just tell me how much it's going to cost." Some things are an insult from a knowledgeable person, and a joke from a fool. I laughed. He was the sort who would ask "How much?", referring to one's head.
Now I am, I think, a reasonable sort, patient, and in my own way polite, but enough is enough, and this chap was rapidly becoming too much. I told him flatly, that I was not about to do any button pushing. I gave him what I felt was good advice. That is, I told him that if he was determined to further his amours by magic means to learn to do it himself. I referred him to a most knowledgeable teacher. I was in that way certain that he would either learn what was involved in his request and give it up, or more likely abandon the whole thing as too slow and too difficult. (The teacher informs me that he never bothered to even go around to see what the teacher had to offer. A case of "Gimme my daily bread, I'm willing to wait with my mouth open".)
Then he countered that if I wouldn't "push the button" could I refer him to someone who could, or would. I inquired around. One colleague I know is willing to try just about anything. He once did a weather spell out on the high plains in tornado season and another time worked a charm to rid a field of grasshoppers in hail season. I add, both were successful in a disastrous way. When I contacted him with the case, his words were, "I'd like to but I'm going on a trip to South America." Surprised, I asked about the trip, adding I hadn't known about it. He replied, "I didn't know about it either, but if that dude shows up here, I'm going!"
Failing to find a genuine scholar and practicing magician to attempt the matter, I tried a couple of unethical charlatans. In view of the fact that the petitioner was a large muscular sort who would expect instant results, they regretfully declined.
I was beginning to feel like Sinbad the Sailor when he carried the old man of the sea piggyback around the island. At wit's end (where I have lived for years), I suggested that he try religion. I offered to introduce him to some nice Pagan folks, or even get him in touch with some T.V. type evangelists. He refused on the grounds that they would be too slow and uncertain. He wanted instant gratification.
At last, thanks be to the power that watches over well- meaning fools like me, another lady hove into sight, and he took off in her direction with deep breath and flashing eyes. This sad fellow is but one of many I've had my misfortune to meet. I am sure most of you could recount similar sad males. We'll all have to get together and I'll haul out the portable wailing wall, and we can share a cup of tea and all sympathize with each other.
I wouldn't have bored you with this all too familiar tale except I have a question. How does one deal with such people? Is there some way to tell a person with a real problem who can be helped from the person who has an endless amount of wants and no energy to help himself? That is, some way, without finding out the hard way? I can handle skeptics (I am one myself), I can handle cynics, I can handle atheists and deal with convinced true believers of all sorts, but how do I deal with a person who believes that I can work miracles?
One question leads to another. I have a few more on the same line. How comes it that as soon as people, some of them at least, find that one is not part of some main line orthodox church, they straightway want you to work some magic? Are Roman Catholic and Episcopal priests pestered by miracle seekers? Are T.V. evangelists? If not, why not? They deal in magic as much as any Pagan or free thinker. Is the prevalence of lazy freeloaders the reason that Christianity for the last fifteen centuries or so has been down playing the magical basis of the early Church? This is a topic worthy of our consideration.
Another question comes to mind at this point. A question about magic in general. I am sure you know what magic is, just is I am sure I know what it is. The definitions are many and varied, but they all basically state in one way or another, that magic is the practical side of religion, and the practice of magic is the art of causing changes in the tangible by intangible means. Or, to put it another way, magic is a mental way of changing the physical by means o the spiritual. That is what magic is, no question there. The question is what does the uninitiated, uninformed layman think magic is?
If you are going to make a living repairing televisions and radios, it is not enough that you know electronics. You must also know what your customers believe about electronics. The degree of success in the TV-Radio repair business is generally in direct proportion to the amount of customer knowledge the proprietor of the business has. The rule is, if you deal with the run of humanity, you must understand the general run of humanity. You must not know only what you know, but also what people ignorantly suppose you know.
I pass this bit of wisdom on to you, for I think it has value to any serious student of matters intangible. An old doctor of medicine told me this some forty years ago. The occasion was a patient of his inquiring about an operation for a then inoperable condition. I, only an army medic, was astounded at the fellow's ignorance and when the Doc and I were alone, said as much. "Son," the old doctor said, "Here is something to remember Anything that works that you don't understand is magic and a magician can do anything. That's not the truth, but ninety per cent of the human race believe it is." That is how people who have never studied the arts of magic see it. To them it is a power without cost and without limit.
Now, the final question for this time is, what should we do about this situation? How should one handle a request made in good faith, to do something clearly impossible? Don't tell me the answer is nineteenth century elitist secrecy. Even if one is a member of The Mystic Confraternity of the Aureate, six fifteen A.M. some well intentioned ill informed citizen is going to crawl out of your woodwork either begging for a miracle or demanding one. Secrecy restricts the free flow of information and the cross fertilization of ideas, besides which it don't work. I fear that people more or less like the chap I described at the start of this will ever be with us. What can we do about them, how should we do it? I am as always serious with my questions. If anyone has some idea on the subject please let us all know. Write the editorial staff of the RMPJ. Don't hide your light in this dark world.
Now, having done my best to dispel the boredom of too much of a good thing, I part now from you. May the sunshine fall softly on you, tanning but not burning. May our sweet Mother the Earth long know your shadow. May you go ever with the current of the power of the Absolute. My blessings on one and all.from R.M.P.J. 8/86
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