Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Reset and Change

Today is the first day of May and almost the end of a very long and tiring journey that I’ve been on. Not physically travelling from one place to another, instead leaving one phase of my life behind and starting another. I’m changing jobs and having been in the old company for so long, it feels like waking from a dream within a dream within a dream…

Anyway, in the run up to the start of May and in this time between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Weeks), I decided that it was time to clear out some of the stray and undesired thought patterns in my mind.

Thought Experiment

Here is a little exercise for you to try. Below will be three questions to answer. Think of the answer as quickly as you can and remember that there is no “correct” answer.

1. Burning 
Your home is on fire. You have 30 seconds to get anything and anyone out of the house before you are overcome by the smoke and fire. What do you do?

2. Burning 
Your home is no longer on fire, some but not your entire house was spared from the flames. You and your family are safe outside along with a few precious possessions. There is an angry mob on its way; they have been whipped up in to a frenzy by a leader from a different religion. You have 30 minutes to do whatever it you want before you have to flee the country, what do you do?

3. Burning 
Your home has been partially burned down, there’s an angry mob and escaping the country is no longer an option. You are given the choice to convert or die. If you convert you will be expected to participate in communal religious life on a regular basis and will be checked up on without warning. What do you do?

OK, so they’re not very fair questions and leave a lot of blanks to fill in. The aim is for you to think about your ties and connections and what you are willing to give up. What possessions do you care about and which are less important? What ties do you have to your friends and family? And finally which beliefs matter to you most and under what circumstances would you be willing to give your life for something or someone that you believe in?

Wrecking Ball

I ask myself these questions on a fairly regular basis because, as a Project Manager being reflective becomes second nature. Also, it helps re-affirm what I believe in and what really matters.

With these thoughts in mind I decided that it was time to take a metaphysical wrecking ball to my worldview and view of self to see how well they could stand up to a few knocks. I chose to read a book by an author that I would not normally be drawn to in order to see how much they would challenge my knowledge and experience of magic. I wanted to read outside my comfort zone and with as open a mind as possible.

Frater Acher inspired me to read Josephine McCarthy’s book: “Magical Knowledge Book I Foundations/ The Lone Practitioner”. Currently I’m about half-way through the book and it’s blown me away. Not only has it made me realize how little I know or have achieved so far, I find myself writing notes and questions in the margins on almost every page.

Writing in the margins… with a pen! For someone like me who was raised with a respect for books bordering on reverence, I can’t honestly remember the last time I wrote in the margins and certainly not with a pen.

Experiential Learning

Having achieved the goal of knocking myself down a couple of pegs, I’ve decided to change my approach to blogging. To date most of the posts have been about the theory of Jewish magic & mysticism with a few posts about the practice and experience. In the future I plan to shift that balance the other way and focus much more on practice and less on theory.

There are plenty of decent books on Kabbalah, Jewish Magic & Mysticism that will teach you the theory. There’s a lot less that will teach you the practice.

In Frater Acher’s recent blog (part 1 and part 2)  he talks about the What, How and Why of magic.

What – The sum of actual magical practices recorded in any given tradition
How – The Cosmology, knowledge and symbols that empower magic in any given tradition
Why – The reason and purpose of why magic is practiced in any given tradition

His blog posts are fascinating and illuminating reading that I’m still pondering and digesting.

My reading to date has highlighted to me that in Jewish magic and mysticism there is a lot written on the How, some written on the Why and only a small amount written about the What. If I am mistaken about this, please let me know in the comment section below.

Reset and Change

So I’m hoping that this is a change that will stick and not just a statement of intent. In the very near future I will start a new job and have less time to blog in any case, which will hopefully mean fewer but better posts in the future.

I’m starting again, just from a slightly different starting point.