I was listening to episode 25 of Speech in the Silence the other day wherein Lon Milo DuQuette performs a few songs and gives one of the most incredible talks I've ever heard. Among the many things he discussed, one seed of Wisdom in particular has stuck with me and blossomed into a fresh insight about the nature and function of magick in general.
This one seems self evident enough, but I really didn't grasp the entirety of this concept until I really gave it some thought and allowed several ideas to come together in my mind to form a portrait of this great truth. He says (paraphrasing here) "I believe that the only thing you can change with magick is yourself." I used to detest the sound of this idea, because I would proclaim "This is not JUST self help stuff! Shit happens! Stuff works!" -- he goes on to explain, "When you for instance work with a Goetic spirit because you want something to happen, or you want a certain person to fall in love with you, etc., and it isn't happening for you, it is because you are not the kind of person that that happens to. So you perform your Goetic evocation and go on an adventure and hopefully, if you survive that adventure, you become the kind of person that that thing happens to." (He gives an example of a "girl next door" who you desire, but is not at all interested in you. So, you evoke a Goetic entity, and life happens and you lose a leg. She feels sorry for your having lost a limb, and begins to spend time with you, bring you meals and gifts, and falls in love with you, because you have become the kind of person she falls in love with. Humorous as it is, I can certainly see the candid reality that lies behind this scenario.)
I really held this thought for a while and tried to reason with myself a few fundamental ideas and concepts to see if I could make some *real* sense of this. I considered the "As Above, So Below", the "Macrocosm/Microcosm" model, and put this in the framework of the fact that we all, every man and every woman, are stars--stars blazing on our own course. It is realizing your course and following it that allows the floodgates of the Universe to open wide for you, placing you in the ever rushing current of your true nature, which is the same nature that the cosmos themselves have made for you, so to speak - the same current which induces flowers to pollinate, the sun to shine upon the moon, all life to procreate, all being driven by its essential nature.
In practicing magick effectively, because strange things happen, as it were, "outside of yourself" that appear beyond any reasonable explanation (at times, not always) other than the magickal deed itself, it seems at first difficult to accept that the only thing that changed in this scenario was you. I have a litany of examples of what seems like outer orchestration of strange events and it seemed to blow this idea to pieces. Until I realized that because we are the Microcosm of a greater Macrocosm, we are the Below of the Above, we are a reflection of all that was, and is, and is to come, the currents that unfold the Universe itself manifest our existence in harmony with who we are, where we are, and the choices we are making. Our minds, our thoughts, our imaginations, prayers, magicks, dreams, hopes, fears, nightmares all mix and mingle and coalesce to manifest the conditions and events of our lives.
The stars answer to us, and we answer to the stars. The harmony of the Universe is that it all acts in accordance with itself and its parts, all a reflection of itself.
To change oneself magickally is to align oneself to a certain current, whether that current is right for your course or not shall be determined by the individual, but it remains plain that it directs a current into you, and you into a current. And that current brings manifestations of various forms, for good or ill, or neither, and it is up to the magician to adjust accordingly. Just because you set something in motion and it was effective doesn't mean that it's what you're truly after, and time truly will tell.
So, upon calling various forces, forms, energies, spirits (whatever) to act on your behalf, they really act upon you. And when your sphere has been adjusted by their presence, your general nature receives an attunement and a shift in the currents. When this happens, because of our relationship to everything which is seemingly outward, the Universe itself answers this change in the form of manifestation in what seems to be "external factors".
But really, if a thing is within your sphere of influence or perception, it is not "external" by any means. It is simply not the body that you think "you" are. That is the great illusion that we live in.
Very interesting indeed.
P.S. This is simply my current and certainly inadequate grasp of the way the game works, but it definitely has the ring of truth.
*Okay, so not ALL magick. But a whole shit ton of magick works this way. And this post is not about the objective vs. subjective experience and existence of spirits. Let's please just avoid that discussion. Not what I care to talk about here.