Well, it took about twenty hours, but now I have my Linux laptop set up mostly how I want it. There are a few tweaks I need to make, of course. And kind of the whole point of this exercise is to slowly migrate more and more of my daily work over to it from the Windows machine.
I realize that the title bar of this site describes it as a “blog about tarot, astrology, and magic,” and it’s been nearly two months since I’ve written anything of the sort. One reason for that, of course, is the avalanche of work I wrote about in my last post.
The other reason is that, I kinda have been writing about magic.
Magical = Mundane
I’ve written too many times to link to that I see no distinction between the magical and the mundane. And if you were to take an even casual survey of cultures from across time and space, you’ll see that almost no one ever has. For most of the human beings who’ve ever lived in this world, it was haunted as fuck, and they acted accordingly.
My view of the world is much the same, or at least similar enough that I don’t sweat it when I can’t find the time to meditate, or go journeying, or “properly” observe a feast day or what have you. And it’s because I know that everything I do is magic.
“Perspective fuels performance,” is a phrase I think about a lot. I honestly can’t recall if I read that somewhere years ago, or if it’s some I came up with (or something which came up with me). Either way, I like it.
You could say that I spent twenty hours over the last week writing and re-writing configuration files, installing software, copying data from one machine to another, and entering barely-remembered commands at far too many shell prompts.
You could also say that I spent those twenty hours using arcane formulas and barbarous names to channel lightning through stones and crystals engraved with incomprehensible patterns.
Believe me, since I do not like fiddling with computers, it was only by leaning heavily into that description that I even got through it.
Perspective. Try some.
It’s not all sweetness and light
As I was writing last week’s post, I thought carefully about just how much I wanted to relate concerning all of the bullshit I’m dealing with. I wanted to explain the increasing delays between posts, as well as share at least some details about the projects I’ve been working on. But as I wrote, I realized that it wouldn’t be a fluffy and happy post.
Mostly because I was not—at the time, nor now—feeling particularly fluffy and happy. And that’s okay.
I think I’ve written before that I don’t have much truck with the relentless positivity you see pretty much everywhere in “new age” or “spiritual” circles. I mean, I get it, and I get where it comes from. “Co-create your universe,” and all that.
But, as I see it, that sort of unyielding, “love and light” at all times thinking doesn’t just feed into whatever universe you might want to “co-create.” It also feeds into a lot of other people’s universes in the form of making them feel wrong, or unworthy, or broken.
Whenever I read someone talking about how such-and-such a person’s illness or misfortune was caused by their own “negative thoughts” or “bad projections” I get more than a little angry. This is because it’s not only wrong, it’s wrapped in just enough truth to sound right in the worst possible way.
Does positive thinking come with benefits? Absolutely. Even materialist medicine has admitted that, all else being equal, patients with better outlooks and attitudes have better outcomes. On the economic side, people who are enthusiastic and confident tend to succeed more often in the workplace and in business as a whole.
“Optimism is a spell.” That’s a phrase that’s been going around the occult community for a few years, now, and I’m not sure who first said it, but it’s very true. Vitally true. And isn’t every spell an optimistic act, in a way? Doesn’t the very fact that you’re doing it imply that, somehow, no matter what you’re going through or how dire your circumstances may look, you still have the ability to change things for the better?
I think so. Which is why I embrace a lot more “New Thought” material and practices than you might expect given what I’ve written here.
But, as true as it is that it can change your world, optimism only works as a spell if you’re willing to acknowledge when your circumstances are dire. You have to be able to see the world, and your place in it, for exactly what it is right now if you’re to have any hope of navigating through it.
Or, said more crudely, if you never admit your ass is filthy, what reason is there to wash it?
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen “love and light” their way straight into massive debt, medical emergencies, and shattered relationships. And it’s all for the same reason: they confused “acceptance” with “acceptance.”
When I look at my bank and credit card balances, and then scan over my receipt from the grocery store, I accept (acknowledge) that I’m in a tight spot. I similarly accept what my bathroom scale tells me, as well as the rate at which I’m going through anti-inflammatories to deal with the various and persistent aches and pains my middle-aged, out-of-shape body delights me with.
However, what I don’t do is accept (embrace) these facts. Seeing them, and admitting them as present truths, does not mean I’m handing them any power. Rather, it’s quite the opposite. By acknowledging reality in its present form, I, myself, am better empowered to change it.
This is one of the reasons I advocate divination as the first step in any practical enchantment work. In order to get to where you want to go, you need to know where you are on the map.
It’s not me, it’s you
Back when I first started this blog, I had a number of intentions for it. The biggest one, though, was that I wanted it to be honest. An honest account of what it’s like, for me, to be a full-time wizard. The good and the bad, the easy and the challenging, the wonders and the clusterfucks.
There were (and are) enough people who carefully curate their online personas to the point where, if all you saw was their Twitter or Instagram feeds, you’d think they were living their perfect dream lives one hundred percent of the time. I didn’t want to add to that noise.
In general, my life’s pretty good. But there are also times when it really, really sucks and I wonder what the fuck the point of everything is.
Like many of the people you see and read on the Internet, I write for an audience. I like to imagine that audience not as an amorphous cloud of demographic statistics, but as a single individual. My “ideal reader” as I think Stephen King called it in his book On Writing.
My ideal reader is someone, magically-inclined, who does not have all their ducks in a row. Who is not living their ideal lives. Who is not happy all the time. Sometimes, they’re perfectly miserable.
Yet, they do magic, with all of the optimism that implies.
I write about my financial struggles because I know a lot of magicians who are broke. I write about my health challenges because I know a lot of magicians who have disabilities. I write about the random, tedious, mundane crap that annoys me because I know a lot of magicians who spend a lot of time being annoyed. Probably more time than they should, present company included.
And I do it so that this ideal reader knows there’s at least one other wizard out there who experiences a lot of challenges, but is somehow managing to do mostly okay, most of the time. On average. Usually.
I debated whether or not ending this post on a “positive” note would undercut what I wrote above, but no. I don’t think it will. In fact, I think it’s almost hilariously fitting.
As I write this, my back hurts. I think I tweaked a nerve in my left shoulder, and the nagging buzzing, tingling pain in my left butt cheek is almost certainly a sciatica thing. But here I am, sitting at my kitchen table in the one chair which doesn’t feel like it’s trying to kill me…and I’m legitimately happy.
Ever since migrating everything over to Emacs and org-mode, I’ve been more on top of my to-do lists and daily activities than I’ve been in months. I’m doing all the thing, and I haven’t felt the least bit stressed while doing them. At some point I might write a page about my setup, sparing none of the nerdy details, but for now I’ll just say that I’m using the right tool for the right job.
With that lack of stress, I’ve actually taken better care of myself physically. It’s only been a few days, and my body needs a lot more of them before it’s back where I need it to be, but this feels like a pretty good start.
And in case you missed that “I’m legitimately happy,” line, my mood has significantly improved as a result. I still see what has to be done, still acknowledge that my reality isn’t how I want it to be, but those facts aren’t weighing me down today. I examined the inventory, made a plan, and took the time I needed to reload and be ready.
Optimism is a spell. Try some.