What’s the worse that could happen? Isn’t this what we ask ourselves over and over in our darkest hours? Many believe this is a bad thing and the power of positive thinking is king. But one man had a different outlook, and felt that by defining your fears and outlining your goals, you could gain great success. This man was called by the name of Seneca, and he was a Philosopher of Stoicism. Founded in Anthems by Zeno of Citium, Stoicism was one of the most popular and successful schools of philosophy, particularly in ancient Rome. But what does this have to do with Magick, you may ask? Well everything, Our lives revolve around the small things and the essence of magic is to get the small things in our lives to line up in a row so the big things that worry us so much don’t burn up in a house fire.
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
There are a number of stoic practices that you can use to improve your spell work. Let’s get Negative, shall we? One practice I’ve found that is extremely helpful is to take a white sheet of paper and on one side of it list the absolute worse shit that could happen in a given situation. Make it a situation that you want to happen, but are unsure of. Now go crazy, use realistic stuff, but also, what if polar bears steal a few school buses, drive to your house and kidnap you so that they can sell your organs on the black Market? It could happen, if you do the thing you want to do….Now next to these things write what you could do to minimize the damage that these horrible things could do to your goal. You could get bear repellent and put tire strips in front of your house, for example.
So nothing is as bad as it looked from the start if you are prepared for it, and a bit of Pessimism goes a long way to building a better life and Magical Practice..
“Whoever does not regard what he has as most ample wealth, is unhappy, though he be master of the whole world.” Or, if the following seems to you a more suitable phrase, – for we must try to render the meaning and not the mere words: “A man may rule the world and still be unhappy, if he does not feel that he is supremely happy.” In order, however, that you may know that these sentiments are universal, suggested, of course, by Nature, you will find in one of the comic poets this verse;
Unblest is he who thinks himself unblest.
Or what does your condition matter, if it is bad in your own eyes? Back to the Spell, on the back of the page write what you could do to bring about the goal, and at the bottom of the Page write “Is this the Thing I Fear.” Now take the paper, Draw a Large Sigil on it with your eyes closed, thinking all the wile of the situation that you wish to unfold. Lastly, fold the paper and put it in a envelope, address it to yourself, put it in a book on a shelf, something you don’t plan on reading for a time.
This gives us the ability to periodically consider the bad things that can happen to us. Not to prevent them from happening,because they will happen but to make us value the things we worked so hard to get – our partner, our house, our job, etc. By consciously doing spellwork on what we stand to lose, we regain our appreciation on what matters most.
We could take this one step more and do work for something never having had, or something that we have not lost yet. When grieving, for example, if we are consumed by the loss, rather than mourning the loss of the loved one, we could do work for the fact that your mother is still alive and helping you today, and the death of your father is something to be celebrated. This replaces regret with positive emotions like gratitude.
” in your effort to attain sound understanding; it is foolish to pray for this when you can acquire it from yourself. We do not need to uplift our hands towards heaven, or to beg the keeper of a temple to let us approach his idol’s ear, as if in this way our prayers were more likely to be heard.” Seneca- Letter 41
I end this blog post with an Exercise that Seneca gave and I suggest that you do practice it after you have done the spell work above, it will make the work take root in your soul, and if done with a clear mind, give you a deeper perspective into your own Magical Practices.
“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ” Is this the condition that I feared?”– Seneca
Till next time everyone, Stay Gold.
Art Work- Negative by Vincent Piazza 2015
Sources:Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters by: Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Author), Moses Hadas (Translator, Introduction)