An Article from the Vault: “Should I have taken the Blue Pill?”


Merry Meet, my friends.

While I am kind of forced by technical reasons to take a short break in my writing, I have been digging into my “unpublished” and “partially published” articles stack.

And I found this little, but very nice, article you may like.

It touches topics such as magickal awareness, why those who take up this path are so “different”, what are the consequences of magick and how to face them…

Should I have taken the blue pill?

By Pablo M. Dotro, The Mage of the Many Shadows
<wizard@elysium.com.ar>

Rev. 1.0.1

One of the defining qualities of those who choose to take on the path of magick or witchcraft is a deep desire to understand. In a way, magickians and witches are constantly trying to expand their consciousness, to see beyond the surface… “beyond the Veil”. Some do it intuitively, in a kind of holistic, “gestalt” way; while some of us tend to focus on a more structured quest for patterns and relationships. But the essence is that we all seek the underlying truth we suppose exists beyond all the physical manifestations of the Universe. Hermetic teachers speak of “The All”; other mystic schools have different names for it. But we all assume there is something beyond, something that is “real” underlying all the shallow, ephemeral manifestations of our sensual world.

How does that belief translate in our lives? It takes many forms, but I think one of the most common is a kind of awareness. Those of us who have taken the first steps into a magickal path tend to share a few premises that subtly differentiate “us” from the “common” person. One of them is, paradoxically, an almost absolute belief in causality (it can take many forms, we do not believe in unexplainable phenomena). Another is the belief that nothing in the Universe is isolated… everything is connected. These two streams play a strange tune on our consciousness… often deriving in one finding purpose. No longer are we simply reacting to education, genetics and/or our environment, but we become aware that our destiny is in our hands. That this is not as easy as it sounds… is a mere understatement, but that is a topic for another essay.

The key point is that those of us with a natural attraction to the magickal arts feel within ourselves some of the subtle patterns of nature. It manifests differently in each of us, but it usually takes the form of a keen intuition, unusual self awareness and a holistic understanding of our environment… So, invoking a “Matrix” cliché, we feel that we have taken “the red pill”, and awakened outside of the so-called normal consciousness.

Most of us had, in our lives, a moment resembling to a turning point, a decision… a choice. But even that choice was an illusion (Matrix fans would say, “the choice was already made”), for we would have awakened to this state nevertheless, sooner or later. Even if we would have chosen to deny our “gift”… it is something we kind of knew from the start, a growing consciousness that separates us from our immediate human environment.

As everything, this has consequences. One of the greatest is the delusion of power. We find that sensual reality is a plastic thing (in particular if you get used to relying on “practical” magick)… not really real. It can be modeled with the proper use of the Will (different magickal schools have different names, the concept is the same). That can make us feel above the rest of the universe. Instead of being a part of the whole, we feel we can master reality to our wishes. It is a very real and present danger. And a danger we are, as a rule, not ready to see when we face it. A lot has been written about this, and the essays “The Price of Magick” and “Groups: the Nature of the Beasts“, both by Barry Walker, are great reading on the subject.

Another very important consequence is that this change in consciousness is irreversible. This extended awareness shows us a lot of the subtle relationships of the Universe, giving us a lot of extra information and a direct link to “tap into” it. But we may not like what we see. This is particularly important when we deal with human nature and our interaction with other human beings.

You can, in some instances, see through attitudes and words, getting a direct feel of the true nature of both others and yourself. This has two problems (at the very least). One, related to the delusion of power. We are human, and so we are prone to errors. And more than that, the gift of extended awareness is filtered by our ego-self, so we cannot truly rely on it… we can, in some instances, get a very accurate picture of the “truth”, while in others be exceptionally blind… or worse, get utterly convinced of something that is an illusion. How do you know when that happens?

That’s the catch, you usually can’t. You find out the hard way. And if you delude yourself, thinking you are always right about such things, the Universe has a tendency to show your wrongs… the hard way.

So that’s about the delusion of power… but as I stated in a previous paragraph, the delusion of power is not the only consequence of extended awareness. There is a much more subtle danger in seeing too much.

You may not like what you see. Or you may not understand it. That is much more painful than it sounds. It happens in many different aspects of life, and is often associated with the first stages of learning.

Magickal ceremonies of initiation attempt to unite the lower and higher aspects of the mind and soul, much like a shock treatment that brings to light all the ugly complexes, repressed character traits and uncertainties. This is treated in some texts about magick (for example, in Israel Regardie’s books “The Golden Dawn” and “The Middle Pillar”; in “Initiation and Death“, an essay by G.D. initiate Tommy Westlund and in some convoluted form, in many of Aleister Crowley’s writings). To be able to keep our sanity, we absolutely need to devote ourselves to the hard work of accepting and modeling our hidden aspects of the self… mastering our “shadow”, if you like. Only a dedication to such diligent a work, more often than not with some aid, allows us to keep ourselves “sane”. Needless to say, this is not easy.

The issue I am trying to refer to is that in many cases, we are far too perceptive, getting deep insight from the apparent chaos. Intuition is powerful… but what happens when we discover something we did not want to know?

In a magickian, the old saying “ignorance is bliss” tends to elicit an ironic smile. Most of us are proud of our perception (some of us too proud, even), but I think that everyone of us has, in some moment or other, wished we could live without really knowing, without that awareness, that small glimpses of what lies behind the veil.

It is often a painful moment, that in which one desires life to be simple again. But the process is one-way only, and once you take up the path, you are changed forever. It all starts in the unconscious self… and by the time the ego makes the willing choice, the changes are well under way. From there on, you have taken the red pill. The matrix-reality is no longer the same.

The path of the magickian, the witch, the mystic… they take you on a journey outside normal awareness. A journey in which you have to confront your personal daemons to succeed. A journey that induces deep changes and crystallizes them into a beautiful, shining whole. The process is difficult, often starting well outside everyday consciousness, and dawning on us only when the ego-self is just getting prepared to understand it.

I want to make clear that the characteristics described here as related to the practice of magick are not really restricted to it. In fact, many sensitive people experience them, without ever stepping beyond that sensibility into the realm of magick or casting the simplest of spells. Any level of increased awareness yields these same traits, even when one is not actively seeking to take up the mantle of the Art of Magick.

There is a strong correlation, however. Almost without exception, skilled and gifted magick-users are very sensitive, highly aware of themselves and their environment. It is often the case that the initial sensibility is what attracted them to the Path.

What strikes me so much is the intensity with which all these little changes dawn on you. As we start our journey, we read about it in many different books, writings and introductory texts. If we are lucky enough to have someone who can guide us, then we are sure to get the warning about the dangers of our choices from our teacher. But words are never enough to describe it, and when you are fully aware of the changes… these are well on their way, and only then we understand. Many things in magick are that way, that’s why some authors say that it is an “experiential discipline”… something you have to experiment to understand properly, not just read about.

But what happens when you “take the red pill”? It is possible to walk away from the active practice of magick, but the gained extended awareness remains there for you for the rest of your life. For good or evil, we change in the experience, and we cannot go back to the previous stage of our lives.

The consequences of extending our awareness can be painful, conflictive, hard to understand and can very well take us into despair… but they can also be rewarding, loving, enlightening, breathtakingly sublime, noble and become our means to reach a higher level of consciousness. It’s the application… and the attitude what makes the difference. When the daemons strike, we strike back, we understand them, we name them, we beat them and make them a constructive part of the whole that is our existence.

The learning process is a spiraling series of clashes like these. Successive periods of darkness and light. In each circle, you learn more, you understand more, and you unlock new depths within and without yourself. Using the language of alchemy, you transmute your soul from the gross and dark matter into pure philosophical gold. No more and no less than that.

It is dangerous and often painful path; but like I said, for some of us the choice is already made… now we have to understand it.

So, my advice to you… if you are already on this journey, do not hesitate to continue, to work hard. Always. It is the only way to succeed. And you will succeed whatever the practical outcome may be. If you are just interested, or have read this far out of simple curiosity, I hope I have been able to provide you with a little more understanding about those who are different, either by choice or by character. May the stars shine on us all.

History of Revisions: 1.0.0: Feb. 3rd, 2004. Initial release in MS Word and PDF format.

1.0.1: Jan. 20th, 2008. Minor style corrections and grammar copy/editing. HTML version.

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