This week’s post is the ninth of a monthly series of open-discussion posts focusing on books I’ve written. Our theme for the present is Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, and this week we’re discussing “The Spiritual Ecology of Magic” (pp.85-99). I’d like to ask readers to keep their questions and comments focused on that chapter and the ideas it contains; we’ll have another Ask Me Anything post later this month, and of course a substantive monthly post or two in due time.
The chapter covers a fair amount of material, but the central theme can be summed up simply enough. The common modern pop-spirituality insistence that limits don’t apply to the spiritual realm, that the entire universe is utterly obedient to the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of the individual, is not merely mistaken but self-defeating and self-destructive. Certainly changes in your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes can reshape the universe of your experience in unexpected ways, and some times in very dramatic ones; certainly a great many of the limitations that burden our lives are the product of our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes…but not all.
Limits apply to every plane of being. The Law of Limits, the fourth of the seven laws we’ve discussed so far in this sequence of posts, applies to the spiritual realm just as thoroughly as it does to the material realm; the limits are different but they’re no less inflexible. The initiate uses these limits the way a billiard player uses the cushioned sides of the billiard table, as limits off which he or she can rebound. Magic, in fact, can be understood in one sense as the art and science of using the limits of the mind and spirit to achieve one’s ends.
This chapter also deals with magical ethics. That’s a swamp these days, with half the crocodiles mouthing prissy Victorian sentiments and the other half insisting that ethics don’t matter at all, but there’s a simple way through the murk, which is to remember that magic is subject to the laws of ecology. What you put into the world will cycle back and influence your life—and no, it doesn’t matter whether or not you happen to believe this. Just as dumping toxic waste into the physical environment guarantees that sooner or later some of it will come out of your own faucets, dumping toxic energies into the magical enviroment guarantees that sooner or later some of that will circle around to bite you in the backside.
Questions? Comments? Discussions? Have at it—subject, of course, to the usual rules.
In other news, I’m delighted to report that the next issue of Into the Ruins, the premier magazine of deindustrial SF, is now available for sale. Pick up a copy or, better, still, get a subscription, and enjoy first-rate fiction and essays about the kind of future we’re actually going to get.