Grey Magick and Soapbox Preachers

Grey Magick and Soapbox Preachers February 14, 2017

photo by Sonja Sadovsky

Yesterday I had dental work. I also had a sinus infection. I was excused from returning to my office.   This freed me up to take a trip downtown to file my modified paperwork from last week’s adventures.  It’s an odd moment to realize that one is excited to be sick enough to go to court.  I was so ill that I actually forgot where the courthouse was, and wandered around until I got my bearings.

In front of the courthouse is a statue of Justice, and I admit that this is not my favorite representation.  She is blindfolded, but holds no scales.  Her empty arms are in different positions, which I infer is the artist’s rendition of the concept of balance.  My impression is quite the opposite.  She seems lost, blind, and imbalanced.  Other interpretations I have viewed depict a woman who is serene and exudes confidence. This woman is confused and unsure.  I prefer the traditional model, but perhaps this new idea is more aligned with the actual reality of the system she represents.

I got to thinking about the idea of Grey Magick, at least as it is applied by most of the practitioners that I know.  Esoteric discourse is rooted in the politics of the time period in which it occurs, it becomes an interesting gauge for historical events and cultural shift.  Classically, there has always been a stark dividing line between White and Black Magick in Western thought.  I heard Lon Milo DuQuette describe it best “ one you kiss God’s ass, and in the other, you kiss the Devil’s.”  Another way to look at this dichotomy is practice that aligns one with external, or astral entities to adjust internal consciousness and create results. On the other end of the arc is practice that pursues similar goals through the use of one’s own body, and alignment with terrestrial, or earthbound entities to effect something or someone outside of the self.  One is used to bless, and one is used to curse.  These categories have become less distinct over time.

Contemporary practitioners, whether they self-identify as magicians, Witches, Pagans, or other, typically use a variety of these techniques. Donald Michael Kraig describes this approach in Modern Magick as Grey Magick, or “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will… for the purpose of causing either physical or non-physical good to yourself and others, and is done either consciously or unconsciously.” (MM, 11.) Grey Magick can quickly turn Black, as sometimes unintended consequences arise from the best ideas.  Whenever we use our energies to change the world outside of ourselves, we take this risk.  The results can be unpredictable.  I thought of these things when I looked at this statue in front of the courthouse, my local equivalent of a Grey Temple.  Looking at her I could only think that so much unconscious harm is doled out in pursuit of blessings.

photo by Sonja Sadovsky
photo by Sonja Sadovsky

To the side of the building but within range of the front door was a man with a Bible and a microphone.  He had a step ladder instead of a soapbox, but the message was the same.  Seems like an active season for the Jesus People, they are out and about in droves.  Sports events, elementary schools, now court.  He was not as strident as most, but he mentioned repentance and the promise of salvation if I just surrender to God’s love.  It is tiresome to hear this everywhere these past few months, and I think I have become anesthetized to it on some level.  I suppose to some this message would be appealing. He seems related to his bronze companion on the front podium.  Trust in a higher power, trust the message, let wiser heads decide.  Surrender, it is so much easier, and everything will work out in the end.  We cannot see the pattern, but just have faith in the system.  Let us guide you.

This has never worked for me.  In the words of Elle King, “It’s a mean world that I’ve known. Never got no good, doing what I’m told.” In fact, my rejection of religious dogma and exposure to the realities of the judicial system have led me to embrace a magickal worldview from an early age.  I prefer to live from a philosophy of self-determination.  I am responsible for my salvation or damnation, and am aware that all actions will have unforeseen effects.  I do not need an external source of validation to assure me that everything will be fine.  (Though it is gratifying to hear every now and again.) Conversely, I am not often unnerved at bad news or unexpected information.  I have no expectation of safety, good news, or ordered existence.  My early experience has trained this into me.  While this was a source of pity in my youth, I find that it has served me well in recent circumstances.

To be accurate, I can take direction and frequently do.  I have Gods, Ancestors, Fae, and other Allies whom I consult for perspective and guidance.  The difference is that I can choose to obey, or not. Sometimes the recommendations are tough but necessary.  Sometimes the advice conflicts with what I am aiming to accomplish. It is always up to my sole discretion.  This is challenging, as there are many moments of self-doubt.  However, I think this process is crucial to our survival as a species, if my own personal experience is any indication.  We must question everything, and stop expecting to be saved. When we realize these things, conscious evolution occurs.  It is not easy, but it is authentic.


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