The Law of Attraction, The Magician Card, and Dumping the Scientific Method

Looking at the wonderful messiness of magic.

I love this little section from Genevieve Davis’ Becoming Magic: A Course in Manifesting an Exceptional Life (Book 1)

“Is magic unscientific?  I don’t care two hoots one way or the other.  I have no desire to make what I do fit with a scientific world view.  I don’t give a flying fig whether it does or doesn’t fit in with quantum physics or Newton’s Laws.”

We all grew up learning the scientific method and so we know the general ideas involved with it.  In order for something to be a scientific law, it has to be predictable and verifiable and universal.  In other words, if we’re talking about the Law of Gravity, then we have to be able to predict that when an apple – any apple – falls off of a tree it’s going to come straight down and hit the ground.  Over and over and over again.  And everyone has to be able to see that that’s the way that apples fall and they have to fall the same way in Tierra del Fuego as they fall in Texas.

If some apples fall halfway to the ground, turn sideways, and zip off into the horizon, then we’re fucked as far as gravity being a universal law.  Then we have to go back and re-examine our theories, do thorough, scientific studies on apple-ness, and try again.  That’s called, “revising your hypothesis.”

Now, for some reason, many people who are involved in metaphysics and spirituality have ALWAYS craved the approval of scientists.  I don’t really know why, because most of the scientific folks I’ve met have been pretty boring, one dimensional people with whom I would not care to share a beer or a joint.  Perhaps it’s because scientists are always hopping up and down and screaming, “You can’t PROVE that there are ghosts (or angels or fairies or spirit guides or the astral plane, etc., etc., etc.)”  Perhaps some people who are involved with spirituality have developed a sort of a Stockholm Syndrome where they really, really want their abusers to love them.

Or maybe they just really, really want for magic to be predictable and verifiable and universal.  Which it isn’t.

There’s that word, “magic,” again.  Let’s talk about it a little bit, in terms of the famous, “Law of Attraction.”

The Law of Attraction IS, essentially, magic.  If you can make something appear out of thin air with the power of your mind, that’s magic.

The Law of Attraction is NOT a law, and that’s where a lot of us get screwed up and where a lot of us give up.

The point is that it’s a Not-A-Law that works most of the time, which is why we shouldn’t stop using it and exploring it.

When we first learn about the Law of Attraction, this is how it usually works.  We encounter someone who says something like, “If you only think of good things, then only good things will come into your life.”  And so we try it and it works pretty well and we’re feeling pretty damned jazzed about it.  “Hey, you know, only good things come into MY life!”

Then life turns into a shit sandwich and we go back to the person who told us that we should only think good things and ask them why all of this crap just floated into our lives.  They start suggesting flaws in our approach to only thinking good things, such as:

-Did you write down exactly 25 affirmations in the morning and 22 and ½ before you went to bed?

  • Did you use a vision board?
  • Maybe you were thinking 7 good things and 285 bad things and your bad thoughts overwhelmed your good thoughts.
  • Do you put a lot of emotions into your visualizations?
  • Did you try dancing on one foot when you were visualizing and  holding an amethyst in one hand and a tourmaline in the other?

Again, that’s called, “revising your hypothesis.”  If only good things are supposed to come into our lives when we think good thoughts and bad things start happening, then it must somehow be our fault.  We must be doing something wrong, because the Law of Attraction is a LAW, by god.  And that means it always works and it’s predictable and it’s verifiable.

Eventually a fair number of people become dejected over the fact that the Law of Attraction doesn’t always work and they just quit trying.  Which is a drag.

It’s not a Law.  And that’s okay.  It’s magic.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but a lot of the time it does.  Just like magic.

Let’s take a look at the Magician cards from a couple of different decks.

The first is the Magician from the Waite Deck, which was designed about the turn of the 19th/20th century, the dawn of the Scientific Age. 

He’s dressed in perfect, dramatic ceremonial robes, he’s holding a wand aloft to gather in Universal Energies and he’s directing those energies into manifestation on the material plane, as represented by the four objects on the table.  He’s magnificent, he’s powerful, he’s in control.  His magic is verifiable and predictable because he KNOWS HIS SHIT.  His magic works every single time.

Now let’s take a look at the Magician from the ancient Marseilles deck. 

He’s kind of goofy looking, his clothes look like they were sewn together from rags, and look at all of that weird stuff he’s got spread all over the table!  The expression on his face isn’t so much one of being in command and control as of, “Um . . . did I forget something?  Was there an Eye of Newt in this spell?  I just can’t remember . . .”

The Magician from the Waite deck really exemplifies the type of magic that many purveyors of the Law of Attraction would like us to believe.  The Universe is an orderly, positive place and if we behave in an orderly positive manner, then only orderly, positive things will happen to us.

If I’m doing a magic spell, then I MUST draw a circle that is EXACTLY nine feet across and place four white candles in each of the cardinal directions.  I have to have a knife and a chalice on my altar and a specific kind of incense burning and the spell has to happen at a specific time of the month or IT JUST WON’T WORK.  If I do all of those things just exactly right, though, then my magic will be predictable and verifiable.  You know, like a Law.

The old Magician from the Marseilles deck is much more like what magic is really about.  He’s slinging together odds and ends and making it up as he goes along.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but he’s NOT going to walk away from his table because most of the time it DOES work and he’s having a hell of a lot of fun.

The old Magician recognizes the Sacred Dictum passed down to us from the Ancients:  sometimes weird shit happens.  Magic, like life and emotions and love, is NOT always predictable.  That’s why all of the old cultures had trickster gods like Loki and Coyote and Raven, because sometimes life just jumps up in our faces, yells, “BOO!” and then laughs it’s ass off at us.

Here’s another interesting passage from Genevieve Davis, this one from her book Doing Magic: A Course in Manifesting an Exceptional Life Book 2

“There is a reason that women are particularly good at magic . . . the slightly chaotic nature of women, often negatively deemed ‘irrational,’ is actually a desired trait when doing Magic.  Embrace irrationality, embrace chaos, allow things to just turn out in whatever higgledy-piggledy pattern they please and you will find this SO much easier.”

The Law of Attraction ISN’T a Law.  It’s a general principle that if we act and think in a mostly positive manner then mostly positive things will mostly come into our lives.  Most of the time.

And that’s not only good enough, that’s GREAT!

We don’t need no stinking laws!

The Four of Cups, The Five of Cups, and Finding Gratitude in Painful Times

There are a lot of people out there right now talking and writing about how to create abundance.  One of the things that they all agree upon is the need for gratitude as a part of the process of manifestation.  

Whether you’re working with angels and spirit guides or an agnostic trying to get the hang of the Law of Attraction, all of the teachers and financial gurus will tell you to start with a grateful heart.  If you’ve only got a few bucks in your pocket, be grateful for them before you try to manifest more. If you want to have stronger, more positive people in your life, start by telling the people who are already in your life how much you appreciate them.

But sometimes we get stuck and it’s really hard to pull up that attitude of gratitude.  It could be that we’ve had some sort of a terrible loss. It could be that our lives are going through one of those phases where everything just sucks and we finally have to say, “Jesus, why is this shit happening to me?”  Or it could be that it’s just one of those times when we need to feel sorry for ourselves a while.

Gratitude is an emotion, just like love, hatred and anger, so it’s appropriate that the two cards in the Tarot deck that deal with a lack of gratitude are in the suit of emotions – the Cups.

In the Four of Cups we see a man sitting on the ground, arms crossed in defensiveness or rejection, staring at three cups standing on the ground before him.  A fourth cup is appearing out of thin air but he doesn’t even see it. The Three of Cups is, of course, a card of celebration and happiness so we can conjecture that the cups he’s staring at represent the loss of some major source of happiness in his life.  Perhaps he’s broken up with a lover or he’s been fired from a job that he really liked. In any case, he’s so focused on the past that he’s not perceiving the new opportunity, the cup floating in the air.

Contrast that with the Five of Cups.  This is a card of MAJOR, life changing loss and deep, deep grief.  He’s dressed in the black cloak of mourning and the wine from the three cups is spilled upon the ground, gone forever.  And, again, he’s so focused on his loss that he can’t even see that he has two cups left which are quite full. An example might be a man or woman who can’t focus on their children because they are too deep in grief over a spouse who has died.  She has literally turned her back on happiness for the time being.

So, knowing that gratitude can be a major factor in manifesting an abundant, spiritually satisfying life, how do you even GET to it when all you can feel is a sense of loss?  Sometimes cognitive and spiritual reframing is the answer.

In the case of the Four of Cups – the loss of a relationship or a job – try to see that cup that’s hanging in the air.  Ask yourself WHY it happened. Is it clearing the way for a deeper relationship or a better job? What employment or relationship skills did you learn by going through this?  How is this going to make you a better or a stronger person in the future?

You can even take it to a deeper level of analysis if you like.  Is this some kind of a script from a childhood trauma that you’re playing over and over again?  Are you subconsciously manifesting lovers who will reject you or make you miserable? Are you seeking out jobs or bosses who won’t appreciate you?  Can you bring that to full consciousness and turn it around? Can you feel grateful for the growth?

In the case of the Five of Cups, it’s a much rougher road.  It’s hard to find anything positive about someone you love dying.  True, deep grief is devastating. It can actually make us physically ill and sometimes it drives us to a despair that’s so deep we can’t imagine it will ever end or we’ll ever smile again.

Yet, it can cause a major and ultimately beneficial shift in our perspectives.  If we are at all honest with ourselves it will drive us to real and permanent reevaluations of our lives.  It causes us to ask what in the hell it’s all about. Is there really life on the other side? Did my loved one survive in some form?  Are there spiritual beings? If she was taken and I was left behind, what am I supposed to be doing with my life now? Surely I have some life purpose that’s higher than watching television and eating junk food.

It’s like a ball of yarn that’s come completely unraveled and you have figure out how to roll it back up.  Or a jig saw puzzle where you have all of the pieces but you’ve lost the picture of the assembled puzzle. All you can do is start at the edges and try to put life back together in a way that makes sense.  Eventually, though, it adds a much greater depth and meaning to life.

Gradually, horribly slowly, we do begin to recover from grief if we choose to go on living.  And, yes, it gives us a sense of gratitude for life and for the love we experienced with the person we lost that’s more profound than we could have ever imagined.

Gratitude can always be discovered.  Sometimes we just have to look for it a little harder.

The Wheel of Fortune Reversed and Turning it Over

I recently made a decision to start turning some of my problems over to my Higher Powers.  And I found that for me – as a Wiccan who tries to be emotionally and intellectually honest – that was a surprisingly easy decision.

Sometimes life turns into a shit sandwich.  It happens to everyone sooner and later and this was my turn.  Within a period of just a few months I’d lost my beloved life partner to cancer, I was embroiled in a nasty probate process to settle her estate, and the unpaid bills just kept piling up like malevolent imps that had taken up residence on my desk.

In other words, The Wheel of Fortune Reversed.  A prolonged period of bad luck.

I was beat up, beat down, and hung out to dry.  Emotionally and spiritually exhausted, I knew I needed some help from the higher realms to keep walking down my path, and getting to that help turned out to be more of a revelation than I could have anticipated.

The first realization was that I actually trusted my Higher Powers.  I had drifted a long way from the little boy kneeling in a catholic church, being taught that god loved us so much that he let his only son be murdered just to prove it.  My view of the universe no longer included some scary, bipolar, vengeful, patriarchal god who might be equally inclined to toss you into eternal flames or welcome you to heaven, depending on how much you’d prayed and how little you’d masturbated.

Somewhere through the many years I’d lived, my view of Higher Powers had morphed into angels and spirit guides, fairies, elves, and gods and goddesses (with a lower case, “g,”)  who actually loved and cared about us. The face of Jesus, writhing in pain and covered with blood, had been replaced with the smiling, tender faces of Lakshmi and Tara.

It was kind of a shock to me, to tell you the truth.  Despite all of the poison that had been planted in my subconscious mind when I was a child, despite the fact that I was going through a terrible, terrible time in my life, I found that I had unquestionable faith in a loving and nurturing universe.

And that brought along a second, equally powerful revelation:  I can live – for the most part – without the need for a constant cause-and-effect spirituality.  The universe doesn’t always have to be a comfortable place for me to trust it.

Cause-and-effect spirituality is the basis of all organized religions and has a large part in New Age spirituality.   The idea is that if you’re a really, really good person then really good things will happen to you. And if you’re a really, really bad person then really, really bad things will happen to you.  And there’s a lot of truth in that.

But then you look at someone like Donald Trump and you think, “Huh . . . what happened there?  Why has this tangerine colored, demon infested, piece of human excrement who’s never caused anything but misery been blessed with all of this material wealth?”

Or you have a friend who is a kind, loving, wonderful person who lives in poverty and dies an agonizing death and you think, “Huh . . . what happened there?”

As I said, cause-and-effect spirituality appears to be true a lot of the time.  But not always. People have been trying to come up with explanations for why good things happen to rotten people and vice verse since the beginning of human existence.  Maybe it’s karma from past lives. Maybe they forgot to say their prayers or slaughter an ox and two sheep and offer them to god. Maybe they masturbated too much. Who knows?

That’s what The Wheel of Fortune Reversed is really all about.  Shit happens. It doesn’t put any value judgements on it, it doesn’t say shit happened because you were a bad person or you brought it on yourself.  It just quietly observes that shit happens, sooner or later, to all of us.

And that’s a Spiritual Law, just as surely as the Law of Attraction.  It can be scary if you need to view the Universe as a neat and tidy place where everything happens for a reason, the good are rewarded, and the evil are punished.  Or it can be a strong motivator to deepen your spiritual resources and to cultivate your inner strength and resilience BEFORE it happens. As The Desiderata says, “Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.”