Power, Magic and psychology
Power, Magic and psychology

Power, Magic and psychology

It does not matter what you think or say your motivations were for getting involved in magic, it’s almost certainly really going to be something to do with power. We want to be more powerful than our circumstances allow us to be. It isn’t because you want to serve the light, it isn’t because you want to help people or find the God within, or any other sanctimonious reason, it’s because you are attracted to a path that promises power. 
But  power is a bad thing, isn’t it? The bad guys in the comics like Lex Luther crave power and magicians want to be the good guy, the Superman. Yeah right, leaving aside the self delusion behind that statement for a moment, it is worthwhile pointing out that not only is Superman famous for being powerful, he only wins because he’s more powerful than anyone else.
When people join esoteric groups they write their initial motivations behind joining an occult group. They are almost always power related, even if the word is lacking from their application. You will find phrases like “I want knowledge” when knowledge is power. They will say that they are seeking Wisdom usually without saying why. It could be so that they are superior to someone who is ‘ignorant’. Even safe general phrases such as “I seek the Light of God” can be seen in terms of seeking power because normal people don’t ever get see the Almighty.
It is almost as if occult seekers are bending over backwards to deny that they are seeking power. It is a dirty word which nice spiritual types are not supposed to use in mixed company.
We’re taught that it’s better to be a team player than to be the captain, or in the chorus than in centre stage. This social programming is nothing more than a cop-out. It is those forces of darkness that want to keep you small. Those demons who want to keep you from becoming and expressing your true individuality. The message of occultism is that you are a unique expression of God and that doesn’t tally with a message from society that says we have to fit in and stay small and powerless.
Some powerless leaders of magical groups insist that their students
carry out magical attacks “for the defence of the group.”
Traditionally the method is to slit the jugular of a watermelon.

However what draws occultists to this path is the fact that they suffer from a lack of power. They are usually the oddballs of the society who find themselves at loggerheads with the way their country is built. Some of this powerlessness is beaten into them by society and their families who want them to conform. Rather than fight their way into society they would rather sit back and moan about it in their various fantasy worlds; worlds that occultism makes all the more intense.  This is one of the reasons why people are drawn to power crazed nut cases who run occult groups. They appear to have power and will reflect their students own feeling of powerlessness. Many a water melon has been sacrificed to a leader’s paranoia and the students doing the attacks are not aware that they are damaging themselves and their own karma by doing the leaders’s bidding. If they had a healthier attitude to power then they would be less keen to give it away so readily.
These outsiders still crave power, but have to justify their lack of powerlessness to themselves. Therefore they invent copouts. They make society ‘material’ so that their ‘spirituality’ doesn’t have to mix with it. They seek to “escape the rat race” and thus allow such a system to continue unchecked. They talk about having spiritual cleansing, while at the same time are unable to find time to have a bath.
Searching for God is a quest for power. But it is not a power over others, it should be a self-power. Irritatingly the new age movement calls this process ’empowerment’ and unfortunately there isn’t a better word in the dictionary to describe it.
You realise that this is a co-dependent relationship
where I give you all my power and don’t even get a
shag out of it?  
When we look at the nature of that self-power we get into the realms of that archetypal of Quests the Holy Grail. Although this allegory has been long castrated by those who would have turned it into a symbol of the Divine Feminine, the story is about the search for real spiritual power. Lancelot was powerless because of his neurotic love of Guinevere which was why he couldn’t see it.
His son who was an embodiment of spiritual power was able to take it. Bors, who was the average family man, also could experience it. The message is clear. Spiritual power is not for the neurotic or those who deny the truth in themselves and spend their time picking over their sins like old sores.
Our average occultist, who is starting the path, believes in him or herself about as much as he or she believes in the ability of a rifle to stop a rogue bull elephant with a bullclip attached to its testicles. They have a huge task on their hands attracting power because their personalities aren’t the natural place for such abilities to grow.
Most magical work involves visualisation that is charged with emotion and will. Basically you see something happening as clearly as possible and will it to happen so that it feels that it already has happened. You can enhance this process by the use of symbols which are a bit like pre-made visualisations. The goal of this is to make your visualisations alive and as real as possible.
Most people do magic every second of the day. They are just not aware of the process which is why they aren’t magicians. They get up and visualise what their day will be, good, bad, or indifferent. They charge these mental images, normally with their fears, and aren’t surprised when they all manifest. Those who believe in themselves, or find life good, tend to be more optimistic and therefore, when shit happens, it is usually happening to someone else.
In my book Magical Pathworking, I describe how the universe is basically God’s dream and everything is connected by symbols. Since we are part of God, we create our universe in the same way and our life is symbolic of who we are. I suggested various methods of playing around with those symbols so that we can not only see who we are but change ourselves and our environment. What I suggested is that we all carry in our psyches an Inner Kingdom which we rule according to our own perceptions. Some people make a pig’s ear of it, others are masters of their Inner Kingdoms, while the majority of us do some things better than others. Therefore, before our occultist can progress, he or she must become empowered at the level of his or her Inner Kingdom.
The average Inner Kingdom of an outsider is often messier than their bedrooms. Cluttered with failure, they often find their Inner Kingdom is ruled by circumstance, bad habit, and laziness. Symbolically they are the prodigal prince who has left the Kingdom in the hands of the Grand Vizier, who has done his best to take control and doesn’t want the prince to take his rightful place on the throne. If you really were the King or Queen of your environment, the Grand Vizier would be a dependable character — he makes everything you believe in happen. However, if he is in charge, all he does is maintain the status quo. He uses the symbols that you believe in and creates an Inner Kingdom which is usually less than desirable. For example you might have had a bad boss who fired you for no reason. That boss becomes a symbol for every employer in a position of power over you. Your Grand Vizier will dust off that symbol every time you encounter an employer and make sure that you will come across similar situations.
In the case of our new occultist, there will be few symbols of power. However, there will be a lot of symbols of a lack of these things. When they perform rituals to plant new ideas of power within their Inner Kingdom, the seeds are often falling on stony ground or among weeds. There is just so much in the Inner Kingdom that will strangle such rituals that they are pointless.
Ritual does have some safe-guards to over-ride these problems. By calling on powerful forces in the universe, such as Angels and Gods, it’s possible to override our feelings of being small. Fully charged by a good working, and the godform working through us, it‘s possible to really feel that this time there will be change. We can push ourselves over our barriers and believe it’s possible to be wealthy or powerful. However, our own negativity about becoming wealthy will eventually shine through and ultimately any ritual will fail, or worse we will lose anything we gain.
Viv Nicholson
This can be seen in the case of the non-magician Viv Nicholson who was one of the UK’s pools winners. In 1961, Viv and Keith Nicholson were living on a £7-a-week trainee miner’s wage bringing up three kids in a tiny terraced home in Castleford, Yorkshire. Then they won the equivalent of £3 million on the football pools. Far from making them happy, they spent the money too quickly. Keith died behind the wheel of his expensive car, Viv ended up with a string of husbands who married her for the money that she had already spent. She became bankrupt and later became a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Wealth was not part of her Inner Kingdom.
In other cases you will find within the occult field those who attempt to take power from the universe and others to prop up their own powerless egos. Such types will knife their friends to gain power that was never theirs to take and find that the universe snaps back against them. They might end up with seeming power over others, but end up alone and muttering in the darkness. If such types were more empowered in the first place this would not happen.
So what is the process we need to empower ourselves. In the outer order of the GD we spend a lot of time balancing the elements. Finally in portal we crown these elements within ourselves with spirit. We symbolically become empowered. However the process is part performed every day and not just for the portal grade. The more work we do in empowering ourselves, the less fall-out we suffer when we hit portal. Ask yourself the following questions:
How powerful am I now?
How do I give my power away?
Why do I give my power away?
How do I misuse the power I have?
How can I increase the amount of power I have?
These are irritating ‘New Age’ questions to ask ourselves. But it does not stop them being powerful keys to unlock our weaknesses. There are no ‘off pat’ answers here. You have to journey to your own Inner Kingdom to find out the answers. Then once you have found them, you have to change so that you are not a victim, or small, but a King or Queen in charge of your own kingdom.
I am not saying that magic is all psychological and that ritual is just a trick you play on your own mind to “get what you want.” Magic is working with real forces that flow through you. But the first place they appear is in your Inner Kingdom. Therefore it is really important to do some personality work and become a little more balanced before starting on serious work.
If I was right, my patents would
be the most stable magicians
in the world.
To resolve “power issues” amongst other things, Israel Regardie suggested that you needed to undergo some psychological counselling before you continue magical work. He would say that because he was a Reichian shrink. I have yet to see how counselling made a difference to anyone.  In fact many people who go to shrinks do so to vent themselves on someone once a week and never change at all.   Most of the trained counsellors I have been have seen are more unbalanced than their patents. But a general desire to work on one’s personality and to see it as a tool which can be fashioned, is an important precursor to serious magical work.  That does not really require a shrink, just the ability to work on your ideas of power on your own.

This article was first printed in the first issue of  Hermetic Virtues. 


  1. When it comes down to it, we seek training in all areas of life to increase our power. We go to school to empower our minds so that one day we can hopefully also have a good job to have the spending power of the almighty dollar.

    The problem is, going to school doesn’t make you smart, nor does it get you a job. You have to actually do something while you’re at the school.

    The same can be said of those exploring the occult and orders/schools like the Golden Dawn. There is absolutely no way to “gurantee” someone who is initiated into a group will ever attain any amount of magical power. Initiation helps get someone started, but if they are not willing to work for it, they are not going to get anything out of the experience, even if they somehow manage to peacock-tail their way through the grades attain some grand title.

  2. This blog entry really resonated with me at the moment. As a life and business coach I work with a program called the Winner’s Image, and it has little to do with the external image, but rather the program aims to work on and develop the inner image, the self-image, the subconscious paradigm of who we are and what we can achieve. We find that a client who is struggling to run a business or get success in any area of life, can do a whole bunch of stuff on the external side of things, but none of it ever comes to much as they do not have a positive self-image, or belief in themselves. They may talk the piece about wanting to do this and that, but inside they don’t really believe they can, and don’t really believe themselves worthy of the goal or income they are seeking. The problem remains concealed to most for the reason that the problem is subconscious. If it was conscious, they’d know about it and deal likely with it. A good coach, like a good psychologist has to draw the problem out by asking the right questions, but as long as the person only thinks about the goal/desired outcome consciously (for example, in some types of psychotherapy), nothing much changes. The trick is to get subconsciously in harmony with the desired outcome. This is what the whole Law of Attraction (which of course is a Hermetic Law) personal development movement is all about. But what most people miss is that you don’t attract what you *consciously* think/want, you attract that which is in harmony with your *subconscious* “vibration” and inner self-image, or as you say Inner Kingdom. Case in point with the lottery winners that lose it all, whereas someone like Donald Trump goes 3 billion into the red, but gets it all back again. If people in the GD are doing tons of Ceremonial Work but inside (subconsciously) they have a poor self-image, then, I agree, they will not manifest what they are seeking or gain any real power through it.

    And regarding “power”… yes I agree we are ALL seeking it in Magic – the way I see it is we are right to seek power, but it should be power over our lives and over ourselves, not power over others; but when we don’t have the former (by way of compensation) we subconsciously seek the latter – hence the existence of autocratic group leaders.

  3. Pat Zalewski

    I had some very in depth discussions with Regardie over the need for psychology work before magick is attempted. His attempt was to approach it by releasing the body armour as advocated by Reich. I told him at the time that if he wanted to probe the weak spots and astrological chart would show them up, how ever it would not fix the situation. It would just make the choice easier.

  4. There are some interesting psychological books on why people get involved with things like magic, regilion, and psychology. People are often looking to “fix” something within themselve by undertaking a new path in magic for instance. Getting a better understandng of these issues goes to the old adage Gnothi Seauton or “Know Thyself”, which was inscribed above the lintle of the door to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It certainly should be a Hermetic maxim as well.

    I would recommend that every magical student read “The Archetype of Initiation” by Robert L. Moore, and follow it with “Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity”, also by Robert L. Moore, as a way at looking at the ‘reasons’ that a person gets into magic, religion, or even psychology. Both of these books are extremely helpful to helping a magician (or regular person for that matter) become more balanced by understanding there own motivations for wanting to do the Work.

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