Recently I was reminded of a classic maxim among magick practitioners, and wizards in general; a maxim reminiscent of the Solomonic (and most ceremonial) traditions, “do not invoke that which you cannot banish”. This has often been an expected warning label disclaiming the care one should take as a magick practitioner when working with intricacies of magickal practice, and more so the working with magickal entities that come with their own risk factors and influential implications. Such a warning is neither a mere annoyance to avert nosey ‘adolescents’ from dabbling in unknown territory, but rather heeds a call to responsibility (a classic scenario being that of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice – depicted in Disney’s Fantasia); i.e. for the magick practitioner to have a sound knowledge and practiced security in working with energy that is suited to his/her capacity.
To put it another way, such a warning statement is more of a pith instruction, a tap on the fingers, to take care not to take on more than you can chew. Personally, I believe there is space and conditions where the practitioner can take a leap into the unknown, but this leap can lead to madness if your bungee-cord is still packed away. Other radical leaps (without any safety nets or parachutes) touch on the extent of recognising one’s naked awareness, but I believe this itself cuts further through even the practice of magick (and consequently affects magick naturally as part of recognising the ultimate nature of mind.
My reflection on not invoking that which I cannot banish is rather set in a view of radical self-awareness and a sobering sense of self-capacity along with a sense of growth (along with an insight into what is needed to grow). This view is laced with an imperative skilful insight; namely that the practitioner should be well aware of the responsibility of introducing deeper levels of insight and energy into his / her practice before actually doing so.
I have many times believed that I was quite ready to take my practice further, and often done so boastfully within myself, quickly to have the rugs pulled from beneath me and experience the necessary bloody nose of inexperience. I have come to realise (and fortunately not through too much trial and error) that there is a perfectly good reason why foundation / preliminary practices are needed before taking on higher practices – the same can be said about progressing through certain degrees and stages. Okay, this said, I also wish to point out that not all magickal, spiritual, religious paths need to be followed progressively – each to their own insight and capacity,,, it is just that many of us ‘ordinary schmucks’ do not yet have the recognised insight into our already spontaneous expansive minds, so we need steps and stages.
The most recent example I have of such a necessary blunder is a radical delving into Dakini admiration. An admiration that would translate into ‘appreciating’ the woman-feminine as a manifestation of said Dakini enlightened mind. I started acknowledging women in my life as dakini manifestations, but would also come face-to-face with the wrath of the dakini as a means to put me in my place.
Now this may seem fairly straightforward and a given, but what I have come to learn is that the Dakini, in her many forms and varying degrees of manifestation is not something you merely appreciate intellectually or even emotionally. In fact, on further investigation (and more so in practice) the practitioner will find that the Dakini has her exceptionally direct way of showing ‘you’ – the admiring practitioner – that which you need to see but are not always ready or willing to acknowledge, and further yet, may topple your ‘comfortable world’ at the flip of a switch. And probably of greater precedence is being thoroughly aware of the projections cast onto others. Recognising that I may project my ideals of the so-called dakini onto the women in my life, but these projections also have their tainted ego distortions (which is possibly why the karmic consequence may have either wrathful or peaceful manifestation – it is a whole bunch of mirroring that shows the truths behind the appearances; especially stark truths about what we believe and perceive to be true, about ourselves, others, and the world around us).
Note that there are many types of dakinis, some of which will eat you alive without hesitance and much reason (by the mere appeal of your tasty flesh); and some who appeal to wisdom who may take your flesh as a means to incite enlightenment. I am not necessarily relating the invoke/banish maxim to the dakini principle here as one would in the Western Esoteric tradition, but rather from an insight into the nature of mind and emptiness (i.e. not to get stuck on external manifestation, nor on intellectual understanding).
Anyway, here I simply wish to mention the importance of laying a careful foundation before taking on that which could potentially rock your world – especially if you are by no means ready for it (and do not pretend / fool yourself that you are – often a hard pill to swallow). The Middle-Hand Path aims to introduce a magick of presence that is not overly reliant on producing a fancy and external display (getting caught up in tricks and trades) and also not reliant on intellectual pomp (professing knowledge). Rather the MHP inclines to set an aesthetic balance between mind and phenomena, in distilling wisdom into the magick act as a , to reveal inseparability of compassion in all reality – not as a mere product or consequence, and to see that intent rests as a seed in one’s heart-mind giving a natural discriminating insight into the choices we make, the rules we break, and the risks at stake.
I want to end with a brief reflection on Walt Disney’s Fantasia and the theme of recklessly playing with magick or (flipping it) dancing freely with magick. The thing is, as I see it, as soon as you become involved in any sincere, deep, Ego-challenging practice, you will naturally be faced with the Ego; and sometimes this Ego will manifest in ways that are very scary and sometimes threatening – as though the so-called Ego (and note the dualistic referencing here) does not want you to see through the illusion matrix and catch it out, as though it wants you to keep comfortable in illusion. Philosophically, I believe the practice of magick goes beyond just working with entities, i.e. manipulating them to build your temple, but it is very much a misinterpreted means to “know thyself”, to challenge yourself, to free yourself, but also to go beyond yourself. Little Micky had the compassionate playfulness needed to invoke the dance of magick, but once that magick is in the world/cosmos it rides on intention, and the young apprentice seemed to have lacked a mature fortified demeanour to secure that intention; consequently losing control. Indeed, there is a beautiful polarity to be found here, between the innocence of childlikeness, and composition of the elder’s insight. If anything, you find yourself in a sticky situation, ask someone with more experience to help you out; even better, seek a teacher to guide you and mentor you in your development as a wizard, a warrior, a wanderer.
As you are.
- If you are interested in the Dakini, I highly recommend Judith-Simmer Brown’s “Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle on Tibetan Buddhism”.
- Also, look out for my upcoming response post to the above, tentatively titled: “Invoke Crazy Wisdom, Banish Madness”