by Ambrose Hawk
Artwork by Nightwynd
I have often written that Wizards Can Too Be Christians! The reverse of that statement, however, may be even more startling. I firmly believe that a Christian should be a wizard. Several of my articles have clearly implied such a theme. Each time I post such a statement, someone writes me to ask, "How?"
Actually, I've had a lot of trouble answering that question. I was fortunate enough to be raised in an environment in which the concept was obvious. Christians believed in miracles, believed in the power of rituals to release the Divine power into their world, believed in speaking with saints and angels and other spirits, and believed that every created being was mystically connected to every other in a dynamic way. Furthermore, my introduction to the Tarot was through books which treated them as mystical illustrations of the great questions of the spiritual path of the Christian. So when somebody asked me how to become a Christian wizard, my response was, "be a Christian and practice magic."
When pressed how to start; I'd respond, "Pray as if you believe prayer works." Neither response worked very well. Too many folks come from backgrounds in which it was assumed that magic and Christianity necessarily were in conflict. Also, any mage with experience soon realizes that magic is not prayer, though prayer can be an effective part of magic. After some years and reflection, I believe I've found a better and more useful response; but first allow me to diverge on those two concerns.
By the way, the answers addressed here to the specific problem of Christian wizardry should be easily transformed to apply to other paths. After all, it is Judaism which gave us the Kabbalah, and it was Islam which gave us many of the tools and tables that magicians rely upon today as well. Alchemy, one of the basic features of the Hermetic path is an Arabic word. While I've addressed the illusion that magic and Christianity are in conflict elsewhere, I'll briefly discuss the issue again here. Just as folks assume that science and faith must be in conflict (even though the father of science is Roger Bacon, a monk), their view is derived entirely from their definitions. When "magic" is defined as working with devils and or demons to violate the Divine order, well magic and Christianity are in conflict. When magic is defined as using the subtle powers of our nature to access the energies and entities on other planes, and in communication with them to harness these powers to create effects or attain experiences which might otherwise be unattainable (drawing a big breath after that one), then this is no more "evil" than driving a car, flying a plane, listening to radio, or watching T.V. Of course, I must admit that many folks have gotten rather hostile to those behaviors on "religious grounds" as well.
Around the turn of the century, the sermons preached against radio could be matched word for word with sermons now being preached against paranormal studies. I'll never forget a cartoon I once saw. Two angels are riding above the clouds on the back of a jet airliner. One says to the other, "I don't know. If God had wanted us to travel this way, He would have given us tickets." Every creature has powers built into it by design. Just as cars roll down highways, birds and planes fly, we can be sensitive to and draw upon subtle powers and realms. If we could not, then we could not even pray! As a Christian, I believe, that we are designed to do this so that we can become effective conduits of the Divine Power. Moreover, as a Christian, I believe that part of this design includes us building new things with this ability. Things which never appeared before and which are truly the products of our own imagination and will can be made by humans - not just mundanely but magically as well. Indeed, true art is magic, and most great artists, authors, and scientists all speak mystically of their inspirations.
How then is the practice of magic not just a form of prayer or prophecy? Again, it comes back to the idea that it really is our own creation, our own fault. I've observed that when folks participate in prayer, miracles happen. It is as if the power of God is magnified in manifestation when people happily and freely join their wills and powers to Hers. Secondarily, we have rarely considered the boundaries of the term miracle. Birth, evolution, reason, and the flight of the bumble bee are all improbable "miracles." Yet they are also quite "natural." Each being has power by design. It is my argument that magic is part of our designed abilities. Thus, we can submit our work to union with the Deity, but also we can and all too often do build things outside of the perfect will. Sometimes, these are good ideas, sometimes not. Either way, Deity is powerful enough to anticipate, to make adjustments, and to let us take our lumps.
Thus the wizard or wise woman, even when uniting his or her will to the Deity, also has the responsibility to consider the effects and boundaries of the action and to involve their own beings in the miracle. This is an act of conscious will, and it does not require the magician to be Christian. Healers of all paths work healing miracles. According to Christian theology, this is the way it is supposed to be. Jesus taught clearly that healing comes from God alone and that it is never forbidden. Of course, we might not realize just what is being healed. A bitter man suffering advanced cancer may suddenly find harmony with his relatives and die. Has he not been healed fully? As the much maligned and misinterpreted St. Paul wrote: "It is God for His own loving purpose, who puts both the will and the action into you." (Phil. 2:13) . Also: "Glory be to Him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine." (Eph. 3:20). Further, the visionary mystic St. John wrote: "God is love; and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him." (I John 4:16b).
Bluntly, all of these passages don't say word one about the sort of conscious faith that evangelists seem to want folks to have. All of them speak of caring for others and uniting with the power of God to do real things to help. Which is why I am not as horrified by the average Wiccan as many of my Christian brethren. I can easily see the hand of God in their concern for other living creatures, for respect for others, and for their dream of healing harmonies. How many of your Wiccan friends have discovered "magical" healing? How many of your Christian friends have discovered healing prayer? How many scholars will affirm that there is really no difference in the fruit?
One of my favorite vegetables is the Vidalia onion. This is a sweet onion grown within a certain radius of Vidalia, Georgia. Now the same exact onion grown elsewhere cannot be legally called a "Vidalia" onion. The Representatives of that region argued convincingly that some of the attractive qualities of their product derived from the nutrients and minerals peculiar to that region. So even if an onion of the same kind is grown in similar soil and carefully fed the appropriate mix to taste and feel exactly the same, it is not a "Vidalia Onion!"
They still work just fine in sandwiches, soups, salads, or by themselves. Same onion, same chemicals, same taste. In such a manner, same God (though folks might not see this), same gifts, and same fruit. "By their fruits, shall ye know them." It's right there in the Bible, though it's been my experience that the so called "fundamentalists" rising in every path from Buddha's to Zarathustra seem to misinterpret their foundational doctrines and to ignore the inconvenient inconsistencies. Just as the onion has to pull those nutrients out of the ground and put them together with the sun and the rain to make its sweetness, the wise woman and the wizard must pull together the spirits and forces and the Divine power to create marvels.
Martha Stewart is merely paraphrasing the Creator when she declares, "It's a good thing." So after abusing that poor carcass of a false issue, let's return to the original question. How do you become a Christian wizard?
Folks seem to expect a series of elaborate initiations and secret teachings such as bedeck the famous esoteric orders. I will have to tell you that essentially all such measures are outside of the question. What those initiations do is enable you to access and to work with the energies and eggregore of those particular orders in a more effective and harmonious fashion. Some of those orders, such as the Temple of Memphis Misraim or the various societies descended from the Golden Dawn can be more amenable to a Christian than others. These affect quite real changes in a person, enabling them to experience a new reality.
In Christianity, however, such rituals already exist that when properly embraced actually alter the kind of being you are. Baptism, Confirmation (or Baptism of the Holy Ghost), and Holy Orders create radical differences in their recipient. All of them focus upon the Eucharist as the empowering force to affect radical events in the relationship between Deity and the Cosmos. Each of them is a response to a call. Be aware that I am not saying, nor do the orthodox theologians teach, that such rites make anybody any better than anybody else. They make them different.
They, as people still have the same choices and may make the same mistakes. Just as our magical friends are full of irritating foibles. It's easier to see the hypocrisy in a person who is proclaiming a path they fail to actually attempt. On the other hand, nobody really perfects their ideals in one life (okay, I dodge the question of reincarnation here ... I can claim I'm talking about Purgatory, for instance). Having had these sacraments, however, such people naturally exist in a realm where they have access to encountering the same trials on a different plane. If our magical friends have financial difficulties, they may need to take the mundane steps to correct their budget and spending habits just like anybody else. They also know that they need to also take steps to correct their occult nature so that such errors are healed as well. Mundanely, you may campaign against higher prices, but magically you seek to bind the obstacles to releasing your prosperity. Yet there are no such transcendent rituals endowed specifically with the virtue of making you a Christian Wizard.
So how do you become a Christian Wizard? If I were you, I'd begin with a ceremony in which you ask the Deity to show you whether or not you are called to such a path. Knowing about something is no license to practice it. Then after study, meditation, and signs which you submit to folks whose spirits you trust to help you understand. Act. Create for yourself a ceremony in which you commit to the path. Understand, however, that in esoteric paths there is nothing without price. Greater knowledge means greater ordeals and greater skill means bigger jobs and responsibility! I can just about guarantee that if you haven't already gone through such a wizard's ordeal you'll not truly understand the nature of that warning!
Now in this ritual of commitment, understand that you are entering a special relationship with the Deity. Such rituals are very similar to marriage. Yes, you're making a commitment, but the Deity is also making a commitment. In this act, if you are called to it, the Deity is basically promising to help you see how some things work so that you, yourself, can take care of them. There are some companies which used to pay for scholar's training on the understanding that the company will be their employer for at least a set period afterwards. In this case, you'll find not only work related uses of your new skills, but plenty of entertaining uses as well. Pathwalking, for instance, can be a tool for self ransformation and self initiation; yet it can also be a fantastic vehicle for sight seeing among the planes!
Not enough attention, I believe, is paid to the practical and to the fun applications of theurgy! I've sometimes dreamed of flying into some cloud of a night and creating there the kind of lovely light displays I've occasionally seen in summer storms. Again, it is like a marriage. Try to find out what the angels and the Deity want to do for you. Believe me, if you are called to this path, then thee are some marvelous gifts that God and the bright powers want you especially to share. What are those gifts? I don't know. I don't know what powers anybody else has really, except as they are used on me. We all receive our own special mix because we are all meant to work together. You are not alone in the magical cosmos. You have brothers and sisters and teammates. Just as the fullback might not count on the place kicker for a good block, neither does the coach expect the fullback to kick the field goal! Such a relationship must be sealed by a promise. I've found the oath of Diane Duane's lovely series of stories about children wizards to be excellent and non-denominational.
Wizard's Oath from Diane Duane
"So You Want To Be A Wizard?"
"In LIFE's name, and for LIFE's sake, I say that
I will use the "ART" for nothing but the service of that
LIFE. I will guard growth and ease pain. I will fight to
preserve what grows and lives well in its own way; and I
will change no object or creature unless its growth and
life, or that of the system of which it is part, are
threatened. To these ends, in the practice of my "ART", I
will put aside fear for courage, and death for life, when
it is right to do so till Universe's End."
Note: The taking of this oath is made effective by the passing of an ordeal. No others can set this ordeal for the speaker, but the ordeal shall reveal itself in the speaker's presence.
The concept "change to object or creature" means to make its essential self to alter. I.E.: You shouldn't deliberately or irrevocably go around turning people into toads just because you think it might be an improvement in their looks and personality - unless they ask for and seem to truly to desire that change as an assist in their growth! I'd also advise that somehow blood be involved in the ritual. Biblically, all covenants must be sealed in blood. Now I'm not talking about slashing yourself or some other poor creature. The "blood" can be and often is purely symbolic, as in red wax, ink, or preferably wine. If you feel that "real" blood would have a stronger impact on your psyche, then I'd advise you get one of those special tacks made to help diabetics get blood samples for their blood sugar tests.
Having made this commitment in this ritual, you then need to take the ultimately vital next step. Be a Christian and practice magic or practice magic and be a Christian. This is not nearly as simplistic as it sounds. Examine yourself. Are a you Christian entering into the magical path? Are you a wise one called to follow Jesus? If you are Christian first, I'd tell you to look at all the marvels and gifts poured out by God in the Scriptures. Ask yourself what magical patterns you see in this. Then go ye and do likewise. If you are a mage, look at your magic and ask yourself why would Christ do this? Then go ye and do likewise.
This means that when you create a charm or a talisman, consider whom you should invoke and / or evoke. Think of how it should work and imbue it with blessing. Remember that your purpose and your target are holy, respect them. Then, when you are a Christian who wants to do magic, think, since I call upon God to achieve this, how should I join the action, what did God give me with which I can enhance this work. When you are a magus who wants to unite with the Deity, think what spiritual growth will this act help? What angels and saints or other of God's servants might want to join this action? Whom will I affect and how will I affect them?
Both of you think of how this action will fulfill the prayer: "For Thine is the Kingdom, the Glory, and the Power unto all ages. Amen." Okay, I can't walk on water yet and my control of the storm is fairly spotty. Raising the dead is WAY out of my league. Talking with Moses and Elijah, however, is not beyond my aspirations even now. I've a friend who could probably duplicate the feat of walking through a crowd that was trying to catch him. Folks have seen the angels that I've called and my totems guarding my sick bed. No brag, just fact. On the other hand, I've also seen folk miraculously healed, lives changed, and all that sort of thing that some Sunday morning TV preachers like to shout about. I believe I see a connection.
God either loves me or hates me. What do I do about that? Well, I believe God loves me, and frankly I rather think She's pretty marvelous too, but that's just my feelings. What I do know is that in every major path He has always said true religion was quite simple. Take care of each other. Care about each other. Care for each other. Not just people, but nurture the plants, tend the animals, and build up the soil too. Build up a bright city that both excites and heals, with lovely gardens to rest in and vineyards to party in. And to do this, we have to overcome the spirits of the air, work with the angels, and use all the spiritual gifts of the heavens. Sounds like magic to me, but it's all in the Scriptures. I believe that the Sacred Writings of other religions have similar themes.
So I practice "Christian magic." And, if you feel called to that, you can too.
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