Come morning the young man staggered out of his room slowly and into the parlor. There, sitting serenely and staring into the fire’s enduring maw was his mentor. Barely able to stand upright he groaned, “I feel like hell. All night I dreamed of being split in two from head to foot while boiling water was poured over me scalding and searing my flesh. Try as I would I couldn’t force myself awake until I watched my head split open and a beautiful golden orb fly out. What horror is this and what does it mean?”
Slowly the old man placed the omnipresent pipe into the tray beside him and turned to face the boy. “It means that your transformation is not quite finished. Though you are not of your original substance, you have yet to release the nous within, the soul, actually what we call the Anima Mundi, the soul of the world. Until this is done you remain earth bound and subject to the ego. Go, take a shower and release the soul!” The old man commanded and the boy turned and walked back into the room where he had slept, disrobed, and climbed into the shower.
Turning on the shower he began his ritual bathing but before he could soap up the water became unbearably scalding, so hot that he felt his skin begin to slough. He opened his mouth to scream but only a yellow liquid came out and covered him all over. After a short time the pain stopped and he began to feel a warmth that seemed to wash away all the aches from the night before.
As he looked down at his half outstretched arms they seemed to glow with health. It felt as though every part of him had been reborn. And indeed it had, but no longer as the individual separate from all others but something more inclusive of the whole of the world. In short, he felt great, better than he had ever felt before and he stepped from the shower, got dressed in the clothing provided and walked out to the main room feeling refreshed and famished as in really hungry as though he had been fasting an eternity. “When do we eat?” He growled eagerly.
Together the magus and the young man prepared a small but adequate feast and after consuming most of it they sat down before the fire and sipped a cup of freshly brewed coffee to begin their talk about the day’s proceedings.
“I am going to present you with the 12 Lessons of Magic and give you an opportunity to practice each until you and I both are satisfied that you have mastered them. Are you up for that?” As the boy listened he nodded and noticed that the wizard had changed his tone in that he was now addressing him as an equal instead of the one-down relationship he earlier experienced. It felt good, he felt confidant, and cheerfully looked forward to what was next in his training.
“Now I must warn you, we don’t have much time, there’s a lot to be done and we are running out of it.” Said the old man.
“Running out? I don’t understand”
“We have spent the last few weeks calling forth the four spirits of water, fire, air and earth but now we must complete your development before the Slaying of the Dragon.” The old
man pointed toward a crest affixed to the hearth. On it was a carving of a dragon coiled in a circle and biting its own tail. That was odd thought the boy he hadn’t noticed that before.
“What does it mean? The coiled dragon that is.”
“He is slaying himself– a necessary condition for transformation. There’s an eclipse of the sun on the third day hence and upon its rise the Union of the Separates within you will come to pass. What was split asunder will come together again.”
“Once you have completed your education your conscious mind will be ready to absorb the contents of the unconscious wherein the magic lies. This absorption will be initiated by the coming together of the sun and the moon of the eclipse. But if your conscious mind is not ready to assimilate then the energy produced by the chaotic fragments in the unconscious will cause disorder and madness, even death. Once you started down this road you had no choice but to be ready for this event”
“Would have been nice to have known that ahead of time.” Muttered the young man half to himself. “Well no help for it now, we better get on with it then.”
“Right! These basic laws of magic are deceptively simple so do not be fooled by what may seem to be obvious. Are you ready?” The boy nodded.
The first law* states that magic is all around us; we are already in it; we are already it. This gives rise to the second law that states that magic is a way of living and not separate from everyday experience.
Thirdly, we have access to magic when we do not place limits upon our expression and this leads to the fourth law that says that the conscious mind can only open to magic when the soul is allowed to express freely.
The fifth law states that magic cannot be controlled; In fact one must release control in order to wield it. Th…” the old man was interrupted when the boy cried out, “That’s silly! How can I do magic without actually doing it?”
“Ah yes, that does seem contradictory, but magic is about “being” not “doing”. You can’t “understand” it or control it because those are “doings”. Magic arises on its own and not through your manipulation. Do you understand?”
The magus paused as though to collect his thoughts and decide which direction to go in with his presentation. “Magic isn’t like waving wands and such, it’s like an ‘intention’ and that is a state of being not a doing. You can have an intention but all the doing in the world won’t actualize it unless you yourself have become it.”
“Yes but how do I do this becoming?” Implored the boy and then he stopped and a broad smile of recognition came across his face. “Probably not by doing I assume?”
“I think he is getting it!” said the old wizard aloud to himself. “If you want to know magic, watch children play. Watch the un-self-consciousness in their frolic. That’s the sixth entreaty that magic cannot happen when the consciousness is on itself.
In the seventh law one understands that magic only becomes available when one dissolves the separation between ones opposites and recombines them into a functional whole.”
“That’s what you’ve had me doing all this time!”
“Precisely. You need to learn to dissolve your conflicted inner gender aspects and learn to integrate both sides of your self because your assertive, decisive, thoughtful, powerful, creative, compassionate, emotional and intuitive sides can exist side-by-side without conflict in that they are actually mutually supportive. It is only the limited mind of the ego-self that takes sides and holds steadfastly. Little if any balance can be maintained in a separated ego.”
As the day wore on into the late evening, the lessons were looked at over and over and in great detail with no question left unturned until both the magus and the young man looking somewhat grey fell back exhausted into their chairs.
“My brain is like mush.” Sighed the boy.
“Mine as well. Shall we press on or call it a night?”
“I know that time grows short but I think I need to sleep on what I’ve heard and process it at a deeper level.”
“This is good.” Exclaimed the magus. “Trusting your inner guide and emerging gnosis during the dreaming will be very helpful. Have a good night my boy.”
The young man got up feeling every joint in his body painfully creaking and shuffled off to his room while the old magus sat before the fire and let go of himself while sighing, “I hope he’s going to make it.” Then he sat as though waiting for some response.
As he sat a soft glow enveloped him and swirled about entering his head briefly through the space just above his nose and between the eyes, then into his heart and blown out in one slow breath of air. The glow had turned dark as it exited his mouth and twirled high into the ceiling. His color had once again transformed from the dusky grey at the end of a long day into what could only be called a golden aura. Fully refreshed the magus grasped the arms of the chair and nimbly pushed himself up, donned his jacket, and went out for a brisk walk.
*Though their essence is the same, these “laws” come in many different forms across many religious and philosophical traditions. These are the forms I have learned from my mentors and that have evolved in my practice over the years.