‘The perfect is the enemy of the good’ – Voltaire
The below meme is doing the occulture rounds at the moment and it has provoked some discussion and certainly some contemplation on my part, as I have recently completed a series of magical rites that I performed to the best of my ability in fairly short notice. In fact, it was something I have put off for around…oooh…four years now.
What changed, I hear you ask? Well, I have realised lately, that I have been spending far too much time reading and not enough actually doing the physical Work. It is the ‘Great Work’, not ‘The Great Read a book and think about the Work’. I am becoming an armchair occultist, which is frankly little more than a very expensive hobby. I want to weave this stuff through my very soul and into every action of my day-to-day life, I want to breathe it and consume it and be it. I have a hankering for results too, for change, and for that I need to do magic, to do SPELLS. All the cool kids actually do the magic, right? RITE?
Yes, I have a fairly solid daily practice now, I do put in some time every day. In fact, it has tightened up a lot more recently, with me remembering to say Resh four times every day beside the Astrachios prayer (slightly modified to my personal preference) along with the LIRP and LBRP bookending most days – I remain fond of those old workhorses, regardless of fashion. This isn’t The Work though, for me; I would say this, along with study and meditation, is the foundation that The Work is built upon. In fact building this very foundation is one of the key things that allowed me to take up my wand and cast again, come to think of it.
So, what else held me back? A huge part of it was feeling that I just never had the time or resources or energy needed to do it right. I didn’t have enough or was not good enough. Tools were needed, and early mornings, and a certain clarity of mind I lacked given my love of grape and grain; and so it ended up getting bumped and bumped and bumped again.
I’ve realised though, that perfection is in its very nature impossible, it is something we should aim for with the understanding that it is also something we can never achieve. Thusly, it is better to do a thing imperfectly, than to never attempt it at all. One cannot learn to play any instrument without hitting a few bum notes. No knitter learns without dropping stitches. The key is trying to do one’s best within the constraints of the situation and in persevering through that imperfection with earnestness and with fervour in order to complete the job to the best of our abilities.
Now, this is not an excuse for lazy half-arsed attempts – there is a marked difference, magically, between turning up fully committed with the best set of imperfect tools you could create and turning up not really giving a fuck with a full set of expensive implements you bought from Frater McMagick’s Wand Emporium, but failed to consecrate.
There is a lot to be said for ‘Grimoire Purism’ – doing things by the book – so to speak. Try to stick as closely to things as you can, given money, time, living circumstances and modern life. Don’t just strip things away because you can’t be bothered or you don’t like them. You wouldn’t attempt to drive a car without knowing where the brake pedal is, well I wouldn’t anyway. Dabbling with spirit summoning without the instructions on banishing is arguably just as fraught with danger. But I firmly believe sincere effort and commitment will be rewarded over flashy tools and insouciance every time.
I have more to say about this, especially in the context of ritual purity and physical health, but it is Boxing Day and I have leftover roast potatoes to eat and a glass of port to savour. AHEM.
Pick up thy wand and cast, my loves, draw those pentagrams wonky, but do draw them!