In the musical Chicago, the sleazy lawyer tells the cuckolded husband Amos, who has sold everything he owns to pay for the defense of his wife (on trial for murdering her lover): “You know, you are a remarkable man. Your wife two-times you, plugs the guy, and tries to pin it on you. Most men would let a dame like that swing, but no, you’re sticking by her. Makes you a hero in my eyes.” And Amos replies, “That’s right, I’m a hero.” Although he winds up with nothing in the end; and, as is so often the case in real life also, the evildoers triumph; the fact is that Amos is indeed a hero. Loser that he is (he calls himself “Cellophane” since he’s invisible to everyone), he’s the only character in the musical who isn’t a total slimebag – he is merciful, forgiving, self-sacrificing, and caring (symbolized by his last name – Hart; he’s the only character who listens to and obeys the dictates of his heart). Being a hero isn’t a matter of being a worldly success and having other people applaud you; it’s a matter of doing what you know is right in spite of what other people think of you. Being a hero means being able to face the Spirit (or yourself in the mirror or alone in bed in the middle of the night) knowing that you’ve done your best and given your all; taking pride in the things you’ve done which no one credits you for or even knows about.
No one except the Spirit as witness. Letters and journals written by soldiers on the eve of battle which they believe they won’t survive typically don’t reveal fear of death, nor regret that their lives will end before they really began, so much as sorrow that no one will ever know that they even lived. So much of what we do – even when we’re alone, in our daydreams and fantasies – is calculated to impress other people; or at least seek their approval. Where most people look to others for clues and cues, true heroes draw whatever they need directly from the Spirit (or the spirits). Heroes are people who stand up for what they know is right; who don’t just “go along” with the crowd; who don’t care what other people think or say about them; who don’t need anyone’s validation to feel worthwhile.
Only when you lose all expectations (of what people think or say about you) can you be a true hero – have a true sense of self-esteem which is not based upon anyone else’s images (or your own). True self-esteem means feeling good about yourself even though you have been abandoned, rejected, or rudely ignored by everyone; and have nothing you can call your own except what you carry with you inside. It means being able to stand tall (not cringing), and being proud of yourself for how you’ve faced (not run away from) your fate, done your duty, and acquitted yourself with honor.
False self-esteem (inculcated by society) is always based upon feeling superior to other people; whereas true self-esteem implies feeling sorry for them (for they know not what they do). True self-esteem also means not comparing yourself to other people: there’s no way to use others as a yardstick anyway, since everyone’s karma is so different. It’s okay to look up to people whose accomplishments you admire; but not to compare yourself to them, because everyone’s purpose in incarnating – and the tools they are given to achieve this purpose – are unique to each individual. They’re not you; they’re not walking in your shoes; nor are you walking in theirs. Do you really believe that people you know (or so-called “celebrities”) who are more successful or wealthier than you are any happier than you are? It’s easy enough to be a worldly success by employing the techniques of black magic (e.g. calling upon demons to bring you what you desire); but this is a coward’s path and leads ultimately to self-destruction – although in our demonic society it is a popular way of doing things.
It’s wrong to expect anything (sympathy, understanding, acceptance, “love”), from anyone, because in our society people are in too much pain themselves to have any extra “love” to give (oh sure, it can happen now and then adventitiously; but it’s completely wrong to expect it – at least if you want to be a magician). True self-esteem means not going to other people for validation, because in our society you can’t share what you’re really feeling or thinking with anyone – you can’t show your true self to anybody – and any applause anybody receives is phony anyway (although it certainly provides an ego rush; but this is like the rush of an addictive drug – it requires constant reaffirmation). Being a magician means facing up to your aloneness (not “loneliness”) in the universe – facing your death (which most assuredly has no sympathy or compassion for you).
If you find that your prayers and spells don’t work, it’s because of your own lack of true self-esteem. On the level of your true feelings, which override what you may be telling yourself consciously, you don’t feel worthy of whatever it is that you are praying or casting spells for. Perhaps your desire is anti-heroic – an attempt to escape from your real problems into some fantasy universe in which you don’t have to take responsibility for making your dreams come true; a bid for undeserved love or ease or glory which you know – in your heart of hearts – is not what would really make you happy. Take a good look at your prayers and spells: how much of their content involves exploiting other people for your own benefit, or receiving goodies which you have done nothing whatsoever to merit?
The reason why people’s prayers or spells don’t work is because they have a “cargo cult” mentality – they believe that going through the (symbolic, mental image) motions of casting desire lines out into the universe to bring the probable reality in which their desires are realized, is the same thing as casting a true feeling out there to grab and reel in whatever it is they are praying or casting spells for. Unbending intent is not the same thing as good intentions: a true feeling is based on certainty – a feeling through and through – that the desire will come true. And taking 100% responsibility – dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s – to make that desire happen: WHATEVER that takes in terms of hard work, suffering, and sacrifice. True feelings have to be based on true self-worth – the inner surety that you are deserving (not using a prayer or spell to run away from your real problems).
“What about nasty people who get their wishes to come true?” I hear you ask. Well, they are people who believe that they are deserving. Luck has nothing to do with virtue, or how nice you are. If a selfish, nasty, manipulative S.O.B. believes that he is lucky, he’ll be lucky. It’s the belief that you are deserving that brings your desires to realization, not how meritorious you are. If you expect your desires to come true, they will tend to come true; whereas if you expect failure, that’s what you’ll get. Most shameless nasties have demons there propping up their self-esteem, telling them how wonderful and deserving they are, so they get what they feel they deserve, up to a point. The trouble with messing around with demons is that over time they require more and more for less and less, until the person is left a burned-out, hollow shell. It’s better to try to develop a true sense of self-esteem yourself by courageously facing up to your karma and pulling your share of the load and let the chips fall where they may, than try to take a short-cut by using the help of demons.
Making spells and prayers work involves true heroism – taking a good, hard look at yourself and the reasons why your life is disappointing, rather than trying to run away from yourself and your problems in daydreams. This is why the path of magic requires techniques of self-analysis such as Active Imagination and Recapitulation (described in my books Thought Forms and The Great Wheel). Being able to see yourself objectively and take responsibility for doing what is necessary to accept and deal with your blockages (rather than cover your butt with excuses and wring your hands helplessly) is what the path of magic – at least white magic – is all about.
Here’s a place to start: next time you are depressed and feeling that everything you do is useless, sit down and make a written list of all the times in your life when you’ve been a hero: times when you refused attempts to suborn your connivance in activities which you knew were wrong (risking or receiving opprobrium for not going along as a result); times when you’ve made great sacrifices for other people with no acknowledgement (much less gratitude) from them; times when you followed a gleam of hope in the midst of uncertainty and defeat (no matter what the ultimate outcome was); the years and years of unrewarding drudgery which you discharged faithfully and honorably. Building a true sense of self-esteem starts from seeing when, in the past, you have acted heroically; the most heroic acts are always those with no one except the Spirit as witness.
You are not a helpless victim. You are not a loser, no matter what the circumstances of your life. You are a magician (else you wouldn’t be reading this ezine). You’re a survivor, you know what intuition and intent mean – not the words, but how you, yourself, have used your intuition and intent in the past to work miracles – to accomplish things that average people couldn’t even conceive of.
Our society is deliberately designed to drag people down and break their wills. If you have survived that crusher with your spirit and your verve intact; if you have endured without surrendering your peace of mind, taking your frustration out on other people, or giving up the good fight with alcohol, drugs, or denial; if you can still notice (let alone feel a rush of joy at) a baby’s smile or a bird’s song or a gentle gust of breeze on your face – then you are a true hero.
Thanks to Bob Makransky for allowing the republiction of his wondeful work.
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