On Magic, Miracle, Pride, and Prayer – Marv Machura
When my grandfather first showed me how to find water with a willow stick, I thought that it was magic. And it was and still is.
The first time I heard someone play guitar and sing, I also thought it was magic. And it also was and still is.
My first steps forward in becoming both a magician and musician were holding that willow stick and reverencing that guitar. Many other metaphysical and physical steps followed these initiations, bringing me to where I am today. I cannot take more than 50% of the credit or 50% of the blame or fame for my current destination!
The transformations manifested by these steps are both magical and miraculous; they are predicated on both fate and flaw; they (through conflict and resolution) tell a story as real as our lives.
Magic is, thus, the bringing together of the certain vibrations of the universe creating harmony and synergy, and then, amplifying this harmony to produce an effect. In this definition, things like baking bread, growing a plant, fixing a car are examples of people practicing magic.
Typically, people think that magic is something otherworldly and metaphysical because it goes beyond the physical effect and explanation. For example, baking a perfect loaf of bread produces a physical effect with a clear explanation whereas telling the future with Tarot cards or finding underground water with a willow stick is less so. Nevertheless, they are similar processes, and both are examples of magic.
We learn magic; we practice it, and our lives become magical—as our lives are. Whether we are baking bread, blessing the bread and wine at communion, or mesmerizing an audience with a song, it is the same process and conclusion.
Miracles are also examples of magic, but miracles are not like those magical things that we typically practice and do, like baking bread or reading cards, where we often lose the miraculous underpinning of these effects we bring about.
Miracles typically happen without our volition and more‑direct involvement. For example, it is miraculous when we pray for a sick relative who then makes an inexplicable recovery. Or when we miss an airplane crash by being delayed on the way to the airport by traffic and thus missing the doomed flight.
Miracles are thus not only mostly immune from our human pride or hubris, but also are antithetical to hubris. They are events that can make us get down on our knees thanking the Universe (God) in complete humility and gratefulness.
All magic is predicated by miracles, and it is best to keep this in mind. Our birth and life are a miracle. And all outcomes of our lives, whether this be loaves of fresh bread or records with hit songs, are underpinned by miraculous metaphysical energy. This is to say, as already mentioned, we cannot take all the credit or the blame for the outcomes for which we strive. Whenever we do, troubles, tragedy, and loss result.
The problem with magic, then, is that it leads too easily to excessive, damnable pride. This happens when we forget that miracle (not our doing) and magic (our doing) both need to be qualified with an overriding faith and love in the greater power through which we live our best lives.
Many books and experts on magic (or any kind of self-help advice and teachings) will have the querant believe that magic is not underpinned by this first principle. They make it seem like the rituals, practices, and techniques of magic are in the full control of the magician—and this can never be. This is to say, that they tell us that the practices or rituals of magic, for example, concentrating on or chanting a specific goal or spell while lighting a blessed candle, are the actions that will make the goal or spell manifest itself in our lives. Yes, this kind of magical practice will help the effect come into being, but the operative word is “help.” We must remain humble and never believe or think that it is our doing alone that has the power to make it happen.
As a musician, for example, I know that my best performances occur when I entirely lose my ego and become a channel or a medium for the music of the Universe. For me, there are few things that are more humbling and instructive in this regard as when I experience this feeling of being a clear channel having the highest power (The Universe) operating through me. But I could go on with many other examples that are less dramatic, such as giving Tarot advice to someone, making a perfect pizza, or climbing a hillside. The best times in all these activities are when I know and feel that I am not creating or living alone: the higher power is not only with me, but also is helping me, blessing my path forward toward some greater good.
In my book, The Five-Card Pentagram Tarot, I use the term “The Universe” to represent and name the greater, higher, and ultimate power. This greater power, of course, goes by many names that I also use in my life. I am equally comfortable using terms such as the “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” “Allah,” “Jehovah,” “The Force,” “God,” “The One,” and “The Great Spirit.” I chose to use “The Universe” because this term has, perhaps, the least baggage and connotations that have accumulated over time, and I hope that it can thus put us closer to loving, reverencing, and living with the Heavenly higher power, rather than living in the Hell (wrongful, prideful, and sinful) that results when we live without this higher power.
Pride rises when people performing any kind of magic start thinking and practicing that, somehow, they are able to do what they do without the loving and merciful blessing of the Universe or God—the supreme force and energy that is the foundation of all creation and life.
When this happens, it is very, very dangerous because this is when souls are lost as expressed best in the words “How shall it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
Nothing creative or magical is possible without the higher power—whatever we conceive it/him/her to be.
“Thy will be done” is crux and cross of it all. The best magic that we can do as humans is to choose to qualify all our desired outcomes beneath this higher law. When we do not do this, trouble, destruction, chaos, etc. results.
All of this is bad stuff is predicated on our pride.
Another way to look at this is that we are not God. We are children of God. And as attributed to Jesus (Matthew 18:3), “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Too many magicians, musicians, and people in general, who scale the heights of fame and fortune in particular, go down the wrong path with sinful pride when they think that it is only through their practices, volition, and rituals that these wonderful outcomes have come to be.
This is why in my book, The Five-Card Pentagram Tarot, I qualify all fortunes of the Tarot with a type of mediation or prayer in the introduction to each section of the book that acknowledges that all metaphysical creative, helpful energy comes from the higher power that is deserving of acknowledgement, reverence, awe, and love.
As I say many times in my book and life, “We are not meant to live alone.” And this applies mostly to our relationship with this higher, supreme power as children of the Universe (or God), in a manner that extinguishes our pride and belief that anything is possible—on our own, without the involvement, acknowledgement, and love of the “One” or whatever we conceive this force to be.
With excessive pride, as described above, we separate ourselves from the One or The Universe. Separation from the Universe is Hell itself. It is also evil and cultivates more evil. Evil can never be creative—only destructive. It is not a coincidence that the word “evil” is “live” spelled backwards.
In Kabbalistic traditions, Keter, is the topmost Sephirah of the Tree of Life. Keter is described as being beyond our power to comprehend. It is also described as the most compassionate, most powerful, etc. Keter, in the Tree of Life, is one important way that we, as humans, have conceptualized our place as Children of the Universe to illustrate and apprehend what is essentially and necessarily beyond and above us.
Personally, I have always found prayer to be the most powerful type of spell, meditation, and joy. Prayer is the antidote for pride. Prayer starts and ends with humility.
“Thy will be done” is the opposite of “my will be done.” And this is where, I believe, that many of us go wrong. There is nothing wrong with doing things such as casting spells, writing affirmations, burning candles, waving wands, chanting, collecting crystals, burning incense, reading Tarot Cards, etc. There is nothing wrong with these practices unless they lose “Keter” or “God” or whatever it is that we use to help us conceive, know, and practice that we are “Children of the Universe.”
I believe this is why magic is such a dangerous practice. It is full of temptation to perform evil. For example, placing a hex or curse on someone can become a temptation that we are too weak to resist. In this way, magic is somewhat like money and political/business power. When we have the power of money or position, it also presents us with temptations that we are too weak to resist.
Just because we can curse someone with magic, or we can bully/destroy someone at work does not mean that should do so. When we do fall for these temptations, we are also going down that path of pride and related loss of soul for our personal, selfish gain, ripping ourselves away from that loving connection with Keter, the Universe, God, etc.
Our lives should be a magical working that brings us ever closer to the Universe—not away from it. The prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Evil.” (Matthew 6; 11-13) is as succinct as it is important in ensuring that we stay connected and never travel on our journey alone.
As I say in my book when writing about the final card in the series of major mysteries, The Universe, “Does it get any better than to feel intimately connected with the Universe? Is there anything higher than helping the Universe move and turn in harmony, grace, and love?”