Being sad is bad for magick

Fortunately, I've not had to struggle with this too much recently – moving house may have been bad for magick, but it didn't induce very much stress and sadness.  But it's certainly one of the great battles of spiritual life – how to keep going when you're feeling bloody miserable.

As I wrote about in the Magickian's Cycle, magickal practice seems to induce change.  Often that change isn't very comfortable and sadness of one kind or another arises. It can arise as stress because things are changing, melancholy because 'real life' just doesn't seem all that interesting, or out and out despair because something you care for a great deal is leaving your life.  In recent years for me it has often manifested as a full blown existential crisis – I can't point out anything in 'the real world' that can justify the deep feelings of grief and frustration I'm feeling, but some philosophical insight or shifting belief system is inducing pain.

Being sad is bad for magick in a one main way – it pulls away energy and motivation and it makes it harder to 'keep going' with a spiritual practice.  Sadness tends to pull us down into a lower energy state where it's harder to 'try' and given spiritual practice is often quite taxing in one way or another sadness can make it harder to just get on with the practice.

In my own case, when a period of sadness hits I often begin to experience a deep pessimism, or the feeling that 'nothing is really worthwhile' – magick falls into that category too, so I tend to give up putting in the effort.  This is deeply stupid, as experience time and again has suggested that magick, or at least spiritual practice, is absolutely the best thing to do in order to shift limiting beliefs, or to remove the blockages that cause sadness (and in fact I've been almost entirely sadness free in the nine months of my current spiritual practice).  However, my sad, or depressed, self has difficulty remembering this and practice often slows and stops when those feelings grip me.

A friend of mine has observed that often when we are sad, and particularly when we're depressed, we often pull away from the very things that will help the most.  We stop seeing friends.  We stop going out and trying new things.  We stop exercising.  And we stop opening ourselves up to spiritual experiences.  Perhaps we could argue that this is because at certain times we need to experience the sadness or depression in life – not for some facile reason such as 'in order to really appreciate being happy' but simply because such periods of stillness often bring introspection and the chance to bring about inner change.  "The call inwards" as another friend calls it.  But at a certain point we really do need to take control of our own emotional experience, to take steps that will reduce our sadness, pain and depression.  That point may come sooner or later, but when it does resuming a form of magickal practice can be extremely beneficial.  I would even suggest that in this case magick trumps meditation – meditation is a stilling, a quietening, and that stillness can even increase the sense of melancholy and sadness.  Magickal practice often involves invocation – the touching of new energy, the shifting of mental state, the deliberate adjustment of mental attitude.  These things are just what you need to start your mind moving again and to leave behind sadness.

So perhaps next time sadness hits it's worth remembering – whilst the sadness may make magick feel difficult and not worth the effort, perhaps the magick is exactly what's needed to shift the negative feelings and to get things moving again.

Of course one of the great ironies is that, as I'll discuss next, being happy is bad for magick too.

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