Just getting some ideas down that occurred to me over the weekend (before I forget them).
For some reason these thoughts relate to a sorcerer and a chaos magician I overheard having an argument about being comfortable so years ago. Basically the chaos magician said that their ultimate aim with magic was to be comfortable. The sorcerer retorted that this would never be the aim of their magic. Such was their reaction that they were clearly shocked to hear the other state this as their aim.
My own thought back then was that being comfortable didn’t sound like such a bad thing, and I couldn’t understand what kind of masochism would deliberately avoid being comfortable. And yet I had much more respect for the sorcerer that opposed the comfortable than the chaos magician who supported it. Certainly I considered them more experienced and accomplished than myself (and still do to this day), so I had a sneaking suspicion that I was missing something important.
Well I can’t say its a problem that has occupied my thinking very much in the last several years since it first came up, probably in the Norwich meeting where KIA was launched in 2001 if I remember correctly, or if not definitely around that time. But it has popped into my mind unbidden every now and then, usually when I’m in some kind of altered mind state for some reason. So the fact its taken over seven years for me to work out this problem shouldn’t put me in too bad a light! Hopefully!
Oddly the answer that has come relates to my initial thoughts on the Senex and Puer in the article Thanateros and Anarchy which I wrote for key64.net (or key23 as it was back then). The Senex being the Jungian archetype of the Old Man, relating to Thanatos, Saturn and Kronos. The Puer relating to the Young Man, and thus to Eros, Mercury, Heros et al.
The Puer achetype often dies young as a result of its foolishness, whereas the Senex archetype often attempts to impart Wisdom to the Puer. Or if the Puer is too serious and responsible, then the Senex tries to inspire them with the joys of apparent foolishness. Merlin and Wart in the animated feature Sword in the Stone are good examples of the latter, and if we forget the masculine elements of the archetypes, the film Harold and Maude is an even better example.
Basically, the Senex, having wisdom, sees the danger both in too much foolishness as well as too little. In this sense Wisdom is not so much the opposite of foolishness so much as an arbiter between a foolish-serious polarity.
Seriousness can lead be what leads to the trap of the comfortable rut. Basically, by observing the consequences of our actions we learn which actions lead to greater happiness and thus repeat them more often, and exclude those actions that don’t bring us pleasure from further consideration. However, in so doing we would be continually narrowing our options until ultimately our life becomes a dull routine of what we previously enjoyed most. We can continue with this routine in the deluded belief that it is the best option to bring ourselves the most pleasure. We are comfortable and don’t want to move.
One of the many things I have observed about my own life however is that my tastes have changed continuously, and only really settle for short periods. Music I once loved now bores me. Music I once hated I now enjoy. Food that once disgusted me is now a regular part of my diet. Food I once couldn’t live without I now never eat. My clothing styles have changed over the years. My taste in internal décor has changed. My favoured means of sorcery and divination have changed. My sexual turn ons, and turn offs, have changed.
If I had simply stuck with what I was comfortable with, I would never have progressed. I would never have realised my tastes had changed and I would be living a bland yet comfortable life. In other words, a fate I would not wish upon anyone! The very fate I took up magic to escape in the first place!
Looking back, I wonder if I have ever needed to use magic to make myself comfortable. And really I think the answer is not only have I not, I don’t think I’ve ever needed to. Being comfortable is easy. Its what happens naturally when you don’t upset the apple cart. When you tow the line and do what is expected. If all you want is to be comfortable, sell all you magic books and buy a nice bed, a nice sofa and relax. If you can’t do that without magic, then I would suggest something is seriously wrong.
So what has the underlying goal of my sorcery been all this time? To upset the apple cart, to challenge myself to break new ground, to step into new situations in which I am not immediately comfortable and therefore escape the comfortable ruts in which I inevitably find myself. To rebel against my own inner tyrant and kick start an internal revolution in my own life.
At least that’s been my experience. Obviously I can’t speak for other sorcerers and magicians, and so I would be interested to hear how they relate to the idea of the comfortable, and especially how it relates to their sorcery.