“We are the ghosts of a war that we have not fought. … Having opened our eyes on a disenchanted world, we are more than any others the children of the absurd. On certain days, the senselessness of the world weighs on us like a deformity. It seems to us that God has died of old age, and we exist without a goal. … We are not embittered; we start from zero. We were born among the ruins. When we were born, the gold was already transmuted into lead.” – Paul van den Bosch.
Many definitions for magick link it intrinsically to Will; for example Aleister Crowley statement that magick is “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” The word magick derives from the Indo-European root magh- “to be able” or “have power” and it is through the Will that we have the power to transform our desires into actions. The Will is the psychic function that bridges the non-physical realms with the physical world.
In The Magician’s Dictionary, E.E. Rehmus writes that the Will is:
“Another word for persistence and maintained attention. Will is one of the two natural human powers for altering reality (the other is imagination). When faced with an insoluble problem or great odds against us, it is the Will alone that leads us through to solution and victory. As the imagination is the power of the mind through understanding and enlightenment, the Will is the way of material action. There is no will without physical effort of some kind exerted over physical phenomena.”
Rehmus goes on to quote Colin Wilson:
“Modern civilization induces an attitude of ‘passivity’. When a Stone Age hunter set out to trap wild animals, he was aware of his will as a living force. When the prehistoric farmer scored the surface of the earth with a crude plough, he knew that his family’s survival through the winter depended on his effort, and his will responded to the challenge. When a modern city dweller walks down a crowded thoroughfare, he feels no sense of challenge or involvement. This city was built by other people; all these shops and offices are owned by other people. He can get through an ordinary day’s work in a state approximating to sleep. Most of his routine tasks are carried out by the ‘robot.’ There is neither the need or the opportunity to use the will.”
This quote from Wilson gives an indication of the necessity of will training for the modern magickian, who lives in an urban environment. Compare it with the quote from Paul van den Bosch at the beginning of this article, which gives an indication of the disconnection that many people in the modern age have with the real world.
Julius Evola offers some clues to the solution:
“… Toynbee has shown that the challenge to mankind of environmentally and spiritually harsh and problematic conditions is often the incentive that awakens the creative energies of civilization. … It is commonplace that all the higher virtues attenuate and atrophy under easy conditions, when man is not forced to prove himself in some way.”
It is necessary to find ways to increase the challenges and problems through which we are able to cultivate our Will. It is not the actual techniques, trials, ordeals, or situations that are important; rather it is the struggle and perhaps even multiple failures which test our perseverance and inner resolve, thereby exercising our Will.
There are many ways to exercise and strengthen the Will. It is beyond the intended scope of this article to detail these, so for now it is left up to the individual to discover techniques to use.
It is important to keep in mind the processes involved in the Willed act. For example, Roberto Assagioli wrote that a Willed act consists of six stages:
- The Purpose, Aim, or Goal, based on Evaluation, Motivation, and Intention
- Choice and Decision
- Affirmation: the Command, or “Fiat,” of the Will
- Planning and Working Out a Program
- Direction of the Execution
These stages can be brief, or detailed, depending on the complexity of the task required. The purpose or aim is generally fairly obvious when magick is involved, however it is important to be very clear about what the desired outcome should be. Deliberation can be brief or extensive, depending on the complexity of the task. It could involve considerations of various implications of the result, and leading on to the next stage whether the goal is actually what will be best for the magickian. Affirmation involves committing to the decisions and beginning to work plan the magickal act by using existing knowledge or researching what is required. The final stage begins the magickal working itself, undertaking the steps required for the process. This may be a physical ritual or a meditative process (creative visualization), and may require multiple workings rather than a single act. For example performance of a daily ritual for a set period of time, or regular observances of natural cycles such as the moon or seasons.
Assagioli assigned seven categories for the qualities of the Will:
- Energy – Dynamic Power – Intensity
- Mastery – Control – Discipline
- Concentration – Attention – One-Pointedness – Focus
- Determination – Decisiveness – Resoluteness – Promptness
- Persistence – Endurance – Patience
- Initiative – Courage – Daring
- Organization – Integration – Synthesis
These points will serve as starting points for further exploration and contemplation on willed magickal acts.
Remember that attempting to intellectualise magick is counterproductive. Magick must be lived and experienced. It is the same with the Will, which must be experienced and developed (or at least our skills at using the Will must be practiced). Assagioli aptly wrote that “…I believe that the right procedure is to postpone all intellectual discussions and theories on the subject, and begin by discovering the reality and the nature of the will through its direct existential experience.”
- Will Project
- Will at Magick Wiki
- Cultivation of Will
- Training the Will by Roberto Assagioli (PDF format)