In this article, I will attempt to describe the role of Willpower in the cultivation of real Magickal abilities.

From what I have been able to gather from philosophers through the ages, one idea shared by more or less EVERYONE is that the only real power we have in this world is WILLPOWER.

As most everyone knows by this point, the popular and succinct definition of magick given by Aleister Crowley is “the art and science of causing change in conformity with the Will.”

To be honest, I thought it was a fairly UN-magickal definition on first inspection. 

“That’s IT?” One is left asking. “THAT is the definition of this supposedly evil and blasphemous abomination in the eyes of God?”

It kind of seems like a lame cop out of a definition to the uninitiated. 

It is so deceptively simple.

“What about all of those fantastical mental creatures? Where are the demons? Where is the POWER?  How do magickal texts come into play? Where are the magickal spells or words of power we always hear about??”

“Why is it called an Art?  Why is it called a Science? “

The definition given by Crowley begged many questions.

To those of us with the patience and desire, the questions send us digging through esoteric writings and arcane diagrams, until this definition of magick starts to – either quickly or not – become more glaringly elegant over time. 

The definition given by Crowley starts to fit the active definition given throughout the ages in an elegant way.

Magick – to put it much LESS elegantly – is the word we use to represent the interactions between our inner self and the shared world around us – by utilizing certain inborn forces and processes.  These forces are usually in opposition to the natural urges of the physical body for instant gratification.

We use these magickal processes to bring an idea (of any kind) from the higher mental realms into the world in which we live together – full of mutually observable matter and shared experience. To put Crowley another way, Magick is the way we describe the active interaction between our personal Will and the world around us.

Another description of this interaction comes from the Emerald Tablet:

“As Above, So Below”

or “Wherever we direct our conscious thoughts influences our physical reality”. 

Earl Nightingale hit on this concept with the phrase “A man becomes that which he thinks about more than anything else.”

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Since mankind is a creature made of Matter, yet containing somehow the power to access a powerful higher dimension (Nightingale called the human mind the “goldmine between our ears” and described it as a powerful resource to pull from), we are able to use magick to transition our Will power between the two worlds – the inner and the outer.

By its nature, there is magick behind every form of creation. The two words ‘Magick’ and ‘Creation’ are all but synonymous. 

To say that a person is a creator is also to say that a person is Magickal.  This means that at its most primal form, every kind of creative Art is a kind of Magick. All magick, as well as all other arts, begin with the ability of a person to imagine an object or symbol within their mind’s eye. 

The Will executes the work required for bringing that object into physical reality.  This results in a symbolic lower dimensional representation of the higher dimensional creation within the artist’s mind.

A musical album, for example, is a real world representation of the music created within the mind of the musician.  The notes written, the melodies, the harmonies, the rhythm, et c. are all real world (lower dimensional) representations of mental constructs (higher dimensional) within an agreed upon mental language.  In this case, it is the language of music.

For an author, their Will creates lower dimensional representations of higher dimensional mental constructs in the way of Books. Mental ideas are pulled from the mind and translated into a lower dimensional representation of those ideas. The language here is writing and literary language.

For a sculptor, the creation is the sculpture. The language is “sculpting”.

For the painter, the lower dimensional representation of their higher dimensional ideal is a painting. The magick comes from the willful act of applying paint.

Even language and spoken word is a form of Magick that we use every day, capable of causing powerful changes in the world in which we live. 

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Occultist and writer Bill Duvendack calls this particular form of magick “Vocal Magick” and it propels our higher dimensional thoughts into the lower dimensional physical world. 

This magick is available to us through a combination of conscious and unconscious movements of complex muscle systems within the body. Thought, through action of the Will, bubbles forth into the material world. 

With this skill, mankind is able to communicate intention from one conscious being, through the medium of air, into the minds of the receiver. This is an impressive feat, as with it, we evoke images and sensations into a person who never directly experienced them firsthand.

Magicians and Linguists alike throughout history have studied the subtle yet powerful internal interactions that happen when this process is properly carried out.

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The first and arguably the most important factor in what defines a Mage (in general terms) is the cultivation of this power of Will.  Will allows us to take materials from this reality and use them to symbolically represent higher dimensional constructs.

Magick is seen as a science because it seeks to explain existence in a series of well-defined and repeatable observations.   The science aspect of Magick provides the language used to interact through the power of will.

The conscious cultivation of our personal Will power is the basis of magick work.

Oddly enough, it is our own personal limitation on our Will is what we often associate with being our “self”.   Our powers of Will are how we define our ability to be an individual within our world. We do the things that we Will, and we don’t do the things we don’t Will. 

Our sense of Self is an internal holographic amalgamation of every conscious decision and desire we have had, either outwardly or inwardly expressed or achieved.  Our Will is a power created and cultivated within our sense of Self and in many ways it is indistinguishable from a person’s Self, since the boundaries of our Will is how our egos are self-defined.

Despite these similarities, Will is separate from the Ego. While our Will influences the “person” we become through either our belief or disbelief in personal ability to manipulate the world, the Ego is the mental construct in which our conscious sense of Self resides.

Any limitation you’ve ever placed on yourself comes from your power (or lack of power) of Will.  Everything you have ever accomplished comes from the interaction of your “self” with your world as an expression of this power. Nothing magickal is possible without cultivation of the Will, as without it, the unconscious mind will not behave in consciously predictable ways.

Without Will, our wishes and desires are “stuck” in the higher dimension of thought. We are then always living in a “dream world” where are desires are never translated into conscious reality. Our sense of self is diminished, as is our personal belief of our ability to influence our situation. Over time, a lack of Will may turn into Apathy.

Since this is the case, it must be considered that a healthy personal view of Self is important in the creation of will, willful acts, and magickal outcomes. This is why many magickal orders – in fact ANY orders worth their salt – place a focus on the conscious application of the power of Will.

Our Will at any moment is directly proportional to our desire to arrive at a specific goal.

If we value that goal or outcome over the uncomfortable work that it takes to reach that goal, then the Will is able to work through action. In this way, it can be said that Will is equal to the Mage’s capacity for delayed gratification. It is through increasingly larger tests of delayed gratification that Will is cultivated.

This is the origin of the idea of “Where there’s a Will, there’s a way.”

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Apathy is absolute opposite of Will. 

Apathy is the absence of Will. It is the concept of caring so little for an outcome – either by disbelief or some other mechanism – so that the mind does not have the ability to summon the required material for change.

Apathy leads to rot and decay. It leads to inattention, bad habits, depression, and low self-confidence. 

Conscious attention to healthy routines or personal ritual is a great way to begin to cultivate active Will power. 

By completing – regularly – a task, which you purposefully set out to do, you are able to cause meaningful and predictable interactions between your self and the world around you. You begin to feel your confidence in your ability to maintain structure grow. 

You will notice that you feel more in control of your life.  You may begin to feel more inspired to complete new tasks that you didn’t believe you could complete before. 

Importantly, your life begins to look differently as a response to your dedication and action.  You begin – over time – to notice the effects that you have on the world around you and it affects your Willpower on a base level.

You begin to believe in your ability to manipulate the world around you.

And because you BELIEVE you can, you begin to.

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