Once upon a time the Freemasons had this initiatory ritual. Basically the initiate would be blindfolded and led into a room. One of the senior Masons would then put a handgun up to his head, and ask him if he was afraid of death. The initiate was expected to say no, and after that the senior Mason would pull the trigger.
Of course the gun wasn’t loaded, so the initiate would survive the ordeal. If the initiate knows the gun isn’t loaded, it seems like a stupid little game, and that’s all it really is. If the initiate thinks the gun is loaded though, then it starts to seem more like a cruel hazing ritual, but it’s actually a true initiation ritual, and an example of the sorts of trials a magus must go through.
Usually early in our careers as magicians we are all given these trials to overcome. Either, as with the Freemasons, they are done by senior group members or teachers in order to prepare us for what lies ahead, or we receive them in a more spiritual way. These trials are important, and hopefully all magicians receive them. These trials remove our fears, so we can operate magically, and make us strong enough so that the spiritual world doesn’t break us.
With the Freemason ritual, in particular, the point is to desensitize someone and remove their fear of death. Magical workings can become very scary things. There’s a lot out there that can kill you. Many magicians deal with these scary things by becoming so afraid they use numerous unnecessary protections in their operations and never really push themselves in their magical practice. These magicians never seem to get anywhere with their practice, and miss out on a good deal of what magick has to offer.
Once a person learns about the spiritual world, that fear can make this world a very frightening one to live in. They now know that there are powerful and horrible spirits out there that can at any time enter their home and kill them without repercussions, and there’s not much out there to defend them from this. They then spend their lives in anxiety and fear trying to protect themselves, or they become born again Christians.
The metaphysical universe, as practicing magicians see it, is not a very comforting and protective place. It’s a place where different spirits are attacking each other, and different magicians are attacking each other, and good or evil doesn’t determine the victory, but rather whoever’s strongest. The universe is not weighted towards good. There is no all mighty God looking out for his children, and saying a name, such as Jesus Christ, holds no special power over the spirits. The metaphysical universe is a mortally dangerous place, and we’re cast out there, pretty much alone, to survive on whatever inner-strength and wits we might possess.
Christianity meanwhile offers a safe-haven from all of this. There is an all mighty god, who is good and righteous, and he loves you and wants to protect you. Whenever things get to the point that a person can’t handle them, they can always turn to God for protection and aid. That’s why so many magicians turn to Christianity after their first bad experience. The church offers them safety.
The Freemason ritual is meant to force the initiate to face death, to overcome their fear of it, and show them that even all alone they can survive it. The next time the initiate is put into mortal danger, it’s not going to be as bad. All of that fear and anxiety is going to be washed away, and they’ll be able to practice their magic without worrying about what might happen to them.
That’s great if you have a fear of death, but not all of us fear death. For some of us, there are things far worse than death, and so our individual trials need to deal with those issues too.
When I was first starting out, I underwent a spiritual trial I can still remember because it was so emotionally scarring. I was playing around with some new found power, putting certain energies out and astrally projecting and seeing what I could find. That night I think I was seeing if I could attract a potential date to me and meet them on the astral. What I got instead was horrific.
Eventually I gave up with what I was trying to do and just fell asleep, and I ended up in a super-vivid dream. Those aren’t too uncommon for me. Those are the dreams where I can accurately smell, and taste, and feel every small thing around me. This one though felt even more real than my normal super-vivid dreams.
In my dream I was me, but I had a compulsion I couldn’t quite control, and I was forced to act upon it. The compulsion was a kind of necrophilia. I had two dead bodies hidden away in two different buildings, and I couldn’t help but move back and forth from one to the other and then having sex with them.
Some of you might be thinking of pale white recently dead bodies, and that probably doesn’t seem so bad, but that’s not what I’m talking about. These bodies were completely unpreserved, and probably months or more old. They were decaying, they smelled and tasted putrid, and insects were running through them.
Through out the dream I was terrified that I would get caught doing what I was doing, and I was really ashamed of it, but still I had to do it. The actual sexual experience was beyond horrific. It’s still the most disgusting thing I could possibly imagine, and before this dream I couldn’t even imagine something like this. Worse for me was that through out the dream I wanted to be having this sort of sex. I can’t remember how many times I had sex during that dream, but it was a lot.
I woke up from that dream a complete mess. I felt so sick right afterwards. Luckily I was still with my teacher then, so I at least had some help in recovering from what happened. A lot of people told me to write this off as just being a dream. I knew back then that it wasn’t just a dream, but I was already telling myself it was. That thought in my head that maybe it was just a dream was the only thing that stopped me from curling up in a fetal position and mumbling insanely for the rest of my life.
I was emotionally scarred by the whole experience. To be honest, it very nearly broke me. But I recovered from it, and now I’m stronger for it. In fact I was so scarred from that experience that I’m desensitized to anything else the universe might throw at me.
Some gross and yucky spirit wants to rape me? It’s not going to be that bad, sex with dead bodies was worse. I’m not afraid of going to prison and being gang raped there either, as many men are, because that’s still not as bad as sex with dead bodies (or even yucky spirits). It’s not just sex things though, it’s any kind of gross, disgusting thing. I’m more than happy to walk through raw sewage or an adult theater filled with human secretions, and the spiritual world equivalents of these places, because it’s still not as bad as sex with dead bodies.
There is nothing that can be done to me or shown to me that can ever scar me or break me, because it will never be as bad as that dream was. Even that dream has lost a lot of its edge, because I survived it, and I know I can survive it.
That was one of my trials. It was a very horrible one, but I’m glad it happened. I’ve become extraordinarily resilient because of it. The horrible things out there don’t scare me, and I can go right on with my life even after having a horrible or gross experience.
I’m relating my personal experience, and the Freemason ritual, to give some examples of what these trials look like, so they can be properly identified. They are usually very horrible and scarring things, and one of the not so fun parts of magic. They’re a necessity though, and ultimately a good thing, and something we, as magicians, should embrace. It’s a thing that makes us stronger, and makes us strong enough to reach our full potential in performing magical operations.
As an aside, the next time you’re in Walt Disney Land, take a ride on Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, and all the while think about the Freemason ritual (Disney himself was a Mason, and there’s a theory that the original park rides were meant to introduce children to Masonic ideas).