|Altar of Devotion By Rassouli|
Be all – worlds dissolve into your
stainless endless radiance,
Frail living leaves burn with your brighter
than cold stares –
Make me your servant, your breath, your core."
Though it is often packaged as such in books geared to both a New Age and Pagan audience, spirituality is not merely an assortment of self-help concepts, processes and techniques presented in a flowery, mysterious, or inspiring manner (depending on the audience in question) and dressed up in mythic drag (being granted gravitas via a sense antiquity), true spirituality is instead about service to something higher than one's ego-self. In its healthiest manifestations, spiritual practice can, and often does, bring about profound and healing changes in both body and mind via the power of changed perception, healthier patterns of thought, diminished stress, the release of psychic baggage and an overall health promoting attitudinal adjustment.
The known beneficial effects of spiritual practice are most notable for those who, against the prevailing point of view of pop-spirituality, choose to ignore, consciously set aside, and temporarily forget these benefits when stepping in front of the altar. Seeing the healing, comforting, uplifting, and beneficial qualities of one's spiritual practice as primary, as opposed to as the side-effects of proper practice, is to place the cart firmly before the horse. To approach one's spiritual practice from a place of "lust for results" as opposed to a place of mystical relationship is to cause one's self long-term suffering in the form of wordless emptiness, an endless grasping and hunger for the shiny and the novel, and an endless seeking but never finding. The real secret is to approach one's spiritual practice from a place of self-less-ness or true self abnegation (ie. surrender). In doing so, the benefits of spiritual practice more easily manifest.
Paradoxically, by removing one's self from the equation via an attitude of self-forgetting when performing one's spiritual practices, one is immediately placed in a state of greater alignment, and therefore communion, with one's greater Self (Higher Self, HGA, Atman, Osiris, Christ, Isis, Horus, The Beloved, etc.) which is the very same Self partaken of by all things. As it has been said, "you must lose yourself in order to find your Self."
Not surprisingly, a magician may find himself initially recoiling from the idea of surrender. Early on, we learn that to be a magician is to be powerful and empowered. We learn to exert our intention and manifest our desires via the techniques of magick. Surrender is for the weak (ie. the religious). In some contexts this attitude would be correct. However, in this case, such an attitude toward the concept of surrender is wrong-headed and limiting. In the context of magickally sound devotional spirituality, self-abnegation can be seen as an act great power and will. It is no small thing, via an act of magickal will, to push aside the grasping selfishness of the ego so as to make room for the manifestation, within the magician, of his or her higher nature. To approach the concept surrender from the place of realizing that the "Will of the Gods" is none other than one's "True Will", the Will that transcends the ephemeral, is wisdom not weakness.
The realigning of attitude achieved through proper spiritual practice is something that is most vividly seen in the act of making non-reciprocal devotional offerings to one's God(s). The act of giving via taking one's time choosing and obtaining the appropriate offering(s), the implied power dynamic of the "lesser" offering service or gifts to the "greater" out of love, with no thought of personal gain, the act of unbesmirched self-offering, pushes the ego directly off the game board thereby leaving room for the reflection of that which is being served to expand within the magician. This happens naturally and effortlessly. If it is forced, devotion fails, becoming an act of ego-service as opposed to an edifying spiritual act.
Devotional practice is not about slavish obeisance to a power or powers beyond one's self, but is instead about alignment, the alignment of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The power of alignment, of aligning the self with the Divine, the self with the Self, naturally brings about a state of harmony and balance. As dissonance becomes resonance one experiences greater psychological wholeness, spiritual elevation and the healing of psychic complexes buried deep within the subconscious mind. Harmony and balance, the alchemy that takes place as the microcosm is consciously aligned to the Macrocosm creates emotional, psychological and spiritual health.
Acts of spiritual devotion are, via the attitude of consciously choosing to give of one's self, one's energy and one's intention, magickal in nature. Acts of spiritual devotion are also, via the kenotic nature of true devotional practice, acts of mysticism. The magick, through intent, action and conscious choice, makes room in the practitioner's consciousness for the work of the mystic, via kenosis, which invites (not commands) the effects of the unforced, natural Grace (the freely offered gift of the gods). In time, the Grace bestowed by proper alignment allows the self to realize the Self, the mortal to immanentize the Divine.
Thus are magick and mysticism made one in love.