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Thoughts FromThe Four Gates

  • Writer's pictureKai

The 4 pillars of successful magical Work

There are a lot of things that go into sucessful results oriented magic. Folks will talk often about "backing the Work", heck, I've talked about it before. That is great stuff, and I think that the first step is often to consider the mundane practical stuff that goes into your situation. That said, I think it's more complicated than that. For me, the practical is often overwhelmed by aspects like your psychology, or some social things that just... get in the way. It's fine to address the mundane, but when you're so overwhelmed that you can't DO that, then something else needs to be addressed first. I draw a parallel here between the classical elements, and the way one should approach magical work.

First and easiest is Fire. Fire, as the "most spiritual" of the elements, often addresses the magical work itself. While much can be said of proper technique, in a way, the study of magic in general is focused here. Air is... an interesting one. While on the surface this is focused on your social structures, this is also the place where the social structure of tradition comes into play, and how wider social constructs affect things. Water is one that I often find that folks can struggle hard with. This is the element of the effects of your psychology on your magic. This can run extremely deeply at times, and can be the major sticking point for many people. Of course, the last one then is Earth. Rooted the most in the physical world, this is the element that most folks think of when they think of "backing the Work". aligning your mundane circumstances with your magical goals. Let's take a deeper look at each of these, to see if we can wrap our head around how each of these may come into play.

Fire - The Work itself

It's often that I meet people that come to me in a state of crisis, needing a mundane problem of one sort or another solved. This is the gift of Spirit to us, that Magic exists as a way for us to shape our world. Folks turn to Spirit when they feel like they're out of options, and magic is the way to solve impossible problems. Issue as I see it here, is that then you're trying to learn a new skill, in what amounts to a high stakes situation. In addition, relationships with spirits need to be developed over time. Sure, you can find spirits willing to help strangers, but it's better to have a friend helping.

I think the better way to approach this kind of thing as long as you're here, is to start laying groundwork now. Live your magic. Cultivate the skills you'll need in lower stakes things, do magic for things that "would be nice" so that you build both confidence and skill. Learn these things and grow in your practice. Start building your relationships with your spiritual allies now, get to know them, so that you have a real relationship when you need things. A side effect of this done over the long term is that I rarely do magic for things in any kind of crisis mode anymore. A simple adjustment done at the early stages of things is both way easier, and leads to less "Tower moments", which we can all be thankful for.

Air - Your social stuff

It's funny how much this can go without notice. Honestly, when I first had the idea for this article, it didn't even have this social thing involved, I only added it as I started to really explore what I actually did to back my work. There's a couple of things here that I think are important. First is that we all have people around us that very possibly would be willing to assist for any number of reasons in a goal, but they of course won't if you don't let them know you need it. Doing Work for a new job? Put it out there. If you're looking for a relationship, obviously you need to build relationships that aren't romantic or sexual as well, in no small part because romantic relationships often grow out of these. Human beings are social animals, and we rely on each other, on having a network of connections to other people. It's almost a form of magic in itself.

The other thing here is an honest assessment of social structures. Considering your position in relation to your goal in a social ladder is vital. Mostly this means examining in a very real sense, both advantages and disadvantages socially, and how that should change how you approach something. I'm not saying that a lack of advantage means you give up, but it does mean you change things. When it comes to magic, it's also important to consider the social structures that made you. This is where you want to look at what kinds of traditions you should be embracing.


I'm actually really passionate about this. Your thoughts and emotions play a huge role in how you follow through with any of the rest of this. If you want something AND are afraid of having it, for example, you'll often find that you turn around, and when you really look at the things you've done, you've self sabotaged your attempts to get that thing. Emotions in many ways are the energy behind something, and without the understanding here, you'll have no drive to do any of the rest of it. This also informs some of our beliefs in ways that shape our other actions. Biggest issue that I see here is a feeling of powerlessness, especially when objectively you HAVE options. I can see the emotional turmoil and where your thoughts hold you back most often in a reading with someone when I get the response "I can't do that because...". Sure, sometimes you're right, but if I hear it over and over again, then it's likely some form of block. Anxieties and fears keep you from acting decicively, or will cut things off before you really start.

Getting an idea about where your thought patterns hold you back is a great first start, but if we're honest here, the bigger problem is that even when we see it, we don't always know how to fix that. I can struggle with this myself. I can SEE the negative thought patterns, especially in emotional landscapes, but it doesn't stop them from happening. Sure, I can catch it after, but in the moment, I'm somewhat along for the ride. If I'm honest, this is probably the area I feel least secure in how to approach with folks. I embrace the idea of professionals in psychology, as they have the training to help people learn to actually change their thought patterns. Yes, by all means, a proper meditation technique helps, and being actively aware of the patterns is often enough to allow you to sort of "brute force" changes to thought patterns, but I think it's for a very good reason that Israel Regardie suggested that everyone that participates in magical practice be a client of a mental health professional. The depths of the unconscious are honestly the bridge that magic passes through on the way outside of yourself, to real change, and so understanding as much as possible here will help you be truly effective.

Earth - Backing the Work

Of course, we come to the one that everyone thinks of. Doing the things that align with your goals on a mundane level is, as it always was, still important. In old Kabbalistic theory, Earth was considered, as Spirit is today, a merging or blending of the other 3 elements, and in this at least, that is true. A merging that is more than the sum of it's parts for sure, because the actions taken here should be practical considerations, but also, the practical should be influenced by all these other factors. All the other factors we've considered above will play a role in the practical things that we do, but this exists in many ways to remind us that it's not enough to handle the other areas, but to continue to drive forward for what we want. Honestly, as I've written an entire article on this in the past, there's not much to say here that I haven't been over before.

Bringing it all together

I think in closing, it's important to discuss the way each of these things feed into each other. None of these things exist in a vacuum, separate from the others. Your psychological state is often the reason you can't approach a practical concern, social structures might play a large role in psychology, and of course, the mundane situation plays a huge role in the kinds of magic that you can engage in sometimes. I seem to go around in a spiral with these things, considering how they're nested into each other, and how they interrelate.

The way I think this allows you to structure things, is to find the kind of most pressing thing for each of these categories, find something you CAN do for each, and do those things. It's a small enough list that it's all doable, and lets you work "up a ladder" so to speak. Of course, if you'd like a hand sorting that, my door is always open.

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