You can get something to happen by having a clear plan of what you’re trying to achieve, and going out and doing it. That is Mars, with a bit of Saturn-shaping. It is generally how the world works.
But you can also use magic. This is the outer planets. With magic, it is not about a sharply defined subject (you) imposing its will on a sharply defined object (the world.)
It involves a more subtle understanding of how the world works, in which subject and object are one. The word magic comes from the ancient Greek magos “one of the members of the learned and priestly class”, which in turn comes from the old Persian magush, possibly meaning “to be able, to have power.”
That last one sounds about right – to be able, to have power. I don’t know about it having much to do with priests and scholars, though: they are good for performing other people’s rituals and preserving other people’s words, but I don’t think of them generally as having much power of their own.
(Incidentally, I don't think JK Rowling understands anything about magic, but I think Philip Pullman does.)
So magic means you can get things done, but on a basis of inner power. Which isn’t something you can acquire, nor is it something you’d claim to have, or even a word you’d use. That is a crude, worldly, exoteric way of thinking. No, it comes from having the right relationship to yourself, self-knowledge, being at ease with who you are. It gets called ‘esoteric’, like some hidden yogic mystery that you have to go to Tibet to acquire, or to a Toltec Master. But that’s because over the centuries we’ve had it knocked out of our culture, first by Christianity, and latterly by the modern establishment religion, science.
Establishments find it easier to function if people look to them for guidance rather than to themselves. They will often insist on it. I suspect it’s always been that way, at least to some extent. I expect it.
So it’s about having the right relationship to yourself, and to the world. You can’t separate the two. And then you get things to happen not by pushing events, but by creating space for them. This is particularly Neptune’s realm. You mentally, emotionally, intuitively align yourself with the event you want to unfold, you keep yourself aligned, and you wait for it to happen, or for the opportunity to present itself.
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Awareness is vital here. You can’t just magic anything into being. It’s no good wanting 2 plus 2 to equal 5, for example. And you can’t easily go against a strong natural force, like rabbits eating your lawn. But you might get the clouds to rain! And if you just ‘want’ something, well it won’t have much power unless it is something – or someone! – you really need, that makes intuitive sense as well.
And you don’t know the precise nature of the outcome, because it’s not like pushing billiard balls around a table. If anything, it’s about being the pocket and waiting for the balls to drop in, in the trust that it will be the right ones. But you probably don’t know which the right ones are.
It’s plugging into a wider wisdom that seems to know what’s right for us. We don’t know what’s right, not precisely, and not beyond a limited degree.
But we can take steps, the future needs constant dreaming into being. That full alignment of ourselves is central. And with that we can do ceremonies, rituals. We can create them ourselves, like I did in my Neptune ritual, which bore fast and powerful results. And it was based around a myth involving Neptune and Odysseus. And I didn’t know what I wanted, just that I needed to move forward.
I don’t entirely like the word magic, because we are dealing with a natural, albeit often unrecognised, means of action. And magic has connotations of Will in the narrow sense. People often use the word ‘manifest’ these days, which relates, but it is clichéd and often wrong-headed.
I think the word that probably comes closest to what I’m talking about is prayer! Yes, praying to whatever you conceive of as ultimate. I suspect the Catholic saints work quite well. Not so sure about the Christian god, he’s so twisted, but even then it probably works to some extent. I think I prefer the natural world in its entirety. It’s tangible, it’s there, it’s real. It’s not some being you’re not quite sure about, or a cosmic idea. What is there apart from the natural world? It is everything, so why not pray to that? We are part of it, we are intimately connected to it. Unlike god, whose good books we have to keep in.
So praying as directing your intention out there into the natural world. But with integrity, with the sense that you are fully aligned with what you are doing. And it doesn’t have to be just for yourself. It can be for others, help for others. We can use magic there as well. Of course, we can’t know what’s best for others – we don’t even know what’s best for ourselves – but sometimes it’s obvious, like health, or life, or something they really want.
It’s that inner alignment that is key. Self-knowledge. That is where the power to produce results comes from. And that is the chief task of life, finding who we are, building a self.
Often with astrology readings, people’s difficulties, and even illnesses, seem to me to come down to a disconnection from who they are. That deep feeling you have when you are at ease with yourself, when the voices that tell us we should be this or that, or that we’re just a pile of crap, are quieter than usual - not entirely gone, that would be remarkable.
So for me an astrology reading is about finding out who that person is, and what they are habitually doing that conceals them from who they are. That’s part of it. It’s not just that we do things that get in our own way. The deeper self also has to be built over years and years by acting on that which is original to you, taking your gifts and talents seriously (it took me years to take my interest in astrology seriously), creating your own spring of knowledge and understanding. Not letting yourself be drowned out by all the voices telling you what to think and how you should be living. At the same time, that oppositional pressure, those demons, can be exactly what are needed to push us to change.
So to be powerful in acting magically, in manifesting, usually takes years. Which doesn’t mean some people aren’t naturally gifted at it while being a mess with the rest of their lives! But it involves a very different way of thinking to the usual Saturnian mode, cause and effect as a product of personal will. There is a place for this, of course, for everyday tasks. But even then, it needs to be in the service of Neptune.
Saturn can easily dominate Neptune, and then everything goes wonky. Like trying to make an artist (Neptune) work 9 to 5 (Saturn).
For the bigger things, we need Neptunian causality, to coin a phrase. To move house, for example, you need to dream it, and don’t be afraid to dream what you really want. 2 plus 2 can’t equal 5, but if you really need something, if it would help your life move forward - and that is the key – it is surprising what can happen in ways you wouldn’t have thought. Nature provides. Plants and animals are provided with what they need, so why shouldn’t we be? We have different needs a lot of the time, but we are part of nature, so nature will provide. That is what she does.