“There is no reality except in action.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism
Recently, a client of mine was having difficulty because she wanted to move to a new city. Several people close to her kept expressing doubt about her ability to do it, telling her how hard it would be, that she would be back with her tail between her legs within a month, etc. Without malicious intent, close friends and family members can tell this story of who you are, they add up all the memories they have of you, multiply it by their own personal agenda, and then for comfort’s sake do whatever it takes to make their math stay straight. You’re the person who flaked on their birthday party, you’re the person who got fired from her first waitressing job, you’re the kid who got homesick at Science Camp and had to go home. That’s WHO YOU ARE. But it’s not just “them” who does it, we do it to ourselves as well.
It’s an existential truth that many of us would rather feel like we know who we are, even if it’s negative, (“I am a loser who never gets things done”), than face the endless possibilities of what we might become.
So I asked my client to think of a hero of hers, someone who she aspired to be like. At that moment, she couldn’t think of one, and the first person who popped into my head was Madonna. The Madonna of the early 90s with her “Sex” book and her controversially Christian music videos. I don’t know why I am always thinking of Madonna! I am not even a real fan. Anyway, she’s not a fan of Madonna either really, but when I asked, if you were to embody the spirit of Madonna, and someone said to you, “You’ll never be able to make that move, you’ll come running back in no time,” what would you say? She only had to think for a second before she commanded, “Watch me.”
There is no you, there is only your behavior in the present moment, and you can change that any time you want.
For many creative people, one of our biggest bugbears is a lack of confidence. Feeling like we’re not good enough, not talented enough, not well connected enough, or too poor. The spirit of self-doubt seduces us away from focused creative time, leading us to hours wasted on Facebook and dropping us in a cesspool of self-loathing. Luckily, in magic, achieving your will depends less on your belief in yourself than in your behavior. Magic is a practice that does not require belief. It requires action and focused intention. It doesn’t matter what you believe, it matters what you DO. You might believe in charity, but if you’re constantly withholding, then you are not being charitable, and it doesn’t matter what you say or how many bibles you thump, because you are creating miserliness in the world. If you believe in creativity, create. Become a conduit for the boundless spirit of creativity that already exists in the ethers but needs you to bring it into the realm of the living.
Living by your beliefs is easy… until you try to do it.
But if it was so easy to “just create” or whatever, we’d all be doing it right now. A million spirits trample in and obstruct us. For me, this guy I used to work with, a good guy, decent, brilliant, but very critical, pops into my head every time I start writing and makes sly cynical jokes about whatever it is I’m doing. He does it in such a way that I almost don’t notice, it’s just like his shadow passes, but before he leaves my head the conviction that whatever I am doing is wrong has already been planted. So, what’s the remedy?
Invoke Patti Smith.
The spell goes like this: choose a hero, or make one up, someone who represents the qualities you need to have right now. Maybe you need to write a grant proposal, go on a job interview or a first date, spend a weekend with your in-laws, or create a new body of work. Whatever you need to do, decide on a symbolic figure who is right for the task. And remember it’s okay if this figure has flaws, they just have to symbolically represent essence of what you’re trying to manifest. So, for example, say you want to give the most rock n’ roll performance of your life, it doesn’t matter if Patti Smith ever spent a drunken night crying on Mapplethorpe’s shoulder saying she’d never amount to anything. The important thing is what your hero represents to you. For me, Patti Smith represents creativity, integrity, conviction, and perfect style.
Put a picture of your hero on your altar, or wherever it is that you’re doing the work.
For a specified amount of time — 5 hours, 1 day, 1 week — completely embody this person. Dress like them, talk like them, act like them. When in conversation, respond as they would respond. Tell no one you are doing this. Keep doing it until your mission is accomplished. Filmmaker and occultist Alejandro Jodorowsky, another hero of mine, details a similar technique in his book, Psychomagic (read the section on “The Theatrical Act”). Magic works through intention, having a clear vision of what you want and then behaving as if it were already true. Your act of creation is theater, and in your life you are playing the role of the great artist. It takes some of the pressure off when you acknowledge from the beginning that you are performing. You don’t have to waste energy and effort wondering if you are really talented or worthy. You know from the beginning that it’s all a performance. By channeling the confident spirit of your choice, you can concentrate instead on doing the work, not whether you are worthy to do so. Then, by doing the work, you become what you desire.
Try it! Let us know how it goes. Who do you invoke when you want to get the work done?