I would love to live in a fantasy world, I admit it. If I could put on a robe, carry a staff, have peasants tremble at my terrible power, and so on — that’d be pretty nifty. And that’s why there are such things as video games and novels and roleplaying games, all fun things. But they’re not real.
In reality, I live a double life. On the one hand, I am a mild-mannered (or not so mild, actually, in terms of manner, some days) professional. I deal with the public, champion critical thinking and skepticism, and regard myself as a scholar. I get up, go to work, pay my mortgage, clean the house, mow the lawn, cook dinner, eat it in front of the computer while watching old episodes of Frasier. You know: an ordinary life.
On the other hand, I’m an occultist. I pray to gods, practice theurgic rituals, try to probe into the meaning and use of occult forces, cast geomantic charts, summon spirits, make talismans, meditate (never enough).
It’s sometimes hard for me to maintain a balance. I often find myself veering toward tweed rather than robes, because it’s certainly easier to live a mundane life. But that way lies the slough of despond. If I ignore magic, I start to feel thin and dry in my mind, like I’m letting the bigger part of me atrophy.
At the same time, I see people who retreat so far into magic that they fail to live a successful mundane life. I’ll just say it, man: if you’re horridly in debt, unhappy, and your idea of a relationship involves someone to jeer and scream at, you’re not doing well. Magic should make those things better, not be an excuse for them. Sure, it’s not a panacea, and sometimes bad things happen to the best magicians. And not every magician has everything they want automatically, because sometimes magic doesn’t work (often for very good reasons, but that’s another post). But I’ve known more than a few people who claim great magical power but couldn’t balance a checkbook.
I don’t want to be such a person. More importantly, I don’t want to seem to be such a person. So it’s hard for me to balance these two important and valuable lives.
What helps me is to look at my friends who are not magicians, but have a rich spiritual life. They seem to have found that balance, partially because their religions are sanctioned by the dominant culture, but really that’s just an excuse. In fact, they find that balance because there isn’t, for them, a difference between these two lives. The mundane life is a part of the larger, spiritual life. It’s not a choice between two lives, but having one part of your life be a subset of the greater whole. So that’s the balance I suppose I’m striving for.