Next in my musings on the Five Pagan Virtues aka the Powers of the Sphinx is To Will.
Will is the most powerful tools in a Witches arsenal. Often, when we attempt to effect a change in the world around us it is through the strength of our will that it is brought about. In order to conpel and control the forces we encounter; be they demonic or divine, natural or supernatural, the Witch must exert their will over them.
As part of the journey through the Powers after we Dare to put our knowledge into action we must Will the outcome to be so in order to move on in our development. By exercising our Will in magic not only is it tested and strengthened it becomes an exercise to be carried out into the mundane life.
Phrases like ‘So mote it be’ in paganism, and even ‘make it so’ or ‘so be it’ in more vernacular contexts, are a reinforcement of the Will of the speaker. One thing that, as a young person, clicked with me as an explanation of willpower was the concept of ‘The Will and the Word’ as portrayed by David Eddings in the Belgariad and Mallorean cycles. I’m not going to get bogged down into the details, the books are well worth a read if you are interested, but the idea that it is not what you say but rather how you say it is a powerful one. The voice is a a vehicle for our Will. To borrow from the book itself; it doesn’t matter how many times we ask nicely the rock is not going to move. We must command it with force and purpose, using every ounce of our Will, in order to compel it to move.
A rock is not the greatest analogy in modern life but replace it with something more magical and you get the idea.
There are tales of Witches in history where they are said to ‘blast’ their victim with curses. For example, in a fit of rage after being mistreated by the driver of an early motor car during the 1906 elections Granny Boswell (www.cornishwitchcraft.co.uk/cunning-folk.html) uttered foul language and in a rage informed the driver that the car wouldn’t make it to the end of the road. The car continued on its way only to suffer a catastrophic failure of a tension rod halfway up the road, leaving it stranded and in need of horses to tow it away.
Granny Boswell uttered nothing more magical than imprecations and swear words. There were no magical ingredients or actions beyond the force of her will and (presumably) a pointed finger.
This is the basic principle of any magical operation, the will to make it so. The pretty altar items, magic wand of specially chosen woods, carefully orchestrated movements and so on are in truth superfluous to someone well practiced in exercising their will. They are useful in helping the less practiced focus their attention and Will and create a sense of identity with our traditions. They also strength the sense that one act holds a greater meaning in religious observance in comparison to, for example, a blasting. For these reasons such things do not loose their importance in the exercising of our Will, in fact they can indeed strengthen it.
The next virtue I will look at is Crowley’s addition, To Go. Where exactly that is going to take me should be interesting as I’ve never fully considered it before, but already I have thoughts bubbling. Onward in the journey!