From email August 13th 2003
>I'm kinda down right now. I haven't been practicing
and I dunno it's like I'm losing my zeal. I'm trying so hard to keep
at it but I dunno it's like I can't organise myself, what's wrong with me? It
is my fate to learn this science and I seem to be falling away from it. My dreams
have shown me as a child of my interest, and various signs and things that have
occurred all lead to this but where am I? Who am I? What is holding me from
the truth and why?
Some things off the top of my head:
You have to look at the big picture here. How long have you been working on magick now? If you have been practicing in a serious capacity for less than a year, then it's understandable how subconscious aspects of your mind might want to rebel periodically as changes begin to occur on the surface levels of your mind. You can't start changing the way you view the world and how you interact with it without having some hidden problems come to the surface. Just doing energy work ala Bruce's N.E.W. methods will stir up all kinds of previously locked-up emotional crud from your subconscious. If you're suddenly feeling irrationally lazy and can't keep yourself together, and you haven't changed anything else in your life other than the addition of a regular set of energy techniques being employed on a daily basis, then chances are you're feeling the effects of stirring up previously stored packets of energy/emotion. Once those things come to the surface (into your conscious awareness) then it's up to you to deal with them in a positive way (rather than seeking to repress them again).
Now, if you're also going through other issues in your physical life i.e. quitting smoking (of any substance), having trouble at work and home etc., then it's quite possible that what you're experiencing could have something to do with the combination of your energy practices and the physical events themselves. In other words, perhaps things are happening that have always happened in the past, but only now they bother you - before you might not have been bothered since you were able to repress the sensation of being annoyed. However, stirring up your aura/energy would tend to bring such hidden feelings of frustration/inadequacy/laziness etc. etc. to the surface.
The fact that you've mentioned uncertainty regarding identity and other issues that are commonly thought of as necessary foundations for the functioning of a normal human mind leads me to believe that this may be the result of the implementation of your new-found magickal worldview. When I decided consciously to go full-on into magick and devote my life to its study and practice, even though I had been naturally psychic and had experienced unusual things throughout childhood, I STILL had a hard time adjusting to the switch in worldview. Most people don't accept the possibility that they could perceive a spirit or that there is such a thing as energy and that it can be manipulated to cause changes in reality or that anything paranormal could possibly be "real". After all, to most people, "real" is anything they can perceive with their 5 senses - everything else is usually viewed with a load of scepticism until Science proves otherwise. However, for a magick practitioner, the hidden and scientifically unproven aspects of reality are encountered on a regular basis and accepted as "real", at first often as a prerequisite to their actual experience, and then entirely through personal experience. That's a big switch in mental protocols to try to make if you're accustomed to seeing/interpreting the world as a "normal" person, isn't it? Of course suddenly deciding to believe and see the world differently and suspending disbelief at first would be difficult and could cause one to nearly lose their sense of Self and purpose. Any drastic switch in worldview can cause this. Just look through reports of brainwashing - people going into and coming out of cults often have huge problems adjusting to the world in either direction, and some have identity crises because they feel that their comfortable "rug" e.g. their mode of interpreting their perceptions of reality has been pulled out from under them. I'd say that much of what you're experiencing could have something to do with this (in your case deliberate) process of adjusting to a new set of rules/protocols for perception. Eventually you'll figure out just how you fit into this new worldview and how you wish to interact with others as well as your purpose for existence.
In my case, I went from being a self-centred goal-driven prick (I thought I wanted to be a rich and famous musician) to being more spiritually oriented and driven by a desire to explore the hidden aspects of my self and the world around me while assisting others. In the past, my thoughts during any interaction with people were usually centred on what I could get out of them or what they could offer me - almost as though people were merely things to be used. Now, when I interact with someone, I'm always asking myself, "What does this soul require from me? What can I do to help this person to evolve spiritually without trying to do everything for them? How can I help him/her to help him/herself?" Rather than seeing my ego (the part of my mind that refers to itself as my real first and last name etc.) and body as being all there is to me, I see myself now as a collection of various levels of consciousness all working together as a vast team, with the ego being a discriminating factor/tool used to decide what one thing to focus on at any given moment and to help make decisions in the physical realm so as to provide linear direction to any chosen series of events on this level.
I did have a lot of help to spur on my change in worldview as well as my eventual adjustment. Unlike many practitioners who have to do everything alone and discover just how real the spiritual levels can get, I had the additional benefit of knowing people and being involved in situations where I was allowed confirmation of the very real existence of such things. While this may seem like it'd make the transition faster and easier, that actually wasn't the case. It mostly just shocked and amazed me while unbalancing my psyche to the point where I thought I was losing my mind. So, on the whole, I'd say a gradual shift in worldview is best. Trying to take too much in too fast (and finding out that reality isn't the way you previously thought it was) can be devastating to the emotional levels of a person's mind. You can't make ripples on one side of a lake without it causing unpredictable changes elsewhere - those ripples might just drift to the other side causing a subtle shift or upset that gets rebalanced and calms down again in a short time. Or, those ripples might wake up something terrible sleeping at the bottom of the lake. (If you apply my visual images to your own mind and its multiple levels of functioning and how those levels interact with corresponding external levels of reality then I think you'll get the gist of what I'm trying to describe.)
Anyway, to attempt to wind things up quickly, I'll just say this: Give yourself time to adjust. Pay attention to the subtle aspects of your mind and everyday functioning. Always ask yourself, "Why do I do what I do when I do what I do?" After a while, you'll start to notice subtle mental programs at work that cause you to feel and act in predictable ways. Once you stumble onto the recognition of those programs which were previously unnoticed, then you'll start to be able to stop them at will and even change them. That's just one aspect to the road towards self-mastery. This process of observing all the previously unnoticed aspects of one's self and the world you live in leads to a wide range of personal discoveries and skills, and additional information on things you can do to get better at it can be found in the works of Carlos Castaneda (and in condensed form in Victor Sanchez's book "The Teachings of Don Carlos").
Not only will you learn to get better at intellectual/rational activities as a result of your study of magick, but you will discover and learn new ways of working with your physical body and the physical world (a much neglected area of study amongst some less successful practitioners), your emotions, and psychic/intuitive abilities. Take it all slowly, and give yourself time to adjust. Read as much as you can from legitimate authors who know what they're taking about (see my Books section online at my website for ideas). After a few years of study and practice, all the pieces of the puzzle will start to fall into place. Every year you'll understand certain pieces in a newer, deeper way than you did previously. Every year I find that the things I thought I knew before get elaborated on in deeper ways than I could've imagined.
One aid to success in magickal development is breaking up your daily routines and elimination of mindless habits. Because most people don't like all the mundane tasks they have to perform every day, they tend to zone-out mentally whenever they have to do them. Consequently, because most days are full of mindless repetitive activities, most people spend the majority of their time in a zoned-out state; they're running on Autopilot! When I was a child, I remember adults complaining frequently that time went too fast. Of course time would seem to flow pretty fast if you spent most of your life in a daze, only waking-up for a few brief minutes every day or so. As a mage, you can't allow yourself to conduct yourself like that. You must practice mindfulness (performing actions while in full consciousness) more often than most in order to exert more control and conscious awareness in your life. (There's a reason why "normal" people are commonly referred to as the Sleepers - that zoned-out state of Autopilot is much like a state of sleep since a person is actually in a light trance, is more suggestible, and it serves to help pass the time quickly while resting the conscious mind much as actually sleeping appears to cause several hours to pass very quickly while allowing the conscious mind to rest.) You have to also refrain from unnecessary activities which would normally just waste energy and time too. It takes energy to do work - we know that from Science. The same is true for magick too. If all your energy and time is tied up doing things for people that you don't need to do, or obtaining flashy material things that you don't actually need, then there won't be any energy or time left over for magickal work and development.
Anyway, I'll stop now. That should all provide some food for thought. Do some reading (plenty of reading ideas on my Books page and plenty to read for free online), relax, give yourself time to adjust, and keep going. You'll eventually get to where you need to be - there's no race.