Growing in Power and Strength

11th Mansion of the Moon
Originally uploaded by anselm23

Rufus Opus has a post today about how to become a living god. (There’s also a pretty good one about how … ahem… stuff usually works out.).

I don’t know about the living god stuff, but I do know how to grow in power and strength. It’s one of those incredible, powerful secrets that Benjamin Franklin and George Washington and a bunch of other great leaders have known over the years, and used to great advantage. It’s also one of those things that you can shout from the rooftops, even though it’s a secret, and no one at all will stop what they’re doing because it’s so fundamentally obvious:

To grow in power and strength, stop doing the things that don’t work, and keep doing the things that do work.

See how easy it is? See how amazing one of the great secrets of the universe is? And I’ve just revealed it to you, for free.

Big deal, I hear you muttering. As a student of mine says, “That’s so obvi, it’s hardly worth saying.”

But it is. It needs to be said over and over and over. It needs to be shouted from the rooftops. It needs to be turned into an Internet meme with cats. It needs to be a song by Bryan Jackson and Julie Beman played on the Six Nations Voyageur and featured on NPR and Fox News.

Consider that last month, when I drew this image of the 11th Mansion of the Moon last, it looked like this:

11th Mansion of the Moon
Whiteboard Mansion 11

Craptastic, right? I mean, whiteboard marker in six minutes in front of a dozen sixth graders is likely to be bad. Whatevs, as the kids would say. But when they see this, they’ll be like, “Wow, that’s totally cray-cray (crazy-crazy).”

But the secret is to find what works, and keep doing that. In this case, what works is doing pencil sketches and combining tutorials from — one on drawing lions, and one on drawing knights on horseback. Is it perfect? No. Is it a lot better than the first bit of half-assery I did? Yes.

And further on in the article, here’s the time before that, using the iPad app Paper by Fifty-three.

Look, nobody gets awesome at anything the first time out. Write a sonnet. Right now. I’ll wait. In case you’ve forgotten, it’s a rhyming poem of fourteen lines, with ten syllables in a line and a rhyming pattern in the last syllables of ABABCDCDEFEFGG. Write one now, go ahead. I’ll be here when you’re done.

Done? No? Keep writing.

Done now? Ok, your sonnet. It’s terrible, unless you’re already an awesome poet. But it’s a sonnet, and that makes you stronger and more powerful than anyone who hasn’t written a sonnet, or drawn a Mansion of the Moon, or learned the names of six constellations.

Write another sonnet. I’ll wait.  In fact, I’ll write one while you write one, in honor of Neciel:

Hermetics / 4 — 11th Mansion
Digital Mansion 11

Greetings, Neciel, al-Zubrah’s angel,
prince of mastery, charisma and awe:
help us to grow strong in learning’s tangle,
acquiring power through Nature’s law —
Keep doing what works, avoid what doesn’t,
work through apprenticeship to mastery.
No skillfulness appears without comment,
adept-ship comes not by half-assery.
Help us ride the lion of our passions,
to steer it by the ear and seek the ring.
Help our creations guide future fashions,
help our work become the next big thing.
For in these lines of praise declared to you,
may my works become empowered and new.

Done with your sonnet? Not as bad as the first one, was it? You’re already discovering that you know the secret, intimately, already — Stop doing the things that don’t work, and keep doing the things that do.

Learning to do these things will earn you admiration from women and men, boys and girls. It will raise you in the eyes of your subordinates and in the estimation of your overseers. It will lend you grace and power. It will grow your power as a wizard and a teacher, and it will prove to you — over and over and over again — the value of this secret, which is more reliable than the Law of Attraction, or the Core Common Standards, or the Four Agreements, or all the re-readings of the occult Philosophies of Picatrix and John Dewey combined which you may choose to subject yourself to.

It is the Golden Chain of Homer, and the Dry Work of Alchemy, and the Hero’s Quest. Make it your New Year’s Resolution:

Stop doing the things that don’t work, and keep doing the things that do work.

Happy New Year.

Via Flickr:
The eleventh mansion is complicated. Sometimes I show the lion from the side. This time, it’s sort of a 3/4 view. Doesn’t matter — I usually get the proportions wrong between the human and animal bodies. And the human here looks more like a Playmobil figure than a true warrior. The forest background is complicated, too.

On the other hand, even with these challenges I think the drawing shows promise.

From a magical perspective, of course, each time I draw this picture or a version of this picture, the power inherent in the image will grow; from an artistic perspective, the quality of my efforts will get better, and the quality of the drawing’s proportions and imagery will improve the more times I try to draw it. In both cases, frequent repetition will empower me in ways that are difficult to explain — but just as drawing is thinking, ritualizing is thinking. There’s a creative confidence that comes from frequent application of the energies of each image — and from that energy and confident application of skill comes greater power. So does the work improve and grow.


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