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Excerpt from Catherine MacCoun's "On Becoming an Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician"

     The processes that transmute intention and will are a lot of work. But all the conjunction process requires of us is that we keep our hearts healthy, soft, and impressionable. You do this by coming home to your simple humanity. Anything that gladdens the heart is good for it. You know the kind of stuff I mean: cuddling, presents, spaghetti dinners, three-hanky movies. Planting tulips, walking the dog, tucking the kids into bed. Getting the giggles, singing off-key, reading a fat pulpy novel on the beach. You certainly don't need instruction from me on what makes you happy, but you might need reminding to pursue it now and then. Don't let alchemy turn you into a Great Workaholic.

Hermetic Paranoia

     The comedian Dave Chappelle has described paranoia as "connecting dots that maybe shouldn't be connected." It is a negative potential of conjunction that we need to address, for hermeticists are more than usually prone to it. Because so much of our work consists of perceiving relationships, we run the risk of overconnecting the dots. Conspiracy theories are a frequent result.

     I'll give you an example from the paranoid region of my own mind. Stress is a major factor in many of the illnesses that afflict Americans, and our jobs are a frequent source of this stress. If we are getting sick from job stress, the most sensible remedy might be to quit the job, but people usually don't. Why? Part of the reason is that they need the health insurance that comes with the job. Why? To pay for the treatment of the illness that comes with the job. Try watching TV commercials from this perspective. Half of them are promoting products or activities that are likely to make you fat or stressed or sick, while the other half are promoting remedies for these conditions. Who benefits from this vicious circle? The Corporation. It makes you sick, then sells you the remedy, meanwhile keeping you enslaved as a worker so you'll have the means to pay for what makes you sick and what supposedly makes you better.

     The conventional conspiracy theorist imagines all this actually being plotted by corporate leaders in a secret boardroom somewhere. The hermetic paranoid imagines instead that the secret boardroom exists on a spiritual plane. Since the whole diabolical cycle serves the agenda of the Adversary of Below (to keep humanity enslaved to the material), the hermetic conspiracy theorist usually attributes the plot to him and his minions.

     The web of interrelated causes that keeps us trapped is called karma. Hermeticists are better than the average person at perceiving how it works. But in conceiving of karma as a conspiracy, they are overlooking one very important point: *nobody is in charge of karma*. Karma is what happens in the absence of a conscious intention or deliberate plan. The vicious circle I described above results from a collective lack of awareness. Those who happen to profit are merely our fellow sleepwalkers. The supposed beneficiaries of the whole thing are just as bewildered as its victims. In fact, it would be truer to say that every one of us is sometimes a beneficiary and sometimes a victim.

     Mistaking unconsciousness for conspiracy leads either to feelings of profound helplessness or to grandiose schemes that, in their very grandiosity, beget even worse feelings of helplessness, since we're in no position to implement them. When we fantasize about leading a revolution or blowing something up, we're thinking like muggels, not magicians. From a muggle perspective, a huge problem demands a huge solution. You're thinking alchemically when you think small.

If you are interested in Catherine MacCoun's "On Becoming an Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician" check it out here

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