The Vine and its Fruit.

It's great, I have been meeting a lot of new people lately. In workshop environments, talks, ceremonies and so forth; people from all walks of life, and various forms of occult practice - and the conversations we have had has been intriguing. What strikes me is a kind of mass confusion, as well as wonder. In a certain sense it is the wonder and confusion of variety. The near inexhaustible variety that sprung out of the process of globalisation, the internet and the resultant commodification of spirituality.

An explosion in the spiritual marketplace. The explosion of the spiritual dimension as a market place.

On the one hand this pretty cool, because suddenly we have access to so much so fast. On the other it is a disaster. A great poverty of superficiality where everything is glimpsed but nothing is ever actually seen. The glamour of fairy gold.

Put bluntly, if your spiritual journey is on track then the kind of practices, rituals and systems you work with should gradually but steadily be bringing you greater stability, well-being, prosperity and gratitude. You should be feeling happier and drawing people to you who are good for you and care for you; and eventually find that you are moving into a space where you have enough resources (spiritual and material) that you are able to start giving back to your community and world, in some small way.

These are fruits growing on the living spiritual vine.

If the work you are doing is plunging you in to ever deepening cycles of chaos. If you find yourself surrounded by toxic people, defending your territory. If you are overly occupied with costume, and status  - not because these are necessarily your values but because you find yourself enmeshed in a network of people that draw you into this kind of interpersonal theatre... then it's time to take a step back and take a careful look at the vine that you are eating from.

Whilst there are productive periods where we might find ourselves plunged into darkness; a gestating spiritual chaos that ultimately produces insight and rebirth - what St. John of the Cross refers to the Dark Night of the Soul. There is also the possibility of aimlessly wandering in its false, barren twin. This thirsty place is filled with strangers all flailing blindly, clawing at each other, each trying to establish himself as king of a wasteland.

Your magical work should be contributing to your life healthily. You need to look at its results in your life, not just its style - however exciting it may seem. It seems odd that this even needs to be said, but it really is the bottom line. If your work is exacerbating your addictions, neurosis and delusions - problems we all have - then it is well and truly black magic. It doesn't matter if you are working with demons, the highest angelic beings, or ancient deities... it's blacker than the minister's coat.

I leave you with Bobby McFerrin's exquisite rendering of the 23rd Psalm, addressed to a feminine deity.


  1. My brother, truer words have not been spoken. The best measuring stick of our spiritual practice and magical work is whether it is contributing to our life in a positive and healthy manner.

    This also is the best judge of the type of teachers and people you want around on this path. You want people who are happy and well-adjusted not lost in the haze of paranoia and delusion. People who are actually living life not playacting at it. Too often we come across the latter rather than the former.

    Yet the fruit of the vine as you put it truly is one of the best ways to see where we ourselves stand.

    Great post.

  2. Yes, you bring up an excellent point Ali. Leaders, or teacher figures who thrive off a poison vine can be equally destructive.

  3. About 13 or so years ago, I was in colombus circle in NYC, using a pay phone. A black guy with dredds, with a guitar case strapped to his back, came up andasked me for a light. I gave him my lighter, and he pulled out a real funny looking home rolled "cigarette", almost carrot shaped. He lit it, thanked me and gave me back my lighter, and walked off eastwards down central park South...That man was... BOBBY MCfarin!