Edited by Tina Whittle

Recently I wrote, “Many people in Paganism, magick, Wicca, and Witchcraft are often faking it, though faking it with sincerity. They play out roles of what they believe, hope, and wish to be.” These words were in the context of dedicating yourself and your magick to some higher ideal in service and how this higher service transfigures the magician. Those who are dedicated solely to the temple of self tend to become stagnant or toxic, puttering out slowly or self-destructing in grand ways. The juxtaposition of self and higher service is the alchemical fusion of needs, desires, and true will. It continues to push you towards evolution. The higher cause becomes a guiding star.

I was fortunate to spend so much time with the beloved Raven Grimassi before he passed. I was a huge fan, with Way of the Strega being one of my first “unassigned” readings after graduating Witchcraft 2 with Laurie Cabot. We met at Book Expo America, and I later stayed with him and Stephanie Taylor at the end of my first major West Coast tour. After that, we had many, many events together. When they moved to the East Coast in 2009, it really cemented our friendship. And through that friendship, I got a wonderful glimpse into an old occultism on that side of the country that was very different from my Salem, Massachusetts experiences, though I probably didn’t stick around Salem long enough to see it all.

One day Raven explained that how back in the day, people played the “Wizard’s Game.” Community was more cagey then, and people less open. Everyone presented themselves in a veiled way, often implying things without stating them outright. Some were watching oaths. Some were bluffing with more experienced occultists. Others might have been charlatans, but it was always hard to tell, so much so that it became a bit of a game to figure out things. Little bits would be dropped into conversation to see what you responded to—and how you responded—as well as what you didn’t respond to.

What I really took away from the conversation was how some people bluffed their way through the Wizard’s Game by presenting a more elevated image of themselves, one that eventually became reality even though at first it was mostly illusion. They cast a spell upon themselves to live up to the image, creating an icon rather than an idol of themselves. Icons illuminate. They created their future and worked towards it.

That is what I mean when I say we sincerely fake it. While not an advocate of the Wizard’s Game for my generation—for there is great power to be found in the honesty of the words “I don’t know”—I think we are casting a spell upon ourselves every time we step up, offer, and take responsibility. None of us feel truly ready, and the ones who do are often in more trouble than those with severe self-doubts. You move towards self-assured competency and internal security, but you don’t start there. And ideally if you are stepping up to serve a higher ideal, cause, deity, or community, that commitment shifts you.

I didn’t want to teach. I taught because the goddess Macha asked me to do so. Without that push, I might have been complacent. My love and devotion for her allowed me to trust and take a risk.

The motivation can’t be rooted in self-aggrandizement only. If it is, it will grow corrupt and devour itself. Can it lead to financial success and happiness? Certainly, but personal success cannot be the beginning and the end of it. Personal motivations alone only challenge you for more success, replicating the endless growth models of modern economics that are abhorrent to the cycles of nature.

A higher motivation will adapt and change by challenging you to be better. Your fulfillment of the key mission will shift over time. Let it. Let the road unfold before you as you answer both the personal and higher callings, for they are intertwined.

The true Wizard’s or Witch’s game is against the self, striving to be better than yesterday rather than outdoing your companions on the path. Outdoing yourself, not others, is how you win. Thank you, Raven, for your wisdom.