One of the main motivations in cultivating a magical practice is to be able to exert control over our lives, to express our will into the world, to be able to cultivate the ultimate creative practice. And yet, the idea of control in magick is full of seeming contradictions.

As magical practitioners, we must grapple with many unknowns, both within ourselves and in the world around us. We must learn to exist in the moment, and that means that we must be able to let go of our attachment to outcome. We cannot manifest anything without also giving up control.

Living a happy life involves accepting the many ways in which we are actually completely out of control. In the universal scheme, we are but a minuscule part of an unimaginably large and complex dynamic interplay of forces. In our everyday lives, we are subject to the whims of other people, the weather, the laws of physics. There are many significant moments when we do not appear to have control over our lives. Becoming comfortable with this reality has the potential to make us more effective and happy people.

Related: How do you build self discipline?, by Psyche

RelatedSelf-discipline on your own terms: Exploring nontraditional approaches, by Chrysanthemum White Alder

Power versus control

Control is a kind of spirit that springs up when we have experienced pain. We want to be in control of circumstances to avoid being hurt. However, in attempting to control the energies around us, we also diminish them. Allowing life to unfold allows for the energy to be dynamic and alive. It’s okay to want to have a positive outcome, but if we live for the outcome, we won’t be prepared to enjoy it as much as if we have lived the entire journey as fully as we could. Control dampens our experience and it feeds into the idea of our being small. Letting go of control allows us to be a part of something much larger, part of an unimaginably large and complex dynamic interplay of forces, and that is truly powerful.

Power implies the ability to see through an action in all of its iterations until the final outcome is achieved. Even if we are able to exert influence over the outcome, we are rarely in control of all of the pieces. There are other actors — moments of luck and synchronicity, acts of Goddess. When we are asking things of the universe, each centimetre of space contains an unthinkable amount of moving parts.

We are the main characters of our own stories. We play a significant role in the outcome of our own lives and have many opportunities for exerting influence over our situation. In many instances we do not recognize the scope of our own power, and utilizing magick can elevate our potential into the light of day, making our power more evident as the moments of our lives unfold. Indeed, we have power, even if we do not have control.

Related: Disentangling “will”, by Seth

Spiral Heights by Alan Bloom The Antithesis of Control in the Sacred Order

In our magick, we work as limited beings. We seek to resonate with an outcome that is imminently probable. A large part of our work is in the act of unleashing our will, which is an abdication of control. We do not want to exert control over the circumstances of our lives. What we really want is for our power to be expressed — what happens afterwards is a part of the mystery. We let go of the reins of control because we lack the energy to be responsible for the entire story.

I don’t want to have to think about what all the people around me are going to have for breakfast, for example. I am happy that I get to focus on my own body and my own life. I don’t want control over the people around me because if I did, my life would cease surprising me. I would not be able to experience the thrill of expectation or the pangs of desire. Desire being unfulfilled is what makes life so compelling and for that very reason, I don’t want to be completely in control.

What I do want is to be able to grow. I want to be able to find my limits and surpass them. I want to be able to find opportunities to test myself, to find comfort, to learn. I want to love and through the test of love, find out how to be a more perfect mirror.

We want for our desires to be fulfilled, but we also want to be challenged, to become stronger, to exercise our skills and become more intelligent and savvy. We want to be able to unleash our will and as a consequence, to be part of an incredible story.

In crafting our magick, we should remember that we are not here for the outcome of our spells, we are here for the trip. When we can let go, when we can truly immerse ourselves in the magick with the faith that we are going to love, grow, and change, we can allow our lives to become the trip that they want to be.

Spiral circles, photo by Susanne Nilsson

So, how do we go about doing that?

One really helpful exercise that I use to help me to activate the process of a spell is to approach my day with an active curiosity. Before I leave my house, I prepare myself. I tell myself, “Today is going to be the day that my spell begins to unfold.” When I venture out into the world, anything can happen to me, and I have to be wide awake and on the lookout for signs that will tell me where to go and what to do.

When we cast a spell, we begin writing the first chapter of a new story. Whether or not that story is going to be interesting is up to us. We can live our lives the same way that we have before, but if we continue to do things the same way, we will probably achieve the same results.

Our spells invite us to live differently.

Blue Sky Spiral by Margaret Almon The Antithesis of Control in the Sacred Order

We are all walking down a familiar path, and we always have the option to veer off of that path. We can see a sign with an arrow pointing in the opposite direction and decide to go that way instead. Wherever we do choose to go, we must learn to live with the consequences of our choices, both good and bad. It can be frightening to make a choice, any choice, knowing that it could lead us to someplace scary and unknown, but we are warriors, we are people who walk through the shadow and it is our work to take the path less travelled.

Keep a reminder on your person that you are living a spell. It could be a talisman, a piece of paper, a new nail colour — anything that you will come in contact with often. Include a directive in your spell that whenever you do a common activity, you will be reactivating your spell. Make your magick a part of your life and don’t worry about what is going to “happen” in the end. Worry about what is happening right now. Is it exciting? Does it awaken something deep within? Are you becoming more alive? If the answer is yes, then it is working.


Everything we do in our lives is a spell. Our rituals give context to our lives, helping us to predict what is going to happen to us, to avoid pain and to pursue pleasure. We are able to consciously interact with the daily rituals in our lives in ways that produce a desired outcome. In this way, we can begin to live our magick rather than feeding our helplessness and our fear. We can begin to step into our power when we realize that the magick lives in the moments in between the big changes.

Over time, we may even begin to notice that we never do arrive, not really. It is all a journey. Every moment is a new opportunity, and it is our spells that awaken us to the latent potential that was always there, waiting for us.

Image credits: RMargaret AlmonAlan Bloom