Before you can plot a course, you need to know a few things. You need to know your current location, the lay of the land that you are going to traverse, the methods by which you will make the journey, and, most importantly, at what destination you want to arrive and why you want to arrive there. This will give you proper perspective for your journey.
The path to a financial goal is no different. This chapter is all about gaining perspective:
Perspective on where you are financially right now
Perspective on the financial environment you live in, and the opportunities and obstacles it presents
Perspective on what magic can actually accomplish and how best to apply it
Your Personal Situation
The first thing most people think about in conjunction with wealth magic is the desire to be “rich.” Most people don’t have a clear idea of what this means, and those who do typically tell me that what they want is to have enough money that they never have to think about it again. I know a few people who are what many people would call rich, and I can tell you that all of them think about money. A lot.
As I pointed out in The Sorcerer’s Secrets, terms such as rich and wealthy are relatively meaningless. The truth is that on a global scale, almost everyone who is reading this book is rich. According to the World Bank Development Research Group, anyone making more than $47,500 a year is in the top 1 percent of income earners on planet earth. If you make more than $25,500 a year, you are ionmn the top 10 percent of income earners. The bottom 50 percent of the people on planet Earth live on less than $800 a year. Think about that for a moment.
I know you’re thinking that $25,000 may be in the top 10 in the world but it’s still pretty poor for America, where the federal poverty line is currently listed as $10,787 for an individual. But let me remind you that even the poorest people in America or Western Europe have access to amenities that the poor in most of the world do not. The roads, sanitation systems, plumbing, and access to charitable services and social safety nets are things that the bottom 50 percent will never see. The simple idea of potable water coming out of a faucet is a foreign idea to much of the planet. The guy flipping burgers at your local diner may live close to the poverty line in America, but that still puts him among the top 10 percent wealthiest people on the planet, and his life reflects that.
Am I saying that you should just be happy with what you have and not strive for greater wealth? No, most definitely not! I am all for you attaining greater and greater levels of wealth. If your desire is to be rich enough to own your own jet, then I say go for it! My point is simply this: You can’t do magic with merely the aim of being rich. If you summon Jupiter and ask him to make you wealthy, he is going to look at you funny and remind you that you are probably already in the top 10 percent, if not the top 1 percent. If, however you ask him to help you reach specific goals, and you present him with a detailed plan, he is probably going to be a lot more helpful. You need perspective about where you are and where you want to be, as well as a plan to get from here to there.
Being Rich vs. Being Wealthy
Being rich and being wealthy are not the same thing. A rich person has a high income, which is a stream that can feed being wealthy or being in debt, depending on how that money is used. There is no shortage of people with high incomes but no real wealth. Do you think Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen wants to be on tour at age 76? Of course not. Do you think famous photographer Annie Leibovitz wanted to put the rights to her photos up as collateral for a loan? Absolutely not. One needs only watch a show like VH1’s Behind the Music to see a long line of rich people whose income was used to build debt rather than wealth.
Wealth is not a flow of income; it is a state of positive finances. Buckminster Fuller once said that wealth can be measured in the number of days that one can live one’s normal lifestyle without a paycheck. When your assets and sources of passive income are high enough to provide sufficient income to support your lifestyle without your having to work for a paycheck, you are wealthy. I like this system of measurement.
Note the relationship between lifestyle and income. If you are happy in an apartment or small house in a rural area, the income needed to create wealth is less than if you owned a brownstone in Manhattan. It places the ball squarely in your court to figure out what you want and what you need to do to achieve it.
Using this measurement you can begin to chart where you are in terms of income, expenses, and debt, and where you need to be. The specifics of doing this are what the rest of the book is about. Before we get to that, though, we need to look outward. It is not enough to know your own financial situation; you need to know the financial situation of the world.
The World’s Financial Situation
I am writing this book in the final months of 2011, and at the moment the financial situation is pretty bleak. America has been experiencing the worst economy since the Great Depression, and it has been that way since eaan way sinrly 2008. Unemployment has been hovering around 9 percent for four years straight and shows no signs of improving. More than a quarter of America’s homeowners are upside down on their mortgages. Even government-run parks and libraries are closing their doors. Europe is now entering a crisis even worse than what America is going through, and entire countries are in danger of defaulting on their loans. Bonds, once thought to be the very safest of investments, are reaching record lows.
The gap between rich and poor is growing daily, and the system is increasingly stacked to reinforce the divide. According to Mother Jones magazine, the top 1 percent of Americans control 34.6 percent of the nation’s wealth. The rest of the top 10 percent have another 38.5 percent of the nation’s wealth, which leaves the bottom 90 percent with only 26.9 percent of the nation’s wealth. This type of income inequality normally only exists in third-world countries. This divide has sparked the “Occupy Wall Street” protest movement, which has now grown in size, public profile, and importance to a degree that is unmatched by any protest movement since the 1960s.
More and more people are finding it difficult to manage in the current economic environment. In fact, most people have difficulty even understanding it. Unfortunately, knowledge about how finances work is not often taught in schools. It should be, but it isn’t.
Instead of financial education, society offers us a deal: It provides us enough education to be mediocre and not make too much of a fuss, to get a good job with good security, to show up on time, and to clock in and out until we are 65. In exchange we get enough money to make us comfortable enough that we won’t start asking too many questions or do a re-run of the French Revolution.
The problem is that the deal we were educated for is no longer the deal. That was the deal our grandparents got.
Here is the new deal:
No job security—Apart from the 10-percent unemployment rate, the employment offering rate is so low that even if every job in America were filled tomorrow, 5 out of 6 people on unemployment would still not have jobs.
No raise—Chances are that the job you had and got laid off from will either not be there or will be paying half of what you were making before. If you managed to avoid a layoff, you might have had to take a pay cut. With an average of 400 people applying to every professional position, employers can pay bottom-dollar wages.
No retirement—Unless you work for the government or a university, pensions have been gone for a long time, and 401k matching contributions are going away, if they are not gone already. Even some government pensions are disappearing, and some people who are already retired are seeing the pensions they were promised being cut drastically. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 70 percent of workers report that even if they work full time until age 65, they will not have enough money to retire.
This is the new economy and it is the result of what happens when money becomes the master of its handlers rather than the other way around. It is what happens when spiritual worth is divorced from material wealth.
That’s the bad news. Here is the good news: Times of upheaval are also times of unprecedented opportunity for building prosperity by throwing off the old deal and making our own. You need the willingness and daring to stop acting like unthinking cogs in a machine and start re-engaging your genius and creativity to do something radical.
The Internet has made it easier than ever to start a new business with very little monepay littley invested, allowing you to test your ideas with very little risk and overhead. As American and European markets struggle, emerging markets are popping up strong and are open to foreign business. For every business model that is dying off, there is at least one more taking its place. You just have to be willing to change along with an ever-accelerating world.
To use a business cliché, it takes thinking outside the box, and there is one thing that I know for sure: Pagans, witches, magicians, and sorcerers know how to think outside the box! We have creativity and genius and strength of spirit. There is no longer a well-trod path for living a prosperous and happy life. Today we must make our own path, and magical people are good at that.
What Financial Magic Can and Can’t Do for You
I know that magic works. If you are reading this, you probably also know that magic works. You can do a spell and, depending on various factors, there is a high probability that it will manifest a result. This book arose from my repeatedly asking this question: “If magic works, why aren’t more of us better with money?” The answer that I have found is that although magic works, we often do not apply it in the most strategic manner. Individual spells may work for drawing money, but often these are not done within the overall context of a financial strategy, and thus do not lead to real wealth. Moreover, many people have incorrect ideas of what magic can do and how to link magical and mundane action. Most of this book is about how financial magic works and what it can do for you. First, however, we need to talk about what I consider to be the most common mistakes in financial magic, and also dispel some myths on the topic. Let’s start with the idea of emergency magic.
Emergency magic is bad magic. I cannot tell you how many people tell me that magic should only be used to fix problems that cannot be fixed through mundane means, and even then only as a last resort. There are three main problems with this line of thinking.
The first problem is that it treats magic as something fundamentally different from any other type of action—something that works outside the forces of nature. Magic is not like that. Magic works within nature, is part of nature, and is subject to the same ethics and considerations as any other type of action.
The second problem is that by treating magic as something only to be used as a last resort, you are almost guaranteeing that you will not be very skilled in the use of magic. Think about it. How do you get good at something? Practice. If you never use magic, what makes you think you will be adept enough to deploy it when you need it?
The third and most important consideration is that by the time a situation is an emergency, it is usually also too late to do much with magic. The few times I have been called upon to do magic to save a dying business, the situation was so dire and the debt so high that all I was able to do with magic was supply an exit that left my clients in as little debt as possible. Had magic been used all along, from the start, things might have been different. Strategic sorcery is done ahead of time and according to a plan so that those problems don’t occur, or at least get fixed before they get out of hand.
It has been my experience that about two thirds of what people use money magic for is not growing wealth, but maintaining the status quo. Although this type of magic does have a place, it can also be dangerous if you do not approach it with wisdom. Not dangerous in the sense of backfired spells or summoning demons, but dangerous in that it is muchc at it is too easy to stay trapped in a crappy job or living situation by fixing all the issues that might otherwise force you to do better for yourself.
Sometimes what seems like an emergency is actually the universe opening up an opportunity that you could then take advantage of with your magic. Certainly, just as with emergency magic, you will occasionally need to use magic to maintain a situation that you like and that is good for you. The trick is distinguishing a truly good situation from a merely comfortable one. Comfort can be the enemy of growth. When using magic, make sure you are growing and not stagnating.
The last thing I want to talk about is the lottery. In my Strategic Sorcery Course the first homework assignment is to set a strategic goal to attain using a combination of magical and mundane methods. Two of the first 10 people who sent in their homework answered that they wanted to win millions in the lottery. This was a terrible disappointment as it is not where people should be focusing money magic.
Apart from spiritual growth and enlightenment, practical magic can do two things: it can affect the minds of other people; and it can shift probability in your favor, making improbable things more probable. Some things, however, are so improbable that even major magic will not be sufficient to manage it—the big pots in the lottery are like this.
Just to give you an idea, although it varies by state, on average, your chance of winning the big pot in a lottery is 1 in 18,000,000. Your chance of being struck by lightning is 1 in 2,650,000—about 45 times more likely than winning the lottery. If you drive 10 miles to buy a lottery ticket, you are 30 times more likely to die in a car accident on the way than win the lottery!
I know it seems as though winning the lottery is not that improbable; almost every week someone is on the news talking about what they will do with their winnings. The thing is that if they ran one-minute interviews of everyone who lost every week, they would need two entire channels running nothing but those interviews 24 hours a day.
Doesn’t magic increase your chances, though? Of course it does—as it does for everyone else using magic to win the lottery. Perhaps it reduces your chance from 1 in 18 million to 1 in 9 million or even 1 in 1 million. Still not great odds.
Because two out of the first 10 people who gave me their goals wanted to win the lottery, it’s pretty safe to assume that there are thousands of people aiming their magic at any given lottery pot. Everything from complex rituals to seven-day candles to novenas are being used, all the time. Most of this magic cancels the other magic out and more or less evens the odds again.
Now here is the best part. Let’s say that through super-powerful magic and sheer chance you manage to win! According to wealth counselor Szifra Birke, about one-third of lottery winners find themselves in serious financial trouble or in bankruptcy within just five years of winning.1 This is because they never took the time to understand money or how it works. If they did, they wouldn’t have pinned their hopes and dreams on willing the lottery.
That said, I usually buy two tickets for each one: one, because you have to be in the game to win it at all, and a dollar is certainly worth that; and two, because it also seems worth another dollar to double my chances. After that it is diminishing returns, and I do not devote any more money, and certainly no more time, to the lottery. I am not against playing the lottery; I am against incorporating it into your financial strategy for your life.
The same goes for other types of gambling, by the way. If you know enough about games of chance t to of chahat you can gamble professionally, then certainly magic can help you, but at that point you are not really gambling—there are other skills that go into it.
Once we know where we are with our finances and what magic can and can’t do for us, we’re ready to focus on getting perspective on money itself—not only as a material force, but also as a spiritual one.