Inner Work and Outer Work. As Above, So Below.

Did you do anything on Earth Day? Did you plant a tree yesterday, on Arbor Day? Do these holidays mean anything to you or do they pass unnoticed as we whirl towards Beltane? Both days call for outward acts — cleaning up a creek bed, protesting mountaintop removal, planting trees — while Beltane can, for a solitary Witch, happen all alone at an altar or ritual fire.

I adore Beltane and I can hardly draw a breath these days that doesn’t seem imbued with the coming of that great festival of bonfires. Can you feel it? Can you feel the Wheel turning under your feet, bringing you closer and closer?

I’ve been pondering a lot lately about the connection, within Paganism, between inner and out work. So often (too often, IMHO) one reads that if one changes oneself (through inner work such as meditation, magical practice, journaling, etc.) one will change the world. And that’s not untrue (there, how do you like that double negative!?!) But it serves, too often IMHO, as an out, as a way of engaging in endless naval gazing and avoiding the real work that needs to be done out in the World, the work that will, when done correctly, spur continued inner growth. I’d like to see it said, as frequently, that by changing the world, one changes oneself.

I’ve been reading Dion Fortune‘s The Magical Battle of Britain, in which she describes the magical work done to protect Britain during World War II. In her letter for the week of (interestingly) April 21st, 1940, she writes that, in spite of the war, the headquarters of her work:

is a centere of peace. . . . This is as it should be; firstly, because if it were otherwise, we could not be a centre of radiation, and secondly, because it proves that we are doing our work efficiently — physician heal thyself! If we were unable to maintain an atmosphere of serenity in our own head-quarters, how could we hope to be a nucleus of stability for the group-soul of the nation?

Just a few weeks later, on June 16th, 1940, she writes:

From our Inner Plane contacts we draw strength and inspiration; in our work on the physical plane we give expression to what we have received. It is not enough to make contact and receive inspiration. The inspiration will soon dry up unless it flows through us, ever renewing itself in flowing. For those who have the deeper knowledge, participation in the national war effort is a sacramental act whereby the power that has been drawn down is put in circuit. Break the circuit, and the power ceases to flow.

I think Fortune gets it exactly right in this respect. Do you agree?

Picture found here.

2 responses to “Inner Work and Outer Work. As Above, So Below.

  1. For what it may be worth, my perception is that the balance between inner and outer work (or contemplation and action) is a question of vocation, or Wyrd, or dharma, or something similar. Some people are called to, and supplied with the necessary gifts for, a life that is largely contemplative, while others are called to a life that is largely active. I suspect that most people fall somewhere along the spectrum, rather than at either of the ends. Of course, as one passes through the chances and changes of life, one’s vocation, and the associated gifts, may, and often do, change. Ms Fortune was, apparently, able to work with a group of people whose various gifts and callings collectively provided an appropriate balance for the task at hand.

  2. Of course I am reminded of Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz. What did you think of that book?

    A garden for Beltane! My two sunflowers are in showy bloom — and so is my deliciously scented jasmine!

    Summer Breeze Seals& Crofts

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