Fear of failure in anything can hinder the success of what you are trying to accomplish, so it is within magic and spellwork. This very much ties in with “lusting after results”. We may think of the “lusting” part as being the need to make it work so badly that we shortcircuit the results, however, any thought which counters the original intention can have the same effect. That can also include fear of success, as much as fear of failure.
First of all, let’s talk about what happens. It’s pretty simple really. We follow all the necessary steps that we need to take in order to do our spell. We know what we want, we have the desire and will to do it, and so we put it into action, daring to do the work required, and then we forget to “keep silent”.
In this instance, keeping silent would be silent with ourselves. Just like the monkey mind becomes more apparent when we sit down to meditate, so do our thoughts after we have cast a spell. Will it work? What if I asked for the wrong thing? Did I actually do it right? Should I have tried to get more? What will happen if it backfires? What will happen if it succeeds? On and on, and more and more questions, doubt, fear and anxiety that get wrapped up in the journey of the original intention that we placed in the spell.
I like to imagine it like a straight line from me to the target, the target being the desired outcome. With each thought that arises after the spell has been done, that line which the spell is travelling along is being hit from all sides. A couple of thoughts might just make it wobble a bit and it will continue on its way, but multiple thoughts will continue to bombard the thread and eventually it could knock it completely off course.
So what do we do? We forget. If you have to, go and have a cup of coffee and a sandwich and watch something mindless on TV for a while. Then you can go and clean up your ritual space. If you are able to not think these intrusive thoughts, then clean up the ritual space and after that go and get your coffee and sandwich. Whatever it takes, just take your mind off what you just did. Don’t think about it, forget it, let it do what it is supposed to do. If you didn’t want it to then you wouldn’t have cast the spell in the first place, right?
This is the main reason why, within Chaos Magick, we are told to burn our sigils after we have activated them. We want to forget, let the glyph settle into the unconscious mind, because as soon as we start thinking about it, or have more instrusive thoughts, we pull it back out into the conscious mind, and we don’t want it there.
Over time you will find that this becomes easier. It’s the old thing about the pink elephant. If I tell you not to think of a pink elephant, what are you going to do? You are going to think of a pink elephant because your mind has been told to do exactly that. The subconscious does not recognise negatives, so the phrase, “don’t think of a pink elephant” gets translated to “think of a pink elephant”, and the conscious mind and ego self also like to do things we are told not to do. Over time however with more practice, and yes, meditation practice, we find that this does not happen. We are able to suppress the need to think of a pink elephant. Just as during meditation, we don’t hold onto a thought for any length of time before realizing that we are holding onto it, and then letting it go. After some practice, that whole process happens within a split second so that the thoughts moving in and out, we are able to realize the thought and let it go immediately so we don’t think of it.
In the same way, after doing spellwork we may get the intrusive thoughts, however we can then hold onto the one thought that we want which is to move the spell along the thread unhindered, to the exlusion of all other thoughts.
This fear is natural, it is going to be there no matter what you do, you simply have to find a way to experience it without letting it hinder the results. With more time, more positive results, which gains more confidence, you will not have as much fear or as many intrusive thoughts.
Another area where fear may hinder your magic is during Journey work, Ascension work or any form of Working where you are venturing into the astral or non-ordinary realms. This is not necessarily astral projection, as this is done through trance work.
When you are venturing into these spaces you may find that your vision is somewhat blurry or hazy, to the point where it becomes difficult to figure out what is going on. This can be in part to the fears that you have. You may have some old programming that makes you think that you are going to encounter something which is going to take your soul, or some other fear that is perfectly valid, as it is your own fears that you need to overcome.
To overcome these fears you would need to do some form of shadow work, however if you are interested in Daemonolatry, S. Connolly has some great suggestions on how to work through this in her book Lake of Fire.
Of course you can simply just continue to work at it. The more you experience, the less your fears will hinder you. The first step is to take the leap and just do it.
I mentioned at the beginning that this can be a fear of success as much as a fear of failure. If you have not examined this possibility before, it may have you somewhat confused. How can someone possibly have a fear of success?
Success can bring changes, and quite often those changes are unpredictable. If you achieve your goal and you are successful, what happens then? This fear in itself can be crippling to the point where you know you want to do something, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. We then start to procrastinate. We can do it tomorrow or next week.
The way to get past this is to simply move forward and do it. Tell your ego self to be quiet for a while or give it some toys to play with, and take the bull by the horns. What happens, happens, you have been successful and whatever comes of that, you will be able to handle, because you can be succesful again. Yet it is still crippling because being a success will take you out of your comfort zone and things will inevitably change.
I get it, for a very long time I thought I had a fear of failure, which turned out to be a fear of success. It’s something I am still working on now, so I also know how difficult it can be to overcome.
You may find that as soon as the success begins to surface, you self-sabotage so that you can remain in your little bubble and not be disturbed. However, sooner or later, if you want to become better, you will have to emerge from that bubble, therefore look around for ways to ease the transition. You are doing magic to better your life, why not also do magic to find ways to help you to adjust to that change?
You could split your main goal up into smaller goals so that instead of one huge change to your life, it comes in smaller increments, making the adjustment into the new life you are creating a little easier to accept. This will also remove the fear as you don’t need to deal with the large disruption to your life, therefore removing the need to procrastinate. Give it a try, it can only mean your life becomes the reality you dreamt of.