Mage the Ascension is one of the World of Darkness TTRPGs which helped shaped the paradigm of 25-35 year old me well beyond roleplaying. There was a great deal about it that I didn’t enjoy about MtA when sitting around a table, dicing with friends or typing in-character posts inside a roleplaying chat room. However, when it came to applying its metaphors and arcane theorycraft to how magick actually worked? Some of it was pretty good, I thought at the time. I still do.
One of the most useful things that MtA teaches about the efficacy of magick – aka the success in creating your intended effect through the application of True Will upon a situation via a personalized rite or ritual- is your success in overcoming Consensus.
MtA is just a game about mage politics and hubris in a reality that can be much more definitively shaped by True Will than our actual one. However, it uses Consensus as a gatekeeper over what the PCs and NPCs can successfully accomplish.
Mages know that all humans shape the world with their wills, but Sleepers do so unconsciously – reality is what the majority of people believe it to be. For any individual willworker to work magic, he must force his belief on the world, fighting the billions of minds whose beliefs shape the Consensus. – White Wolf Wiki
There is a lot of nuance to The Consensus and there’s a war over it going on in the United States these days. A war that looks like it is only going to become more vicious and brutal from here. It wouldn’t be wrong, in fact, to use the MtA factions as a metaphor for #BLM and QAnon as examples. Just about every ideological truth of one is repudiated by the other and both are fighting hard to seize control of the Consensus. Alt-Left and Alt-Right are convinced that the leaders of the opposing side are fascists who will destroy everything sacred and precious. Everyone outside of their own paradigm is either crazy or simply calculatingly exploitive.
I’m pretty biased myself towards #BLM and a world where a progressive, humanitarian, environmentally-sustaining ideology becomes the Consensus. I find it daunting as a psychoteric magician to apply rituals and workings towards this cause. I also feel a Calling from something beyond my own singular consciousness to do so. However, I think the most practical and successful way to create magickal change is to focus on the macrocosm vs. the microcosm. When your own Self is what you are throwing into the alchemical crucible and putting through all the stages of tempering into a Magnum Opus, you have a whole more control over the environment. The only “believers” you have to get into agreed ideology are the dwellers in your own psyche.
However, that is a whole lot harder than it sounds.
“The Self can only be seen through images we call archetypes such as hero, king, queen, wise old man, orphan, savior, divine couple, etc. in dreams, myths, fairytales, and the like. When a person is at an impasse developmentally, it is through trying to break through to the hidden life of the unconscious that she may find the way to her true Self.”
One of my personal truths is that within the self we don’t have a singular archetype to draw on, but at least sixteen of them (The MBTI archetypes). Then there are our individualized inner demons, qlippothic or shadow archetypes that serve the Adversary Within. This would create 32 archetypal voices in my personal paradigm for the psyche: gasp just like there are 32 paths of Wisdom in QBL philosophy!
If you view your inner Self as a chorus of competing spin doctors, each wanting to establish dominance over what you feel and how you behave? You can appreciate why, even magicians and mystics, have so much challenge in making meaningful, sustainable self-change. One of the benefits of being a life-long “gamer”, however, is that attacking challenges and seeking creative solutions is sure a lot of fun.