The Four Powers of the Sphinx

I was recently exposed to the idea of the Four Powers of the Sphinx. T. Thorn Coyle is using these as a framework for her Make Magic of Your Life web series. The idea comes from the ceremonial magic tradition and the Powers are aspects of the ability to bring change to your self and to the world. Each step is also an ongoing process and challenge.

To Know

Knowing means gathering and evaluating information, but also understanding and discerning this information. We live in an age of information and huge volumes of facts and words and opinions are available to us with a simple web search. We can find answers to hundreds of questions that we didn’t even know to ask. This makes the ability to have a critical mind and to find guidance so valuable. If we are constantly pulled toward a new direction with each new blog post, YouTube video and trendy book, we may never find our own truth, our own knowledge.

Knowledge is ruled by the element Air. We must find the ability to cut out what is untrue and unnecessary. We must find a way to make judgments like blind Justice. We must find our own inner way of knowing. Even when we may not know what is objectively “true”, we can know what is true for our own self. Teachers may help to guide us and may help to strip away preconceptions, but they cannot hand us answers.

To Will

Will means deciding on a course of action and pointing our resources toward action. Knowledge may show us the problem; Will shows us a solution. Do we see a business opportunity? Do we want to improve relationships? Do we want to stand up against injustice? Do we want to protect our loved ones? Do we want to quit smoking? Do we want to change a government policy? Will points the way. It points to the change in the world or in our self that we want to see.

Will is ruled by the element Fire. It is the spark of action, of inspiration that starts with knowledge and leads to change. Will picks the target. Will chooses the plan. Will sets the machine in motion.

To Dare

Daring means letting go of the comfortable and habitual to allow real action and real change take place. Daring isn’t easy. It allows us to overcome doubts. It causes us to leave the usual script behind and follow our true course. Daring means taking the Knowledge and Will and letting the plan play out. Will lights fuse and Daring allows the rocket to fly.  It is the rush of energy that puts magic into effect. Thorn Coyle interviewed a woman named Alley Valkyrie who is an advocate for the homeless, who spoke about the Power to Dare. She talked about using her privilege, instead of apologizing for it. I can’t claim to do anything as bold and direct as Alley’s advocacy, but her words about using privilege resonated with me on my reasons for becoming vegan.

Daring is ruled by the element Water. It is the rush of pure emotion and the overcoming of fears and restraints. We drink in the power in order to change our selves and it rushes out in a wave to make a change in the world.

To Keep Silent

Keeping Silent is the power to listen, to observe, to reflect, and to recover. We have dared to act. We have sent our will out into the world, and now we wait. Do we see the changes that we expected? Has the magic taken hold in unexpected ways? So often, when we fight the great fights, we must regroup and attack again. We may have won the battle (or perhaps we didn’t), but the battle is not the war and we must prepare for another round.

Keeping Silent is ruled by the element Earth. We must take care of our bodies and our minds. We must nourish ourselves and our families. There must be a time for the private, for the silent moments. In our age of constant phones, emails, TV, and social media, it can be hard to find true silence. There’s always a message waiting, the latest news flash, another infuriating commentary that begs for response. All this noise can make silence the hardest power to achieve.

Of course the cycle begins again and we must once again work on Knowing. We evaluate the lessons learned and figure out what went wrong or how we can do it better the next time. Life is a continuum, not a project that is simply completed.  There will always be changes to make in ourselves and in the world.  Magic will always be needed.

One comment on “The Four Powers of the Sphinx

  1. […] In addition to signaling the growth of the Brotherhood and the health of the organization, the process has been a growing experience for me. I have stepped into a role of gatekeeper, and learned more about the value of keeping silent, one of the Four Powers of the Sphinx. […]

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