HomeIssuesOutlaw Magic: The Subtle Art of Living Outside the Rules

Outlaw Magic: The Subtle Art of Living Outside the Rules

“When freedom is outlawed, only outlaws will be free.” ~ Unknown

Outlaw magic is the primordial energy of the Middle Way, which leads to the liberation of the soul. In Mahayana Buddhism, the Middle Way refers to the insight into emptiness that transcends opposite statements about existence. Outlaw Magic is precisely this “emptiness that transcends.”

cowboy candle

Equal parts demonic-whisper and angelic-wrath, Godly fire and soft devilry, hard love and forgiving ruthlessness, outlaw magic subsumes opposites.

It is the orgasm of the yin-yang, the climax of the cosmos coming together to become less individual and more individuated, less personal and more extra-personal, less independent and more interdependent, less serious and more sincere.

It’s the disciplined, counterintuitive practice of no-mind experiencing non-attachment, while intermittently being fully engaged in the here and now. To feel it, you have only to practice two of the most difficult concepts known to man: surrender and forgiveness.

The key to surrender: stop taking yourself and/or your worldview so seriously. The key to forgiveness: give up all hope for a better past. When we surrender to the Great Mystery, when we cease our incessant self-seriousness, we are surrendering ourselves to creative freedom and primordial joy.

There in the void, in the sacred energy of opposites, in the vacuum where infinity and finitude collide, we are free to use and be used by the mysterious magic of the cosmos itself: an outlaw magic, a primeval ecstasy, and ancient joy so visceral and carnal that we feel it balls to bones, ovaries to marrow, heart to soul.

It is here where our want to individuate becomes our need to self-actualize. It is here where we begin the first steps toward living outside the rules of men, to questioning all perceived authority. Indeed, it is here where we realize that we are capable of co-creating with the universe in order to create new and healthier rules, rules that are more holistic and in sync with the cosmos and the interconnectedness of all things.

When we forgive ourselves, when we cease our incessant woe-is-me pity party, we indirectly forgive the world. In the here and now, in the sacred space between past and future, where the vacuity of should-a collides with could-a, we are free to embrace our mistakes, to transform wounds into wisdom, setbacks into stepping stones, and regret into brazenness.

We are finally free to let go, to release ourselves from the wrongdoings of others, and to transform ourselves from victims into warriors. We are free to practice sincere non-attachment.

It is here where our want to be better becomes our need to act healthier, where our disposition is transformed from a negative glass-is-half-empty ego-view of things to a positive glass-is-half-full soul-view of things.

dark tower It is here where we begin to self-alchemize, to spiritually realign with cosmic forces, and to transcend cultural conditioning.

Such transcendence leads to an existential robustness that is intermittently flexible yet resolute, open yet disciplined, loving yet ruthless: an outlaw magic, a self-as-world and world-as-self upheaval of cultural norms, where the individual is interdependent and free from the need for validation.

Indeed, one’s validation comes from the primal understanding that everyone’s liberation is more important than success, looking good, or being comfortable in the all-too-comfortable, narcissistic, and materialistic world.

Through our self-surrender and self-forgiveness, our outlaw magic becomes self-actualized. Our past self, our overly egotistical, covertly narcissistic, and overtly serious self begins to fade. We go from being an assuming Serious Actor, playing a role, to an unassuming Sincere Creator, playing with many roles.

We go from serious appeaser to sincere teaser. And as our outdated seriousness melts into sincerity, and our want to appease transforms into our need to tease, the full activation of our outlaw magic is at hand and the liberation of the world becomes suddenly manifest.

Woman-Masked-Gas-MaskIn the mighty shadow of the Sincere Creator, all shadows are subsumed. The sincere creator transubstantiates the world. If this is who we’ve become, then outlaw magic is at our fingertips.

Renegade alchemy is at hand. Seriousness has been deemed a cancer that we have learned to murder over and over again.

We’ve taken it by the hair and slit its throat, using its blood as fuel to feed the fire of our passion, and as a powerful ink to fill our truthful pens. We are free to write outlaw words with outlaw symbols on outlaw flags.

Our sincerity is magnetic and it spreads like wildfire through the hearts of men, be they serious actors or sincere creators or neither.

Attachment is also a cancer. Which we sincere creators have learned to crucify over and over again; to nail it to its cross of nothingness, and to use its resurrection into non-attachment as a stepping stone toward a humor of the most high.

Through the magnetic power of non-attachment, nothing is out of our range, nothing can resist our absolute freedom. Not even death can stop the forward motion of our self-overcoming.

Through our absolute freedom we tease the cosmos into revealing her secrets, we tease each other into further freedom, taking nothing so seriously as the sincerity of our lack of seriousness.

We laugh, and laugh hard, at anybody who takes themselves too seriously, at anyone who is still caught-up in the unhealthy tug-o-war between ego and attachment, between codependency and seriousness, between pretense and surface image, between independency and self-importance.

We mock and we jeer and we taunt, and we will continue to do so, because this is the epitome of outlaw magic, this is the essence of spiritual robustness. Think the concept of divergence from the movie Divergent. Think Neo transcending the pettiness of the Matrix. Think the infinite player laughing at the triviality of the finite player’s too-serious sense of play.

Outlaw magic has the power to topple thrones, demolish high-horses and melt down pedestals. Only a person wielding the power of outlaw magic can see the “hero’s” feet of clay, for outlaw magic reveals the pulsing, naked vulnerability of the human condition. It unveils the primordial fear of death.

It unmasks the infinite masks of God, revealing the wriggling caterpillar at the center of the human condition: a creature torn between its fleshy-ignorant-earthiness and the spiritually-resolute-nihilism of the cocoon; unable even to begin to fathom the interdependently-robust-self-actualization of transcending that cocoon.

Only the sincere creator, having shed her carapace of seriousness and self-importance, having shed her cocoon, can use her frontal lobes like butterfly wings to fly into a healthier evolution for her species.

Only the sincere creator can laugh at all kings, presidents, queens, and emperors and not give a damn about the repercussions, because only the sincere creator can see that the repercussions are an illusion, a cartoon in the brain, a false manifestation of a hyper-reality, an appeal to security masking an all-too-human insecurity.gasmask_buddha

Becoming such an individual is as difficult as it is rare. It is as lonely as it is liberating. It is as uncomfortable as it is unfettering. It is as terrifying as it is enlightening. Hence the seeming lack of any true outlaw magic in our world.

Like H.L. Mencken said, “The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth.

He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men.

It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty — and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies.”

Nonetheless, the world desperately needs more outlaw magic. It urgently needs more sincere creators. It badly needs more people willing to be amoral (outlaws) so as to compel an otherwise immoral system (with its unhealthy laws) to moralize itself (toward healthier laws).

It sincerely needs more sincere individuals who are not hung-up on self-serious agendas. In short: the world needs us to surrender to her, to forgive the suffering and attachment within us.

When we genuinely surrender, when we authentically forgive, we have no choice but to fall into rhythm with the beautiful synchronicity of cosmic forces, of profound and overwhelming outlaw magic.

We free ourselves to dance. We discover that miracles are at hand, true miracles. Not the parochial miracles of dogmatic religions, but the interconnected miracle of life spilling into more life.

We find that we are a unique wave crashing out of a primordial symphony, and outlaw magic is the proactive surfing of that wave into eternity, into a future where humankind is able to maintain a balance between Nature and the human soul. We surf. We crash. We tumble and get bloodied from the thousand cuts of the cosmic ocean.

But we figure out how to swim. We laugh. And we get back up and surf again. But most importantly we laugh, and outlaw magic is ours, over and over again.

For we know, as Alan Watts knew, “What one needs in this universe is not certainty but the courage and nerve of the gambler; not fixed conviction but adaptability; not firm ground whereupon to stand but skill in swimming.”

Image source:

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Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.

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Anthony Jonas

The article was written philosophically ,

Steph Powell

Love it!

Steph Powell

Love it!

Bill Borland

This is a revelation based on an indulgence of prose writing for me, a performance art of complexity, subtext upon subtex, a principled exercise in the convulut, a higher arcing transendece into the sublime but the question has to be asked ‘what supermarket does he shop at! Unfortunately for me the wonderful cinematic imagery of the art work sums it up.

Ryan Donohue

Reveal what I came for.
Give me distribution of heart
Unto a dying race-
But I haven’t begun.

Call upon my heart to be the leading case;
Distribute what I came for.

God I am as I were to demise I have no such.
Frugal care to be as I wish:
Never more, never less.
The call of which I bear the mark.

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