Humility is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts of spirituality. The most common belief is that humility means "placing others above oneself", "being submissive" or even "self-abasing". If we look at humility from the stand-point of the dictionary, then yes this is what you get and if this is how you practice humility you will get dictionary results, not spiritual. However, when we analyze the mystery of humilty and its ability to raise one to union with the Higher Genius, then we have something else completely.
( just a quick note, when using self with the small "s" I am referring to one's personal self, whereas the use of big "S" refers to our True Self, the Higher Genius)
Let's quickly define the purpose of a mystical path...to purify oneself so that one may attain knowledge and union with the True Self, known in the Golden Dawn as The Holy Guardian Angel or The Higher Genius. Purification here is the key, and all acts that we preform in magic and mysticism are meant to purify the self wether it be meditation, yoga, right eating, right speech, magic, fasting, prayer, communion with higher beings, humility...there are literally hundreds of techniques that have been developed by mystics to accomplish this goal- the goal of purifying the consciousness so that one can see the True Light. A quick analogy for this is to think of a light-bulb with dust on it. As we preform these techniques and follow the path of The Great Work we slowly remove the dust that keeps our consciousness impure and keeps us from experiencing the True Light, until finally do we not only see the Light, but the Light is all that shines.
Humility by this definition should be an act which helps one to purify their consciousness. True Humility then is first and foremost a complete surrender and constant yearning for union with the Divine. All acts of spirituality should come from this purpose first and foremost. It is important to make this point because often-times when one de-bases themself for the sake of another in order to be "more humble", or act with "more humility", (although their intention may be pure) sometimes one is acting against their true goal. It is important for each person to be honest with themselves when following a spiritual path, and to ask each time "Will this action bring me closer to the Divine?" Sometimes you may find yourself really questioning either way, and in this case if you have time I suggest preforming a divination, asking the question "If I preform this act what will the spiritual outcome be?" You must be absolutly vigilant in your spiritual path, and make sure that every step you take comes from a place of communion with your True Self otherwise you risk walking in circles rather than forward.
Now, what is the first thing we learn as initiates in the "Hall of the Neophyte?" "Fear is Failure!"
Why? Because fear is a lie, and the fallen state that we recognize as our daily consciouness before enlightenment is one of illusion, a lie, known in the East as Maya. This illusion is the dust or film on the light-bulb we were discussing earlier, and humility then is a powerful tool to help remove this from our consciouses.
Humility removes fear.
First it places in a state of no-fear. Fear is based on the notion of protecting one-self. It is at the very basis of our psychological and physiological state of being...most people have probably heard of the concept of "Fight or Flight". But think abour fear for a moment. What do we fear? Not paying our bills, not getting the love of another, being alone, wondering if we are being spiritual, wondering if another is hurt or in pain, or even in some cases where we might eat or sleep? Most fears are based on the idea of protecting the self, or one's sense of self, or that which we love. There is always the element of "I" in fear. There is always a level of attachment. Attachment is the symptom of Maya. Practicing non-attachment (humility) removes Maya from our state of consciousness. Just think..."People weep rivers of tears because a son is not born or because they do not get riches, but who sheds even one teardrop because he has not seen God?"
Practicing humility takes the attachment to the self and to the physical world out of the picture as one forgoes the self for the Divine thus allowing for the powerful influence of the Divine to take its course in our lives. When this happens not only do we develop at a faster rate, but our knowledge of the Divine comes more vivid thus further removing more fear...for once we see the constant stream of love, positivity, increased awareness and intuition, and begin to have more confidence in our path and in our relationship with the Divine, we become even less fearful and more powerful in fulfilling our path as mystics. Think about how much more successful you are in life when you have complete knowledge and confidence? Think about how this state of mind would affect your spiritual path.
Magically speaking this is when we experience the most power in our practice, because "fear is the mind-killer" (dork points!). It blocks our energy as magicians, and keeps it from flowing. It also allows outside thoughts and fears to make thier way into our practice, where instead we should be developing a lazer-sharp level of concentration and communion during ritual. Removing fear increases our knowledge of the Divine, and having true Self-confidence (big S meaning the Higher Genius) not self-aggrandizement or egoism gives us the most power in our practice.
Humility then is not necessarily the de-basing of oneself, or thinking of others above oneself, yes these practices are beneficial when done properly, but one should always remember that True Humility is the practice of surrendering to the Divine which can come in many forms and should be practiced with great fervence.