Monday, August 3, 2009

Euphoric Kangaroos...

Well, if that doesn't get your attention, what will?

First the euphoria, well, I'm feeling it. It is so cool being so quiet inside, which makes me wonder...why the hell am I shouting about being quiet? The oxymoron police are about to get me. Moving right along...

WitchDoctorJoe has a new witchvox article up here. I suggest you read it before I spoil the surprise.

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WitchDoctorJoe claims any system is, essentially, full of lies. You can make up any old thing and it will work. Well, he's right and I completely agree. Though, I disagree just as strenuously.

Telling someone or implying as Joe did that a system is a lie is simply not the truth. The person that taught me wasn't pulling a fast one. There was no deception. He simply taught what he knew. He was taught by an honest man as well. In my tradition, certain things mean certain things. With those meanings, we can do magick of many varieties. This is not a lie. Magick has rules.

I needed those rules and frankly, in some situations, like say an initiatory hall, I'd still abide by them 100%. I can only guess but I must assume that if Joe initiates someone into his tradition, he uses his tried and true methods. Is this wrong for his initiate? I think not. The initiate has no idea what s/he will see and Joe certainly isn't using their correspondences.

Very recently, I discovered I don't need all those rules anymore. That does not mean someone else doesn't and it doesn't mean I won't again.

Magick has rules. The tricky part is that some of them, maybe even most of them, are so individualized, that trying to tell someone they 'must' use this or that set, is a lie. However, to say they must use a certain set within a given tradition is valid. The Golden Dawn system is designed to get you someplace specific. Alexandrian, Gardnerian Wicca and other religions are designed to get you someplace specific too. Veritas Wicca, I assume, is designed to take you to a specific place as well. Do you want to get where Alexandrians do? Play by their rules. Do you want to get where Joe can take you? Play by his.

Saying that direction given by traditions is false is like saying you can't get from Fresno to San Francisco by using Hwy 99, turning on 152, again on the 5 and so on like so many others have. It would be just as false to say that is the ONLY way to get to San Francisco. I will venture that having a map and some idea of where you want to go is better than closing your eyes, spinnning in a circle and starting to walk in whatever direction you happen to end up facing. You still may get to SF but you may have a very long walk!

There is an old saying that I've stolen from someone: The truth to a man not ready to hear it is a lie. If someone told me in the beginning that there are no rules to magick, that I can do anything I want and obtain an effect, I would not have believed them and likley viewed magick as bunk. I was not ready to hear such a thing. The truth is Joe is a very effective witch and he ought to know better than to make any claim about anyone else's magick or what they need to accomplish it.

Joe knows how to work but many people that haven't the slightest clue will read his words and commit all sorts of foolishness thinking they are doing magick. For them, Joe's truth, which is a truth, will become a lie.

Joe is correct that an item you skry has more meaning to you than something you gained from 777 or some other book of correspondances. However, he is missing the fact that a well traveled path is easier to walk for the newby (and even oldby). If ten thousand magicians use herb X to get to place Y, it is likely the herb X can smooth the path to Y even if it started out as a lie 1,000 years ago.

This stuff is much more subtle than black and white statements about what works and what doesn't work. Leave such blindness to kangaroo magicians and do what works for you. If that means a tradition, great. If that means finding your own way, great. But telling others that things from the past are lie is too simplistic for the modern mind.

4 comments:

The Scribbler said...

While we're bantering around with "old sayings", there's another one that goes "The self-made man is an example of poor workmanship." There is a difference between someone with legitimate reasons for wanting to go it alone, and someone who has such ego issues or misperceptions about how the mind works that they refuse to ask anyone for instruction. Nobody ever learned everything they know without some help. That's why the human race incarnated together. We need each other, and among other things we do for each other, we teach each other. People who refuse others' instruction are handicapping themselves.

But different people need different kinds and intensities of instruction. If you already play violin, you could get away with minimal instruction to learn chello. I have a black belt in aikido, and have learned karate and chi kung. For my purposes, I easily learned Yang Tai Chi from a video. You could never do that if you'd never done any martial arts in your life. (And I'm not saying my Tai Chi is as good as it would be if I learned it from a live instructor, but what I do suits my purposes).

There is also the fact that you can't break the rules and find freedom unless you learned a set of rules to begin with. Everyone should follow one path for a certain amount of time before they start experimenting with other paths. And I don't think Joe would really argue with anything I've said so far.

I don't really think you are arguing against anything Joe said. He's arguing against dogmatism: the idea that there is only one way to do anything. You are arguing for the strength of working within a system.

I find the Golden Dawn system very interesting, and I'm sure it is very effective. But I also don't see the point in harnessing myself to it and following its guidelines to the letter if I'm not a member of a lodge, and am not receiving personal instruction from someone properly trained in that system. If I'd lived in a city where I could have been involved with GD when I was younger, I might have done it, but I live far away from anywhere where I could. So I consult my Regardie now and then to see what I might get from that perspective, but I don't feel like I HAVE TO do things the way he says to.

I am a member of AMORC, and have been a temple officer. In that context, I do exactly as I have been instructed. In the temple I always take three steps to approach the Shekinah, and three steps back. I always address other ritual officers with certain formulas, and I always move in certain ways in the temple. And AMORC insists on that uniformity. But it also tells its members that whatever they do in their home temples and however they do it is their own business.

So, in a vain attempt to pull all the strings of this rambling comment together, I'd say that there are times you submit yourself to the instruction of others and do things in standard ways, and there are times when you are on your own. And when you are on your own, you need to consider carefully how much you accept or reject of what others tell you/have told you. And even though it is expedient for the harmony of an organization for people to stick to agreed-upon ways of doing things, when you are on your own, you should not allow anyone's dogma to limit your possibilities.

Ananael Qaa said...

I've been of the opinion for a long time that there is no "privileged" symbol set out there that has some kind of absolute meaning attached to it, so in that sense I agree that no symbol set is more "true" than any other. I do think that calling all symbol sets "lies" on that basis is a little sensationalistic because the term normally implies an intent to deceive, and I find that most people who promote their preferred symbol set over others honestly believe it to be better in some way.

Where I depart from the chaos magicians on the use of symbol sets is that while I don't think it necessarily matters what symbol set you use, I do think you will get better results if you pick a symbol set and then for the most part stick with it. You want your associations between symbols and ideas to be automatic - it's distracting to be in a ritual and think "let's see, I'm working system X rather than system Y so the color red means this instead of that."

The reason I bring up chaos magicians in this context is that I have run into a number of them who think that having "flexibility of belief" to the extent that they can switch symbol sets back and forth however they want is a great and useful thing, whereas in my experience it confers no real practical advantages. You only need one symbol for a given concept in order to work with it. Also, as someone who is trained in experimental psychology, I think the "flexibility" perspective is a little shortsighted because it doesn't take into account how conditioning loops work.

Also, there are some symbolic associations that are easier to cultivate than others. Reds and oranges, for example, suggest fire, while blue suggests water - just because those are the colors that fire and water usually appear as in nature. However, I still think that you could create a workable symbol set in which blue represents fire (some kinds of flames are blue, after all) and red represents water - it might be harder to learn at first, but once any symbol set is internalized it can be effective even if it appears ridiculous to a traditional practitioner.

BRAN said...

Well, really just as a quick comment, I'd say your post doesn't really address what WitchDoctorJoe was saying very well, in that really speaking I don't feel he was making out that magicians are always trying to lie to their audience or students. Perhaps there are instances of this, in fact I'm sure there are, but generally speaking I think he's just saying that people shouldn't become too trapped by their own systems, or even that of other teachers/books, and dogmatism in general. As for Chaos Magicians, well, if they can really pull off unshakable faith in whatever system you adopt for a specific working, then sure, it might give them much greater range on how they do things over more traditional magicians, but I'd say the ability to really believe something new at the drop of a metaphorical hat is uncommon, however fantastic. Also, it's probably unnecessary, given that established systems work for a reason, whatever reason that might be. Eh, I've strayed; so much for a quick comment. Either way, my original point was that while I agree with what you're saying in this post, I don't really think WDJ was actually trying to say what your post seemed to imply he did.

Frater POS said...

I agree that I misread that.