Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mastering Witchcraft Part Deux

For the most part, I have stayed away from issuing opinions on things here. Mostly, because such posts just start an argument. For instance, my ideas about Mastering Witchcraft received this comment from Harold Roth of The Alchemists Garden.

"Nor does this kind of condemnation seem conducive to any exchange of ideas" See the comments section of the Mastering Witchcraft post previously linked for the full text of his comments.

Now, let me get this straight. I brought up a topic making its way around the blogs that some of my readers may have missed, thus exposing them to the book. I linked to a post that was full of links to the participants in the discussions, thus exposing them to opinions counter to my own. Then, I issued an opinion of my own. An idea, it appears, that Mr. Roth would wish that I  didn't express. May I politely ask which one of us  is not being conducive to the exchange of ideas?

Mr. Roth writes very well and I recommend his space if you are interested in the topic(s) he presents. His comments to my posts make some good points. If you haven't read them, you may want to.

That said, my take on magick is that it is a spiritual exercise. It isn't about raw power or control of other humans. Though, it can be used for those things. In my opinion, dropping a "philter" into someone's drink is damaging spiritually to the operator as well as the 'target'.

My definition of magick is a rip off of Crowley's "Magick is the art and science of causing change in conformity with the will." The definition I use for my personal magick is "Magick is the willed art and science of unfolding the soul." When we do things not in alignment with the nature of our souls, we close down, not open up. I call this stepping away from our virtue.

Your virtue is very different that mine because your soul encompasses different things than mine. Your life lessons come from that which you are. The fully negative lessons come from exploring that which you are not.

Most people, would come to regret dropping a philter in someone's drink because we chose to incarnate within the moral structure of this society and thereby have difficulties in violating those shared mores.  Those regrets weigh down the petals of our soul and cause us to close up.

A closed soul isn't doing magick in accordance with the definition I use. Since I assume my readers either a) do their magick in some way that is marginally related to my point of view or b) at least understand my point of view enough to keep reading, I feel free to issue the opinion of that work in the context of what is expressed here.

This to me is the free expression of ideas. I plan on continuing to do that.


Frater B.P.D. said...

Welcome to the world of Political Correctness, where a free exchange of ideas is great so long as those opinions match those of the Politically Correct. :) In any case, keep doing what you are doing. Ethical behavior is important in all areas of life, including magick.

Robert said...

Thank you for the encouragement.

Jason Miller, said...

Your opinion is well noted, and speaking for myself have no problem with it.

I also do not do, or endorse, all the things Huson talks about in his book. The difference is that you condemn the whole work for the bits you disagree with. I do not. You however are entitled to your opinion, and to express it.

When I talk about malifica and curses, I talk about some rituals that I would never do. Still I talk about them because it IS part of magic AND it is important to know about.

Huson was writing in an overly dramatic style, and leaning a bit towards the diabolical when he wrote his work, but do be it.

Now as to philtres - I see no difference between a magical philtre for influence and an influencing spell of other kinds.

Robert said...


It is true what you say but when I hear you speak, you also clearly state what is within your ethical boundaries. This is why I trust you as a human being, buy your books and recommend your work to others. I do that because not only do you say, I believe you when you say it. I have a very sensitive bullshit meter and we disagree on some very emotional topics. However, my bullshit meter has never gone off with you.

Huson, on the other hand, while never saying so, seems to indicate that these methods are indeed acceptable. This, in my opinion,taints his teachings and people have to be very careful and thoughtful when reading him.

I think you are such a person that is more than capable of doing so. I think there are many young people out there, whose personalities may not be as well-formed as of yet, solely due to age, that may make serious errors after reading him. Hormones are powerful.

I have had more than one surprisingly young readers email privately asking for advice.

Therefore, I take a harsh stand against his work. If for no other reason, so others stop and think. Once they do that, my job as a public writer is done.

Harold Roth said...

The free exchange of ideas does not, IMO, include condemning an entire work on the basis of one's disapproval of one thing in in it. The world is not a pure place where such sweeping judgments are merited. I believe you have also said that such works would be dangerous for the young people you are teaching and you would not want them exposed to such things. That does not sound like a free exchange of ideas to me, either. IME, there is nothing worse for the state of knowledge than censoring and limiting it for the "good" of others. I am a former professor (oh yes, one of THOSE) who taught literally thousands of young people in my time. I have seen the effects of "guarding" them from ideas deemed too dangerous for them.

IME, magic can include spiritual work, but it does not have to. To define magic is having to have the spiritual component is to limit it enormously and to define away from the majority of human experience. From what I have seen in my life, I would say that most of the time, magic and spirituality are separate. Is that not part of what so many magic workers nowadays find obtionable about Wicca (I personally do not find Wicca objectionable)--that it insists that religion and magic are inextricably linked? This, to me, is one of the very refreshing things about Hoodoo: the ethics is all on the practitioner. It is not embodied in the system itself. We each of us have to have the guts to make our own decisions.

Lately I have been delving pretty deeply into Kabbalah. What has surprised me over and over is how the Sages sometimes practiced magic--and pretty heavy duty magic, including killing people with curses--for no spiritual reason at all. It is a mixed bag because people made it, not angels or gods. Same with magic.

Perhaps instead of forbidding knowledge, people can learn it and then decide whether or not they want to employ, for what purpose, when, etc. It would seem to be that that process--the process of using the knowledge--is the teachable moment for someone like yourself with your students, not the knowledge itself. Certainly that has been my approach with young people who have asked me such things.

Robert said...

Once again Harold, I condemn the book but I do not hide it. I talk about it. I point out my problems with it. Any young person now has two points of view and many more to consider as he or she reads. To me that is a very good thing.

I have also praised counter arguments like Jack Faust's which I linked.

Go back and read everything I wrote again, did I ever say not to read it? I don't think so.

And just to be clear, I don't teach young people directly. They read what I write. Occasionally, the ask for advice which I offer sometimes and which I feel it best not to other times.