HOW PHILOSOPHY HELPS MAGICAL DEVELOPMENT

Humans are extremely bad at learning from the past, yet at the same time they cling onto concepts which are long out-of-date. This is caused by the way we learn.

For evolutionary reasons humans had to learn a lot of things very quickly and our brains are hardwired to accept the first idea we are told from a “perceived authority” without question. This is logical as we do not want to distrust everything and most things we will need to understand the first time. Besides much of what we learn will not be used again for some time.

When a solution turns out to be wrong it takes effort to remove it. This why we often continue to believe things which are not true, even when intellectually we can see it is rubbish.magical imagination cover
What is more dangerous is that we make associations based on these unchallenged false premises and build up complex association patterns of belief around them.

In my book Magical Imagination I use the example from my childhood.

I was a child a Christian teacher told me that they had found chariot wheels in the Red Sea and this proved that Moses had crossed it, closing it on Pharoah’s chariots. It was an important point for me because this little bit of knowledge covered all manner of flaws in fundamental Christian philosophy. The information was given by someone whom I deeply respected as a teacher and who at the age of 11 was a role model for me. I reasoned that if Pharoah’s chariots had been found then Moses had a fixed place in history and there was an obvious element of literal truth in Bible stories. Through-out my teens I carried this ‘literal’ image of biblical history and its obvious association with the literal theology of fundamental Christianity.

All was well until my interest in Ancient History turned towards archaeology in the Biblical period and I discovered that the chariot wheel statement was complete fiction. My universe was shattered. Everything that I had been told by this teacher was now in doubt. I applied research to everything that I had accepted as fact and found it wanting, finally abandoning fundamentalist Christianity entirely in favour of a personal revelation. Some years later I found a friend from that period of my life to whom that brand Christianity remained important. He asked me why I had ‘abandoned my faith’ and was told about the teacher and the chariot wheels. He looked at me as if I was stupid. But they have found chariot wheels in the Red Sea,” he said.

Initially he thought he had read it somewhere, but like me he was able to trail the information to the same teaching session. Unlike me, the information did not break his faith.

Occultism’s main problem is one of baggage. Over the years so much has been added to it, particularly in the 19th century which probably did not need to be there. Ideas which were shoved under the bonnet of Western Magic do not really need to be there. However they remain and people managed to get extremely obsessed with them.

dion-fortune

Regular readers will know that I am not that impressed with incorporating Eastern ideas like Karma and re-incarnation. This happened in the 19th century and in my view blinded Dion Fortune’s tradition completely. Fortune was a truly great magician but her system spends a lot of its time trying to drag past life magical information out of Atlantis. It is not her fault, in fact in her books she warned against it, but side issues such as Lord of Karma and other necessary inner plane autocracies needed to prop them up, are a strong feature of her work.

So how do we know what is good and what isn’t and how do we get rid of past baggage?

plato_bust

The Western Mystery Tradition is bedrocked in Plato. You would not really know it, because few modern magicians can be bothered studying philosophy. (Get your paws on a used copy of Understanding Plato, by David Melling  and you will see how much).
Plato learned a technique from his teacher Socrates which was designed to weed out rubbish from philosophy and get to the heart of the truth.

The Socratic method looks at commonly held truths that shape beliefs, and looks at them alongside other ideas. It does this by forming a system of questions as logical tests.

Elenchus, as it is called, is also a feature of Jewish belief and is one of the things that is seen that keeps it from getting silly. If you have to argue your religious ideas before those who are also capable of ripping your logic to bits, you tend to think before you speak.

The first stage is to take an idea that you have about magic, occultism or anything and make it into a thesis. Then you see similar ideas are also true and finally if any of these ideas negate your original thesis (this is similar to the scientific method).

To do this you look at the implications of your ideas and see how they will affect other concepts. For example, my simple chariot wheels in the Red Sea concept was the heart of a belief which said the Bible is literally true. If I dismissed the “archaeological evidence,” then I was also saying that “the Bible is not the perfect word of God.” The Red Sea chariot wheels was easy to disprove, therefore I had to look at a more important thought about how I saw the Bible.

But that is only looking at part of the Socratic method. If you pull apart your ideas ruthlessly and carefully you will finally come to a point where your pre-conceptions give way and you have to admit that whatever you were told about a subject was wrong. In other words you are ignorant.

From this position of ignorance you can actually find out the answer (if one truly exists). Ignoring for a moment that Socrates believed in a concept of re-incarnation lets apply his method to looking at that question. A is the holder of the belief and B is “Socrates.”

A: Reincarnation exists because I can remember past lives.
B: How many lives can you remember?
A: About half a dozen.
B: How much of this life can you remember?
A: Pretty much all of it.
B: Can you remember pretty much all of your other lives?
A: No, only flashes of important moments. Some lives more than others.
B: Do these memories feel like the memories of your current life?
A: They sometimes feel more intense.
B: So it is fair to say that you remember incidents of previously lives which were important or emotionally intense?
A: Yes.
B: So a future you is going to remember only the important or emotionally intense parts of this one?
A: I guess so.
B: So those lives you don’t remember, they are dull and had nothing happen?
A: That would be a good explanation.
B: So what happens when you remember anything?
A: Like anything I think about it and a memory appears in my head.
B: So how is a memory different from a daydream?
A: That is easy, it has emotion and a feeling of reality.
B: So when you work with Gods, Angels or dead spirits what do they feel like?
A: Actually they are the same. I see an image and it is packed with emotion and power.
B: So would you say then that your ritual and pathworking experience is memory?
A: No it is happening now.
B: If you feel an emotional experience now is that a memory?
A: No.
B: So it is fair to say that there are circumstances in the current moment which feel the same as your past life memories.
A: Yes.
B: So these “past life memories” could be actually a response to what you are experiencing now.
A: But no they are memories of the past.
B: But they equally act in the same way as psychic experiences, or memories of the present. So “being in the past” is not a pre-requisite for you having them.
A: mmmm
B: In fact the debate has suggested that past-lives could be explained by other magical methods that have nothing to do with re-incarnation.
A: I suppose
B: So the existence of re-incarnation cannot be dependent on you remembering past lives.

If it exists it would have to be proved by another reason.

By applying these sorts of methods and reasoning (plus Occam’s razor) to magic and occultism we can free it from all the sorts of baggage that has trapped it.

This includes an over dependence on ideas which come from a particular source. One of the things you learn very quickly is that Bardon, Mathers, Westcott, Crowley are no more authorities is as you are. This is marvellously liberating as you move closer to your own idea of Truth rather than someone else’s.  From there you can experience what is rather than what someone else thinks should be there.

Paypal security glitch might kill off my Lulu books

locked-up-money (1)For a while now I have been selling my books on Lulu which pays me through Paypal.

Unfortunately since Paypal split from Ebay there has been a security glitch which stops me spending any of the money raised.

Paypal are refusing to talk about it or fix it.  Even its press office is fobbing off inquires.

You can read about it here

Lulu does not use any other payment system, so going to Paypal’s rivals will not help.

Obviously I can’t write for Lulu any more until Paypal sees that there is a problem and fixes it.  If there are any Paypal users out there I would test to see that you have not been blocked as you do not get an error message you are just told to “try again later.”

 

WHY YOU NEVER SAY YOUR GRADE PUBLICALLY

The latest issue of Watchers of the Dawn  brings up an interesting issue of what happens when you tell other people your Grade.

This week both Martin Thibeault and David Griffin announced that they held high Golden Dawn grades. Martin said he was a 9=2 and David said that his order offered teaching up to 10=1 (which implies he holds that grade).

Normally no one ever talks about their grade outside their order. There are two reasons for this. One is that people, like Watchers, will say that you are claiming to hold a grade which you cannot remotely have the spiritual experience for and they would equally question your motivation for claiming it.

Martin points out that the grades are “administration only” and such a practice was common in Whare Ra and he would be absolutely correct. However I doubt anyone in Whare Ra knew that the high grades existed. They were shown a plan of the third order in Portal, but the Third Order was seen as being packed with secret chiefs and gods.

Given the status of those grades and the climate of secrecy that existed within Whare Ra it is incredibly unlikely that anyone knew that John Von Dadleson was a 9=2 and he would have been the last person in the world to post that fact on Facebook.

This gets to the core of why people do not publically talk about their grades. People have no reference point. BOTA, for example only goes to 5=6 and gives an administration grade of 7=4 to its supreme chief. In his book True and Invisible Order Paul Case makes the 9=2 a supreme being. HOGD stops at 7=4 and leaves the candidate to find their own way to 8=3, which it does not acknowledge.

We are not comparing like with like either. A 5=6 in the HOGD has gone through a different system of experiences, testing and training that someone in MOAA. That is not saying that one is better than the other but it means that we both have different ideas about what the word means.

So me telling you what grade I am will not give you any indication of what I am or what true grade I hold. However it might allow you to project your own fantasies about what that grade might hold onto me. Thus me telling you is either ego or a marketing tool.

Martin denied he released this information for egotistical reasons, it was just to show that he was Pat Zalewski’s appointed successor and held all the appropriate grades. That would be fair enough, however it is not quite how I would have done it.

Watchers are right in this respect – it smacks of the people who used to scream “look at me” on alt.magick in the 1990s. Grades and declarations do not cut it anymore than that old bugbear — lineage.

What was crucial for Pat’s 7=4 grade was not just that he was given it by one of the greatest Magicians that Whare Ra produced, or even that that grade was acknowledged by other Whare Ra people, but the books and papers he wrote that proved he was worthy of holding those grades.

With respect to Martin, no one outside of his own group knows him beyond these pronouncements of high grades. To outsiders his “achievements” are not his own but someone else’s. Until we see books, web postings, from Martin which are the same calibre of Pat’s we will assume that he is a Mina Mathers to succeed Samuel.

This is not a criticism of Martin at all, but a statement of fact about the way the occult community works.  It is a community packed full of people who say things and very few who do things.  Those who do things get more respect than those who say stuff.

The only way you can get around this is by releasing material to the esoteric community that shows where you are coming from.

It is fine if you don’t want that, but you can’t advertise your grades and special privilege if you don’t, because people like Watchers will be there with hobnail boots on.

Ritual Offerings : Feeding Your Spirits, Empowering Your Magick book review

Ritual Offerings  is a book you need.

book

I have just been cataloguing my books for the first time and it made me aware that there were books that I used all the time, those that I read once, and those which should probably be sold to make room for books in the other two categories.

Ritual Offerings, which is a collection of articles is not a book which I want to be parted from.  I am not just saying that because I have a chapter in it.  Magic is divided into two camps.  There are those who talk about it and those who do it.  This book is for those who need to start doing as it answers a lot of questions that took me a few years to solve.

The writers include

Aaron Leitch:  Introduction: Magickal Offerings in Western Occultism

Aaron Leitch: Liber Donariorum: the Book of Offerings

Zadkiel: The Elements of Making Offerings: The Offering as Sacrifice

Bryan Garner (Frater Ashen Chassan):  Whispers from a Skull: Lessons in Spiritual Offerings from a Conjured Familiar

Brother Moloch: Ancestors & Offering

Frater Rufus Opus: The Back Yard Path toward the Summum Bonum

Denise M. Alvarado: Ritual Offerings in New Orleans Voudou

Jason Miller:  Severed Head Cakes and Clouds of Dancing Girls: Offerings in Tibetan Buddhism

Nick Farrell:  Offerings In Roman Deity Magic

Sam Webster, M.Div., Ph.D., founder OSOGD:  Offerings in Iamblichan Theurgy

Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero: Ritual for the Declaration of Maa-Kheru

Gilberto Strapazon: Offerings in Ceremonial Magick and African Traditional Religions

If you have read anything by these authors and magicians this is the sort of book you will want to read, because here they are all on form – they are saying the important stuff which they want to say, but would not necessarily fit into their more commercial books.   It is rare in an anthology that you want to read everything, however this book is the exception.  If you are serious about your magical practice you need to read the lot with some extensive note taking.

The idea of making sacrifices and offerings for spirits you are working with was never mentioned in my training in the Western Mystery Tradition.  At best, I was taught to leave a candle burning after a working as an offering to the spirit you called. This was a hang-over from the days when Christianity was the prime motivator of Western Magic. This changed as other spiritual paths, particularly afro-Caribbean and South American started to be included with some practitioner’s lives.  This provided a realisation that some magical elements which were important to those traditions were missing from the Western systems, much to their loss.

Offering sacrifices, or food to the spirits or the ancestors was such an important part of magical work in other parts of the world, it was a wonder it was missed here.  It was an important part of the Pre-Christian magical traditions too.  The experimental work that produced my chapter in this book aimed to create a system which kept the spirits happy so that they were more likely to work with us, but it drew on existing ideas.

This idea is that working with the various gods, spirits and familiars and angels is not about ordering them about or beginning a snotty being to do what you want.  It is about forming a relationship with an inner plane being or spirit.

The various rules of offerings and sacrifice make the process a two way street and once you understand that the play magic of doing a ritual and forgetting about it is impossible.

As you expect with Nephalim Press this book is beautifully illustrated and made and will make a valuable and functional part of any serious magician’s collection.  You might have to be quick though.  There are only 900 of these made, and I have Number 652 and I was one of the authors!  Needless to say the value of these will go through the roof, not only because it will be a rare and beautiful book, but also because the information it contains is vital to know.

You can get your paws on a copy here http://store.nephilimpress.com/