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Getting old

I am told that as you get older you get more Right Wing and start muttering about how much better things were when you were a kid. I found myself in a conversation with Marian Green the other day in which I found myself entirely out of sync with the modern flow.
I have been making it somewhat clear lately that people expect Magical Groups to let them in just by virtue of them showing up. They appear on various webgroups and say “I live in (insert place) and I want to join a (insert magic order).” They then expect to be contacted by someone who heads a local group who will draft them into their Order. However if you ask them to drive any more than an hour away they start appealing to other groups. A shred of effort required and people throw their hands up in the air and look elsewhere.
I found myself saying “what happened to the dedication that was required of students to join a magical group?” Then began the comment which began “when I was a kid….”
Modern magical groups have become so desperate for members that they have forgotten what they are supposed to be doing. If someone is not prepared to show the slightest bit of dedication then chances are they are not going to do the work required either. Sooner or later they will just get bored and look for some other novelty. Real magic requires years before a person masters it and if people are not prepared to jump in a car or a plane to find the right training and path then let some other group have them.
But I wondered what it was that has bought this state of affairs about. Marian was telling me she was lucky to find the right people who got her into the right groups at the right time in history. I was the same. But there was no Internet then and really finding a group was a huge effort. Now there are hundreds all vying for students.
This competition has let standards slip. One person who heard I was setting up an Order told me he wanted to join but he gave me a list of criteria which would enable him to do so. This included how often he could attend. He said it was impossible for him to attend more often because he was in an amateur dramatic club who met on the same day but some days they didn’t meet because the group leader had to spend time with their daughter.
So, the Keys to Reality are only to be studied when your Am Dram teacher has some time off? “When I was a kid” the Mysteries were something you dedicated your life to and placed it first even if such decisions ended up incredibly painful. In fact the dedication necessary has cost me two marriages and forced me to move at least five times in my life. I don’t mind this, it is all part of the path, but it seems that level of dedication “these days” is considered obsessive.
I left New Zealand to join Servants of the Light. In those days they had workshops on ritual magic which I wanted to take. I was happy in New Zealand, I had a good job in one of the prettiest places in the world. I had training from Whare Ra people and the Order of the Table Round. But my search for ‘something else’ lead me first to those SOL workshops, then the lodge system which was being developed by David Goddard. These were important to my training and development something which was noted by the Whare Ra people when I came back on holiday five years later. But I had to come half-way around the world to get that (as a result I cant see me ever going back).
Now, I don’t think I am dedicated enough. While I spend most of my day at my computer writing occult stuff for the Order, I don’t do nearly enough practical magic on a daily basis – some days it is just a couple of pentagram rituals. But most people hope to avoid even that. There are temple chiefs who never do any magic and rising stars in occult orders who don’t believe in doing regular meditation. There are Orders who cannot teach because their leader do not study, and cannot really initiate because they can’t make the spiritual connection to do so. Instead of being places of magic they have become kindergartens of the ego.
What many people fail to understand that occultism is about doing. If you can’t do that then an Order can’t teach. If the Order takes you on knowing that you can’t do, then they never intended to teach you in the first place.
It was not like this when I was a kid but now I have got old the world has gone to hell. Get off my lawn!

12 thoughts on “Getting old

  1. It seems that what you could be leading to is ‘behind the veil’ of internet groups, personalities and everything else identified as part of this watered down version, there needs to be something more real. In a world where everything is marketable and everything comes with a price, the nature of the occult doesnt mold well and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Bleeding hearts and a zeal for members have led to online presences and application via the internet possible (simply at the click of a button, convenient.) All in all, if one is really desiring membership in an order, they will persist with letters (more than a webpage application), and they will move to another locale.

    Apparently this internet age hasnt improved on ‘members’ of the occult community, it has simply polluted the waters with more individuals who cannot spare the time if it is inconvenient. This reminds me of ‘before swine’.

    I can understand a legitemate group making an appearance on the net to guard a tradition that might be abused by a money making scheme going by the same name. All in all though, what others think of what you might or might not be doing is irrelevant (unless they are burning you at the stake), and secondly if your working something legitimate with your heart in it how much are you going to make public anyways?

    All in all, I dont think its that far off when people made major strides to work in lodges; it simply is that it has become too easy to petition those lodges through the internet; allowing the lazy to do what once always required great persistance.

  2. Hi Nick,

    Well put and well said. Obviously I agree with every word. This has been my observation for a long time now and there was a discussion on Facebook started by Naomi Ozaniec along similar lines.

    I think we need to accept that a functioning mystery school or occult order runs counter to our current society in many ways. It requires work, not an instant fix. You give to it, not take from it. You don’t just pay your money and GET things, you co-create. It requires surrender and individuality to be held creatively at the same time, not a boosted up solo ego. It requires physical work and physical results not a virtuality aided by communication technologies.

    Your words reminded me of R.J. Stewart describing how as a student he would scrimp and save to travel once a month to learn from his teacher, W.G. Gray. These days a virtual temple in Second Life would be used.

    The trouble is the contemporary world doesn’t teach or give effective models of dedication, sacrifice, commitment. To quote Bart Simpson’s girlfriend in one of their ‘future’ episodes on being asked to marry him, “I dunno Bart, marriage is a three year commitment”.

    With potential students I am in the habit of taking a leaf from the 60s Firesign Theatre and straight away telling them ‘Everything you know is wrong!’ 🙂 One solution in from one of my Orders is to require community service to be done as part of the introductory grades. This weeds out the undedicated a bit.

    To be fair on the modern times though, some of the problems you mention are not just contemporary. The first GD order I was in held a teaching night on the LRP for neophytes. I was stunned when the teacher (current Hierophant) said he would also take the opportunity to perform the ritual as he had not done so for a couple of months, even though he initiated me a month earlier. And he got it wrong!

    Thanks again; I’ll keep of the lawn 🙂

  3. Hi Nick,

    Hmmm – I can agree to some extent. I agree that a lot of aspirants or students do not have the dedication to follow the path if the path is indeed not a nice big straight forward road but a rubble filled serpentine like pathway full of obstacles. In general I would also agree that distance should not be an obstacle. On the other hand, distance CAN be an obstacle. You say one needs to be ready to drive even longer distance or jump into a plane… Well you have to admit that for some people this is a problem – unless you mean that the path of light is only meant to be taken by those who can afford it. I think one has to distinguish here between something someone is able to do but may just bee to lazy, greedy, comfortable etc to do and something someone would like to do but is incapable of doing. Sacrifice is necessary, mainly in time, also in money. Your family may suffer from that too. However, one can also not expect that the “true” seeker of the light must be ready to leave even his family, job, country etc.
    One more point, finding a serious group I not necessarily that much easier these days, despite of such nice inventions like the interwebs. Exactly because there are so many groups out there it is difficult to filter who is serious, honest, helpful and – most of all – can provide true knowledge. And if one may think of the “old” orders, well Order X says that they are the real successors and are the only ones in possession of all the secrets. Order Y says the same while order Z insists that all others are scum and only they are for real… So even looking for the “big” names does not mean that it becomes easy.

    In L.V.X.

    Arcad

  4. I think if an order says it is the ONLY one with the information it is automatically not worth bothering about. The issue about money is interesting. It is easy to be general but I find it strange what people who say they are broke actually spend their money on. Again it is a priority thing and magic is not the priority. Dee spent most of his day studying and most of his cash on books and occultism. Yet some people will spend a hundred dollars a month on a sports package for their cable and then moan they are too broke to attend a group once a month. (I am not saying this is all people, but blogs are generally about spouting generalities :-).) I have been incredibly broke at different times in my life. My magical path did not stop. Somehow I managed to find ways to get to the meetings (sometimes it meant missing meals).

  5. Haha, well Dee had a nice and secure job and it was related to his “passion”. Anyways, you are certainly right when it comes to the question why someone is broke.

  6. Hi Nick

    I can appreciate your position of seeing GD viewpoint base on the written word and within the context of knowing people with the whare ra community and being taught by them. What is missing in documentation is what is emphasized on some things and not others. Masks are a good example. For example Frater SR tells us masks were worn at whare ra because some paper said so. Yet both us were told they were not one by an ex Hierophant. So what do we believe? I know they were not used post war but to issue a definitive statement that were used (and without context) is dangerous grounds for any historian. I would asked questions like “were they used up to the end of whare ra”?, “were used by some hierophants and not others”? and “If they why were not used then why”? This is the difference between an old historical paradigm and an anthropological one.

    Pat

  7. If you are working something legitimate that you feel deeply passionate about, you want the world to know. After all, this is how you have been blessed with the opportunity to learn from the greats – had they not shared their passions, there would have been nothing to share, no groups, no dedication, virtual or otherwise. Think about it. As far as judging the level of caring or commitment people have for any particular subject, consider that people are so dynamic and diverse, and there are such a multitude of ways in which people learn and grow…I hardly think it’s fair to conclude that their desire or dedication exists because you truly don’t know what they know or what is in their hearts. What you see is not always what you get!

  8. And anyways, it seems like you are reducing your so-called ‘passion’ to a brotherhood whose expectations/prerequisite is yet another conforming variation of contemporary academic and vocational pursuits- one where each individual member must meet or exceed the accomplishments and learning milestones of their predecessors – yet another variation of cut/copy/paste socialization, indoctrination, brainwashing, basting with bullshit, and generally selling something everyone already has, but in a slightly lighter color or whatever!

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