At the end of the 20th century the system of magical training started to break down. There once was a time that you would be taught by one person who would show you their magical system, which was often worked out over years by experience. To some measure that changed with the adoption of the Order system. You would join a group like the Order of the Golden Dawn and that would train you. What really happened was nothing of the sort. An order, like the Golden Dawn, would perform some of the magical work on the students sphere of sensation, but actual training was carried out by adepts who knew what they were doing.
|But sir, you might know the secrets of the universe,
but you failed to point your Hebrew correctly
In Whare Ra for example a candidate would be initiated and after a period of assessment they were taken under the wing of an adept who would train them. Often this was using the Golden Dawn system, but sometimes it was not. Some of these adepts saw the Golden Dawn as the starting point and would take their students through the same disciplines they had learnt. In other words the training of a student was an apprenticeship under an adept, the Order provided a backdrop for them to meet and trained them in a common symbolic language. The thing that was being watched for was not how clever the person was, but what sort of questions they asked.
Now not only ignorance of the Golden Dawn system is common, there more students out there and too few adepts providing them with that specialist type of training. To fill the gap are books, and those who set up groups and orders. I have moaned before how it is too easy to get into an esoteric group these days and how the competition between the different orders is silly.
But it has created a situation where people think that, for argument’s sake, the Golden Dawn provides the person with training. All a candidate has to do is complete a system of exams, go through a certain number of rituals and they will be finished.
|The Invisible College needs to go mobile
But the same thing applies to correspondence courses. The Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea has a correspondence course and one of the strangest questions I get is “how long does it last for?” In other words when does it finish and you get the certificate that you have been trained. Many are surprised when I say that I have written 17 lessons and so far can’t see how it is going to end. My point is that the training does not stop; there is an infinite things to learn and only one short lifetime.
In my generation, magical training changed. Orders became less formal and the central training method became that of the workshop. It has to be said that these were a special sort of workshop. The trainer was an experienced magician, who never read from a script and would include a large amount of practical work. This work was pioneered by Marian Green whose workshops gave students their first crack at what would pass for experience.
Workshops also provided a small income for the teachers too, although some kept workshop costs down by selling their books at them.
In many ways this approach was killed off by those who would charge a fortune for sub-par workshops. Also the cost of getting some teachers into some parts of the globe meant that prices either became too high, or workshop organisers (or the teachers themselves) were exploited.
|But Sir, I have read that it is OK to
have a ritual between Set and the Flower Fairies
The increasing prices also made students wary. There was a feeling that spirituality should be given as a service, ignoring the fact that the high costs in terms of time of providing teaching was prohibitive. No doubt there were some, with very little to say, who were milking the system.
Now we have a situation which is developing where people are not getting properly trained. Many teachers out there are presenting “one size fits all” training packages for students that cover the usual rubbish – make a few elemental tools, ask the student to do the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram (sic) and the middle pillar until they are blue in the face. At the other end of the scale you get kids playing with Solomonic or Goetic magic, often mixed with systems that do not go together. They also get incredibly childish when you point out things like “this system does not go with that one.”
The assumption is now that any idiot can be a magician if they apply to the right Order and the right workshop. There is little respect for any teachers and students feel free to play out their parental projections upon them without consequence. You have untrained people telling trained people that they are “wrong” and argue about how many angels are on the head of a pin while not actually doing any practical work.
I used to think that the relaxing of systems at the end of the 20th century and the access to more information thanks to the Internet was a good thing. I liked the ideas of the autocratic orders which were the bane of my existence had faded. Now I am not so certain. In trying to be all things to all people, which is the role of a modern esoteric teacher, I have let students get away with murder. By not putting my foot down and insisting that something needed to be done in a particular way, there are very few students who have developed in a way that is useful. I am not saying that it is necessary to be an autocratic arsehole (although it is fair to say that I learnt more under such types) but neither is it possible for a student to learn magic if they are too closed, and trying to run things according to their own egos.
One think I have noticed is that the Golden Dawn ritual, if performed correctly, does a Stirling job of kicking modern students out of its system. As the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea came closer to its “contacts” the energy has become less patent with those who are not going to make it. As a result the period after a 0=0 has been a rough time for MOAA members as the 42 assessors grab students by their pentagram necklaces and give them a good kicking until they sort their lives out. If they survive, then other experiences are delivered.
But as far as training is concerned, I am thinking that it is better to go back to the old ways, of master and student. I am beginning to think that new technology can be used for teachers to contact students and create the sort of master apprentice structure which has been lost. This is the first century were a teacher can be in contact with a student every day or so and, if done correctly, could result in better trained students worldwide.
|Time will tell if the Apprenticeship system ends up
being yet another Mickey Mouse training system
This would involve the teacher being connected to the student every one or two days. Techniques would be given and the teacher and student would interact on the results. Books would be suggested (after all there is no need to re-invent the wheel) but mostly training would be tailored for each student as much as possible. However the student would not be god. They would really have to work. In two days, the teacher will be asking how they are getting on and reviewing work and suggesting new patterns from it. The teacher could throw out the student who does not work (some would go quite quickly). Technology could be used to arrange online workshops on specialist subject etc.
The other side of this is that money will have to change hands. This sort of training would not be for occult tourists and one thing that discourages that sort of behaviour from the student is the fact that they have invested money in it. It means that the student has to think hard about signing up for it. It also means that practically the teacher has a good reason for showing up. Because of the time it takes to train people, there would be a limited number of people who could be trained at a time. Some training could be skipped by those who know the basics.
I am keen to look at this because it solves some of the frustrations that I have had with training people over the years. If I go ahead with it, then I will be vetting the students who take part in it very carefully as I would not want to waste their time or mine. It would not be connected to MOAA, but no doubt would be linked to it.