Aaron Leitch has been venting about Lodge haters who believe that magic has no place in groups.
First law of journalism is that if someone says something then you have to work out why. Aaron has been lucky. His lodge is run by two competent people and its members are not attempting power trips.
The nay sayers on the other hand either have no experience of groups at all or have had bad ones and assume that all groups behave the same way.
Many nay sayers from the US usually describe themselves as “libertines” which means that they want to do what they like and get very shitty if someone says they can’t.
I have seen both sides. I have been in shit groups and good ones. So Aaron and the Naysayers (which sounds like 1960s rock n roll band) are both right and both wrong.
When they work properly lodges is an infinitely better methods of training than doing it yourself. But when they don’t work you are better off of your own.
Better off on your own does not mean that your spiritual path is better, it is just that the sort of numpties who run groups do damage.
Numpty groups are best avoided. However a Numpty group is not necessarily autocratic – in fact some of the worst have pretensions about being democratic. A numpty group is one where:
1. The teaching is weak and new age oriented
2. The students are weak and often new age oriented
3. There are usually one or two people who are in charge and use that power for ego stroking, sex or to gain money. There is nothing wrong with autocratic groups. Some of the best “lodge groups” I have been involved with HAVE been autocratic. This brings out the unconscious problems that people have with their parents. Some numpty group leaders play on this… making themselves into father or mother figures for students. But real autocratic groups are like that to force you to do work.
4. There is no discipline. One of the reasons why the numbers of good magicians is dropping is because at a student level people are not forced into disciplined patterns early on.
5. A person’s status in the group is measured by their grade.
6. There is no ability for students to develop the teaching.
7. Cult like behaviour (leaders order members to attack other groups).
8. Group members are not very bright.
Most of the complaints people have about groups are about numpty groups. The question is that if they were so clever why the hell did they join a numpty group? It is fairly clear that such a group was going to damage people so why remain?
Some of it is that they can teach discrimination, or the shadows of magical teaching. I don’t regret my membership of numpty groups because I left before they got too bad.
Not all groups are numpty groups. There are some Orders which are just boring. If they had any magical knowledge they lost it a long time ago and are into the form of the ritual rather than what it can do. A lot of GD and OTO groups are like this. When they are they are often dominated by masons. But really if you cannot spot this at your initiation (no power) then you deserve what you get.
Group dynamics do create some difficult situations within magical groups. As people process their shadow in the outer order they go bang and become arseholes. Often trying to take over a group rather than deal with their own shadow. It is at moments like that the group has to rally about the leader and not get drawn in. The person will either leave or settle down. A united group has no problems with these sorts of issues.
This control over a student which many find irksome is actually vital and one of the reasons Self Initiation or working by yourself fails. In a group it is possible to modify a student’s sphere of sensation as part of an initiation programme and force them to deal with issues. This speeds up progress, and there are people around and teachings to help.
By yourself you are left with often poorly understood book learning gathered from different sources and the internet to piece together things you did not get in the first place.
It takes a special sort of person to train themselves and many of the people that can do it are the very sorts of people who have been successfully through a group to make their own contacts. Those that haven’t and are good at it are often unique sorts of people and they are rare (Bill Gray for example).
So the libertine ideal? Surely magic is about being yourself…. Well you can’t be yourself, and do what you want until you know who you are. It is simple. To be yourself you need other people. If you need other people you have to help other people so you will be helped.
Ultimately you discover that you are not an individual, but you are everything. Your true will is the same as everyone else’s. Everyone is a unique expression of the One Thing.
One thing I have noticed about those who attack groups, is that they usually show the sorts of insecurities, ignorance and lack of social skills that would preclude them from any group or society.
A group would not want such types because they can’t function by constantly having to drop everything to masturbate their egos. I also find that those who have been in numpty groups end up showing the same traits as their initiators.