Occult groups can’t let everyone in. They have to be exclusive clubs and there are good reasons for this.
One of the difficult issues that a modern occult group faces is “who do you let in” which actually comes out as “who don’t you like.” The modern “new age” theory is that everyone should be let in unless you can find a damn fine reason not to. However his is not entirely true. There are some people who should not be allowed into an esoteric group until they have mastered some fairly basic skills and some will find the work actually dangerous.
On my Facebook group were talking earlier about being excluded from occult groups for mental illness – and it is true that in some cases there are types of mental illness which will be exacerbated by esoteric techniques. There is no reason if a person is careful (and they are self-aware enough of their problems) that they can navigate through their illness and an occult path. However they have to be aware of the risks and will sometimes have to rely on others to tell them to back off for a bit. But this applies to so called “sane people” too.
I have worked with people with varying degrees of mental illness, but I have also made the judgement that sometimes some people need a lot more treatment by people better qualified than me before I would want them playing with some of the stuff occultists do.
There are generally bigger problems though and these do not fall into the category of mental illness, although they can at times. In group magic a person has to be able to function at a social level in a reasonable way. If they cannot then they will cause problems for the group – which is social magic. What is surprising is that many people coming into the occult believe that they can be self-absorbed neurotics in an occult group, and because “it is all about being spiritual” these antics have to be accepted. If a group, and particularly a group leader, has to make allowances for your behaviour, they are not focused on the work. If a group has to sit looking politely while you talk all the time about your latest pet theory, then it is your problem and not that of the group.
A group exists within its own rules. If it has to bend those rules in any way to accommodate you then you might be a problem. Being a problem is sometimes a sign of individualisation, but often it is something that you have to deal with. If those problems are so bad that they appear when you are interviewed, or have just joined then it is clear you are not going to survive in that group. A group would be wise never to admit you in the first place. The phrase “that is just me, you will have to live with it” is not an answer.
Weapons of Self-destruction
Another issue is one of self-destruction. Having worked with people with self-destructive streaks before, I think it is something that needs to be tackled by non-magical means before someone can do any serious magical work. Under self-destruction I bring in addiction — either drug or otherwise. Curiously it is less the type of the addiction which causes my belief on this. While I generalise on this, I find that self-destruction and addictive behaviour is a fusion of narcissism in the face of an inability to cope. In the full throws of addiction or self-destruction there is a complete inability to care about others while at the same time screaming for attention. Dealing with that is just too damn complex for an occult group and is best left until a person gets to grips with it.
Connected to this is the question as to whether or not a person will require too many resources to train. Most occultists when they are start are lazy and a lot of them consider themselves gods gift to occultism. But there is a breed who are all these things but have completely failed to master their lives in anyway at all. The magic of the outer order will not be enough to hardly balance them and the only way a teacher can do anything with them is to be an autocratic nutjob screaming at them until they actually do something. A clue is that their material life is not so much in ruins, but that person has no desire to change it. Such a personality will come up with some of the “worst dog ate my homework” excuses for not doing things (such as attending meetings) that you will see. While you might be sympathetic to their material plight, you will find that they will escape any serious work on themselves and be magician only of the “chocolate teapot” variety.
Not one of Us
There is the more contentious reason for rejection – this person will not fit in with the rest of the group. This is completely unfair but totally unavoidable. Ideally people should be able to adapt to different people coming into a group but in fact groups usually end up being similar types of people and those which don’t end up having slanging matches of issues like sexuality and politics – which have nothing to do with the magical work. A really good magician should be able to mix with everyone. But a group will often have a large number of beginners who do not know when to shut up about things that don’t matter to others in the group. MOAA makes some of this clear in its oath, which saves us a fair bit of time. The Golden Dawn had to swear to continue to accept equality between the sexes – we have extended this to include issues like sexuality, race, and religion.
Now this would make us “liberal” and we have a wide range of different people in the group. Someone who thinks that gay people are going to hell will not fit in. We also would think it weird that people want to carry guns everywhere. At the moment Apple users are treated with suspicion, but it is not part of the oath yet as officially it is a religion.
Lastly there is the question about whether or not anyone will actually help the Order or the leaders. It is not enough to show up and grace a group with your august presence – what can you do to help the group? Moreover are you the sort of person who actually offers to help or are you just sitting there while the leaders run around and try and do everything. By this I don’t mean offering to teach… I mean moving the furniture, helping set up, doing things that no one will notice.
Contact says no…..
If the group is particularly switched on, there are times that the spiritual forces behind the group say that they don’t want that person in there. Sometimes this is just the group leader enacting their own prejudice, but in a switched on group it is completely valid.
Inner plane spiritual forces can and do chose who they are going to teach and initiate and it sometimes appears completely arbitrary, to outsiders or even the group chiefs. Sometimes the stay with a group is for a short time, until they learn a lesson and move on to their real contact. This is why leaving a group, even though it feels like hell, is usually an important step for something else.
But sometimes an inner plane contact will make it clear that a person should not be admitted and there is nothing anyone can do. I have been in a couple of initiations where we admitted people against the contact’s advice. Not only were the initiations dead (or full of accidents) but also the person left fairly quickly.