Posted 10 May 2016 - 09:11 PM
As far as cost....well, today, most of it is free on the internet. If you're talking things like access to herbs, well, just don't get involved with that tradition. Do whatever you can afford. There are plenty of traditions which can be accomplished without spending any money (other than for books). It's about time and effort, not about how much money you spend.
I've never really worked with herbs. I'm not drawn to that. I have some basic knowledge from reading, but I've never felt the need to go out and hunt down herbs.
Once again, I'm going to compare it to martial arts. Do you realize how much money it costs to get to be a black belt? My god!
Magic is much cheaper than karate!
As far as different traditions. It depends on what you want to learn. I'm not going to compare Voodoo to Kabbalah. They're different traditions. Neither one is superior to the other. It's a matter of how much time and effort you spend within a certain tradition. However, for most people who are involved in something like Voodoo or Kabbalah or Sufism, it's also a religion to them. They're involved to be part of a religious tradition. You can't judge that in the same way.
I have nothing except respect for those who are serious about Kabbalism or Sufism. I am influenced by each tradition, although I wouldn't refer to myself as either. I consider myself a Christian.
My point still holds, though, in that if you've read the latest mass market book on Kabbalah, and you consider yourself a Kabbalist who can write a book on the subject, then no one is going to take you seriously. It takes years of studying and involvement to allow someone to be able to teach someone else about the Kabbalah.
However, most Western esoteric traditions are based in hermeticism. There really isn't that much difference between the different paths, it's all about different paths going towards the same direction. I'm mainly speaking within the Western esoteric tradition, which incorporates many aspects from Eastern mysticism, as well. So, in that sense, the traditions can be judged against each other.
Basically, if you're involved in magic, and your purpose is to use magic to make more money, get revenge on someone, or find a lost item....you're at a beginner's stage, and don't understand magical tradition.
"Life is such a great disappointment."
Posted 10 May 2016 - 09:25 PM
If you consider that when you start out, you have to learn simplistic things, it doesn't matter if you're just memorizing. You're just breaking in. It's like a swimming lesson. Are you a lesser swimmer because you had a teacher telling you how to learn to swim? Once you learn the basics from a teacher, can't you grow as a swimmer, and learn more complex forms of swimming? Are you always going to be a novice swimmer who can only swim a certain way because that's what your teacher told you?
If you're at university and taking Psychology 101, the professor really doesn't take that kindly to the student telling them something, now does the professor? However, if you work your way up towards getting a post-graduate degree in Psychology, the professor is more likely to work with you on a personal basis, as near equals, now isn't the professor?
Hey, I'm with you! The guru system sucks! I'd much rather be the master! But, don't act like this elitism is solely the realm of the occult. You see the same guru system in universities!
At least magic isn't putting up obstacles, telling a person they need to reach a certain degree in order to hold a job in that field, now is it?
Yeah, if it's your second day in a society, and you're telling the lodge master exactly what he should and shouldn't be doing, the lodge master is going to get pissed at you, and not listen. Well, is that really a surprise? You are apparently there to LEARN from him as a teacher. So, you should probably do your assignment and work on becoming a higher degree in the society.
Also, a lot of the magical system involves individual learning, where the person tells you what books to read and understand. You go off and do your own research. Yes, it's what books they TELL you to read...but that doesn't mean you can't do your own research later with what you learn....especially since many books have bibliographies. Shit, your arguments sound like Right libertarians tearing apart the public school system for turning out drones! Sure, the schooling system works that way, but it doesn't preclude a student from doing their own research and learning, now does it?
If you're a mindless follower, it's basically your own fault, and I don't feel sympathy for those people.
I think you'll agree the Golden Dawn was the complete opposite. I don't think you can find a group of more individualistic personalities!
As you move from a novice to greater understanding, you'll begin to develop your own personal skills. Hence, why someone like Gerald Gardner split away from the OTO and founded Wicca.
So, in that sense, yes, I would be able to understand.
If you have a teacher who is keeping knowledge away from you and refusing to allow you to grow, then you're not with a good teacher! Crowley may have been all about control after he broke with the Golden Dawn, but his system was based on the individual growing stronger and learning to rebel against the teacher. It's a "survival of the fittest" model. If someone is stupid enough to be a follower to you, then they don't deserve knowledge, now do they? Eventually, you have to rise up and be your own person. In that sense, Crowley was a good teacher, and the fact that one of his students was Jack Parsons proves that as a fact.
You make a valid point about separating the wheat from the chaff....but doesn't that cost a lot of money?
As far as amount of time, well, it takes a lot of time and money to amass a comic book collection too, now doesn't it? So, what's the big deal? If you want to be able to act like an expert on comic books, you can't just read Brian Bendis' run on Avengers and then act like you know what you're talking about, now can you? You need to start spending time and money doing research and hunting down back-issues, right?
If you want to be an expert on something, it takes time! If you don't have the time, or you want to whine because it's taking up your time, simply don't do it! It's not like you can't get a job unless you have a basic understanding of the complete system of Eliphas Levi, now is it? If you feel magic is worth pursuing, you'll find a way to make time. Otherwise, you'll find something else to do with your time.
"Life is such a great disappointment."
Posted 11 May 2016 - 06:14 PM
Also, why are you making excuses for the guru system when both you and Grant Morrison are autodidacts who did manage to sift out from the stuff that works for you from the crap without assistance? That seems a bit of an inconsistency in what you're coming out with.
Posted 11 May 2016 - 08:32 PM
Are you going to go on about the existence of MUFON now? Personally, I think MUFON is pure crap, and would never join it. It's still a far gulf between joining MUFON and being involved with the Heaven's Gate.
I was just pointing out that there's a difference between a magical order, like the Golden Dawn or OTO, versus a cult set-up, where the guru is an unquestioned leader who controls peoples' lives.
The Golden Dawn didn't tell people what to believe or do, or take up their entire lives, cutting them off from their families and loved ones, and not letting them leave the group. Everyone had their own disparate personalities and lives. That's why you had fascist supporters like W.B. Yeats alongside Socialists like Edith Nesbit alongside a conservative racist like Sax Roehmer.
Most occult orders, you're working with a number of people who have been involved with magic for a number of years. You're not working solely with one person. I think that's close enough to an administrative body for a private organization. You don't have to solely work with one teacher, who might decide to not be very helpful. You can work with other members of the society. If you feel you're being treated unfairly, you can always discuss your complaints with other high-ranking members.
There are exams and trails that you need to pass to move from one degree to another. If you don't want to bother with this, you're not expected to do so. Arthur Machen never achieved a very high degree in the Golden Dawn, from what I understand, but based on his fiction, he had picked up more than enough knowledge from his experience.
I'm pointing out that magical orders seem to work just fine for those involved with them. I rarely hear anyone make a complaint that they didn't get something out of working with a magical order, even if they came to feel that a lot of the ideas represented by a certain group they were involved with was ludicrous. That's why I don't have this same negative view of the guru system that you seem to hold.
Also, it's a free society. People can do what they want. Hence, my point about universities. You may make excuses for the university system, but it still has the ability to control your life choices, by putting up obstacles to holding jobs. A magical order is far less destructive. What is your main concern? I'm involved with the occult and avoided being involved with any magical order. You don't really care about the occult, so it doesn't effect your life. Other people have been involved with occult orders and have spoke positively of their experiences. It's what people want to do with their lives....it's not like the government is forcing people to be involved with the occult, right?
I'm not being blindly positive about societies, but I'm also not taking such a wildly negative view of them either. I'm saying they can serve a positive function for people, even though they're not necessary. Yes, it's entirely possible to figure out a system for yourself, just like Grant Morrison or myself. I would recommend taking that path, actually. However, if someone wanted to get involved with a society, I wouldn't tell them they should avoid it like the plague. They should be knowledgeable about what they're getting themselves involved with, so as to avoid ending up in something like Scientology, sure.
There are things that a society provides which a person may not find by following a totally individual path. It depends on what the person is looking for.
Occult orders can provide a social function for people. Also, they can provide all that expensive accoutrements you talked about. That way, you don't have to invest in everything, you can just use what the order provides. And, a lot of spells are based around the concept of group work. Now, you certainly don't need to be involved with those rituals, but some people might want to try them, and you can't do that by yourself.
Peter Carroll, the founder of Chaos magic, went on to found his own magical order to help others who wanted to join. Even though Chaos magic is all about decentralization and democratization or what-have-you, he still founded his own order. You said it concerned you that practitioners didn't want to teach. Well, that's what they're doing....teaching is more than just publishing a book.
If you're getting involved in magic, you should have some basic ideas of what you want to accomplish. If you join an order, and don't feel those needs are being met, then you should move on to a different order or move on to trying something different.
My point about the guru system is that most of the people who write books have been involved in different orders. I can't think of many names, except Grant Morrison, who have written extensively on the occult who haven't been a member of some society, at some point.
Even someone like Scott Cunningham, who I don't have a lot of respect for, has credentials.
"Life is such a great disappointment."
Posted 12 May 2016 - 12:32 PM
As for writing on the occult without any previous membership of occult societies, how about Robert Graves? Everything in Gardnerian Wicca that wasn't lifted from Crowley appears to have been taken from The White Goddess, and a fair few occultists insist that you're much better off reading that one than anything Wiccan if you want to understand how magic works in practice.
Posted 12 May 2016 - 05:40 PM
Yeah, I made the same point about cults. But, Christianity leads to cults too. I pointed out about all the UFO cults. It's not something solely related to occultism. I'm not going to complain about the dangers of organized religion by pointing out that David Koresh founded a cult based around Christianity.
Like I said, you have to find reputable societies to join. There's a self-regulating system in place. Mathers was a master Freemason before he decided to found the Golden Dawn. There's a system of degrees in the Golden Dawn system. You have to reach a certain degree before you can found your own Golden Dawn association. Once you found your own Golden Dawn lodge, you are under the supervision of whomever is the head of the current Golden Dawn. If you are doing things in violation of Golden Dawn principles, you lose your charter.
It seems to me that there's more of a danger based on what you like, where a person buys some occult books, get it in their head that they can be a messiah, and sets out to form their own occult society. Like that little asshole who read the Satanic Bible and decided to form his own cult involved with human sacrifice.
I can go read all of Raymond Buckland's book and decide that I'm going to come out as the reincarnation of the "horned god" and form a group that worships me and does everything I say. I can do the same thing with the Bible or the works of A.E. Van Vogt!
At the same time, Gerald Gardner broke away from the OTO and founded his own order, which is now recognized as an established organized religion. Gardner didn't have any regulating body when he founded Wicca, because it broke with the OTO tradition. Yet, Wicca didn't end up as some crazy cult.
It's not this simple matter of, "occult societies can create cults!", which sounds about as alarmist as Christian Right-Wingers talking about the dangers of evil occultists. Corruption can exist anywhere. I remember the scandal about the martial arts instructor who was accused of having a program that was far too strenuous and that he was using his training as a way to molest females. Are you going to warn people from getting involved in martial arts, because of a case like that, or would you just tell someone to be careful and make sure of what they're getting themselves involved with?
I don't have much of a problem with a group like The Process Church of Final Judgment either. They were never a dangerous group. If you're going to start looking at every "drop-out" society based around a religious philosophy as a dangerous cult, you're going to have to start looking at the Amish in the same light. Mormonism started out the same way as the Process Church, and today it's a respectable religion in the United States....and if you don't agree, they might sue you!
I'm not interested in joining something like the Process Church, but if someone is, well, that's not my business.
I'm more concerned when the State starts cracking down on initiatory societies. That's when I'd start packing my belongings and looking to get out of the country fast! Everytime that's happened, it's led to a massacre. The Jacobins during the French Revolution. Nazi Germany. The Bolsheviks. Or, even looking back at the Catholic Church and its repression. When the State starts meddling in private lives that way, it never ends up a good thing, based on history.
Also, I don't think we even need to bring up the fact that Jesus Christ operated very much like a cult leader. He was killed by the worldly authorities for daring to question the beliefs and behaviours of the people at that time. He referred to himself as the "Son of God", which sounds pretty crazy....he could have just as easily been some Charles Manson or David Koresh. Yet, it just so happened that he was the saviour of the human race, and changed our world forever. Sadly, sometimes it was for the worse, because of the zealots who used his message in their own names for power, but also exceedingly for the positive. Now, I'm not saying that there will ever be another Jesus Christ, as God only sent one saviour for us. Yet, it's something to consider.
"Life is such a great disappointment."
Posted 18 May 2016 - 10:05 PM
And, much like most cults, which aren't built as a corporation (see:Scientology), and don't decide to immediately promote mass suicide, it started out with lots of young, energetic members willing to do anything for the messiah, but has dwindled down to a few hardcore who still believe. "JC is coming back! He is!". We all thought that Constantine:The Hellblazer was the return, but quickly saw it was a false messiah....probably a CIA plant to destroy our faith! But, now, we expect the true JC will return in July! July, people, mark it down, this time the one, true JC is coming back to save us all! We'll show all those faithless who abandoned us over the years that our message was pure! We're going to the promised land, while they'll all be stuck in DCU Limbo!
Have I been misled, then? Is that not the purpose of this web-site? Tell me what to think and feel and believe!
"Life is such a great disappointment."
Posted 21 May 2016 - 03:16 PM
Posted 30 May 2016 - 03:18 PM
Posted 29 October 2016 - 02:35 PM
John's characterization is OK. Not terrible, but he's not getting a lot to do, either. I wouldn't recommend it if you just want to Constantine, but there's some interesting world-building and revision of the familiar characters of DC.
Nerdron Keeper of the Ultimate Hellblazer Index
Does it count as betrayal to give someone a kicking he's been begging for?
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