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Nazi Constantine

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dogpoet    487

Fair enough. The main thing that annoys me about Wicca is all of this bullshit about it being a revival of an ancient religion that was almost wiped by the evil patriarchal Christians, rather than something that Gradner invented from scratch by cramming some swipes from Robert Graves and Margaret Murray into a load of dumbed down Crowley with the serial numbers filed off, so I can understand your beef with the Simonomicon on that level.

 

As for learning simple magic from Appalachian farmers, sure that's possible, but it's probably a bit trickier if you don't live in the Appalachians or know any Silver John types. You're assuming that it's just as easy to find somebody who can teach you a few charms as it is to buy a paperback, which isn't always the case. Published information is a lot more available than an oral tradition in this society. (And that's without even getting into my own issues with the guru thing, where people are more interested in controlling occult knowledge, and through it, controlling their initiates, than they are in spreading it. The loss of this control is, imo, the main reason for the beef a lot of Wiccans have with people who publish workbooks and books of shadows, or ritual magicians have with the Simonomicon and LaVey's bibbling.)

 

I didn't know that Hamilton had converted to Wicca, but she was definitely still a Christian when she started writing those shitty Anita Blake books: the early ones are stuffed full of religious right mealy mouthing. (Possibly they've been revised since to remove some of that?) I take it her conversion came around the same time she switched from doing that series to churning out elf porn instead? As far as Margaret St Clair goes, I think she was actually initiated into Wicca by Buckland, wasn't she?

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Christian    781

Either Buckland or Gardner, himself. Not really sure which.

Like I said, Buckland was initiated by Gardner, so it's not as if Buckland doesn't know what he's talking about, it's just a lot of the problems you have with Wicca that crop up in my problems with Buckland, to a large extent, although perhaps from a slightly different perspective. I think a lot of Buckland's appeal is the same type of appeal of a typical New York Times Best Selling author. They're writing towards a certain audience, and know how to market themselves and their fiction so they get a lot of readers, even though their work is probably not the strongest or most intellectual works in print.

 

Right. I know oral traditions aren't as readily available, but there were people writing books containing that information in it before Buckland, that was more my point. I was just making a point that I don't see "Wicca for the masses" or "Simon" or LaVey as being as revolutionary a break with magical tradition as it seemed you were suggesting. Maybe in 1910 the whole "secret society" tradition was still the only way for most people to ever be able to study the occult in any depth, but I'd say that broke down fairly quickly and you started to see more revelations of secret traditions.

I mean, LaVey still kept the "guru system" that you hate in place, with his Church of Satan and its high membership fees, while at the same time having no problem publishing his magical rituals in mass-market paperback books, so that he could make more money. I guess that's what happens when your system is based far more on Ayn Rand than Aleister Crowley.

I'd say Dion Fortune was trying to do similar a few decades earlier, for example. Crowley, himself, did try to maintain his own publishing imprint at one point (Mandrake). Weiser Books, the world's largest occult tome publisher, was started as a book seller in the 1920s, morphing in to a publisher in the 1950s, when they started to make more money. I think the biggest change is really that the counter-culture of the 1960s brought the idea that books on the occult could actually make a profit. It became easier to find an audience willing to buy books that were, at one point, privately published.

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dogpoet    487

I'd describe it more as a viable alternative than a revolutionary break. Sorry I didn't make that clear.

(The problem isn't just the guru system, btw, but also the rather elitist fantasies that are a big part of the reason some people even want to get involved with the occult in the first place. If you like to think that it is something that's difficult and esoteric, and being initiated actually means something as a mark of quality, then the fact that somebody can just go into a discount book shop and find a copy of the Simonomicon or a generic book of shadows marked up with annotations on how the contents are supposed to work and start doing the same stuff you're doing can be quite a blow to the vanity.)

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Didn't Waite insist that Abraham of Worms had inherited Abramelin's book down his family line from somebody biblical? I was sure I'd seen something about him claiming that somewhere.

 

Lady C: it's surprising how many of the Psalms turn up in lists of curses and banishings, isn't it?

 

I know,right? I'm sitting here looking in translated copies of the sixth and seventh books of moses .It has the magical uses of psalms and there's an incantation to 'banish Leviathan'.and right after that one for getting vengeance upon one's enemies.

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Christian    781

Well, you're missing my whole point, Dog. The point is exactly that you cannot do what someone is doing who has studied an involved system of magic for years just by buying a Book of Shadows or Necronomicon off the store shelves, and that's why so many people still don't understand the first thing about magic, even after reading all those mass-market books that promise "power" and "wealth" with a few simple spells. If you have magical knowledge, and you're using it to make money, then you've completely wasted all of any ability you may have gained through taking the time to actually learn magic.

That's why I have a problem with those type of spell books, because they're total come-ons, trying to lure materialistic, gullible people in to spending their cash, then expending a lot of energy for something they can do without ever buying a book of magic.

LaVey's system is based around the goal of gaining power and money, but it's the same thing you can learn in such "magical" tomes as Ayn Rand's entire line of books or The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

Like I said, if you want to understand magic, I'd recommend reading and re-reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland before I'd ever recommend picking up Buckland or the Necronomicon.

However, if you want to become part of a religion known as "Wicca" or just want to pick up something fun, there's nothing wrong with picking up a Buckland book or the Necronomicon, just don't buy such books to learn magic. If you want to learn how to become a selfish asshole who spends his/her time looking down on someone for "attending public school", by all means pick up The Satanic Bible.

 

I don't understand why you have such a problem with this elitism. Do you have this same problem with ninjitsu? Oh, that damn old ninja master in his dojo, saying he's so powerful! Who needs that? I'll go to the store and buy books and teach myself how to do kung-fu! Look, I found a book that teaches me how to break a piece of wood with my hand! I'm learning to do that! Look at me now, I'm a ninja master now too! Ha, ha! I know everything a sensei can know now!

Is putting in time, effort, energy, and work really that big of an issue with you in life? Do you think everyone just starts out on an equal foot and can accomplish everything easily? Does it piss you off that a brain surgeon is getting paid so much more money than a general practitioner doctor? Do you think that everyone should just be a brain surgeon when they start out in the medical field, because otherwise, the brain surgeon must be some elitist who thinks he's worth more than a regular doctor? Don't you think it takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to learn to be a brain surgeon?

That's the whole point. If you want to actually understand something and be good at something, it takes time, effort, and energy. That applies to pretty much everything in life, whether the mundane or the supernatural. You have to put work in to something to get something out of it. Someone who has been studying something for 20 years is going to have more understanding and skill than someone who spent half an hour for the past five days trying to master something.

Do you really think Chaos magicians think that way? "Oh, I've been practicing this for 5 hours a day for the past 20 years, but that little girl just bought a Book of Shadows and went home to read it for 15 minutes. Now, she's at the same level as myself!". Of course not! Look at Grant Morrison in his "magical" feud with Alan Moore, where he says that he's been involved with the occult since he was a teenager, while Moore has only been doing this since the 1980s.

Can anyone pick up a spell book and use it to achieve something small, if they really want to? Yes, they can. If they think that's the entirety of what practicing magic entails, they're a white belt in karate. A white belt in karate is not going to have the skills and abilities of a black belt in karate. Those are just the simple facts.

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dogpoet    487

The elitism I'm on about here is people refusing to teach what they know, and refusing to accept that people who have studied independently of them can know enough to be taken seriously, however much time and effort they've put into it. People who refuse to disseminate information in order to ensure that their chosen following are in a superior position to all of the scum who have to draw on other sources. Clear now?

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Christian    781

Yeah, I still don't think there's a lot of people involved who refuse to teach....they just will only teach others personally, by accepting applications to join an order. They figure that only someone who is trained by someone else who has already been initiated can truly help someone learn how to do the system, and feel that their system is best. I, obviously, don't subscribe to that theory, and feel it's mistaken. The original Golden Dawn never subscribed to that theory, as many members came from other occult traditions, and many members chose to move on to other systems as they finished with the Golden Dawn. Blackwood was trained in many different magical traditions, for example. Some as part of a society, and some on an individual basis. Some members branched off and founded their own orders, as well....Gardner, for one.

At the same time, if you can be taught by someone who has already mastered something, it's probably going to be easier for you. Hence, the fact that I had to flounder around for a number of years, where, if I had been a member of the Golden Dawn (say), I probably would have understood some things much quicker. Like I said, a lot of books are worthless, just a way for the author to make money. Also, many of the books are still written using a lot of symbolism that has to be cross-referenced and checked and researched to be understood....a lot of things are never to be taken literally, and you'll be lost for years trying to figure out the system by taking certain formulae to be literal rather than something symbolic that has to be understood subjectively. My comparison to karate is apt, I feel. I don't see it as any differently than that type of system.

 

However, yes, I am glad that everything is published in book form to be researched and read by whomever chooses.

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Well, you're missing my whole point, Dog. The point is exactly that you cannot do what someone is doing who has studied an involved system of magic for years just by buying a Book of Shadows or Necronomicon off the store shelves, and that's why so many people still don't understand the first thing about magic, even after reading all those mass-market books that promise "power" and "wealth" with a few simple spells. If you have magical knowledge, and you're using it to make money, then you've completely wasted all of any ability you may have gained through taking the time to actually learn magic.

That's why I have a problem with those type of spell books, because they're total come-ons, trying to lure materialistic, gullible people in to spending their cash, then expending a lot of energy for something they can do without ever buying a book of magic.

LaVey's system is based around the goal of gaining power and money, but it's the same thing you can learn in such "magical" tomes as Ayn Rand's entire line of books or The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

Like I said, if you want to understand magic, I'd recommend reading and re-reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland before I'd ever recommend picking up Buckland or the Necronomicon.

However, if you want to become part of a religion known as "Wicca" or just want to pick up something fun, there's nothing wrong with picking up a Buckland book or the Necronomicon, just don't buy such books to learn magic. If you want to learn how to become a selfish asshole who spends his/her time looking down on someone for "attending public school", by all means pick up The Satanic Bible.

 

I don't understand why you have such a problem with this elitism. Do you have this same problem with ninjitsu? Oh, that damn old ninja master in his dojo, saying he's so powerful! Who needs that? I'll go to the store and buy books and teach myself how to do kung-fu! Look, I found a book that teaches me how to break a piece of wood with my hand! I'm learning to do that! Look at me now, I'm a ninja master now too! Ha, ha! I know everything a sensei can know now!

Is putting in time, effort, energy, and work really that big of an issue with you in life? Do you think everyone just starts out on an equal foot and can accomplish everything easily? Does it piss you off that a brain surgeon is getting paid so much more money than a general practitioner doctor? Do you think that everyone should just be a brain surgeon when they start out in the medical field, because otherwise, the brain surgeon must be some elitist who thinks he's worth more than a regular doctor? Don't you think it takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to learn to be a brain surgeon?

That's the whole point. If you want to actually understand something and be good at something, it takes time, effort, and energy. That applies to pretty much everything in life, whether the mundane or the supernatural. You have to put work in to something to get something out of it. Someone who has been studying something for 20 years is going to have more understanding and skill than someone who spent half an hour for the past five days trying to master something.

Do you really think Chaos magicians think that way? "Oh, I've been practicing this for 5 hours a day for the past 20 years, but that little girl just bought a Book of Shadows and went home to read it for 15 minutes. Now, she's at the same level as myself!". Of course not! Look at Grant Morrison in his "magical" feud with Alan Moore, where he says that he's been involved with the occult since he was a teenager, while Moore has only been doing this since the 1980s.

Can anyone pick up a spell book and use it to achieve something small, if they really want to? Yes, they can. If they think that's the entirety of what practicing magic entails, they're a white belt in karate. A white belt in karate is not going to have the skills and abilities of a black belt in karate. Those are just the simple facts.

 

i agre actually agree mostly...but being a heterosexual white male with cash gets you places.i never had the money to invest in the occult like i wanted too,from buying the proper herbs,or going to places to hand pick them (it don't grow near me,etc)...think about this...why do you think constantine wtarted out as a hedge mage and comes up with other ways around his spells (which sometimes back fires).you can have all the time and study all you want but some people are just naturally born with an advantage others don't have.who has the time,money and resources to get as much experience in as some people.

 

i also believ some of this is natural ability too...there are ghost hunters out there desperately trynna find spirits ,where as someone like myself can walk ina room and get hit by a bad case of vertigo (my mother is especially sensitive to these things) .Also both parents delt with the occult--that is an ADVANTAGE I have over others.the problem sith elitism is it assumes everyone has the same access to the same resources and has to jump through the same hoops.

 

and with occultism,it assumes that indivisuals took the same path and studied the same doctrine with the same religion,cult,etc,with practicioners on the same level of skill.

 

my first introduction was living in a haunted house...from there,listening to stories form my parents,to perceptions of strange things and living around santaria practitioners(latino neighborhood).Then I ran with aguy who was 1/2 navajo,and 1/2 african and began visiting a local occult shop .Things kinda dropped from there when my father found out and a lotta books got torn and a lotta herbs got dumped down the toilets...

 

also,how are we rating this? by knowledge alone...yes,experience is key (which is again a privelage because who has that kinda time in their life to practice,the money to buy what is needed and knows the right people)....so i believe that the only guage of this could be knowledge of the occult .and some kid who just brought a book ,can't top someone who had been digging around in it for decades....experience is iffy,because what if one person is a voodun practitioner and another does kabalah,and another is a shintoist? or what if someone is a master at divination (which i never practiced because i always believed if the most high wanted me to see the future,it would be and has been shown to me) or someone specializes in conjuration of spirits .What if

you're a jack of all trades,master of none?

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The elitism I'm on about here is people refusing to teach what they know, and refusing to accept that people who have studied independently of them can know enough to be taken seriously, however much time and effort they've put into it. People who refuse to disseminate information in order to ensure that their chosen following are in a superior position to all of the scum who have to draw on other sources. Clear now?

yup.

 

said people exist.

 

i don't believe in this attitude ,because how do you keep the knowledge alive without teaching? ...but then again,many people do not beilieev such a thing.

 

however,curse and things,i understand not teaching toothers,that could be a problem.I shy away from anything other than mild hexes which are still scary because my soul isn't worth the price of vengeance; i can simply get street justice on that ass.i just made sure i knew pragmatic stuff like turn-about curses and protection during my run (thinking of getting back more heavily into the occult--life feels kinda empty without it)

 

and while one doesn't know what happens in the after life...i ain't takin' no chances

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dogpoet    487

Yeah, I still don't think there's a lot of people involved who refuse to teach....

Trust me, there's plenty of them out there. It sounds like LadyC's met a few of them.

At the same time, if you can be taught by someone who has already mastered something, it's probably going to be easier for you. Hence, the fact that I had to flounder around for a number of years, where, if I had been a member of the Golden Dawn (say), I probably would have understood some things much quicker.

Would you have understood these things as deeply, though? Would you, in fact have understood them at all, rather than just being told which bits to learn parrot fashion?

Like I said, a lot of books are worthless, just a way for the author to make money. Also, many of the books are still written using a lot of symbolism that has to be cross-referenced and checked and researched to be understood....a lot of things are never to be taken literally, and you'll be lost for years trying to figure out the system by taking certain formulae to be literal rather than something symbolic that has to be understood subjectively. My comparison to karate is apt, I feel. I don't see it as any differently than that type of system.

You don't feel that sorting out the wheat from the chaff is part of the effort involved in learning how to do something that you were talking about, then? The first step of learning to do something that's (if we're honest) completely abstract is finding out what works and what doesn't.

However, yes, I am glad that everything is published in book form to be researched and read by whomever chooses.

Glad we can agree on that much at least.

 

Lady C:

Sadly, some people believe that knowledge works the same way as physical assets, and so its value can be enhanced by scarcity. Refusing to pass it on can thus make it seem more valuable, and make those few who you do deign to pass it on to feel more substantial as well. These are the elitist fantasies which Christian found my talking about offensive (and apparently misunderstood as me refusing to read Schopenhauer), but your point about the time and expense it can take to seriously dig into this stuff is another issue with this, which definitely shouldn't be ignored. I shudder to think how much you'd spend going through Abramelin's system, to pick an obvious example. In a few cases, the time you'd spend not working because you're spending all day doing preparatory stuff for months on end before you can even start in on the workings that interest you are going to cost a lot more than even the priciest occult text. (And those are pricey.)

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Christian    781

That was what Israel Regardie said when he published his tell-all book about the Golden Dawn. Without compiling everything in to a written book, the tradition would eventually die out.

 

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.

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Christian    781

Dog-As you get deeper in to magical traditions, they become more complex and individual. That's what the guru system is, working your way up until you become closer to the master. It's not the cult you seem to be thinking more about, where one charismatic leader controls everything and no one can ever question what they tell you, because you'll always be beneath him as the leader. We're talking the Golden Dawn, not the Manson Family!

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.

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dogpoet    487

Your references to the martial arts and the academic system seem a little misguided, Christian. Both of these have systems of qualification, administrative bodies, and various other formal strictures, that just aren't present for magicians. (Hence the existence of those useless books written by deluded know nothings you object to.) Comparing either to a guru system is dismissive of the effort people put into them and ignores the fact that they are assessed in a way that at least pretends to be objective. (Swimming provides an even faster demonstration if what you're doing isn't working, in my experience.) And just for your information, there are gurus who see the occult world mostly as a way to set themselves up as a cult leader (I suspect as a means rather than the final end in a fair few cases, but the point still applies.). You've obviously been lucky enough to avoid any of them, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. You're talking like they're all Dumbledores, but there's a lot of Voldemort wannabes out there as well, sadly.

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.

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Christian    781

Oh, I don't deny there are cultists out there! Not at all! Of course people use the occult as a means to take power over others and control their lives. Just like they use religion or politics or, basically, anything else. Think of how many UFO cults exist now.

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.

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dogpoet    487

You evidently have a far more optimistic view of human nature's ability to produce corruption-proof systems of social organisation than I do, Christian. There are plenty of complaints about magical orders (TOPY, in particular, has a lot of rather disgruntled former members, I've noticed, but maybe some of those are just embarrassed in hindsight that they were members of a cult set up to flatter the vanity of the crap one out of Throbbing Gristle), and not all of them are run in the same way as the OTO or the Golden Dawn. The problems start when a group has been established by somebody who'd rather be L Ron Hubbard than Gerald Gardner, and stuffs the upper echelons of the group with cronies to make sure that challenging them is pointless. (I believe the Process Church of Final Judgement was started by the de Grimstons with this in mind, and I'm sure there are other cults that started the same way.)

 

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.

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Christian    781

Yeah, that's a fair point about Graves, although I was considering a name like that to be involved with paganism, more than occultism. I was more talking about all those spell books and what-have-you on the market that you seemed to be such a fan of. That's been one of my points throughout this thread about people like Buckland or Cunningham, who are out to make some money. You're more apt to get an understanding of magic by reading names like Philip K. Dick or Jorge Luis Borges, than most of the stuff churned out on the shelves for the occult section. Neither one of them were actively involved in the occult, but some peoples' minds are more tuned in to that sort of thinking naturally (as Lady was trying to say at one point in this thread) or they pick up enough from their reading of the subject. Borges, while never being actively involved in the occult, spent his time reading a lot of old tomes that no one else read, and you can pick up that sort of thinking just by reading the works. Going back further, you could point to someone like William Blake as someone who was writing about the occult while never joining any orders.

 

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.

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dogpoet    487

Yep. Definitely one of those black magic fascists with their own cult.

:tongue:

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Christian    781

I thought that's what this web-site was all about? I heard Red was stockpiling weapons. Adrian has built the compounds, for when the end times hit. We are all united, in our hope that JC will soon return and save us from the Zionist Banking Conspiracy.

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!

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Qusoor    69

Soooo, I'm in the middle of reading Bombshells, and it's a quick but entertaining read. Not a lot of John, you can go ten or so issued before he shows up again, and he's always with Zatanna (so far). It's a big anthology series, so your fave characters might not get some love for a while.

 

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.

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dogpoet    487

It's a series I'm planning to get around to, myself. Seriously, I have not seen or heard a bad word about it anywhere, and how many DC series can you say that about at the moment?

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