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Competitive Displacement and Occultism

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.orisha,alt.lucky.w,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Competitive Displacement and Occultism (was For Nguyen, ...)
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 23:20:20 GMT

50020325 VI

>> Most people who get really far in magic(k) have to work hard, 

I think it is clearer to see it as a religious thing. 'get really far'
implies a model of "progress" which I've *far* more often seen or
heard described by mystics and religious of particular traditions and
religious persuasions (even syncretist and orientalist) than your run-
of-the-mill magician or kitchen-witch solitaire.

the implication is cosmological and metaphysical. to 'get' somewhere
you'll have to axiomatically accept a movement or development scheme,
rather than just a system by which to change the world (magic).

>> and they generally have to either be recruited into an old tradition, 
>> stumble over some operation and get adopted, or obsessively dedicated 
>> on the order of 40 something hours a week for decades.

sounds like how most religions work.

>> And they generally pick one system and go with that.

sri catyananda :
> Generally. Not always. For years at a time, anyway. 

my impression is that most magicians have no basis to "pick" anything,
being instructed in the rudimentary principles and (perhaps) shown a
method by which their teacher appears to be working (if the culture
isn't isolated or cut off from the rest of the world, then it will be
anyone's guess how the instructor is working). many magicians develop
their *own* style and "system", developing it as their art manifests.

'sticking to a system', in such a case, becomes quite meaningless on
account that they're just 'doing magic' and the expression magic takes
is one of a symbolic language -- something later occultists have tried
to identify as 'a system' but is really comparable to any speaker's
lexiconic database. adhering to their database is not important in an
attempt to learn the *principles* of magic thereby.

>> Even if you bust hump, syncrenists almost never make it 

again, the 'make it' portion here *could* relate to a mystical ladder-
climbing that obsesses many a religious convert. if by 'make it' you
merely mean 'achieve mastery of their art', I wonder how this could be
ascertained outside direct and repeated exposure to the person.

>> because the stress is too great and most pasted together ideas fall 
>> apart underneath it. 

I'm more of a magician than an occultist, though I'm trying to learn
some of the occultist, ceremonial, intellectual ropes so as to discern
between practical and theoretical dimensions of discussion. this is an
important caveat for my next statement: my perception is that, most
"successful" (i.e. community-supported, results-producing) mages' 
systems are cobbled-together, creatively-fitted, and pasted-up
from experiential scraps, legends, and individual fantasies and
delusions. there is not really a problem with this, as I see it,
outside attempting to relate the system to others and vie for its
historical or anthropological accuracy (don't bother, global
culture-symbol collage is a beautiful art, but a lousy science).

my impression is that few magicians have had the benefit of examining
a variety of systems, for example, or obtaining sufficient ethnographic
or sociological information to support such a selection, which is a
relatively modern approach, as I see it -- one to a certain extent awash
in orientalism and cultural appropriation if not just misrepresentation
for the purposes of attention-getting and religiopolitical displacement.

the question of whether a symbol-system which is loosely-configured
would "fall apart" is itself problematic because of the consideration
of what is being *done* with such systems, why the system itself need
be self-consistent or "complete", why it should proceed from a clear
(if error-filled, see "777" by Crowley, who admitted it had problems)
concept of relation, and whether one might use any symbolic language
set to convey through symbol a volitional force to change the world.
after all, the 'belief-it-true' advocates should be the first behind
the 'make-it-up-as-you-go-along' method (usually this is not the case, 
I find, as they are stuck on their learned method instead).

I think that these systems are merely symbol-language-sets, and as
such their particulars are WAY over-emphasized in comparison with the
manner in which they are utilized (to interpret the expressions of
interior intelligences; or if you like, spirits, gods, demons, 
elementals, etc.).
>> Most people don't have time to reinvent the wheel either from 
>> scratch, 

the problem with this analogy is that 'the wheel' is a geometrically-
identified object, whereas magical symbol-systems (association schemes,
temple symbol particulars, visualization confirmation devices, etc.)
aren't anywhere NEAR consistent or identifiable on this scale. it
participates in what I would call the Delusion of the Perfect Ritual,
which uses the "Best" symbolic set, progresses toward the "Truth", and
is reproduceable using the same methods. my experience is that this is
a fallacious concept put forward by those who have an agenda in seeing
their preferred symbols and ideas (about cosmology and ethics in
particular) given center stage.
>> a living tradition can represent the effective learning of 
>> centuries or millenia.

and it can NOT do so. how to determine whether it does, and whether
any of this "learning" helps one in one's magical activities seems
to be the major issue of discussion surrounding "living traditions".
why any kind of tradition should be better or more effective than
something crafted by an individual for their own purposes is seldom
discussed, especially by ceremonial magicians (often because the
ceremonialist comes from a religious tradition where it is 
considered dogmatic to use the symbol-system in question -- a left-
over element of the religious indoctrination of the mage and usually
masquerading as "scientific").

> Syncretists also have a hard time communicating to followers or friends
> because one would literally have to recapitulate the steps they took to
> get to the same conclusion and that would be anathema to the next
> generation of syncretists! :-) 

more often I find that true syncretists get along fine (because we
are not hung up on single knowledge sets and don't need dogma to
pursue our magic -- this is the virtue of real "kaOs MaJik",  
from which Sherwinites and Carrollians have branched). those who have 
problems with the expression of syncretists who don't take their own 
symbolic-systems too seriously are the dogmatists and "historians", 
upon whom the classifications of "creating a practical symbol system" 
and "identifying the symbolic reality everpresent in the world" are 
too often lost.

> ...the huge spurt in human population over the past 250
> years and the destabilizing effect this has had not only upon ecosystems
> but cultural traditions. The devaluing of magical traditionalism is of a
> piece with the sudden change from rural to urban environments. "The
> future of magick," as David called it, is in some ways similar to "the
> future of urban life" -- and i leave it to each reader to draw his or
> her own conclusions about where that will get us.

I'd suggest that cultural interaction has increased through improved
communication methods, and the tweaks and misrepresentations and miscues
from previous generations is being weeded out in favour of the diversity
and a mapping of the complex terrain that *actually* exists rather than 
the simplistic and perversely-appropriate (i.e. conducive) fabrications 
made by those who sought to foist something "universal" on future 

>> Don't get me wrong, there are is a whole cascading pyramid of
>> graduated levels of 'advancement'. I'm talking about the far end of
>> the spectrum here, the one in a 100,000 or one in a million who is
>> *really* serious about magic(k) as in literally cut throat serious.

"cut-throat serious" sounds, when discussing the mystical ends usually
provided for theurgical activities (Christian, Hermetic, Wiccan,
whatever), doomed to failure. it might be valuable if being the head
of some kind of mysticomagical "order" constitutes success.

> I'd like to put in a word for those who are serious but are not
> cut-throat serious. Magical attainment, unlike warfare, can be 
> practiced in a solitary manner, without respect to opponents. 

my impression is that, outside a community who can either support or
deny the "attainment" claimed by the individual, no attainment can
be identified, effectively because there is no 'control group'
(i.e. other individuals against whose actions can be compared), and
because those within the cults are too hung-up on dogma to do any
reliable analysis.
>> But I'm different. Basically, practically everything I know I either
>> was born with or learned on my own. 

my impression is that this is, by and large, the way magicians develop,
especially outside religious cults where 'magic' is prized.

>> I was isolated, had no teacher,
>> and basically invented everything on my own. Started when I was 11
>> seriously and met my first real magician when I was close to 20. In
>> retrospect, I think I may have scared or weirded the hell out of him.

not uncommon. the diversity of magicians can be quite amazing.

> I think that this experience is not all that uncommon....


>> So as someone outside the usual lines of advancement, I'm an anomoly.

I like to think of the "advancement" to be a function of the minds of
the individuals in the religiomagical SOCIAL system being discussed.
that is, until I'm shown some evidence about it upon which I can rely,
I'm content to presume that when someone says that they are 'an Adept',
for example, that there is some social system whereby this person is
recognized as such. if there isn't, then it is a role-playing game or 
a claim to fabulous powers which I find usually indicates their desire
but little more (though sometimes serious psychological problems).
> Being "outside the usual lines of advancement" may be the draw that 
> this forum has for some of us -- attendance is voluntary and 
> conversation here demands little in the way of formalism. 


>> I don't have the same kind of values that many other magicians are
>> taught or acquire. *Culturally* and *mentally* I'm just an
>> above-average smart guy off the street who doesn't believe at all in
>> most of the mindsets that people have to go through to get somewhere
>> in magic(k). I like 'ordinary people'.

my impression is that you're reacting to a minor clique in the overall
magical and occult world (cross-cultural). they are easily ignored and
one's magic will be quite fine without them. a larger-than-is-warranted
representation of said clique appears to participate in computerized
forums, but this is in part because of their socio-economic status and
the ease of attempting conversion via the internet.

> I feel the same way. I think that this inclination of mine, and my 
> bold restatement of it now and again, is why i am characterized as
> "political" by some: apparently having cordial relationships with
> "ordinary people" is not a value shared by everyone here. 

displaced by religiopolitical assertions regarding authority and 'the
proper way to do things', it is reasonable to object and correct those
who are attempting to project their truths on the rest of us. if this
objection comes off as 'political', then usually it is because those who 
utter their fantastic tripe are ignorant of their indoctrination and 
spewing it without conscience, surprised by a refusal to fall into line 
and accept their unfounded claims.

>> Allot of magicians who get to a certain point generally get this
>> attitude that everyday people without magic(k) are marks for the
>> taking, or at best irrelevant idiots. 

now I think you're talking about the PITFALLS of certain styles of
religiomagic and theurgy. those which incorporate a certain amount
of recasting and recharacterization of social personae have the
pitfall of being mechanisms for the working out of egotism and self-
aggrandizement (whether delusional or based on some reflected hero-
worship within the community in which they may be participating).

> Cf. the Harry Potter books. :-)

there is a diversity represented therein, but by and large I agree
with your assessment. one of the most important and intelligent
characters in that series is a girl born of "Muggle" (i.e. non-
magician) parents. the idea that magic-use is "blood-borne" is
both reprehensible to me and completely false, from what I've seen,
though open-minded and magic-positive social environments are more
likely to allow for the experimentation and discovery that makes
studying magic possible).

>> They'd figure that most of the people here are chumps who are dicking 
>> around and will never get anywhere in magic(k) and thus would be 
>> worthy of their contempt, to be ignored, or silent puppet master-esque 
>> manipulations.

this is an overflow from a variety of other religious internet forums.
you can find it anywhere there is a ladder-system presumed to exist
whereby "mystical progress" may be presented. having had some interaction
with both general mystical culture(s) and that which specifically
identifies "magic(k)" as its ladder-schema (largely post-Rosicrucian),
I maintain that this is peculiar to those who are theurges and who are
universalist (often on the heels of some imperialist culture like the
English or German or some other orientalist-based fabrication).

>> I generally don't have that attitude.
> I generally *oppose* that attitude. 

thank you both. worthy of opposition, but my standards.

>> ... For whatever reason, the attitude of
>> not explaining stuff tends to get markedly worse the more you get away
>> from the ordinary. 

fear, concealment for deceptive purposes, and early shame patterns.

>> ...The patronizing, dismissive, or outright exploitation of less 
>> advanced persons also seems to become worse. 

I'd question whether or not any such "advancement" exists or takes
place. some of those who are "recognized" by social moguls and groups
demonstrate quite the opposite characteristics than are described 
(often very vaguely and with many loophools!) of the "Adept" in
popular texts on the subject.

>> You can see people playing at it here. In turn, there are people who 
>> sneer at them. In turn, others still from deeper shadows sneer at 
>> those people.

and don't forget the hero-worship that goes on in its wake as well,
even if it is for manipulative and deceptive purposes (e.g. David Cantu).

> There is another trend working too -- siva identifies it as the trend 
> to actively shut down discourse about techniques and methods of magic.

religious displacement for the purposes of attention-control.

> Book-lists are given freely, 

for authors on their particular religiomagical tradition (theurgy).

> but there are many here who specifically seek to discourage newbies who 
> ask how to *do* magic. 

not as they see it, but I of course agree. they define 'magic' as
part of their theurgical mysticism and, when someone's actions or
utterances run counter to or away from their indoctrinated mindset,
they are quick to oppose what they typically don't understand. it
is not unlike Christians who oppose Neopaganism because it is 'of
the Devil' (i.e. fatuous, arrogant bigotry and dogmatic expression
of limited and biased viewpoints expressed by better magicians
than they).

> Like you said, "Guess that's why they call it the occult." 

I'd suggest an alternative view of this: the reason it is called
'occult' is because it incorporates magic, which, by and large,
is a private affair. all this hubbub about universalism and 
transcultural mysticism is a hyper-reaction to Christian and
Muslim conservatism where magic is concerned. usually magic is
done by individuals or very small groups, and identification of
and contention for Correct Views only occurs amongst the theurges
who are conditioned to argue for their Sacred Truths. having been
exposed to this in the religious *and* occult communities, I think
I can recognize the cross-over.
> And i also guess that's why the newsgroup alt.occult.methods was 
> created -- to circumvent the tendency to revile techniques in 
> this newsgroup. 

and make a place where they may be found with ease.

>> For whatever reason, being born outside this environment, coming up on
>> my own almost totally isolated from other magic(k)al practioners, etc.
>> I never got into that groove. Seemed pretty idiotic to me.

much of religion is idiotic, but it serves important social functions.

> To me too -- i so greatly enjoyed what i could learn of magic on my own,
> reading books and later meeting people, that i want to give that same
> kind of pleasure to those who are younger than me. My joy in magic at
> age 18 was simply grand -- i was at it all day, every day -- and i
> learned a tremendous amount from kindly elders in the astrological,
> GD/BOTA, hoodoo, and syncretist communities. Their attentiveness to my
> newbie questions led me to aspire to be as accesible to others as they
> were once to me. 

that's what's so great about magicoreligious culture -- it includes a
diversity of individuals, including those who are open-minded and
accepting of a number of different styles.

a       B
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