Bits and Pieces

A few kind folk have been wondering what i have been doing of late, not being very active on this blog. Well, bits and pieces really. Much Tibetan Buddhist practice taught and guided by the Ven Thupten Lodey. A few bits of comments on other blogs. Wander over to Mishkan ha-Echad for the purpose of the Golden Dawn 🙂

And then there’s Philip Carr-Gomm’s blog. Now Philip is a prolific writer and Druid and has done much for the revitalization of the Druid path over the last 30 or so years. He was kind enough to link some posts on Magic of the Ordinary to his blog and people commented over there, so scoot on over if you’re interested.

Philip posted an extract of a book he is writing on English magic, which i just had to comment on. It exalted a psychological viewpoint over the traditional magical worldview. Philip took my criticisms well and changed a few bits and pieces, but really it is still obviously written by a non-magician. Of course this irks me a little. There are plenty enough public magicians out there now which publishers can access without resorting to psychologists. Not all are loonies to the max-max. And and a few can actually write 🙂

One of the things i pointed out to Philip is the tendency for modern New Age spirituality and “transpersonal” psychology to take only the “good bits” from traditional spirituality. Connecting with the earth, respect for nature, the interdependence of life, animal totems etc have all been extracted by psychology/the new age from traditional and “shamanic” cultures. However, the equally important traditional concepts of evil spirits, spirit sickness, ghosts and sick areas of land etc are not. Why not? Because they scare the poop out of us. And besides, it’s kinda hard to market commercial tours to places that are likely to make you sick as a dog, or to run weekend workshops that allow which get you possessed by a demon.

I suspect that transpersonal psychology is nothing more than a sop to modern secularism which admits nothing that cannot be explained into ‘reality’ – unless it is inside our own skulls or perhaps, if we are daring in our view, “the collective unconsious”. This view has been extolled in recent years by the likes of Richard Dawkins and his buddies in  the ‘new atheism’.

As part of my interest in this i’ve been watching from afar the US and UK atheist bus campaigns and their fallouts and wondering why it hadn’t reached our shores yet. Then I heard the WA head of the Atheist Foundation of Australia explaining that the national bus advertising company refused to accept the Atheists’ ads. No reason given. They just didn’t want them.

Now fair’s fair; if the Catholic Pope, in all his finery and promotion of infallibility and other doctrines to curl the toes, can get ad space, so should the atheists. And really, when it comes right down to it the secular values promoted by the likes of Richard Dawkins are what allows us weirdo esoteric, pagan, magical folk to avoid the lynch mob anyway. Try worshipping naked in the backyard or practicing magic in most theocracies and see what happens!

no-dogMy only beef with the atheist movement in recent times is its lack of self reflection and tarring of all religious and spiritual expression with the same “irrational” brush. The motivation behind most militant atheism is often one of thinly suppressed anger at the ‘nonsense’ that religions promote and the abuses and brainwashing they undertake. Of course secularism and atheism are often as fundamentalist as any religion, as aptly demonstrated by St Bob in the New Inquisition as well as many other authors.

I am a little sad we will not be seeing the bus ads in Australia, but even more sad that this spoof will never see the light of day 🙂



  1. Catherine Auman · February 20, 2009

    Perhaps this is a misunderstanding of Transpersonal Psychology, which after all, began with Carl Jung who wrote extensively on the Shadow. All the TP I studied and continue to study deals with the necessity of confronting the dark and painful aspects of the personality and the outer world.

    People often assume that Transpersonal Psychology and New Age-ism are the same thing. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Ken Wilber wrote a lot about how people often embrace these simplistic concepts exactly in order to bypass one’s psychological work, also called “spiritual bypass.”

    Traditional psychology was overly concerned with pathology, and Transpersonal started as a movement to say, wait a minute, there’s also the spiritual, transcendent parts of being human. For this we have not been fully accepted by mainstream psychology.

  2. Peregrin · February 20, 2009

    Dear Catherine,

    thank you for taking the time and effort to reply to this post. I appreciate it and liked your comments very much.

    I could be misunderstanding transpersonal psychology, after all i am not a practicing transpersonal psychologist. I have however some training in the field as well as wide reading and peers who are practitioners.

    I think the fundamental difference between what i consider the traditional magical/esoteric (and really religious generally, though not exclusively) view and that of TP is what i think you implicitly refer to.

    That is, TP started with psychologists recognizing a spiritual dimension to life. The starting point is still psychology. We have to ask, can psychology or TP fully accommodate the traditional views? I believe it cannot, simply because to do so it would need to function not as psychology at all, but fully as spirituality.

    For instance, we can ask if all the traditionally recognized non human beings such as faery, spirits, demons and angels would still be around if all the humans disappeared tomorrow? The magical view is ‘yes’, most of the TP practitioners either say ‘no’ or edge their bets on this one.

    Of course we can take an interdependent or Buddhist approach and view all beings as essentially empty of intrinsic existence, but they would still be in existence on the conventional level without the interaction with humanity.

    More simply put, “do you believe in faeries?”. 🙂 Thanks.

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