Some comments in this post refer to a current hot topic. At the first sign of folk not playing nice comment moderation will be turned on. 🙂
The main subject of this post has been bouncing around my head for a while, but crystallised this morning due to recent events. As a newly published author (By Names and Images – buy now!) I have arranged for a few reviews of my book. Try as I may, at the back of my mind I am a little anxious about these and other reviews – especially free-for-all online reviews at Amazon. Now logically, I have no reason to be, as noted experts in the field have already said good things about the book – in fact, the best one can say*. Still though…sometimes a little nagging itch remains at the corner of my consciousness. That’s when I remind myself:
I AM NOT MY BOOK
In any case, a recent post on Nick Farrell’s blog and subsequent comments has really put the spanners in the works of online review legitimacy anyway. Nick Farrell’s recent and very good book King Over the Water appears to be under sustained and organised attack in the review columns on Amazon. These appear to be instigated and orchestrated by David Griffin. Nick reproduces part of a newsletter by Mr Griffin as Imperator and Archon Basileus, asking his members to boycott Nick’s works, slate his books and post bad reviews.
I have elsewhere commented on this, and would only say here that I think asking members of a spiritual organisation, as head of that organisation to LIE (not having read the books) is a strange activity to say the least. No matter what the motivation, the ends do not justify the means here. By consciously lying, especially upon instruction, we necessarily distort ourselves. I cannot see why a spiritual head would encourage this. Of course, Nick could have made the whole thing up, but I have not seen any accusation of this by Mr Griffin or any member of his Order (who would have received the alleged newsletter and know the truth). [ Update: The newsletter was real. It is referred to in this recent post on Mr Griffin’s blog, where it states “one among us even betrayed thier sacred oath of secrecy and sent a copy of our rallying letter to Nick Farrell.” ‘Tis sad.]
So, I feel for Nick and imagine being in his place. Consciously I know that possibility of organised bad reviews, attacks or people using my hallowed work as a foil for their own venting and anger really shouldn’t worry me, as my ego identity is not By Names and Images. I have put a fair bit of energy, time, love and commitment into the book, but it is still not me. However, if I were in Nick’s shoes I am not sure, as the orchestrated spurious reviews and one star ratings stacked up, if I would not feel it a little and forget:
I AM NOT MY BOOK
It’s the same in all walks of life. I am not my blog posts; when they are attacked, I am not attacked. I am not my current project at work; if the CEO hates it, he does not hate me. I am not my son; when he is verbally abused, I am not abused.
The separation of ego-identity from our creations, our loves and our membership organisations is not always easy though. In pre-modern times when individual identity was more bound up with family, tribe, religion and country it was nigh on impossible for most people. These days we are more self focused and self-formative, so we are not liable to go into conniptions when a foreign leader verbally attacks our country. Well…
With magical and spiritual groups the situation is a little more complicated. Any magical group worth its salt develops and maintains a potent and living egregore, a group consciousness that has function outside any one individual, whether they be a regular member or the Grand Poobah. One of the functions of initiation and training is to link and infuse the new member into this egregore and the egregore into them. This occurs on many levels, and a good clairvoyant can actually discern the effects on the subtle bodies. When effectively created the bond, link and communion with the egregore can feel like the words of St Paul:
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
This intense linking is a two edged sword. On the one hand we gain incredible communion, strength, purpose and life. On the other, it can be hard not to feel as though we are the Order we belong to. This becomes dysfunctional in cults and magical organisations run in similar ways or drawing strength from the personality of its leader. This is one of the reasons lodges traditionally rotate roles and leadership.
In the Golden Dawn and those traditions working similar mysteries, it is further complicated. Paradoxically the deeper Adept degrees both promote surrender to a mystical egregore and make us more individual, more who we actually are. Adepts who have undergone and understood this mystery deeply (it’s all in the RR et AC 5=6) are therefore their Order, yet at the same time they are simply an individual separate from it.
Those who are likely to fly of the handle when they feel ‘their Order’ is being attacked are often those who have not deepened into this consciousness yet. We see this also in the zeal of newly converted members of any faith, spiritual organisation or self help group. New members of Alcoholics Anonymous often have a shiny adoration of the Twelve Steps and respond vigorously to criticisms of it. Those who have been sponsors for years, who have integrated the Steps into their beings, take such criticisms on the chin.
So the mustard cuts both ways. Those who feel upset and hurt when they perceive their group or Order is ‘being attacked’ can also choose to remember that:
YOU ARE NOT YOUR ORDER
Now, as a veteran of an Order that really was attacked – door broken down during a meeting, lodge equipment stolen – I may see things differently to most people, but the reality is that we are talking about bytes of information that transform themselves into pixels on screen. As I have maintained before, pixels on a screen are not an attack, even if they render themselves as different opinions and direct words. Thanks 🙂
* In case you’re wondering what they said: 🙂
“The book is the finest introduction to the Golden Dawn system yet penned and includes many never before seen highlights from the author’s years of oral instruction and training. A “must have” for every student of the Golden Dawn, beginning and advanced.” – Tony DeLuce, author, publisher and Initiate of the Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn.
“…An exceptional text … Peregrin’s reader-friendly style of teaching displays a joyous sharing of knowledge that demystifies complex teachings, revealing the “the heart and soul” of the Work. This book will be a treasured addition to every Golden Dawn magician’s library. – Charles “Chic” Cicero and Sandra “Tabatha” Cicero, Chief Adepts of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.