What the (magical) world needs now

What HAVE you being doing?

is shame.

Yes, back when I was a lad, before the New Age “we’re all special, we’re all artists we’re all singers, we’re all Gods” approach to spirituality took over, there was this little thing called ‘shame’.  When we did something wrong, we felt bad about it. More than that, when we would contemplate doing something wrong, we’d feel bad and shame, that bugbear of an emotion, could actually STOP us doing something daft.

When I look around at the magical and Pagan communities these days, I see little shame, which I think is a…er…shame 🙂

I’m not talking about the abusive, ‘don’t touch yourself down there‘ type of shame. I’m talking about the kind of shame that makes us embarrassed and feel awful for being pricks kinda shame.

I mean, I am sure that if the lying, cheating ‘magician’ that took people’s money and pretended to astrally initiate them (as described here) felt shame he would not have done so.

And the other day I am wandering across the blogosphere and come across a page talking about good books on magic and what us poor GD folk did before them. And then, well would you believe it, the blog recommends only one book, that by the author himself. I am sure if he had felt shame, knowing full well the existence of dozens of good books, he would have been a little more truthful.

And what about those magicians and Pagans who lie – about lineage, skills, grades, ownership of powerful thing-a-ma-jiggies – the ones that prompt folk like me collect binders full of their lies? Would they continue to lie if they felt a little bit of shame? I think not.

And don’t get me started on those magicy folk who take all the info they can get from an Order, use all the resources and bugger off to use them in their own malformed group based on ‘inner directions’. Would they use their teachers and tradition so shabbily if they felt a little shamefaced while shaving in the morning?

Modern magic, and certainly modern Paganism, is getting  so focused on making sure we feel good, we forget the significance of not feeling good; the importance of deeply experiencing negative emotions such as shame, guilt, repentance and remorse. It fairly gorms me out that so many modern folk have no shame about anything these days. And, of course one big unwritten rule in New Age circles is never, ever shame anyone. Bugger that for a lark – now rack off, get off my blog and be ashamed! 🙂



  1. Nick Farrell · November 13, 2012

    I blame the rise of consumerism which has lead people to believe they can buy the stairway to heaven if they just pay a gatekeeper. If the gatekeeper (who has ethics) turns them away or refuses to do what they are told, there is always some snake oil seller who will pretend they have the keys. Or, worse, they will pretend that they know all the answers themselves and will pretend to be gatekeepers themselves. But consumerism makes a certain shallowness which means that it is not magic but the illusion of magic.

  2. MvdV · November 13, 2012

    I couldn’t agree more, our emotions are guides that we should listen to. Like advisors to an emperor, they all should have equal say in our actions. WE decide to listen to the advisor of our choice. To ignore or move “beyond” emotions is a poor idea.

  3. JR · November 13, 2012

    I think some of this discussion might also lie in the interpretation of words.
    (Eg-How are shame and guilt different?)
    Guilt signals, “My behavior is wrong.” Guilt can be a sign of a healthy conscience.
    Shame signals, “I am worthless.” Often the by-product of social-exclusion (thought to be triggered by survival insitincts in social animals etc) and potentially quite damaging.

    A thought with respect to New Age and Western Individualism: why would one feel shame if they do not hold it so necessary to be a part of a community anymore…?

  4. Frater CM · November 13, 2012


    I think the magickal community has much to thank for the life affirming qualities of “shamelessness”.

    Where might the Golden Dawn and the modern occult/pagan community be if it weren’t for the self-indulgent lack of shame that was demonstrated by its key movers and shakers?

    Blavatsky, Leadbeater, Mathers, Regardie, Gardner, Crowley, Fortune…. and the list goes on. Shame, shame, shame. All without shame, some more so, some less so.

    That’s the sucky think about being human, we all have moments of shamelessness. Same goes for the big honchos, even more so – in my opinion. Unchecked ego, conceit and a total lack of shame. All examples of people in authority who were “pricks” and “over-zealous raconteurs” at various stages of their lives. In the case of Leadbeater, he was a wandering prick… literally.

    Mr Farrell might attest to the rampant shamelessness that one finds in the lofty heights of occult celebrity. He did after-all write a book(sss) on the misguided and shameless behavior of the most worshipful grand poobah of Golden Dawn royalty. *drum roll* Bill…. ly…….Shears! *ahem* I mean Mr Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers.

    What am I getting at? Well, what I am trying to say is that the entire occult/mystical/hermetic/whateva history is richly steeped in shamelessness. Bold faced egotism, hyperbole and mendacity. Probably on par with the shamelessness that one might find in Father Teds rectory… well, maybe not that bad. *cough* Lead… Beater *cough* There’s always that one person that spoils it for the rest of us. Argh!

    This bold-faced shamelessness is a given, particularly when one has traditions founded on “revelation”, or that justify their existance on the communication of “invisible chiefs”, or that have roots in the shameless trickery of the Victorian spiritualist movement. Jumping tables, magical trumpets, floating instruments and… ectoplasm! Yah, nearly had me going… when I was 12, oh you guys!

    The deep rooted cynic in me feels the need to agree with Mr Farrell and blame it all on the rise of consumerism, but – let’s face it – people have been remarkably shallow AND conceited lying pricks for… like…ever!

    “The rise of consumerism … has lead people to believe they can buy the stairway to heaven if they just pay a gatekeeper. ” Oh really ?! The Catholic church was selling Indulgences way before Louis Vuitton and Two-dollar Big Macs.

    Yah, consumerism sucks, but it ain’t the disease, it’s the symptom.

    Yes! Let’s all try and live a life with a little more humility and “shame”. But let us also not forget the reality of the situation, and understand that much of what we have in the community today is founded on shameless self-promotion and the unabashed conceit and/or delusion of the few who manage to get motivated enough to do stuff in the world. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    Hey, if it wasn’t for Regardie shamelessly breaking his oath, we might not have a huge brick of a Golden Dawn book that made us all aware of the Golden Dawn system.

    If it wasn’t for Crowley’s blend of egotism, shamelessness and genius, we wouldn’t have metalhead Thelemites. It’s all good.

    So I am going to offer a peace pipe to all the shameless people of the word, and say Thank you.

    Now, excuse me, I must finish up my ramblings. I need to send an email to Anna Sprengel before 5pm this evening. She is not dead, and has since been upgraded to immortal secret chief status. She also has personally given me permission to start a 6th inner order. Cool, i know. Would you believe I found her email address lodged between the pages of my wife’s copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey”. True story.

  5. Pingback: Thank you Jesus! | Sol Ascendans – The Website of Alex Sumner
  6. Keith Maguire · November 14, 2012

    I like this post very much. I feel what you are saying. After all isn’t the idea of the Middle Way one of balance? To ignore a nagging feeling of shame regarding something you’ve done is not an enlightened way to be. I tell my kids that emotions aren’t called feelings for nothing. If you listen to your emotions you’re “feeling” your way around an experience, so to speak, and getting information that you really should listen to. Shame, in a healthy context, is just as beneficial as feeling good about ones self. In fact, without feeling shame and allowing that feeling to guide us to make the changes in our behavior that are healthy and necessary for our growth leads into a healthy sense of self esteem anyways.

  7. dirkt · November 14, 2012

    t’s all in the game. Hermes is the god of wisdom, but he’s also a liar, thief and con man. Can’t have one without the other 😉

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