“I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these louts.”
– Aleister Crowley.
Since one function of a blog is to get things off one’s chest (and onto the unsuspecting internet) I thought I’d have a go. Normal, erudite and reasoned programming will be resumed as soon as possible.
Pick and mix spirituality
This new age approach is exemplified in this from Alain de Botton:
I’m aware this offends some people; there’s a criticism that religions are not spiritual buffets from which we can select the choicest cuts, but I heartily disagree. Just as with a singer you like, you wouldn’t buy everything they ever did and never listen to any other singers. Surely we can create our own playlist when it comes to culture, and also religion.
Well, maybe so, maybe no, but either way even if you manage to concoct something that fits together the chances are you will not be practicing a real spiritual tradition. Why? Because if we choose from our ego, we strengthen our ego. And our ego will not choose those aspects of the various religions ‘on offer’ that will threaten the ego. And that is the function, the definition of a spiritual tradition. This is why an authentic tradition never, ever, ever feels universally comfortable to us. Sure we can ‘tune in’ to our intuition to help us choose – before we have practiced depth spirituality for years to clarify our intuition. Good luck with that.
For the love of Dog, if you’re gonna spread internet memes and stories, check the facts. ‘Nuff said.
Bashing Christ #4079
Related to the internet memes – the utter, utter mix up of a few facts and much childhood wounding that comes along in these Zeitgeist inspired Horus = Christ messages is staggering. What is more staggering is that leaders of magical Orders and groups believe and reproduce this muck. No questions asked. Because it fits into their pathetic little views about how big and bad Christianity is. Let’s all run to our mummy-Goddess.
The facts on the matter are clear: much of the Zeitgeist info is warmed up dog-turd. See here and here and here. Again, it’s exactly what that wonderful man, C.S. Lewis said – many adults choose to leave the Christian traditions based on a childish conception of Christianity, not a mature and adult one. Grow up, already, I’m sure your father wasn’t that bad.
Respect the order of the Orders.
The Golden Dawn, and many similar magical traditions, are predicated on a systematic and careful process of spiritual unfoldment. The concept of the three Orders (the GD, the RR et AC and the Third) wasn’t just made up by Westcott and Mathers after a hard night at the pub (unlike some aspects of the Alexandrian tradition). The concept correlates to the ancient and traditional understanding of spiritual unfoldment which recognises three broad but distinct phases. These were described in the west by Pseudo Dionysius (who influenced the esoteric tradition mightily) as: purgation, illumination and unity (theosis).
In the first Order we purge or purify our personality selves, allowing them to be loose and clearer enough to handle the Illumination we generate via our magical practices in the second Order. This second Order magical work illuminates us enough that, eventually, we become who we are and realise (not just know) we are actually the One, and thereby we experience Theosis in the third Order.
If ignore this framework and start practicing heavy illuminative magic in the first Order there is every chance we will distort and stunt our purgation and purification. Our egos will not be loosened enough to hold the light from the higher. We can easily, like Mr Crowley quoted at the start, attain bodaciously high grades and still be concerned about our ego.
Any group or Order who practices deep magic in the first Order has not understood the structure they profess to uphold and work within. It’d be like a Wiccan first degree initiate practicing the Great Rite before the depth experience of death and limitation of the second degree which prepares them for the Rite. We cannot rush or force feed magical development, we cannot make things happen ‘faster’. If you are attracted to groups that attempt to do this, that’s your ego. If you are in such a group and offended by my words, that’s your ego.
It’s You I’m Talking About.
I am constantly amazed when I teach or lecture to Wiccans about the wonderful, exciting and divine actual history of their magical religion, a certain percentage will not get it. They somehow think I am not talking about them, even though they are using the same rituals created by Gardner from western magical sources, not any putative ancient religious witchcraft. They are like the ‘writers’ Phil Rickman is addressing in my favourite exclamation of his:
I mean, have you read some of this crap? The most embarrassing thing is that people who can’t write are usually the very last to realise they can’t write. Even if you scream in their faces, YOU CAN’T FUCKING WRITE! they just think you’re jealous because they’ve mastered in a couple of weeks something that took you years of heartache, false-starts and terrible disappointments.
One day I will probably scream in some ‘initiated by me grandmother’ Wiccan’s face, “It’s YOU I’m talking about”. It’s pity ‘cos they’re mostly lovely folk :)
Happy Happy Happy
There is a new age expectation that spiritual teachers should always be happy and positive, full of vigour and energy, patient and kind with a lovely smile to grace their websites and books. And they shouldn’t smoke or eat anything but fresh organic food. Bugger that for a lark!
My teacher was not happy all the time. Or even positive. He was no looker either, being lanky and smoke wrinkled with teeth that could have come from the Big Book of British Smiles.
This focus on happiness and ‘positive energy’ is simply silly. Look at W.G. Gray – he was a mean old sod who ended up cursing most of his students. Yet they recall him and his teaching with gratitude and fondness, because he was a real, solid magician. This happy-hap focus is a snare and is not actually spiritual at all.
As Buddhism observed long ago, pain and pleasure are simply two ends of the old “egoic stick.” As long as one is drawing one’s vital energy from self-esteem, self-affirmation, and self-expression, even in service of the purest and noblest of causes, one is still orbiting within the egoic feedback loop. As long as happiness and a personal sense of self-worth are still the measures by which one relates to life and adjusts one’s heading; as long as vitality is the measure of spiritual wellbeing, one is trapped within the egoic feedback system. These are not moral judgments; they are descriptive criteria. And by these criteria, it is depressingly clear that ninety-nine percent of what is being promulgated as contemporary Western spirituality is merely fine-tuning the ego.
Well, that’s it for now :)