NOTE: this is a gonzo post – no editing apart from the helpful red lines under my words as I type.
At present I am not formally tied to any group where I am leading or teaching folk on a regular basis. I continue to informally teach in the various fields of magic I have been blessed to myself receive tutelage. I am not finding this any sort of lack. In fact, I LIKE IT. Apart from laziness, the main reason I like it is because I DO NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE.
Especially magical folk.
You know what I mean.
There I said it.
Now, if I were ever to be a head-honcho of a magical group again, this is what I would do. Before talking about magic. Before mentioning the words ‘Golden Dawn’, before asking newcomers ANYTHING ELSE, I’d slap down a print of the following.
I have come to realise that there is, IMHO, actually no fucking point in teaching folk anything at all about magic if they do not agree with the sainted MLK on this. In fact, as I have often pointed out, the principles expressed here are the principles of modern magic, and as any depth practitioner of them would know, EVERY SINGLE AUTHENTIC religious or spiritual tradition in the world. OK, well… post-axial age spirituality. Those modern pretences to ‘tradition’ that do not recognise the interdependence of all beings and focus on the self alone fail the basic test outlined by the wonderful Father Matthew Fox when he visited Perth many years back:
“the test of a spirituality is in its justice making; does it create justice?”
Now of course, there are always those folk – magical, new age, Christian, Buddhist – like rats, they’re everywhere – who respond to such truths by saying things like ‘as I change myself, I change the world’, ‘start at home first’. Well, yes this is ONE side of the concept of radical interdependence, but not the full picture. We can act on ourselves AND in community, in society in the world at the same time. You cannot be what you ought to be until everyone else is. So, even if you’re a selfish prick, it actually pays to be focused on others… really.
So modern 21st century magic should be about moving the mage from the centre of the circle, controlling all the forces he invokes (which is like, so medieval) to an awareness that at the centre we are interdependent on the entire circle of life, on the One and the universe that forms around us.
All this is encapsulated in those wonderful words of Dr King. In Buddhist terms this is the Right View, the first path in the Noble Eightfold path, which while not being linear does require this first one to at least be done from the very start. That is, we need to have some sense, some grokking with this truth BEFORE deep spirituality. Otherwise we can easily become distorted – thinking we actually exist – or even worse that we are actually important – or even, even worse, that those little numbers after our Mottos MEAN something.
The same truth is reflected in the magical tradition by the lovely phrase found in the Inner Light, when the initiate is asked why they wish to receive the Hidden Knowledge: ‘I desire to know that I may serve’. Now of course, as Herbie Brennan honestly pointed out in the foreword to Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki’s ‘The Ritual Magic Workbook’ folk do lie at this point. We all do to some degree – because we are all broken and separate from the One, as well as made in the Image of the One, and at the centre of unimaginable circle of God’s love. A few porkies now and then… we all do it.
So, this is why – if I were ever to run a group again – I would test this commitment. That’s right TEST the silly buggers who were learning from me on this. I once spent several weeks formulating a rather neat (so I thought) curriculum of social and compassionate justice actions – volunteering, donations, campaigning – all nicely corresponding to the Golden Dawn outer ‘elemental’ grades. The idea being that, no matter how good at the meditations, spiritual processes etc, an initiate was, without them doing so many hours of this solid, earthy, practical work, they would not move on to the next grade. That’d test them! Naturally, my framework was bounced by my (democratic) lodge leadership.
So, here we are. I have been absent from MOTO recently because I have actually been doing a lot of this social based magical action – and yes, it IS magic. It’s very rewarding and intensely frustrating. But be warned, if you ever see me put up a shingle (or hear about it on the grapevine) for a magical group, this is what you are letting yourself in for. If you do not agree, do not come knocking…
WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST