A couple of things have caught my attention recently. One is the appalling, abysmal state of esoteric publishing at the moment. Now there are many good publications out there, though the trend for limited editions of 93½, bound in unicorn hide and trimmed with centaur fur is placing many books out of the reach of lots of students. Sure publishers have to make a quid, but this used to be by producing books that sold well because they were GOOD.
And for every good book there are several poorly produced and severely silly self-published works or produced by publishers who act more as printer go-betweens than traditional publishers. These books include factual mistakes, are simply not edited and even have basic spelling and grammatical errors that would be bounced by a primary school teacher. I have even seen books that misspell the names of other authors on the publisher’s list in the ads at the back 😦
As occult-mystery writer Phil Rickman exclaimed:
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.
When I first catalogued the Simon Goodman collection at Murdoch University library many years back I came across what is now a curiosity in the esoteric publishing field. It was included with a rejection letter from a major esoteric publisher responding to Simon’s request they publish his ‘Working Tools of a Witch’ manuscript. The letter outlined clearly why they could not publish it and included a ‘Reader’s Report’ by some anonymous person which, page by page outlined the errors and mistakes in the manuscript. The reader was obviously someone expert in the field and was having no truck with Simon’s historical largess.
Reader’s Reports still exist in many publishing areas but have gone the way of the dodo for most esoteric publishers … and of course self-publishing removes this entirely. This makes me a very sad panda indeed.
So I am pleading to esoteric publishers, for the love of Dog use a Reader as standard practice for esoteric manuscripts. Even if you self-publish, get your work edited by a third party (yes PAY them) and submit it to an expert reader before publishing.
Social media has recently been reacting to the news of the death of Gavin Frost of the Church and School of Wicca. Frost, along with his wife, for a long time affirmed their right to perform sexual initiations with children. This naturally did not sit well with many folk and he was declared evil through and through by more than one commentator and eternal damnation of some sort wished upon his soul.
I have seen similar reactions by magicians and Pagans before, where someone is considered ‘evil’ ‘perverted’ or distorted in toto, within their entire being and beyond ‘redemption’. This view is in complete contrast with the traditional views of the nature of humanity that underlie modern esotericism and magic, and so I find myself somewhat confused. The Pagans I’m not sure about, ‘cos generally they don’t have much use for theology, ontology or similar wot-nots at all.
Traditional Christian understanding, and yes this tradition did underpin and underlie most of the occult systems in the west, tells us something completely different. Human beings are creatures created by our divine creator and thus we bear within us the imago dei, the image of the One. Being created thus by the One, this imprint, this image of the One cannot be undone or damaged. It may be covered over, or hidden by our actions and circumstances, but it cannot be erased. Why? Because it was formed by our Creator and the acts of creatures cannot override those of the Creator. Thus no one ever, not Hitler, not Osama, not the Yorkshire ripper is without the Image of the One. All are therefore worthy of love and all are therefore able to be redeemed.
In the emanationist theologies of Neo-Platonism and some forms of Qabalah (certainly most of magical Qabalah) we have the same idea, though expressed differently. If we look the Tree of Life, the ‘higher’ and divine aspects of the Soul, being ‘closer’ to the One Thing, are beyond the Abyss, which forms a barrier between the phenomenal and noumenal worlds. That which is ‘above’ the Abyss, has never been born, never been manifested into this world of blood and sunsets. It is beyond stain, division or damage by actions in the ‘lower’ worlds. Thus again, each of us, has at core a divine, pristine self that is worthy of love and which may promote restoration and restitution no matter what evil we have committed.
I find the lack of acceptance, and the lack of the promotion, of this basic concept in modern magic and esotericism disturbing. People, and yes I am gonna get gendered here, mainly men, seem to revel instead in sharing anger, sarcasm, denigration and broad sweeping statements that certain individuals are forever tainted and corrupted. This was touched upon recently in Mark Stavish’s excellent public Facebook response to the death of Dr. Joseph Lisiewski. Here Mark talks about the need for the magical community to replace anger with love. Pure and simple, and the key to all spiritual work and magic.
From a Roman Catholic perspective, and placed into the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘we are required to believe in Hell, but may hope that it is empty’. Yes, people can choose to commit evil, they can choose to continually reject the divine love, but there is no necessity for any to so choose, since they have the divine imprint within them.
And so perhaps our love and prayers towards folk like Gavin Frost, stemming as they do from our own imprint of the One, may stir into action their own inner divinity. It seems quite certain that anger and hated directed to them will not awaken it. Thanks 🙂