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Last week I was sponsored by the Tri-College Mellon Working Group on Magic to give two lectures. The first on The Place of Magic was held at Swarthmore College and was only to professors and guests of the group. In attendance was Yvonne Chireau author of Black Magic: African American Religion and Conjuring Tradition, Eoghan Ballard the famed scholar of Afro-Carribean traditions, and Professor Radcliffe Edmond author of RedefiningAncient Orphism: A Study in Greek Religion and the upcoming Redefining Ancient Orphism: A Study in Greek Religion.*
The second lecture was held at Bryn Mawr, was open to all students, and was on Sane Eclecticism: Responsible Synchretism and the Occult. Truth be told, because of my own eclectic background about half of the first talk was about this as well. The balance between eclecticism and tradition is something that I think about a lot.
One the one hand, the great gift of our age is that the doors have all been more or less thrown open. We have unprecedented access to magical and religious practices that people in former decades never dreamed possible. This is not ONLY because of the internet either. I grew up in a small town in NJ and before I was 20 I had encountered and learned magic from a Wiccan Priestess, a African American Conjure Man, a Santera, a Rosicrucian/Ceremonial Magician, and the Ngakpa that not only became my Root lama but introduced me to the OTO and Thelemic thought.
If I was to just pick one tradition and only one, I feel like it would be a betrayal of what the universe presented me with.
On the other hand we have people that are so loose and eclectic that it is silly. This is the Wiccan that tells you Kali is her Goddess and Jesus is her God – meanwhile she knows almost nothing about either one. This is the person that announces that they also practice phurba – but what they mean is that they use it as an athame to cast circles. This is the ceremonialist that calls on the Orishas in the LBRP. This is the Crowley himself when he tried to tackle Taoism.
So how do we walk the line? How do we take advantage of the access that believe is the great gift of the age, without falling into dilettantism, delusion, or danger?
The question is different for different people, but I myself have some rules that I follow and would like to share here. Following these has generally allowed me to put together a magical system and style that draws upon traditions new and old, yet still allow me to be taken seriously by most traditionalists.
1. DO NOT USURP TITLES: this is by far thee most important rule. If you read a book on Vodou it does not make you a Houngan or Mambo. If you read every book on it ever written, memorize 12 cd’s worth of songs, and spend every weekend drawing veve’s and invoking the Loa it STILL does not make you a Houngan or Mambo, because that is based on an initiation. You can be a Vodousant, and you may even know more than many initiated Houngans out there (more on that in a minute) but you still have not been initiated, so don’t take the title.
This is not just personal titles. You should not usurp the titles of traditions or toold either. You can read books on Dzogchen. You can do the practices. You can even attain the result. But if you have not had the introduction to mind from a person, you are not doing Dzogchen. Call it something else. You can make a spirit pot. You can even study and draw upon how Prendas are constructed, but unless you do it in that tradition it is not that thing, and should not be called that.
2. IF YOU HOLD A TITLE, DON’T THROW IT AROUND UNTIL YOU KNOW YOUR SHIT: This is the flip-side of #1 above and is something that not a lot of people talk about, including traditionalists. It is possible in this day and age to get the coveted initiations that I talk about above, but still know next to nothing. Houngan Hector here in New Jersey told me that shortly after he developed an interest in Vodou he flew down to Haiti and was initiated Houngan Asogwe along with a bunch of other people that were very new to Vodou. This is the highest level of initiation. He flew down, did his thing, and flew back. The problem was that he only knew a handful of songs and some other things that he gleamed from books. Now, much to Hector’s credit he flew back down again and again, and found people to give him the training that he knew he wanted. Other people however are happy with the title and just use it to validate whatever they make up.
Again, the same thing happens in the east. You can be born a Tulku (recognized incarnation) and be enthroned as a lama without ever going on retreat. One famous Lama was the subject of a paternity suit that he eventually lost. Some true believers thought that he must be innocent because Tantra teaches how to hold back your semen during orgasm, and therefore he wouldn’t get someone pregnant by accident. The problem with this line of thinking is that this particular Rinpoche probably did not ever master that technique or many others you might expect. He was a Tulku by birth, and spent most of his life in the west. He can write books on pop psychology and anything else he wants, and it will be passed off as Buddhism as long as his name is attached.
I am a Bishop because I have been consecrated as such, but I don’t throw the term around much because I have not had (nor am I even desiring) the training that one gets in a mainstream seminary or even in a larger Gnostic Church like the AJC. Thus, I don’t try to use the title to add validity to my crap.
3. SEPARATE TECH FROM SYMBOL SET: Systems of magic can be broken down into symbol sets, and tech. Symbol sets are usually dependent on culture, time, tradition, and sometimes only available through initiation. Using a symbol set outside of its culture, or initiatory stream can sometimes be difficult, disrespectful, or even downright dangerous. Tech on the other hand works because it works, and thus can be looked and examined from outside of any specific tradition. In this way you can find the most effective techniques without falling into the trap of making an eclectic mess. For example it would be find to borrow the idea of multiplying offerings with the mind from Tibetan Buddhism and use it in Wicca. It would be quite another to grab the nearest Phurba and call it your Athame, using it in the way that an Athame is used without really learning anything about the Tibetan Phurba traditions.
Iron being apotropaic. Triangles trapping or manifesting spirits. The appearance of the Swastika. Circles as protection and microcosms. These things work because they work. There is tech there that is beyond anyone’s claim of propriety.
4. REALIZE THAT TECH TAKEN FROM ITS ORIGINAL SETTING IS NO LONGER EXACTLY THAT THING ANYMORE: Recent university studies of Tummo have confirmed that you can control core body temperature with breath and mind. You can do it outside of the context of Tantric training. There are health benefits, and mental benefits. This is a good thing. However, it no longer Tummo at that point. Some people think Tummo is about producing heat in a cold climate (Tibet), but that is not it at all. Tummo developed in India. It is about producing bliss. The heat is a by-product. You use that bliss in Kamamudra practices and other yogas to realize Buddhahood.
I think it is great and cool to learn how to do Tummo and gain the helth benefits, but outside of Tantra it is no longer Tummo. It is something else. I teach it as Inner Heat.
5. REALIZE THAT YOU ARE GOING TO PISS SOME PEOPLE OFF. BE O.K. WITH THAT. For instance I recommended a while ago that people who did not want to use animal sacrifice could borrow the Tibetan tech of the so-called blood red tormas. These are cakes that look like severed heads and blood sacrifices that Buddhists used to propitiate local beings as as Dharma protectors, but who previously relied upon blood sacrifice. I noted that some people involved in ATR’s are already doing this using red palm oil as blood. A noted practitioner who has expereince in both Tibetan Buddhism and ATR took issue with this advice because there is not the same concept of emptiness in ATR’s as there is in Buddhism and the Gods would be offended.
The thing is that this tech was specifically developed when a people that did not sacrifice animals came into contact with, and needed to interact with, people and entities that DID. It arose out of cross-cultural magic. This is EXACTLY what this kind of thing is for.
In the end people have to experiment, look at the result, and decide for themselves. Part of this is respectfully noting, but eventually ignoring the occasional detractor.
6. APPROACH ANY TRADITION FROM ITS OWN BASE. The Chakras are not the Sephira. If you try and approach the Chakras as Sephira you will not understand them at all, and probably mess up your understanding of Sephira in the process. Freya is not just another venusian Archetype. She is different.
Recently someone on FB was asked if they do the Middle Pillar ritual. They replied that they do not, and they do my Pillar and Spheres excercise instead. While I am honored and touched by this, the two rituals are completely different and have almost nothing in common with one another, Pillars and Spheres sets up an alchemical reaction among the five elements in the body by placing them in a certain order. It has nothing at all to do with the Tree of Life, and is not a substitute. No reason that one could not do both if you wanted to.
When you approach a different system, try as much as possible to forget what you know about other systems for at least a while. Approach it as a complete newbie so you can view it on its own terms and from its own base.
7. DECIDE ON THE LEVEL OF INVOLVEMENT YOU WANT, AND DON’T CONFUSE IT: An argument that people have used against practicing more than one magical system, and even against raising children in more than one religion, is that any given path takes a lifetime to master. This is true. I could spend the rest of my life living in Nepal and studying Himalayan magic and never learn it all. You an spend your entire life as a Kimbanda Priest and never exhaust what there is to learn and master. You can be Catholic from birth till death and never completely master the whole thing. You can spend 30 hours a week practicing Tai Chi and still never get as good as Chen Xiouwang. All this is true.
But sometimes you don’t want to Master something. You just want to gain competency, and that takes a lot less time. You can spend your life studying German and learning to master the language, but for most of us the ability to hold conversations is enough, and it doesnt take that long to learn that. Being a Martial Arts master is wonderful and amazing, but for most people learning enough to maintain health, defend themselves in a fight, and maybe have some fun sparring will not be a lifetime obsession. I am a not about meditation and would spend hours in meditation a day if I could. A cubicle jocky at the insurance company however might only want to lower his stress levels, gain some control over their thoughts, and be happier, in which case 20 minutes a day will do them a world of good.
People that are competent in multiple areas themselves become masters of making connections that specialists lose the ability to see. Look at the CEO’s of the world. Do you think Steve Jobs as the best design person at Apple? Was he the best accountant? Was he the best technician? The best marketer? Probably not. He could however see connections that maybe others could not and bring these all together in ways that others could not.
Competency is fine. Great in fact. I like it. I forget who said it but specialization is for insects. Just don’t confuse competency with Mastery.
8. SUSPEND JUDGEMENT FOR A BIT: There is tendency to value old and established systems even though they may be ossified and no longer as applicable to the world as they once were. There is a tendency to mock new systems even though they may hold just what you are looking for. I have learned the hard way to suspend a lot of these judgements.
I know Lamas that are ethnic Tibetans and recognized Tulkus who are truly worthless human beings, much less spiritually advanced. I also know Vortex Healers, which is about as silly and new age a mythology as you will find anywhere, but who can actually make measurable changes and show more signs of realization than many Guru’s.
Other systems or books like the Grimoires get lots of credit that they do not deserve because they have “been working for people for hundreds of years”, when in fact very few people have actually used them as they were written and even fewer have shown signs of success promised in the books. If you think I am wrong I invite you to fly your ass over here and prove me wrong.
I am not saying that you should not excercise judgement at all, just wait until all the facts are in.
The next cycle of the Strategic Sorcery Course, as well as the Global Venus Rite begins FRIDAY August 1st. If you want a year of the best training in practical magic and the chance to join hundreds of people all over the globe in a rite to invoke the powers of Venus, now if your chance.
Or just sign up immediately:
STRATEGIC SORCERY $150
I recently asked students to come up with a tagline to describe Strategic Sorcery, one that would be better than the “Living Life Unbounded” tagline above. I still haven’t chosen one yet, but instead of yet more testimonials about the course, I thought I might share some of the taglines that students thought were appropriate:
From Potential to Power
Classic Methods, Modern Applications
Precise and Powerful Transformation
Cheat codes for Living
Game Genie for the Ambitious
The Art And Science Of Change
Full Contact Magic
Strategic Sorcery: Blazing through the limits
Transformational Tactics for Cunning Conjurers
Strategic Sorcery: Dwelling in the Unlimited.
Strategic Sorcery: A guide to Willed Living
Strategic Sorcery: Manifesting the life you want
Make your life your own.
Leverage your will
Liberation By Any Skillful Means Necessary
The Art of Succinct Wonderworking
Tactical Tech for an Empowered Life
Bad ass magic and then some
No Holds Barred Sorcery for Real Life
The spiritual adventurer now has practical feet
The toolbox of today’s Spiritual Adventurer
Musashi said the Way is in training, here is yours
Advanced tools for Bold Adventurers
The Spirit Warrior’s map and compass
Skills for Sovereignty
Wisdom for Health, Wealth, Love and Service.
Ars magica meets Art of War
Let me tell you a story. About two weeks ago I had a dream, one of those big ones that involve overlap into multiple layers and people. The kind that shake you awake and have you reaching for the voice recorder when they are done. This dream was about Abrasax – it stood hundred of feet tall and was giving instruction to someone. I looked to see who, and it was Mike Cecchetelli.
I called him up the next morning and asked him if he did any major work last night. He said “no, but I had this really heavy dream about Abrasax…”
A mark of a successful Magus is that spiritual communication is a two-way street. The gods contact us as well as the other way around. When that contact is powerful enough to wake up a peer 500 miles or so away just to act as witness, you know that person is doing some big things.
Now six people have a chance to learn from MC directly.
Part 1 I spoke about why Eclecticism has become a slur and why despite that, I think it is essentially a good thing. In this post we will be looking at some of the arguments against Eclecticism and why I feel that while that many of them point out real issues and dangers on the path, they do not hold enough water to justify not being eclectic anyway.
The first argument, and the one that is getting the most attention right now in the community is cultural appropriation. I spoke a bit about this in the last post and pointed to an article about how appropriation is harmful when it misrepresents a tradition.
Make no mistake, representing a path that you do not belong to, claiming titles you do not legitimately have, and pretending to have initiations you do not, all damage the tradition and culture that you borrow from. Cultural appropriation is real and harmful. White privilege and the sense of western entitlement is real and harmful. There is no doubt.
I was happy at first to see Pagans and Occultists become more aware of this problem and take it seriously. But as often happens, people run to the opposite extreme. Now people are quick to call any kind of cultural interface or synchretism appropriation.
For example when discussing mindfulness tactics being used by companies and the military a few months ago, someone pointed out that if these techniques are rooted in Buddhism that non-buddhists have no right to use them because that is cultural appropriation and any and all cultural appropriation is wrong. Of course many Buddhists, most vocally the Dalai Lama, actually encourage people to use many of these techniques without actually converting to Buddhism. None of that matters. Its just more evils of appropriation.
When discussing that these techniques work regardless of culture and is a matter of science as much as religion. I compared it to a drug cures cancer being discovered amid Peruvian shamanic medicine. Surely a cure for cancer would be worth taking this Shamanic potion out of its culture and seeing if we can synthesize it to make a drug that cures cancer, right? Nope. According to the person I was speaking to, no one that is not of the race and culture who has undergone the appropriate shamanic prep should ever be allowed to take the drug because to do so otherwise is cultural appropriation and I am showing my white privilege by even suggesting otherwise.
When trying to be mindful of appropriation, sometimes people can over-idealize the idea of a race or culture. In a discussion about Tulpas and the meaning of the term I was hounded about whether I was Tibetan or not, and if not I should shut up. You see this in Vodou, and pretty much every other area as well. There is this assumption that being born a particular race will grant automatic knowledge. It doesn’t.
I am half German, I know WAY less about Runes and Germanic culture than a friend of mine who is Italian and Tunesian but has been studying Runes for 20 years. A Korean Catholic Priest probably knows more about Catholicism than a typical Italian kid. An American who has studied Kung Fu for 30 years is probably better able to teach it than a Chinese guy who has studied it for 10. Knowledge and authenticity are not conferred by race alone.
In my last post someone commented that my experience with Quimbanda was an “appropriation raid”. This is a good example of what I mean. This is a scenario where I had Unverified Personal Gnosis of a spirit that usually requires initiation to contact. Rather than just go nutty, I contacted a Tata (priest) of that tradition and asked for confirmation. The presence was confirmed and I then asked for traditional means of making contact given my situation. I then ordered appropriate supplies from Brazil through one of my students in that country, and moved forward lightly. How is that appropriation?
Anyway, my point is that Cultural Appropriation is real and harmful, but that should not stop all syncretism, cross-pollenization, borrowing, or eclecticism. Respect, intelligence, research, and initiation where appropriate should be the rule to follow.
This is particularly true when it comes to tech vs symbol set. It is one thing to shove Orisha or Tantric Yidams into a Kabbalistic ritual, but it is quite another to adapt modes of offering used in Lukumi and Buddhism and apply it to Ceremonial Magic. The first is bastardizing and misusing the gods of another culture, the second is adopting something that simply works because it works.
Another argument against eclecticism is the possibility of danger. I have written about this in the past several times. Again, very real possibility to be mindful of.
Not all techniques or practices are safe when done without guidance. Not all spirits get along with one another. Sometimes guardians are in place to keep out the uninitiated. There are dangers.
In the comments to the last post someone was concerned about dangers arising from two spirits from different pantheons interacting. This is a possibility, but actually pales in comparison to the possibility of two beings of the same pantheon not getting along. Just like people, beings who do not know each other might not get along, but people who actually know each other and have history can really hate each other. Throw Yemeja and Oya in the same ritual, or Aphrodite and Helios, and you are just asking for trouble. If you just read a book or two, or even worse shoving it all into a 777 like sephira set-up, this is stuff that you won’t know.
So again the danger argument makes a legitimate case for danger. The question is: is there enough danger to avoid eclecticism entirely. Not for me.
First, having been involved in traditional paths I have seen plenty of people fall into difficulty and danger even when working within just the one tradition. I have known students studying closely with well-known, ethnically Tibetan, and traditionally enthroned* Tibetan Tulkus, who have had startelingly bad mental and physical difficulties from some of their work.
Second, its simply a matter of being willing to exercise the third power of the sphinx: “to dare”. If you feel the call to do something outside the bounds of tradition, or even engage with two at the same time, you should recognize that there is danger, take any precautions you can, then decide if it is worth the risk. Eleanor Roosevelt urged us all to “do one thing every day that scares you”. Good advice for magic and life in general.
Idiots do dangerous things with no preparation or consideration.
Cowards avoid dangerous things entirely.
The Sorcerer Sage should investigate the danger, prepare themself, and proceed anyway.
MASTERY AND DILLETANTISM
Perhaps the most compelling argument against Eclecticism is the idea of Mastery and Dilettantism. The Masters and luminaries of any one tradition dedicate themselves to one path for a lifetime – isn’t it somewhat disrespectful and silly to think that we can grasp anything meaningful by engaging in many? If one tradition holds enough teachings to occupy you for a lifetime, how dare anyone think that they could handle more than one?
Its a good sounding argument isn’t it? What it does not take into account is level of mastery one actually desires, and the time and work it takes to achieve just that.
Think about it gain great benefits from taking Kung Fu or Yoga three or four nights a week. The effects of going from couch potato to Kung Fu student are remarkable. This is because it does not take a lifetime to gain core competency in the art. You will not however, ever get to be as good as a Shaolin Monk this way. So the question is: Are you being disrespectful to the art by not being a Shaolin Monk and seeking complete perfection of the art, or is it ok and useful to seek competence, and even mastery,without ever achieving that level of perfection. To me, its a no-brainier: mere competency will do wonders.
This is what we are talking about here:
COMPETANCY: Being able to do a thing reasonably well.
MASTERY: Being able to do a thing with consistent excellence and being able to teach that thing to others
PERFECTION: The work of a lifetime.
Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Look back on your training in Sorcery or Magic: at first every class and book is a revelation, every thing you read and every person you speak to has something to teach. Eventually the return on investment slows down. The revelations crop up every so often, and most of your time is spent honing what you know. This continues as you move forward – the returns on time investment diminish. It is true with just about everything.
It’s that pesky Pareto Principle again: 80% of a thing is accomplished by 20% of its resources. 80% of conversations use 20% of languages. 80% of flowers in a garden arise from 20% of the seeds. 80% of sales numbers arise from 20% of customers. Knowing this, you learn what to seek in order to gain competence in an efficient way.
If you seek Mastery then obviosuly it takes more time, but still less than hard-liners would say. In his book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell coined the 10,000 hour rule: that it takes roughly 10k hours to master a skill. Others would say it takes less, and yet others would say that far time is not the major factor at all.
In your life there will be one or two things maybe that you wish to devote your life to. Maybe 10 things that you feel the need to Master. But there will be dozens that are useful to gain competency in.
Just as it is important to have people that are single focused on one thing, it is equally important to have people that are focused on drawing connections and making innovations. Many traditions and scriptures that people now consider primary sources and sacrosanct teachings simply because of their age, were once the new-fangled eclectic practices of their day.
*Note: I did not say competent or honest. You find people within large traditions that have all the credentials you could ever ask for but who are incompetent, dishonest, or both.
Venus of course is a multi-faceted planet (as they all are), and one that can act beneficially or malevolently depending on how she is used or appearing.
Keywords for this work are: Love, Money, Attraction, Harmony, Enchantment, and Production.
Rather than a strict love talisman for romance this talisman focuses on the interface between Attraction and all spheres, especially finance and sales. This is not to say that it will not be a positive influence in your love life, because it certainly will, but we are focusing here on the powers of Venus that lie at the root of charisma and charm – these have applications FAR beyond finding love.
Anyone who deals with people in their life and work and who would benefit from receiving positive attention and increased influence will benefit from this. rite.
So, if you want to take part in a rite with hundreds of people all over the world and receive some of the best training in practical magic available, this is a good opportunity for you.
To join the Course write me at email@example.com for more information or click the paypal link to sign up immediately
To join the course send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words STRATEGIC SORCERY in the subject line. I will send you the information packet.
Or you can just click the link below and join right now.
STRATEGIC SORCERY COURSE: $150
I am also offering a Venus Talisman for those that want to add a solid material base for the continued presence of Venus.
These are the first talismans I am offering that use my special planetary seal feaured in my books and courses. I have been selling them privately to close students and friends and there are only four left for sale. Here are the details:
WHATS IS MADE FROM? Pure Copper about an 8th of an inch thick, 1 inch wide and 1 1/2 inches tall. The symbol has been etched by a talented Sorcerer, sent to me and put through the paces of seven Venus consecrations.
WHO IS IT FOR? If you are person who deals with the public, who needs to influence their employers, who wants to easily motivate their own employees, who is in sales of any kind, or who wants to generally inspire people to give you their best. This is probably right up your alley. Liekwise if you are looking for romance and deep connections with other human beings this is a good choice.
WHO IS IT NOT FOR? If you are looking to dominate bind people this is not what you want. This talisman works through enchantment, fascination, and attraction. There is nothing wrong with a binding or domination spell in the right circumstance, this just isn’t that kind of thing and will not serve you well.
HOW MUCH IS IT? $250 payable by paypal using email@example.com as the destination.
WHEN WILL THEY BE SENT OUT? Next week so that you get them in time for the Global Venus Enchantment on August 1st.
Click below to purchase:
VENUS TALISMAN: $250
In his Open Letter to Bri Saussy, Aidan Watcher declares himself a “hard-core, traditional Eclectic from the Old Line. The Old Line being ‘from before ‘eclectic’ was a slur!”. I can relate. I myself draw upon several paths in my teaching and practice and felt a resonance with his description. Eclectic is a word that I used to use to describe myself but stopped using precisely because it has become a slur, or at least has a connotation that I don’t want to be associated with.
WHY DID ECLECTICISM BECOME A SLUR?
The question of why eclecticism became a slur is easy to answer in one word: Idiots.
You know who I am talking about. The person that grabs a Wippler book on Santeria on Monday, and by Friday have developed a version of the LBRP or Circle Opening that calls the Orishas and by the end of the weekend is referring to themselves as a “Santero”. By the end of the month, Santeria has ceased to be new and shiney and now they are on to Peruvian Shamanism.
The idiot eclectic is the person who buys a phurba because it looked cool in Uncharted 2 and declares it to be their Athame. Or maybe its the person who is High Priestess of Hekate who will argue to the death that she is a Crone because that is what she read in the Encyclopedia of Goddessses. Or maybe it is the truly wild Eclectic who’s Goddess is Kali and whose God is Jesus Christ, but who knows next to nothing about either one of them. Sometimes its the I.R.A.B., which stands for I Read A Book – and of course am therefore an expert. There are so many idiots, but really that shouldn’t sully eclecticism itself.
Apart from simply not wanting to be associated with idiots, there is another aspect to eclecticism becoming a slur: Cultural Appropriation.
Appropriation is a deeper issue than just people being idiots and flitting about from one exotic thing to the next. It is people actually claiming to represent cultures, traditions, and practices that they do not represent. People offering Palo Ngangas who themselves have no knowlege or initiation are not only making themselves out to be idiots, they are misrepresenting a tradition and muddying the stream for people looking for the real deal. People claiming to teach Tantra when all they are doing is teaching sex techniques are doing the same. For a great article on this problem as it exists in the ATR’s read the SAFE Alert – Cultural Appropriation of Lucumí Religion by Non-Initiates.
WHY ECLECTICS NEED TO RECLAIM THE WORD
So with all that is wrong with it, why should anyone want to call themselves Eclectic? Why should we re-claim the word?
Because it is the best word for what a LOT of great magicians do. In fact, I would argue it is the best word for what most magicians and witches do, even those that treat it as a slur themselves.
Merriam Webster defines eclectic as:
1: selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles
2: composed of elements drawn from various sources; also : heterogeneous
That beats “syncretic”, “multi-form” or some of the other words I have heard people use when trying desperately not to use the word Eclectic. Some people describe themselves as “Multi-Traditional” but that is not quite the same thing. When I think of someone who is multi-traditional I think of someone like my friend who has separate altars or even rooms for each tradition that he is involved with, and treats them all as completely separate streams that should never intersect. His argument being that if Santeria and Buddhism never interacted in history it would be wrong to acknowledge them together in practice. This of course completely neglects the fact that NOW is also part of history, and no matter how many traditions you belong to, or how much to try to separate them, they meet and mix in the altar of your own spirit and mind.
IT IS NATURAL TO OUR TIME AND PLACE
Once upon a time you would have been more or less primarily exposed to the culture of your birth, and whatever mystical, religious, or magical system they had or did not have to offer. You might have bumped into people from other cultures and lands, but there would have likely been barriers to you jumping ship and doing something beyond your borders. There was some synchretism, but it was slow due to modes of travel and communication and general xenophobia that comes from lack of exposure to other cultures, as well as the harsh lessons taught by invasion, slavery, and conquest.
2500 years ago, Buddhism started spreading across Asia. It was the first really missionary religion that wanted to spread itself widely regardless of race or culture. Others followed. Manichaens, Christians, Muslims, and too many mystery cults to name started mish moshing with one another creating new and interesting things, changing the nature of the things that they came from, and generally evolving. Periods and places in intense synchretism started occuring here and there. Every time it happens people complain about the loss of what came before and others express excitement about what is to come.
The rampant syncretic approach that led to the PGM and Gnostic cults of the 2nd century, generally seen as a boon by occultists of all stripes, are bemoaned by others who see it as a corruption Khemetic religion and magic. The interface of Tantra, Sutra, and Shamanism that happened in 8th century Tibet was likewise seen by many as a corruption of all three. In a very real way, it was – even though all three still exist on their own.
Today the speed of digital communications and jet travel has created a period of intense openness and sharing unlike anything the word has ever seen. Whereas in the past one would have gone to extraordinary lengths to learn about magic or mysticism outside of your own culture or religion today you kind of have to go to extreme lengths not to.
It takes far more effort to force yourself to disregard what you know about other traditions than it does to incorporate some of that.
MANY SPIRITS AND GODS TEND TO LIKE IT
When you are a person who makes offerings to the spirits, who keeps promises and pacts, and who respects and walks well with beings, many other spirits seem to want to get in on the action – even those not of whatever tradition you belong to.
See we are spirits too, and just as we get benefit from beings who are primarily aware and active on a more subtle plane of existence than we are on, they get benefit from interacting with beings who are primarily aware and active on a more physical plane.
This doesn’t mean that you should disregard tradition or bypass it or make up your own connection. It means you start there and branch out as needed, and be honest and clear when you depart from tradition – especially if you are a teacher or selling services and products.
As an example about four years ago I read a Kiumbanda, a Complete Grammer of the Art of Exu. Halfway through the book the words Maria Padhila kept repeating in my head over and over. To the point where I had trouble falling asleep. It was not an attack, it was a spirit reaching out to me for acknowledgement. The thing is that I am warry of getting involved with high maintenance spirits, especially those that might require offerings that would conflict with other spirits I work with, such as tobacco. I did not banish or anything, but I waited it out until it went away because I was absolutely sure that I was not interested in doing what was required by a Pomba Gira.
Then a couple years ago I listened to Conjureman Ali on Candelo Corner and it started all over again. Since he is a Tata I reached out for a reading to see if this is an authentic communication from Pomba Gira, and to see if there was a way to make offerings without using tobacco, taking initiation, or getting deeply involved in a tradition that would make time demands that I could not keep. He confirmed it was authentic, gave me alternate offering structure, confirmed that my Exu’s and Pomba Gira knew I had a full spiritual court but wanted to open the paths should I wish to contact them. I made a small altar, statues from Brazil, and followed the instructions and found that they actually REALLY enjoy some of the Tibetan style offerings of Tormas and such. Some Quimbandeiro’s I have shared this with see how this makes sense, others would probably think its wishful thinking on my part, but oh well…
Point being, that if you are a person of power, spirits want to know you, and often they are less concerned with culture and race than human practitioners are.
IT’S HOW THINGS GROW AND IMPROVE
One of the best compliments I have ever gotten about Strategic Sorcery is that it did for magic what Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kun Do did for martial arts. Sometimes traditions be the magical, martial, or material can get weighed down and stagnant under their own weight, People who can draw correlations, learn lessons from, and borrow from other traditions are valuable for keeping things moving and developing. Those who feel that all power comes from the past and from doing the same things as they have always been, or who believe that the power comes from following a text to the letter, will naturally disagree, but to me things change or they die and become pointless.
This does not mean that they change for no good reason, nor that they disregard their lineage and their past, simply that the evolution continues – always.
IT HELPS REVEAL THE QUINTESSENCE
Beyond the combination and cross-fertilization of methods and techniques is the fact that eclectics seem better able to see what lies beneath all these traditions. Unless you think that Zeus’s name is actually Zeus and that humans had nothing to do with naming him that, you have to aknowlege that there is more there than we know and perhaps, to bastardize a quote from Dawkins, more than we can know. There is a quintessence of spirit that lies behind it all.
One of my favorite Andrew Chumbley quotes is from the beginning pages of the Azoetia: “Magick is the transmutability of the Quintessence of all nature … Sorcery is the knowledge of the universal points of transmutation.”
Traditions simultaneously make the quintessence accessible and usable, but also can mask that there is a quintessence that lies beyond culture and language and race and border. Something that our stone age forebearers were able to access directly before the pantheons and cults. Something that adepts still need to find if they hope to seek the initiations that lie accross the abyss.
In Part 2 I will take a look at some of the arguments against Eclecticism and while I feel they do not hold water.
The First Harvest has arrived, which means it is time again to begin another cycle of the Strategic Sorcery Course.
CYCLE 18 WILL BEGIN ON AUGUST 1st 2014
The course consists of 52 lessons arriving by e-mail every Tuesday morning for a year. In addition to this there is a student’s forum, and access to me for questions.
To kick off this cycle I will be organizing a GLOBAL VENUS ENCHANTMENT. This will be a rite to invoke the blessings of Venus: Attractiveness, Influence, Magnetization, and upon all who participate.
Here is a recent comment by a student that has completed the course:
“Four years ago, I accepted a job that I wasn’t at all sure that I could do. I knew that it was going to challenge me on a lot of levels — physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. In an industry known for its conservatism and lack of innovation, I was asked to come in and create a ruckus, and shake things up. I was asked to create a new kind of classroom where kids would learn how to use their hands, as well as their minds, to learn in school. I was asked, in essence, to deliver a wonder-working. At the same time, I learned about Jason’s course, and I figured, “why not?” I could use the help of the spirits, and find ways to know myself better, and learn how to work smarter — as a magician, as a teacher, as a learner. I would need all the help I could get for a job like this. Four years later, this innovative classroom has won a prestigious “Gold level” state-wide award for creative and innovative work — not from an academic institution, but from a committee of engineers, designers and inventors.
Starting from a not-very-sure footing in design and engineering, I learned from Jason’s course how to think smarter, how to ask spirits for help, how to learn complicated subjects faster, and how to manage my time and money more effectively. The results have been exactly what I needed and wanted — strategic sorcery worked for me.
If you want a year of the best practical magic training available and participate in a global Venus Enchantment , now if your chance.
To join the course send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words STRATEGIC SORCERY in the subject line. I will send you the information packet.
Or you can just click the link below and join right now.
STRATEGIC SORCERY COURSE $150
1. Meditation Part 1
2. Subtle Bodies and Channels
3. Zone Rites
4. Thought management
6. Offerings 2
7. Subtle Body Power Centers
9. The Elements
10. The Elements Part 2
11. The Planets
12. The Planets Part 2
14. Materia Magica
15. Materia 2
16. Materia 3
17. Amulets and Talismans
19. Magic of Place
20. Dream Sorcery
21. The Planes
22. Astrral Projection
23. Astral Mechanics
24. Artificial Spirits
25. Spirits of Place
27. Necromancy 2
28. Grimoire Spirits
29. Grimoire Spirits 2
30. Grimoire Spirits 3
31. SS Mini Grimoire
32. Spirit Houses
33. Meditation 2
34. 10 Principals of Strategic Sorcery
35. Set Point and how to Move it
36. Tactical Timing
37. Will and Willpower
38. Intelligence Gathering
39. Information Sorcery
40. Persona and Influence Work
41. Time Management
42. Strategic Sorcery Group Work
44. Attack Magick
45. Causal Level Magick
46. Financial Sorcery 1
47. Financial Sorcery 2
48. Financial Sorcery 3
49. Working for others
50. Sex Magic
51. Advancing the art of Magic
52. The Strategic Sorcerer
Write me at INOMINANDUM@GMAIL.COM for an information packet.
A week ago I wrote about the downside of being an entrepreneur. A lot of people, especially other entrepreneurs got it, but some people seemed to think I was suddenly now trying to steer people away from it, or that I was yielding to, and spreading fear by talking about such things. Of course I was not, and said so in the post itself.
I love working for myself. Right now I am writing this from a cabin I am renting in the Mountains of Vermont for the Summer – something I never would have been able to do while working a wage job. But there is a downside to it, and here is a little secret: there is a downside to EVERYTHING.
When people talk only about the upside of something, and refuse to talk about the downside they are either selling you something through mis-representation, or can only function when being ridiculously and insanely positive. This is not the kind of positivity that yields a can-do attitude and overcomes fear, this is the kind of baseless positivity that makes you believe that your occult store located in the middle of rural Kansas is going to start making a profit any day now just because you believe. The wise entrepreneur knows when to change tactics or even quit and move on to something else.
Anyway, there are major Upsides to being an Entrepreneur.
So yeah. I am still a true believer. I love doing what I do because I get to do what I love. Knowing the downsides does not detract from that, it just makes it more real and more precious. It’s also not the holy grail for everyone. People that cannot put money second or third in their priorities, people who cannot manage their time, people who are not driven to do it are probably better off doing something else. For those of us that are suited to it, it is the gateway to an extraordinary life.
Today is of course July 4th, Independence Day here in the U.S.A.. But here in Vermont there is also some attention payed to the birthday of one of its native sons, Calvin Coolidge.
Not my favorite president, or even a very great president by any measure, he did produce a quote that I live by. I actually have it framed on my desk at home. It is true in magic, and in business, and in pretty much every area of life.
I will take a person willing to take action and be persistent over a talented, well educated, genius any day of the week. Like Coolidge I know my fair share of people with , amazing genius or advanced degrees that do nothing but gripe about how the world does not recognize or reward them.
Every day that I wake up and feel lazy, or pissed off that the world has not just recognized my genius with an inexhaustible grant of discretionary funds, I look at that quote and get down to business.