For some reason, magicians of all types have been tied to books. When we think of magicians, we usually associate them with images of books of magic, spell books, libraries, ancient tomes, and the like. And a lot of magicians seem to be applying this label to themselves. I’ve seen a magician called a liar because he claimed his book collection had been in storage for the past year (because no real magician could bare to be without his precious books). I’ve seen magicians claim they can’t cast a spell because they don’t have the proper book with them. I’ve seen magicians who have claimed to be powerful because they happen to own or have access to an extensive library of books. In fact, one of the signs of a weak magician is that he or she will brag about the books they own or the books they read as if it means anything magically.
I’m not going to say I’m innocent of this either. I have lots of books. I’ve read lots more. If I had the money, I’d have a very extensive occult library to reference and read at my leisure. This is a trait that many magicians share. But then I also have a very strong background in literature so my obsession with books isn’t surprising or limited to metaphysical topics.
But I don’t need my books (well my magical ones, I need my fiction, poetry, and comic books). They are in no way a representation of my power, and if I lost them all tomorrow, I’d be fine. Likewise I can develop spells from scratch without any reference material and I would be just fine leaving my books in storage for a long period of time if I felt I had to for some reason. To be honest, I’ve gotten very little out of most of the books I read. They’re nice as a reference and sometimes I find an idea or two I really like, but that’s about it.
I’ve said this before, and most people agree, magical power and understanding comes from practical work. No amount of book reading or knowledge of theory can substitute for it. But practical work can be a substitute for book reading and knowledge of theory.
I’ve also known magicians who will act like some literary detective reading older texts (such as the old grimoires or the Book of the Law). They spend countless hours looking for some minute secret that may or may not have been hidden in the text somewhere. It’s a huge waste of time. If they had spent the same amount of time developing their own magic they would have discovered much bigger secrets than anything written in the grimoire.
And if you cannot develop your own magic, you are a weak magician. A strong magician may be weak in a particular area (such as writing spells), but they are able to develop their own magic. In fact, a strong magician’s weak points are typically areas of magic they rarely or never practice, meaning its not really a part of their personal practice. The magic they practice they can make up, on their own, as they need it.
This is one of the reasons why magicians don’t need books. A magician can develop the magic they need as they need it. They can discover any secret they want by looking for it in the universe.
The other reason is that magicians have a wide variety of sources for information. Here is a short list of some of the sources available to magicians:
Evocation and Spirit Communication
Mental Planes Access/HGA Merging/Light Channeling
Spirit Guides and Spirit Animals
Past Life Regression
The list isn’t in any kind of order, but books are by far the worst source of information on the list. Magical groups and teachers aren’t much higher. Yet a lot of so called magicians cannot access most of the things on this list, and so books and teachers and magical groups become so important to them because it’s one of the few areas of information they can access.
Teachers are an issue to, and not a subject I want to go too in depth about in this article, but a lot of people, teachers included, don’t understand what a teacher is or what their role is. In the worst cases students may be taken advantage of financially or sexually or somehow abused because of the relationship. Most of the time though I just see a very poor relationship that isn’t very helpful to the student.
A lot of students come into the student-teacher relationship for the wrong reasons. Some are there for no other reason than to gain the lineage of being a teacher’s student. Some believe that a teacher will give them access to power. Some may need the structure of the relationship or be seeking approval of some kind. In any case, it is the teacher’s responsibility to tell the student no.
A teacher’s job, their entire job, is to guide a student through the current obstacles they are facing that they cannot get past on their own so that they can reach the next level of their spiritual attainment.
That is all a teacher does, and done right it usually doesn’t take very long. But I’ve seen students who have been students of a teacher for years. There’s no excuse for this. By that point either the student has achieved a level of competence where they should be set free from the relationship so they can pursue their personal spirituality, or the teacher is not able to help them get to that level.
I’ve also seen lots of students who are completely dependent on their teachers for their magic. In extreme cases the student may not be able to successfully perform even simple magics or rituals without their teacher’s help (typically this is due to a lack of psionic ability or not understanding how to raise energy). Many though simply need to consult their teacher constantly and need their teacher to develop their magic for them. For instance they can’t figure out the qualities of a specific wood or plant on their own and need to ask their teacher what it is, or they can’t write a spell and need to get spells from their teacher as needed. Many also use their teachers as a constant guide to answer questions and to tell them what is right and wrong rather than find the answer to these questions themselves.
And all of this leads right into systems. Their are systems that come with certain groups (such as the Golden Dawn and OTO systems of spiritual attainment). There are systems that come with certain magical religions. Some people get their systems directly from their teachers. Other people get their systems from books. It doesn’t matter where you get it from. If you are using someone elses methods of magic, you are a weak magician that is not reaching their full potential.
Magic is not like science. You cannot recreate an experiment under the same conditions and expect the same results. Magic is like an art, and like an artist a magician needs to infuse their magic with themselves.
Of course we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Many people mistakenly believe infusing themselves into their magic means concentrating on their strengths while compensating for their weaknesses, and this is where the power comes from. Actually its a lot more than just that.
In addition to our strengths and weaknesses, we also have personalities. We have likes and dislikes. We have anxieties and fears and insecurities. We have wants and needs and desires. All of this needs to be incorporated into our magic and our spirituality. When we incorporate all of ourself into our magic, our magic becomes much stronger and much more successful.
And the only way you can do this is if you are able to develop your own magic. You need to be able to come up with your own spells, and techniques, and rituals, and spiritual paths. These things need to be designed with your specific personality in mind, not someone elses, so that they are true to who you are.
It’s unfortunate, but a lot of the magic being done out there is nothing more than mimicry. It’s students doing exactly what their teachers taught them, and in many cases exactly what their teachers do. It’s people copying rituals and spells from books. It’s people following the laid out spiritual paths of systems under the belief that they’ll come to some eventual attainment.