Turn and Face the Strange

I started this blog over eleven years ago now, and in that time I’ve changed quite a bit. Reading through old posts some of it is really insightful, and some of it I’ve completely changed my mind on.

My magickal interests have evolved and changed as well. When I started writing this blog, ritual work was pretty new to me and I was really into figuring that out and also the Tree of Life and how things fit into it. Now I’m more interested in the more intimate details of the universe, like exactly what gods are, and how they’re structured, and how they’re created, and what their boundaries are and why they even exist. I’m also looking into other power conduits that don’t fit into the typical classifications that are out there. 10 years from now I’m sure I’ll be onto something else.

Every time I’ve started to finally grasp a subject and unlocked some deep mystery of it, it’s only led me to discover more paths, more mysteries, and more things that I know nothing about. My spiritual practice and what I’m interested in looks nothing like it did 11 years ago.

I also used to be really into going to spiritual groups, public rituals, posting on my blog, and following the magick blogosphere. Now I give fuck all about the community, offline or on, and most of my external work is done through one on one teaching.

My life is very different too. I can literally fit in my pockets all the things I own that I owned when I started this blog. My PS2 has been traded up to a PS4, and I even flirted with a Microsoft system in the middle. I’m married, I’ve moved halfway across the world, I’ve switched careers several times, and I have a new dog that I pretend is my child so I don’t have to have children.

I’m also getting sort of old. As a younger magician, I used to have to lie about my age in the online community to get any sort of respect, but now I’m just respected because of my years, and I’m about a decade shy of insta-eldership. I’m already older than just about all the community leaders I knew when I started blogging.

The point is, I’ve changed quite a bit, and my practice has also changed. On the other hand when I go back into the community, online or off, whether we’re talking Pagans or Ceremonialists or whatever, it’s the same as it was when I first noticed it about twenty years ago. Pretty sure it’s the same as it was 60 years ago, but I’m not old enough to remember that. I seriously have Pagan friends who put up websites in the past few years that were programmed in pure HTML without even a stylesheet, full of animated gifs, randomly placed links, and sometimes a menu in a frame off to the side. They looked like 90s webpages, and I forgot what 90s webpages looked like until I saw these things, because I hadn’t seen one in over a decade.

Back in the 50s and 60s Paganism was at the height of feminism. 60 years later and the world has progressed quite a bit, but Paganism is still in the same place it was back then. For example, consent culture is a thing now, and we’re not completely there yet, but we’re getting there. But I can’t go to a Pagan meetup without hearing some single guy complain about how he can’t be spontaneous and romantic if he has to outright ask before he does stuff to a woman (here’s a tip on romance, not raping people is super romantic).

In the 80s it was really something to even be having that discussion regardless of what side of it you were on. Seriously, watch some 80s films. Family friendly kitsch movie Adventures in Babysitting has a scene where a teenage girl passes out in the backseat of a car after a rough and frightening day, and a teenage boy gropes her because that’s funny and family appropriate entertainment. Watch Revenge of the Nerds. It’s at the forefront of the geek is cool counterculture, and pretty much just another take on the basic premise of Animal House, except it’s a lot more rapey, and a lot less self aware of how rapey it is than Animal house.

A lot of the magicians I know grew up in the 80s and 90s like I did. And growing up a lot of stuff that’s now sexual assault was just distasteful back then, and a fact of life you had to deal with if you were a woman. Instead of seeing this as a positive step forward, they want things to go back to the way they were when they were young. They probably want it to go back even further back than that, because when they were young they were looking up to old guys wanting things to go back to the way it was in the 50s and 60s. Now they do that to the young magicians, and the circle is complete.

That’s why I’ve lost so many friends in the community because they’re fervent Trump supporters. I don’t mean they’re Republicans, or that they were really voting against four more years with a Democratic president, or that they’re rich businessmen or Russian sleeper agents who had a personal interest in a Trump presidency. They actually feel that Trump’s message resonates with them, to the point that I’ve seen some self identified Pagans go so far as to share stuff on Facebook that is fundamentalist Christian Satanic scare stuff that could’ve been made in the 80s.

As an aside, 11 years ago I decided that I didn’t want to discuss politics on this blog, because I didn’t see the point of it. I’m breaking that now because Donald Trump is a racist, misogynist, xenophobe, homophobe, that’s completely self serving. Plus he’s an idiot, and I hate idiots. He is a disgusting human being, and one of the worst things that has ever happened to my country. Just this week he failed to condemn Nazis, and even in the 80s we knew Nazis were bad.

The reason why Trump resonates with these people is because they desperately want to throw away all of the progress we’ve made in the last 35 years and have things go back to the way they were in the 80s. The majority of Trump’s message is just, “Let’s bring back the early 80s.”

If you look at the way these guys practice magick, it’s also the same as it was when they were in their 20s. When these guys were young, they had a lot of potential, they were learning new things, and they were developing as magicians. Then they developed a bit, they became powerful and knowledgeable, and they knew how to do some really cool magickal things.

A few decades later and they’re only as knowledgeable and powerful as they were back then, and they’re doing the same really cool magickal things. It still leaves the newbs in awe, but if you’ve known them all this time, you realize they’ve gone twenty or thirty years without developing. They got to a respectable point, and then they stopped.

That’s what the community has become, stagnation. It’s a bunch of groups and religions that are old and out of date. It’s a bunch of people who only got so far, and then stopped because they reached some low hanging bar, and now desperately yearn for the time of their youth when things still made sense to them.

When Chaos Magick was new, when Paganism was new, when Thelema was new, when the Golden Dawn was new, these movements were on the fringes of society because they were so socially progressive and so ahead of their time. Now these groups are moving back into the fringes not because they’ve evolved and remained progressive, but because society has progressed forward beyond them and they’ve stayed behind.

At the end of the day, once you take away all of the fancy dressings and all of the pretentious intellectual philosophy about what it is, all spirituality is, is growth, and part of growth is change. The end goal of spirituality is for a person to finally achieve their full potential, and it’s a process that can take tens of thousands of lifetimes to happen. Magick is the cheat code or the lifehack to spirituality. It lets us speed up our progression so we can get to the end faster, and for most it’s essential to getting through the final parts as well.

So when you cling to the past and rage against the progress of society, when you let yourself become culturally irrelevant in the modern era, when you stop learning new things, when you stop growing and advancing along your spiritual path, when your magickal practice is no longer a work in progress but just the stuff you already know, or when you fear change and want things to remain the same or go back to the way they were, you’ve failed yourself spiritually.

If you’ve been doing the same magick for forty years and know so much you haven’t needed to learn anything new in over a decade, you’re not an elder, you’re just old, and you might as well be dead. The newb kids you preach to are already much better magicians than you, because they at least might make something of themselves.

And if you’re young and new to magick, don’t be too intimidated by the older more experienced folks, and be suspect of anything they tell you. The majority of them lost their spiritual way long ago.

This is mostly just insane ramblings, but the point I’m trying to make is, if you’re not growing, not learning, or not changing (and I mean that culturally, intellectually, socially, spiritually, ect), and are instead stuck in the past, then you’re no longer a magician. Whatever you’re practicing, it isn’t magick. We need to make sure that we’re always moving forward, embracing the modern era and the new chapters of our lives, continuing to push ourselves spiritually, and constantly progressing towards our full potential.

2 Responses to Turn and Face the Strange

  1. George says:

    Welcome Back! It has been a long time!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I just found your website here and I’ve been reading for hours. I’m blown away at what I didn’t know I knew, and how to make more out of what I am. Regarding this post in particular, I just wanted to say, stasis isn’t living. To quote a novel I stumbled across as a child in a college library, “Being is more important than remembering.” That doesn’t mean we should forget, but we should never stop growing, reaching, learning.

    Thank you for all you’ve put into this. Life may have changed in the meantime, but reality hasn’t shifted so much that what you say and teach here is any less necessary than it was when you began. Besides, was time ever really linear anyway?

    I’ll be back tomorrow. Good night.

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