Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You're Gonna Go Far, Kid.*

Come now, sweet Daemon, come! Inspire me – oh, effulgent sweetness of my soul – and allow your inspiration to be spoken!

To the Mousai Titanides:
Fair Melete, Goddess and Daemon of Meditation and Practice, let your hand reside beside mine own and raise me from gloom, fill me with the precision to speak my words and be understood!
Glorious Aiode: Queen of Songs, Hymns and Chants, who is beside us as we sing to the outside, let my words flow with sweetness and bitterness of equal measure! To you will I sing, and your song is to become my song! Teach me to speak with a tongue that even Gods and Spirits, Daemons and the Dead Understand! Teach me to sing, Goddess, so that I might sing your songs!
Obfuscated and Hidden Mnemosyne: The Well of Memory and Queen and Patroness of Poets, Philosophers, Priests, and Prophets; fill me with your truth, and let me drink of your Well. Always first you are come to and last, Queen of Memory! In dreams I have seen your drink, cooling and soft in a golden and porcelain cup: allow me access to your well and water, that I might be a spring of immortality!

To the Nine:
Calliope: Lady of Epic Prose, who allows knowledge of the hand of gods in the affairs of mere men and current events –
Clio: Who makes famous and celebrates the events of past and lost time, who holds the book of History in one hand and dips her fingers into the waters of the past in the other –
Urania: Queen of the knowledge of the night skies and the bodies that reside within, who sheds light on distant moons and gives the desire to travel to even further and distant lands and gates –
Euterpe: In who's rhythm we dance, and who's songs endfold all! Teach us of lyrics, and scales, of the connection of rhythm, rhyme, and rote –
Thalia: Mistress and minister of comedy and festivity, two faced and shining: teach us to laugh again, and let the sound of our joy fill the theaters, lodges, and conventions! Embrace us and let our festivals be as your festivals –
Terpsichore: Remind us of the beauty of string and wind in conjunction, and the delight of the Ivory Tower; return us to the summons to sing and made lyrical song, and let not your daughters' (the Sirens) take us off course in the midst of storms –
Erato: Whisper to us of the delights of the sensual flesh and the joys of sweet eroticism! Teach us to mimic again the motions of others, and enter into the sweetest of wordless rapport! Bring forth again your sweet delight –
Polyhymnia: Queen of Cathedrals and the hymns within; pristine and engulfed whispers of holy songs and silence filled with spiritual meaning; allow us access to your hallowed shores, and let us know when the time has come to sing what must be sung –
Melpomene: Lady of the dark night of the soul: open before us the gates of tragedy, so we can see how the failures of the past can best be expressed! Show us your benighted shores, and the trials of before! Open before us the tales of cursed and blighted lives, of trials and strife which can never be undone, and teach us through it to live differently – ...

I Find Myself Awake...”

I have a dream:

Young magicians coming together, secreted away on forums and half-unseen websites and working together for the sake of their own development, and that of the world around them. Of cabals, and covens, and cults shifting and ramping up into gearing and becoming living, vital things which are filled with so much meaning that any who wanders into their direct influence is left thunderstruck and speechless.

Of course I speak of as if they do not currently exist, or are not currently going on. Which is in and itself a lie: I have myself been involved with some of them, and seen many of them spring from the earth as fresh and new, vibrant and beautiful things.

Over the last decade and I half I met members of the IOT, OTO, GD, and whole slews of covens and traditions and spoken with them. I have been bettered by getting to know those around me, speaking to them, trying my best (and I don't always manage to do this) to understand them and what their desires are.

And along the way, many of them have directly aided and abetted me as much as the eclectic, no-order, occasionally atheistic and occasionally “something else,” individuals. I would not cut some of these ties for the world; because the discourses, rants, raves, fights, arguments, debates, and all the rest have helped me out.

I have lurked and chatted on many forums and websites. I have seen the rise of bright, pristine movements and their eventual collapse. I have seen the rekindling of spirit in the public spotlight. I've seen Elders and youths alike involved in some of these, and often quite liked both.

I say these things in reflection to the post recently made by Raven Grimassi on his blog titled How Did It Come to This? I came across it via Jason Miller's response to it, which I quite liked. However, I feel like personally responding because of the sheer level of annoyance I felt upon reading it. I am writing this entry specifically to purge that annoyance from my mind, and because otherwise it's going to sit in the back of my mind annoying me. This entry should not be taken as an attack on Mr. Grimassi, his work, or his person. I don't know the man personally, but I find myself incredibly annoyed by some of the comments that he makes. I will clarify why below.

Tomato, Tomato.”

To avoid copying his entire entry, I will be sampling pieces periodically. To avoid the mistakes of the past, I would take a moment to request that anyone reading this read his entry first, and then maybe even Jason's response to it. It is not my wish to present any material out of context, and if that happens I apologize in advance.

Anyway, he writes: “It is said that Generations come into the world with a like-mindedness. Those of us born in the 1950s were the teens of the 1960s. The 1960s saw the resurgence of the Occult and its related arts - palmistry, tarot, witchcraft, and mysticism. There were few books and materials available on the subject at the time, and fewer places where seekers could find kindred spirits. The lucky few ended up being taught by practitioners of old lineage lines.

The 1960s was a time of great experimentation. We took the available knowledge along with the guidance of those with experience, and we worked hard to integrate such things and to develop ourselves. There was simply no other way to make things happen. We had no Internet, and few cities contained shops that offered anything to people with mystical, occult, pagan, or witchcraft interests.

I should very much like to know how this is different from today? Has the internet made it so that you can automatically find, and instantaneously know, that you've found the Guru or Mentor for you? Has the rise of Wikipedia made it so that you don't still have to work hard to sort between useful and non-useful material? Are people no longer practicing magick in groups? Shit, man, has the End of the World finally arrived? No? I really didn't think so.

The increase of material, scholarly and otherwise, has directly benefited many – if not most – individuals practicing today. It is exactly what the students of the 60s seem to have desired, an not all of it is contingent on handing over your faith or soul to to an individual who might not have your best interest in mind.

Meanwhile the proliferation of material which is not of worth is directly related to the increase of any material – at all. I won't give anyone a lecture on the increase of signal strength versus line noise in Information Theory. You certainly, dear reader, probably do not need that. Especially if you have an engineering degree!

Mr. Grimassi follows this up with the following: “From the1960s and 1970s arose individuals who fought on the front lines against those who condemned the rising interests and involvement in paganism, witchcraft, and the occult arts. Many cities had laws against "fortune telling" and it was a difficult time to practice our beliefs and ways openly. A large percentage of the people who fought for recognition and acceptance in mainstream society, and equal treatment by governments agencies, are now dead.

The 1980s introduced a departure from training and experience, along with an abandonment of lineage systems. Self-styled ways, intuitive approaches, and the philosophy of "do whatever feels right" took the place of time-proven and time-honored ways. It was also at this time that "Wicca" was separated from "Witchcraft" and the new generation dubbed Wicca as a religion and Witchcraft as a practice. This was a severing from the past, where in ancient literature we find references to the witch Medea as a priestess of Hecate, and southern European witches calling upon such goddesses as Diana and Proserpina (along with Hecate).”

And I find myself even more bemused. He doesn't seem to have indicated how some events which occurred in the 1970s, and he was surrounded by, occurred to create the “Traditional” versus “Eclectic” split in Wicca and Witchcraft. He simply suggests that by categorizing Wicca as “religious” it is a divorce from the past... I need to take a few moments to marvel over this a lot more, sorry. I see no mention of the publication of Lady Sheba's Book of Shadows, the horrific splits in Traditional lines, the mistakes of now dead elders, or any of the rest.

So all we're treated to is a brief, “Golden Age” tribute to now by-gone days, with no reflection on how the mistakes of the past might have shaped the mistakes of today. I find this sort of train of thought to be dangerous: first, it glorifies the past without dignifying the reality of potential or otherwise mistakes. Second, it implies that the fights for rights and freedoms in this nation and abroad do not continue on a variety of levels. One need only read The Wild Hunt to realize that this is not so. Third, if there has been a severing of the past it is because certain authors have allowed that to occur. Rather than continuing the fight – which I believe Mr. Grimassi may be actually attempting to do, even if I disagree with his words – and making sure we actually have a future.

So long as these mistakes are not examined, and real and valid grievances on all sides remain, then there is absolutely no hope for growth. Largely because anyone drawn to the culture, upon discovering these things, will decide that what those involved are doing is “all wrong” and move along.

Gerald Gardner never had a Ph.D. Margaret Murray made some shit up (which was, historically speaking, flat wrong). Alex Sanders was generally hilarious (which I mean in the most loving way). Doreen Valiente's contributions to the craft, and her earnest seeking of the truth have long been ignored. Aleister Crowley was not as great a poet as Yeats, no matter what he'll try to convince you of in his books. Dion Fortune was kind've racist. Blavatsky was totally racist. Pascal Beverly Randolph is generally ignored, despite the fact that he directly fed and influenced Franz Bardon.

Part of the reason we must analyze these things and discuss them is so that people don't actually believe we have something to hide. These mistakes are not our own mistakes, as practitioners. But they show that everyone feels pressured to be socially acceptable, everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes influence our ideas about the present time in which we live, even if they are illusive or deceptive.

Ancient, Unbroken Lineages.”

He continues: “What the lineage traditions offered was the understanding of the inner mechanisms that supported the beliefs and practices of our ancestors. This mechanism is sometimes referred to as the inner mysteries or the Mystery Tradition. It is the "why" behind the "how" and the template for understanding and integration. This is what empowers a tradition, and it is what makes practical sense along with the mystical revelation of it all.

Over the past several decades the market has been flooded with material of little substance. What many people believed they would find in the overabundance of books, they did not. Instead they found cute and fun spells, whimsical musings, home spun charm, and a rehash of concepts and techniques that were largely generated by the misunderstanding of non-initiates who were passing them on.”

At this point I should like to know if Mr. Grimassi's mystical eye has unveiled who is and who is not an initiate? Does he know what tradition I am a part of, by reading this blog? Does he have some spells that I do not, which will reveal with perfect clarity who is or is not an initiate of the Witchcraft Traditions? Or is he basing his statements on who reveals themselves in their blog biographies and the back of books as “Sacred Initiates of the (Insert Awesome Tradition Here)”? Because one shows a gross misunderstanding of the “keep your mouth shut” power of the Sphinx, and the other is completely incomprehensible to me. Even if someone tells you that they are not an initiate of something, they might be lying. So how on earth can he say what he's saying with any certainty?

I won't rehash Jason's comments here, but they definitely apply.

As for the “mystery” part of the tradition, I am advised to remain mum about the importance of myth and the predominance of the Muses in the translation of that factor for the public. Suffice it to say that there's something there if you want to ponder about it.

If It Wasn't For Those Damned Kids...”

He finishes with some of the following words (there's more, of course), which I've chosen to to focus on: “I believe that many seekers became disheartened with the available material. They thought "Well, if this is all there is, I think I'll move on to another path" - and many have. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of what is available to them on deeper levels. They assume that all authors are putting out the standard tripe, and that there is nothing of substance, nor anything beyond what they have already read. So they have stopped buying books and they avoid books by authors they have yet to read. This is truly unfortunate for everyone.”

I imagine, viewed from afar and when you only write books, lecture, and teach your chosen disciples – the neo-Pagan scene as exists today may appear to be a lame, hobbled thing. But this brings to my mind Hepheastus – the God of Metalwork. Lame and cast out from Olympus, the husband of Aglaia is an outcast. But he serves an important function: he powers and crafts at the forge of the Gods. Disturbing and odd as he might seem, he is one of those beings who remains necessary to the Gods in Greek Mythology. Who else is going to forge their weapons, jewelry, and and bring that hammer down in the forge?

This oddness now felt is not any End of the World, or End of Neo-Paganism, or End of Neo-Pagan Publishing – but rather the forge and crucible, the strong strokes and blows of the hammer of the Gods on raw materia of the world beneath. And from it, who knows what may or may not arise? New cults? Fine jewels? Weapons-as-yet-unheard of?

Meanwhile, rehashing “traditional” versus “eclectic” approaches does not, in any way, help those around us. It only creates mindless tension, more anger, and more individuals left behind in pursuit of – well, know knows what? I don't know if Mr. Grimassi wants to sell more books, or just to bemoan the death of things as they were.

But I do know that he is wrong. What is happening now – as painful as it may seem to those with attachments – is not bad. It is the same sort've free-moving chaos and potential, social tension, and strife which helped fuel Neo-Paganism in his beloved 1960s. That he and some of those commenting on his blog seem to be unaware of this seems only prototypical of discussions that involve “BEFORE THE RISE OF THE INTERNET” (by people who occasionally don't even know the history of it).

Last of all: some of us work from the shadows, chatting with those who are not initiates yet and encouraging them to consider it. This does not mean that they must or have to join anything. There is room in this world for everyone – those who love gods, the godless, the agnostic and in-between. But some of the remarks that Mr. Grimassi makes annoy me because as someone who goes about this business of ours without always openly beaming out transmissions “from beyond,” his words have the capacity to drive away those very youth (or inexperienced magicians, or whatever) that both he and I wish to see involved in things.

You don't get to just to sit on the sidelines as an Elder (and I am not an elder, man) and cast your judgments and remark on the glories of the good-old-days. Because I have chatted with others who were around, and they had this to say: “It was great fun, but they weren't that great.”

Next time, I'd like to hear about how awesome it was to do rituals and then go see the Doors or Floyd or Hendrix live, or something, man.

* If you were insulted by this entry, my apologies. That was not my intent. Feel free to make fun of me in comments, even if I don't bother to respond.


the Valentines said...

I choked and swallowed and then decided it was best not to break off another argument. Good on ya!

Scylla said...

There are more books out there than ever, and better books at that.

Which means authors who could previously drop a steamer on their keyboard and sell it to any publisher they liked aren't getting work anymore.

I suppose, that's just gotta suck... for them.

S.L. Æris said...

There is no war.

Jack Faust said...

If I have misunderstood Mr. Grimassi, I should like to offer some apologies to him.

I will try and read more of his blog to understand him. Nor do I think he is a dinosaur. I would prefer he chat with those under some age ranges before discussing what they are or are not doing.

Jack Faust said...

I would simply prefer, that is. The robosapien continues its mockery.

Rufus Opus said...

What gets me is the multiple layers of hypocrisy and ... fuckin' blindness he has to impose on himself not to see how utterly full of complete and total bullshit he is to write that kind of indictment of any kind of magical trend. I mean, fucking Raven Grimassi is concerned that the state of magic is crap? Really???

word verification: hosed