Saturday, May 18, 2013

Addendum to the Screed

Let me be clear about yesterday's post: it isn't about how superheroes can be evoked, so they're just like “heroes.” It was about how, actually, it can be done, and if you think that's a threat...? You probably need to review your priorities regarding what threatens your spiritual practice and what does not. I decided to post a noobsauce technique specifically for experiment by noobs, or by old hands who had somehow missed the bus on having fun as a noob.

There's nothing wrong with having missed that bus.

As for what, specifically, it is that you've called into the mirror?

Jason Miller asks:
Question: What do you think the role, if any, of disembodied intelligence getting attracted and pulled into the evocation is? These beings perhaps taking the role of what you are evoking?

I often think this what is happening during some traditional evocations as well.”

I think that's highly probably. It's quite possible that if you filter in the most silly possible construct through an appropriate planetary philter, the intelligences of that realm will conform to your expectations and simply show up looking like Batman, Spock, or Superman.

It is also possible that there are places on the astral where iterations of fictional characters live out dreamlives, and that this what successful authors tap into whenever they write a “good story” regarding those characters.

It's also possible that the act of evoking something “not real” is like building your own thoughtform, and bringing it into the world.

There is another possibility which comes even more to mind: that the sigil you've created forces some poor, hapless lesser spirit to think it is Batman, or Superman, briefly and responding 'as if' it were.

All of these are possible, but it's best of we leave it up to individuals to decide what they think has happened. I tend to default more to the idea that the astral is infinite space, and includes “worlds” we consider fictional. Part of the reason you want to break everything down into a pragmatic map, in this case, is to avoid talking to Bruce Wayne when you're actually trying to call up the Angel named Tzadkiel. Or whatever. But that doesn't mean I'm right. It just an idea I've played with from time to time.

The largest, most productive benefit that can be gleaned from thoughtforms and working with them as such is that you will notice the obvious differences between what you've conjured versus other spirits. They are less useful. They have less to say. Batman will not be able to help you find a job, no matter how much you may implore him to do so. But unlike Heracles, he also might not punch you in the face for living a life totally devoid of Arete and still having the gall to try and call him up. (Don't get me wrong; it could be that Heracles will just explain how to live a life dedicated to Arete.)

If after a term of working with possibly non-real things and then turning around and using those skills to do more serious things, you still can't see the difference? I am of the opinion – and it is my opinion only – that you are “doing it wrong.” You may rely on a psychological basis for magick and give no fucks as you discuss how magick is all Narrative and spirits aren't real, anyway. We disagree, but there are people who definitely feel that way.

Neo-Pagans and Magicians alike tend to froth at the mouth about “unverified personal gnosis” – things gleaned from magickal and mystical workings and then trotted out as “truth” by practitioners. With circles of magicians, you have a long history of going through a lot of trouble conjuring and abjuring the spirit to be truthful (whether it be a lesser Daimon, or an extremely badass deity) and then testing what it says through elaborate means to discover if the right spirit has been encountered. Neo-Pagans (and some Recons, etc.) don't seem to have quite as many means of testing spirits to see if they are what they say that they are.

Working with thoughtforms is an effective gauge for learning the curve of what you've found. After you've encountered a spirit with almost no pull whatsoever and then another, fully empowered spirit, the differences in quality and the experience are two totally different things altogether. But you can't explain this to someone who is lacks knowledge of the difference in experience altogether. They're using techniques available to beginners for what are essentially beginner's tricks. They will probably, as part of the learning curve, misapply what they've done a few times before they eventually encounter something that shatters their own beliefs about what they're doing and how well it is going. It's part of the learning process, you dig?

That doesn't make the beginner's tricks less useful, or not useful at all. They have their use and application in allowing the practitioner expand their horizons without the possibility of a giant fuckup. Telling the difference between the Eternal Essence of a Hero, who lives forever in the land of the Dead, and a random, lying member of the Restless Dead is far harder than telling the difference between your evocation of Batman and your Evocation of Heracles. It is far smarter tell the beginner to start out with Batman and then later consider chatting up Heracles. By the time they get around to chatting up Heracles, they will be able to see some difference between one and the other.

I do think there’s a horrible potential for error, though, when people begin to mistake these activities for spiritual practice, or to take the engagement of active and creative imagination in them for the same process which often goes into devotional or cultic activities. Both actively engage the imagination and creativity, as I’ve said repeatedly (and perhaps unhelpfully!) here; but, there is a difference, and it is the cultic factor mentioned above. I’ve cringed horribly when I meet younger pagans who think that paganism and the gods are role-playing games, and that they have “gifts” and “abilities” and “talents” and so forth with this or that, as if they themselves are characters in a role-playing game and that the gods are their “dungeon masters” who have allowed them to have those “gifts” and “abilities” and such. I had a long conversation with someone in Ireland once who played way too much World of Darkness/White Wolf tabletop and LARP, and thought that paganism worked the same way, and that the various gods have “levels” and “power” and so forth analogous to RPG stats from Deities and Demigods (or Legends and Lore, etc.). It saddens me that even at PantheaCon, there have been multiple years in which a workshop is offered for teenage pagans on “Dungeons & Dragons as an Introduction to Paganism.”...”

I encounter this whole problem a lot. It doesn't bother me, much. Not half as much as those that style themselves as Priests, etc, and then spend their time telling youngsters how to practice. Often, I feel, the practices that the serious recommend to the youngsters are stupid. I'm not accusing Phil of this, but I've seen people tell individuals that want to experience astral projection and the boons that come with it that they should read the Sepher Yetzirah or something. They only way to slog through such a work is to be passionate about it, and telling someone who hasn't indicated that passion to do it is a pointless waste of time. How about recommend learning to astral project so they can just get the fire-ball throwing and having chats with dragons bits out of the way? If that is what they want, then astral magick is where it is at. No, it isn't gaining enlightenment. And no, they aren't going to be as “powerful” as they think they are. But hopefully that factor will dawn on them over time when it becomes obvious that they are using a skillset for fun which can also be used to better their own life. And when they set out to do that? That is when they will come into their own.

I have met so many older pagans, polytheists, and witches and magicians that are threatened by pop-culture treatments of magick that they rant about how people just want to learn “the flash” of magick or come to them wanting what they learn to be like characters Charmed or Supernatural or something. Instead of exploring areas with those youngsters that can build up a skillset they can take out and use readily and easily later, they are instead told they are delusional and that “it isn't for them.” This is one of the reasons that Chaos Magicians will always exist. We give precisely no fucks about setting up a hierarchal border of what must be done. What we care about is what you can do, what you can do with it, and how you end up using what you can do later. If you can conjure a hero into a mirror, you should be able to conjure a thoughtform. If you can't conjure a thoughtform? Something is wrong with how you are going about doing things.

There is always the risk of delusion. It is a normal part of “Divine Madness” – of making your brain trip ballz to the poing that you literally cannot tell what is real, and what is not. Part of that process is becoming delusional, and later coming to grips with that fact realistically. There will always be a subset o practitioners who meet Venusian Dolphin Masters whose art was lost in deepest Atlantis or something. It won't go away, because once you enter the right state of mind, once you open the floodgates, the assumptions you have about what is real and is not real are going to go right out the window. You may well have a good idea what constitutes metaphysical validity, and you might not. But you literally will not have any idea of how older ideas from the past, actual magickal practices, actually work out in reality versus in theory until you do it. And when you do it, you'll be spending a period time in Crazyville. Delusion is a natural byproduct of Crazyville. Getting over your petty delusions of grandeur is part of the process of learning to live side-by-side with Crazyville.

There are plenty of Folk Saints who were probably never actually people. Jesus Malverde was never an actual person, in all likelihood. That doesn't change the fact that Jesus Malverde still answers prayers from anyone willing to learn a bit about him, give him a prayer, and maybe some primo weed. Let me ask you, would you rather someone compare working with Batman to trying to work with a Hero, or compare working with Malverde? Because Folk Saints are far closer to the Heroes of the old European Cults – in treatment and approach – than superheroes. But that doesn't mean it will make you feel any better.

It is a big, strange world that we live in. Build up the skills to do the magick. That matters, to me at least, far more than debating about the dangers of delusion. Because crazy shit that should never work, quite often does work. Whether we like it, as practitioners or religious devotees, or not.

[EDIT]: VI, who writes every Wednesday on sorcery and storytelling, has a post of his own. As per usual, I encourage you to read his weekly Wednesday Wotan Storytelling/Sorcery posts, and this one.

4 comments:

Rachel Izabella said...

Working with an ancestral altar is also a wonderful way to learn to "discern the spirits" and some other skills. Just sayin'. -R

Jack Faust said...

Rachel: It'll help you discern your ancestors. Whether you get taught "other skills" or not would kinda be up to them. LOL. Not all of us have sorcerous ancestors that teach us cool shit.

But yeah. That's a great thing to do, too. It's not like I'm saying playing with thoughtforms is the only way to go. Jus' sayin'.

Jack Faust said...

Rachel: In retrospect, and having thought about your comment some more, that is the perfect solution to the problem! You're totally right. sorry for being an ass.

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