Jason and I were talking this weekend about some stuff. Basically, someone said the West has nothing on the Eastern systems when it comes to certain things. I objected because there's nothing that I could desire that I haven't seen something for in the Western systems of ceremonial magic. So Jason gave me some examples, and mentioned the differentiators between what he's seen in the West, and what he's seen in the East.
After talking to him, I was bummed. He's witnessed stuff that I haven't done. Not only that, he pointed out that in the East, the person does the magic, s/he doesn't call on a spirit. The effects they manifest in the eastern traditions come from physical, mental, and spiritual exercises that result in the ability to pool and direct the basic fundamental "energy" (specifically the stuff referred to as "Tao" in the Tao Te Ching, or as dang, rolpa, and tsal in Dzogchen, per Wikipedia) of existence into specific manifestations.
I started analyzing what they do and seeing if there were comparative things in the western grimoires. I was hasty, I admit it. I didn't take the time to look up what they were really doing, I just jumped into the grims with my half-assed understanding of some of the things Jason had mentioned, and I found some things similar to what I was looking for.
I've done a little more research into what the Taoist magicians and the Dzogchen acolytes are doing. It's all online stuff I've found, and mostly from Wikipedia, so I know it's not like I have a complete knowledge or anything. However, please understand that in my youth I spent a long time studying and absorbing Taoism, and not just the stuff of the Tao te Ching, either. That's social commentary on the side effects of the Tao, mostly. I'm not coming from a place of complete ignorance of the teachings of the Eastern mystics when I formulate my opinions and plans.
In the East, they have a series of practices and teachings that are performed and meditated upon for literally years. In the West, we have spirits that we call on to accomplish certain things. Most Westerners don't know diddly crap about the framework of the Western Mystery Traditions that form the Grimoires. Most of us have a concept of Kabbalah. A few of us know about emanation.Acouple of us (relatively) perform evocation. Of those that practice actual conjuration of the spirits of the grimoires, hardly anyone has a clue of what role the spirits are supposed to play in the Great Work, the morphing of the human from ignorant man to Hero, from mundane to a Power of the 8th and 9th Spheres.
I've talked a little about how when you conjure a spirit, it makes adjustments to your personal sphere. Being in the presence of the Archangel Haniel, for example, will create a resonance between your sphere and his (some see him as a her; doesn't matter, it's got no genitals). You'll feel more romantic love, more connection to growing things, and you'll have a greater generative capacity than you had before. Things you touch will blossom, and you'll initiate things in the world more easily.
The thing is, you likely won't even notice.
I've done a lot of Work with Bune to get rich. It's been moderately successful. I didn't spend wisely, so I don't have a lot to show for it, but each month I'm bringing in over $10K before taxes. I have a Spirit Pot in my office. We sit relatively close to one another.
Over the years we've worked together, he's changed me. I've attained some of his abilities. I now have the ability to bring riches to people in the same way he brought riches to me. I inspire people to see opportunities for wealth in regular conversation. In the last couple of weeks, one of my co-workers got a promotion and determined what she wants to do to make a killing in this economy, and has started already; several others I interact with have received bonuses, promotions, and windfalls. The thing they have all had in common was meeting me and interacting with me. That "vibe" I picked up from Bune rubs off on other people.
Now, what I'm thinking is "missing" from the Western tradition is the basic understanding that the grimoires are starting points for developing spiritual attainment. They teach us how, in the West, to receive the empowerment, training, and information that the people of the East receive via various forms of transmission. They have unbroken lineages extending back through history to the early centuries BC, lineages handed down by people, information developed and refined in temples and retreats and in writings and oral traditions that we don't have. They have mantras and yogas, yantras and whole vocabularies for spiritual experiences within their systems that we simply do not have.
But we have the spirits, a legacy of initiation extending back to the beginning of time itself. We have the spirits of the Goetia, allegedly limited to teaching things of the material realm (I haven't seen any proof that would indicate they have more versatility than that yet, but I haven't really tried very hard either). We have the "Angelic" class of spirits, who dwell within the unmanifest Spheres of the Seven Classical Planets, themselves simply emanation points, reference points that we can use to identify specific manifestations of what we call God. We have the Spirits of the Pleroma, the entities of the 8th Sphere who sing hymns in silence and point the way to the 9th. We have God himself and the Logos, actively seeking interaction with all of their emanated beings of Spirit, Mind, and Body.
I've experienced "supernatural" transformation of my self by working with the spirits. I know that the things we can do with the spirits are on par with what the denizens of the East are capable of manifesting using their systems. What we lack is a group of people that have done it and taught it to others. What we lack is understanding of our own cultural esoteric traditions. What we lack is devotion to Magic the way the practitioners of the East devote lifetimes to mastering one aspect of transforming the "Energy" of the universe into a manifestation of their "Will."
And every time someone from the West goes into the East, they are taking with them a cultural resonance that will have to be overcome to get the most out of the Eastern traditions. People like Jason can manage it to some degree, but even he returns to the traditions of the West. I propose that the systems of magic of the West are superior to the systems of the East for Western Magicians. We are extensions of the philosophies of our culture, and they are less alien to us, I think, than the Eastern concepts. I aim to prove it.
I need some more people to Work with on this though. And I need time to develop some materials, some written lineage, and I need to get some more empowerment myself from the spirits. I should probably just work on myself to prove that it can be done, but I know I'm not perfect and will make mistakes that other occult researchers might not make. The more people working on discovering the power of the Western systems, the more people working on turning it into a living, breathing system of magic, the faster we'll get anywhere.
So if you're already doing stuff with the Western System, blog about it. Post your results. Educate people. If you're not working the Grimoires or traditional astrology, if you're not reading through the Corpus Hermeticum and Agrippa, then start. If you need help applying the lessons, I've got a few tricks I'll gladly pass on. Most are in the archives of my blog, but it's easier sometimes to just shoot me an email. Post comments below, and I'll get back to you. Get into the R&D of your system, base it on the stuff that resonates with your upbringing, and develop something cool already.