Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The obligatory response...

Don't you hate it when people you know and like and respect say something bad about you, or something you've done? God knows I do.

This morning, I woke up to the most recent post by St. Balthazar. Two things in the post got my blood pumping a little faster. First, he said something I wrote was stupid. Then he closed with "Remind me never to ask for your help to drive out evil spirits..."

Gawd, I just want to throttle him! At the same time, I understand what it is that irked him about my post, I can see why he would think the way he does, thanks to all that empathetic-compassionate bullshit that I've had to deal with ever since I started taking the refinement of my self part of the Great Work seriously. Life was easier when I didn't give a shit about anyone else*.

First of all, I said Sage and Holy Water were all you needed to get started conjuring. I did not say or imply that the rest of the spiritual cleansing bullshit was expendable and un-necessary. I did not say that the hougans and santeros and such who have been doing this for hundreds of years were stupid and were wasting their time. Even in the part that he quoted from my blog, it says that I'm just talking about what you need to start conjuring. And I added the "pretty much" part because sage and holy water are enough to get started, but they aren't really "the same thing" as a floor wash or ritual bath.

In fact, once a magician starts doing conjure magic, interacting with the spirits, and actually learning from them, I guarantee they will eventually be led to either learn the techniques he advocates, or will receive instruction on performing cleansings that will cleanse the house as well as any mambo or houngan on the planet can. Where does he think this instruction came from? The wise wisdom of weally wise human beings?

"PUH-lease" indeed.

At first I thought he missed the point of the article, but his opening paragraphs reveal he did in fact get the point. Devi's post left people thinking they needed to spend years and years mastering a ton of things before they even considered conjuring any spirits. Mastery isn't necessary, and my post was supposed to blunt that idea before it got legs.

St. B. agrees with that, he says. So he gets it. He sees the context of what I said, and he misrepresented the paragraph that annoyed him the most anyway. It didn't make sense, so I reread the post, and I think I understand what he's really pissed at, since I didn't say anything remotely related to what he argued against. He says:
Modern solomonic magicians would do well to look to these living spiritist traditions to inform their own practices, rather than dismiss tried and tested cleansing techniques out of hubris.
Obviously he's had his toes stepped on by arrogant folks who look down on his tradition out of cultural bias, racism, or just standard ordinary assholiness. Lumping me in with that crowd is offensive, and doing so based on what he quoted is stupid. How many times have I defended African Traditions as being more grimoirey than European Ceremonial Magick? How many times have I pointed out that the original Abramelin rite is more of a hoodoo receipt book than a path to transcendent enlightenment?

Obviously, his experience with assholes has left him crippled, unable to see the difference between those who really deserve his ire and those of us who are actually on his side. It happens, but it's a shame.

So what I wrote was not "stupid." His misunderstanding of it was stupid. Maybe I could have said something clearer than "pretty much" to indicate there was more to floor washing and ritual baths than holy water and sage smoke, but within the context of the post I was making, I think what I said was sufficient.

As for "sheesh, remind me never to ask you for help driving evil spirits out," that part really pisses me off. I don't know about you, but I've conjured "demons," worked with ghosts, and gone deep with the Genius Loci of my neighborhood for years, and I have YET to need to drive any "evil spirits" off.

Then again, the "cornerstone" of my spiritual practice is nothing as advanced and mysterious as taking a bath and mopping the floor. Naw, I just go for a direct relationship with the Prime Mover and a tight relationship with my HGA. Silly me. Maybe that's why I've never run into any spirit that needed anything more than sage smoke or a few drops of Holy Water to be sent along its merry way.

* I'm still on the fence about how much value there is in treating people like they were really human. There's a slim chance that you're all just back story characters in my life, included at the whim of the Author for the amusement of the Audience.