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.


  1. I just posted over at St.B's that I will concede the point that the idea of "mastering" all of those things, is not necessary.

    That post was written in response to a question someone asked on an online forum which reeked of the arrogance and entitlement of many would-be occultists that really makes *my* blood boil. I guess it really shouldn't get me so upset. Natural selection and all.

    Though I do standby the opinion that one should gain some solid competency with those things.

    Competency doesn't take nearly as long to cultivate as mastery. I would be wrong to imply that I am a "master" of all of those skills. I'm competent and confident with them, and because of it my spiritual work and work with spirits has progressed well.

    Before I got the point of true competency, things were on much shakier ground, with results being spotty and unpredictable. So I still feel that until one is competant, they will very likely not have reliable results, and may not be able to formulate effective game-plans should something go wrong.

    And that's all I'm going to say about that. ;)

  2. Devi, stand by what you wrote!

    It's excellent advice, and if it's what you really believe, fuck anyone who disagrees, myself included. There's plenty of room for disagreement, differences of opinion, and even the kind of subtle differences in focus that you and I have in this whole magic thing.

    I only wrote my piece because enough people write me talking about how they would do the magic I do, but they can't see spirits, or they have some other prerequisite they have yet to fill.

    But your article is excellent advice, I just wanted to tone down the Mastery part for those who might get skeered away by the long list of requirements, most of which can take a lifetime of study in and of themselves.

    I whole-heartedly believe that anyone who follows your article's advice will see a lot more consistent and effective results than someone blindly jumping into conjure magic and starting with the Kings of Hell.

  3. Man, you are kinda coming off like a jerk in these last few posts.

    Why is it so important for you to demand that you can do everything anyone else can do, and better?

    Think about it. You are basically saying "your years of training and initiation from your silly HUMAN teachers based on your hundreds of years of living tradition, can be easily duplicated by just having a chat with an Archangel"

    Man, I have to tell you that there is a lot to be said for the freedom creativity and exploration that comes with doing your own thing, but there is also something to training and tradition. Those two somethings are NOT the same, which is why I have tried to cultivate both carefully, and also why I don't get into pissing contests about whose Kung Fu is better, which is what this all boils down to.

    Bottom line is, you dont know what its like to be a houngan, ngakpa, priest, or whatever. You are even kind of misleading about what groups like the GD are about (your take on the elemental pentagrams is off the mark).

    As for your statement "Where does he think this instruction came from? The wise wisdom of weally wise human beings?"

    YES. Human beings can come up with things that are equal to and superior to what the spirits can. In Christian mythology remember who god makes bow to who.

    Personally I take what the spirits say with a big grain of salt. We differ in our approach because I would never allow myself to base my magic on them. I respect your approach though. I know that you respect the practices of others, but this week you haven't written very much like you do.

    It's ok to think that your way is the best. I think that Tibetan magic is basically the best most advanced and powerful system on the planet. I am not however looking to prove it or say that it does everything that anyone else can do.

    When you make statements that apply to all magic everywhere, you come up really short.

  4. Maligned, maligned, I'm being maligned!!!

    I don't see what you're talking about, but when two people I respect tell me I'm coming off in a way I don't intend, I'll at least weigh it.

    I don't mean to be making broad general statements about all of magic. I'm just talking about my experiences with it.

  5. @RO: Oh, I *am* standing by what I wrote. I'm just agreeing that perhaps the idea of MASTERY was perhaps too harsh, and competency is more accurately what I was in truth trying to communicate.

    I am more than happy to agree to disagree on points of practice. We're are all individuals and different approaches work best with different people. While I don't agree with everything you that you say and do, I still respect your path and your opinions.

    This has been a good discourse, and I thank you.


Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.