Frater B’s post certainly caused a stir, eh? Aaron Leitch‘s rebuttal seemed to keep the controversy going and while I have seen a lot of people side with Aaron, I tend to think it was not Frater B’s intention to come off as “attacking” the grimoire tradition to the extent that it was thought to be. That being said, he did word things in a way which certainly feels as if that was perhaps his prerogative and I think that perhaps, that was unintentional.
Only Frater B knows that for sure.
All of that aside, I have to say regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s all just magic to me…
When I started out I was straight up scarred of the goetia because I spent a good 20+ years as a devout protestant Christian, having been raised in the faith and staying with it despite the fact that I knew by the time I was 12 years old I wanted out (fear is a powerful force).
That being said, I did eventually start experimenting with the goetia as I did with many different spirits and bits of tech from magical systems from all over the world. My practice is a rather eclectic collection of bits and bobs cherry-picked from hoodoo, goetia, catholicism, mysticism, fantasy, Trithemius, paganism, pop magic, self help, native American spirituality, shamanism, you name it…
I tend to side with the psychological model for magic, but I do believe in spirits. As for which spirits are in fact organic spirits versus egregores, I am not entirely sure. For example I do not personally believe that the roman and greek gods are in fact real spirits but rather that they are very potent egregores or synthetic spirits.
Being raised Christian, I tend to think of the angels and demons as actual spirit entities but that could just be residual Christianity stuck to the inside of my brain. As someone who has Native American blood in their veins, I have long looked at the world with an animistic or native eye and at the end of the day, I am totally fine with admitting I am not entirely sure about the details (although I am constantly trying to work them out).
Really though, for me magic is about experimenting. Read the books, for maybe 6-10 years or however long you feel is a good cautionary phase and then… Get out there and just fucking do it!
You want to be a purist of one form or another, great! You want to have a borderline excessively eclectic practice like mine? Fucking do it!
Keep what works and drop what does not (IMO).
I tend to find that the spirits are willing to communicate if not work for you right of the bat regardless of the tradition or lack there of you are employing and that is where a relationship starts.
I deal with spirits the same way I do with people. I say hello, introduce myself and ask questions. With time and practice you get answers. Eventually, you can get down to business and work out what you want and what they want or will accept and in my experience, it does not require regalia or super traditional elements crafted with precision and perfection.
That being said, there is a reason any magician chooses to forgo strict dogmatic attention to tradition and detail or on the flip-side, decides to follow it to a tee. That reason is largely that every human being is literally a universe in and of themselves and we are all different from each other, sometimes vastly different.
Everything from who our great, great grandparents are, to whether or not we have used entheogens, to what we had for breakfast elicits a change upon our personal situation and it really matters only to the individual if a precise or improvisation approach is needed.
Me personally, I am not all that interested in theurgy at the time being. My magical work is largely focused on financial gain or opening doors to opportunity’s for comfort or adventure, what some may deem as “low magic” and that is totally fine with me.
I am surprised the magical community at large gets so caught up in tradition versus improvisational techniques when really, at the end of the day, it matters not.
The person who is an eclectic improvisationalist today, could be a traditional purist tomorrow and the day after that, could be a mormon…
It is all part of the journey, the great work or what ever the hell you wanna call it. It is not the same thing for everyone and each individual will ultimately perceive said journey in a different way, doing what they feel is best to accomplish what goals they have.
Sometimes, I use the proper tools, sometimes I deliberately do not. Some times I follow instructions to the tee and others I completely disregard them. This can sometimes lead to serious mistakes and discomfort or borderline peril, but it is always an education and just like with the mundane, experience is the best teacher… So it is with magic.
Jason Miller has written that all you truly need to contact a spirit is its name and seal and sometimes it is a good idea to go minimalist, while other times it is smart to go above and beyond with preparations and tradition.
As for the when, what and how of that equation, that is for each of us to decide on our own. I do not however think these petty back and forths about who is right and who is wrong are necessary and ultimately, arise out of the passage of time and the occasional “need” for people to express these ideas to keep balance, to keep things in check.
Hopefully, eventually, a time will come where these check points are no longer needed.
I for one just want to see a world where magic continues to evolve while there is a respect for the traditions from where the art came from and also between those who choose one path or the other.
All in all the discussions have been respectful and cordial (at least those of which I have seen) and that is a wonderful thing as there are many groups of people in other systems (religion, music, education) who I have seen resort to name calling and childish nonsense
The occult community, overall, seems to be more mature than many of the groups I came across in the 20 years of my Christianity and that is something that I find to be important as we are dealing with something that is still very “fringe”, something that is on the edge of respect from society and culture as a whole.
Being able to converse with this level of maturity gives us a talking point about how perhaps the Dawkins crowed could learn a thing or two from us about debate and communication as could many of the worlds exoteric religions.
Light and love to you all, so mote it be!
Also: Amen, may the force be with you, love is the law and aloha!