Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Break the virus: Paganism needs magic.

First, this is a draft article so I meet my self promise of getting a blog out every Monday( will correct it over the week).  Next week, I have a final, so no posting.  Second, I know this will generate extreme opinions, but do keep the comments civil.

I will probably say things that will offend some people in this posts, in fact, probably lots of people. I need to specify that this is just my opinion and that this is the opinion of a rather practical magician looking in. I believe the continuous drive to remove magic from Wicca and Paganism in general is one of the worst tendencies I have encountered. This is even more confusing when witchcraft is presented as devoid of magic. I have said something similar for 15 years, and will take it a step further and say something even more controversial here. Rituals for community building (as is “popular” right now), is mostly a bunch of bullshit. No punches pulled. If you have a guttural reaction to what I just said, realize that you are reacting to something that you identify with. I get it. Hear me out though. Read through the whole article. The tendency to divorce magic from Wicca and Paganism in general stems from a greater cultural process of the demystification and mass production of, well, everything. If we look to business-thought leaders such as Weber and Benjamin, we can see a disturbing pattern. Art’s connection to ritual, Benjamin asserts, gave it what he calls an “aura,” or a certain authenticity given by its particular creation in history and space. But new technologies such as film and photography lend to mass reproduction of art and thereby a demystification of the process of art’s creation. Benjamin writes: “that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art.” Even now, the technologies have advanced so we can now have instant replication, and thus instant demystification of art. How does this apply to ritual? Weber noted that as art itself removed itself from ritual, that art became commoditized. It should be no secret that ritual itself should be commoditized. Defanging Witchcraft is the clear result of that commoditization. The ART of ritual becomes simply another mechanical reproduction. Using the addictive energy of “Ritual Lite” to create community bonds is a sign of that commoditization. First, ritual lacking in any real substantial energetic power and presence is simply shared hypnosis based on well-known and well-conceived psychological processes involving shared belief states. Really, this is just the natural synching of emotion and intention that happens as a result of our mirror neurons. No, I do not believe all magic is “just” this at all, but 95% of public rituals, and 99.9999999% of all rituals used to “create community bonds” certainly are. Why? Why has this commoditization happened? Before anyone thinks I am pointing to the pagan community and saying, “look how bad this sucks”, it is not a pagan or occult issue. It is a cultural issue of the west, in its full scope. Do Mega Stadium churches really allow for an experience of the divine in a personal way? Of course not, nor is that the purpose. The purpose is control and conformity. Rituals which use cookie cutter forms with experts who are filling the role of priest or priestess but who have no belief in the supernatural whatsoever. Many of these individuals even openly display contempt for the concept of spiritual transformation. Those that use standardized ritual forms to make people “feel good” in a psychological sense, but do not allow the participants to reach psychological states where real transformation is possible, are just another mechanized control structure. They are simulations of real experience, just as the internet fills our lives with the ability to live vicariously in simulation. The infecting virus is the same. Of course, one objection to what I am saying is that, well, you can be “spiritual” without magic. This is true in a way, if you define magic as primarily selfish. The techniques of genuine spiritual transformation and results-oriented magic are unbelievably similar. In fact, no real spiritual transformation can occur without changes in your life, so the separation becomes even thinner. Real spiritual work as real magical work has real consequences. If you have a profound spiritual experience, you will find you must change your life. It is that simple. What the simulacra allows, is the belief you had a real experience, with none of the profound after effects. The feel good, without the transformation. Transformation means risk. Pain. Suffering. Growth. Real spiritual encounters, whether internal or external, causes these. Often those community rituals do, in fact, fit all the criteria of a drug without substance that is used to control and prevent any deeper level transformation. Justifying this under the flag of community building is even more onerous and self-serving. A community does not get built by a “community building” ritual or pandering to say what people want to hear about it. Community gets built by people GIVING A SHIT about each other. Authentically. Not via some self-serving causes a leader is pushing for. However, saying what people want to hear with the “feel good party” is enough for most people to buy in. Shit, I know my rituals beat the llama’s ass, but they aren’t feel good drugs, they are effective and they get results. Experts peddling these superficial “feel good” rituals and lines of thinking should be ashamed, but I know they won’t be. Historically, we have to look both back at Jung and then at Joseph Campbell for part of the reduction of the mysterious to explainable forms. Ideally, the people using these forms might most honestly refer to themselves as secular humanists but that removes a whole sense of the romantic. It takes the luster away, and thus decreases some profit margins. I, who have studied psychology, NLP, and hypnosis in depth know that those tools ARE insanely useful and wonderful. I just wouldn’t try to package it as a religion. As L. Ron Hubbard said, “science fiction gets cents per world, religions make hundreds of dollars per word”. This is the natural tendency of our culture and those “educators” to fill that role and by doing so, to fit within the greater cultural tendency so as to reap the profit. Wicca and Paganism without Magic is very profitable, as is sanitized Christianity. It is what people want to hear. No-effort community building and spiritual thrill-rides. Have all the fun you want, don’t worry, you do not have to risk anything. It is also very far from what any of our ancestors believed. That profit-motivation, is the white elephant in the room. Don’t get me wrong- I love money and money loves me, but I make sure my rituals are transformative, and that the techniques presented work. I also am quite honest about the fact I believe authors and presenters should be paid. The masking of this motivation under the guise of “communit”, while people are making money, well- it’s what B.T Barnum said- sell an idealized view of things, mask the real intention, and give people the “idea” of what they want. That is what is being offered. Simulation. Real spirituality and real people are messy, better to have a nice commoditized brand of a person. Why do I care? I want to see a more magical world. I want to see and experience a world where I get to go to Wiccan and Pagan rituals and have the divine, as people understand them, connect through the people. I want to see communities where people do the hard work of giving a shit. Let’s not cheapen magic or community, and instead rebel against the flawed virus that passes as cheap control mechanisms. Let’s stop and think. Let’s make a fucking mess. When I hear the tendency and drive of people to divorce magic from Paganism to a greater degree, it saddens me. Even some people trying to divorce the occult from witchcraft and Wicca. Sorry, Wicca is a derivative of the Golden Dawn via the OTO. It is steeped in occult history and lore. The original pioneers of Wicca that I have had the pleasure to have met have been deeply spiritual people. I could understand some of the logic around a lot of the rules and structure. Not everyone was meant to be the priest or priestess (nor should they be). The problem with this commoditization is context. More correctly, the contextual meanings of a ritual/art/creation become removed and interchangeable, like parts on the assembly line, and are treated as similar things. Real community becomes a thing that develops via community building rituals where the individuals in that community are really interchangeable consumers of the festival culture. Is this “real” or simulation? Like Weber would say, we become the imprisoned in the machine of the bureaucracy we create, where everything seems devoid of actual life. Fuck that, let's make things MESSY. Messy rituals where people have a real contact. Messy communities where we are fucking individuals who fight and piss and have personal issues and flaws and we fight to overcome them- sometimes failing, sometimes crying, but always owning our shit- not just grandstanding social issues divorced from our own problems. Most of all let’s GIVE A SHIT, not a cursory “I support you” lip service nod to “community”. I dare you to ENGAGE. I dare you to GIVE A SHIT. The funny thing about a drug is that the people on the drug are fast to protect their dealers. Certainly, I have heard some specific critiques mentioned about some presenters for the reasons that really get down to the lack of “spiritual” impact. Immediately, the loud voices drown the person out. It is not surprising really. I am sure I have people who will defend me too, although I am far more complicated and nuanced to really defend in that fashion. I am just a difficult snowflake and I am ok with that. For the record, I have been saying shit like this for 15 years. If anyone thinks I haven’t, ask anyone who knows me. I have been basically promoting people DOING MAGIC, as opposed to service to the “community” for a long while. The reason is simple. Real magic forces you to further engage with reality. Almost always, the service to the “community” when divorced from the magic, engages an idea and a type of thought form that, in itself, often leads nowhere. The simulation breaks down and ultimately reveals itself as hollow, usually at the point people who have been supporting the idea of “community” in pagan or occult circles have trouble paying rent or need to stay in the hospital for a while. Then it gets messy and inconvenient for people, and people move to the next voice that will “support” the idea of community because it is a pleasant fantasy to stay in. At some point people have to get their hands dirty BUILDING shit. Protecting each other, reaching out to extend some practical help and support, not just pretty words with no useful action behind them. Things like sharing meals, offering to watch each other’s kids, going to visit each other in the hospital, helping out those in need who may be short on rent or going through hard times. Those people who tend to engage in magical pursuits and spiritual transformation, they might not have all of the answers, but they do tend to get their hands dirty as they tend to at least try to break free of this type of social control. Not saying every time, but more often than not, that is what I have seen. Diving into the magic starts to rebel against the prison of the simulation, and thus relationships become more authentic, choices become more authentic, life becomes messy and thus so much richer.


  1. Without the work, paganism is mainstream religion with different deities. Not my idea of a good time

  2. Decades of PC/Collective-Borg indoctrination has pretty much destroyed too many people's creativity, individuality and magic. People have become wussies. Cause and Effect/Action and Reaction are important in magic, on top of willing to have a full range of emotions and energies to fuel it all. (Along with a bit of hard work and sweat, of course.) I have found too many refuse the former to avoid the latter because they do not want to "offend", cannot handle any interactions that may not go their way or pleasantly and so forth. Messy is good, not being afraid of stepping in the chicken poop is better.

  3. The exact same movement is happening in meditation.

    Started off as "spend hours every day looking at what your mind actually does -- you wouldn't believe the crazy sh!t it's been doing this whole time, while you've been busy chasing pleasure and dodging pain!"

    Turning into "sit down, take a couple of deep breaths, and think happy thoughts for a few minutes. Now go buy a Pumpkin Spice Mocha and Instagram yourself drinking it in your new pair of Toms-- be sure to use your new Selfie Stick so you can rock that pic!"

    Fun-- as are most things that satisfy (i.e. "perpetuate") craving. Serious meditation though... not fun all the time. DEFINITELY worth it-- just not always "fun".


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