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Academic and Practical Studies of Magic

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.xyzzy,alt.magick,alt.magick.goetia,alt.pagan.magick
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Academic and Practical Studies of Magic
Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 20:38:05 GMT

50040526 vii om

Journal of Academic Study of Magic (J(A)SM) announcement snipped


Gnome d Plume:
#>#> It will be remarkable if this journal publishes any first hand
#>#> reports of current operations written by experienced practitioners.

truly, and completely unexpected, given that, as Dave, explains,

"Dave Evans" :
#> is not our intention to do so: the Journal is "about", 
#> not "how to", although firsthand accounts in the context of 
#> academic analysis would be welcome.

which is a step forward. it wasn't too long ago that academes would
not be interested in anything newer than the 1800s, medieval, etc.

Gnome d Plume :
# ...this unfortunate gulf between those of us who "do" and the
# narrowly focused academics who profess to know what we are doing
# without doing it needs to be addressed. 

I'm hoping to build some bridges in that regard. that's in part why
I'm constructing that bibliography I mentioned. I've been consulting
academic sources and I hope to contribute to the SASM list somewhat.
I'm working out the details of format (deciding on a parallel which
I'll probably finish in a few days).

# Just a few weeks ago Julius cut loose with an "academic" shot at 
# self-hypnosis....

usually academic analyses include the rudiments of physical practice,
rather than what is (or especially was) done internally. there are of
course exceptions, especially as it transcends to overall psycho-
social evaluations of the expectable results, how people maintain(ed)
a continued believe in the supernormal effects, etc.

# ...we see it as a self disciplined program 

especially when interpreted within this psychological paradigm. 
it definitely becomes a mystical discipline of sorts, rather than,
comparably, a self-exploration intuitively-directed and perhaps
more inconsistently engaged or based on external conditions of need.

# wherein the consciousness 
# mind takes control of the subconscious mind in the same manner and 
# from the same motivation that one might take up yoga or a course in memory
# enhancement; i.e. self-improvement 

this is pleasing to those with interest in conscious control of one's
personal experience, subconscious mind, etc.  at times I've termed
this type of magic "White Magic" because it proceeds primarily from
aims and intentions directed by and with intention to control from
one's waking consciousness (as you say, like yoga or memory-
enhancement -- good comparable examples, especially as they tie in
to the Art of Memory (FYates) and conventional hatha yoga techniques).

# ...the uninformed academic seizes on the
# clinical definition and runs with it. It's often the same with other
# aspects of ceremonial magic. 

my impression is that the academic apprehension of the occult varies,
as does the occult understanding and reflection on how things work.
it behooves us all not to presume simplistic approaches even if some
conservative attitudes have been traditional within academic circles
(interpreting magic in terms of superstition, folklore, sociodelusion,
rudimentary and misplaced scientific explorations, and any number of
other alternatives which may not be the most complimentary views and
may not include the real and important benefits magicians enjoy).

# How often have we read some 
# professorial account of the  magician's  hysterical inflation of the
# ego, and the induction of hallucination by such means? 

I'm not sure, but I do think that some types of magic (perhaps all)
lead to ego expansion, and that the focus by some mystics on its
destruction may be a socioformatting technique to enshrine hierarchs.
please understand that I don't consider such ego expansion to be by
itself a problem. some psychologists including modern Jungians have
described quite compatible personality/ego expansion in the context
of a system that is supported by internal conditions as a stage of 
development and maturation. I mistrust the focus on ego-death greatly,
especially as it arrives from external sources informing others that
this is something required or necessary to the "magical path".

# Steve Savedow
# might fit this model but he is a rare exception. 

he's fairly convinced of the traditional notions about the Goetia,
it seems, as a directory of "evil spirits", ontologically exterior
to human consciousness. I respect his work, think it is well-presented,
and would caution against infighting amongst magicians who may have
a variety of approaches to theory and practice. we're far too few
to persist in it long. usenet flamefests notwithstanding, I hope to
encourage bridging amongst my occult kindred, and see Savedow as an
asset to occult methods and exploration. that I do not believe in
'evil' per se leads me away from his perspective, but I think his
careful notation as to what he has found and the character of what
he is experiencing proves useful to us all as it is presented.

# I've even read where
# academics have stated that magicians have shifty eyes and are usually
# in an agitated state, 

yes, Mauss and other academics have postulated this within special
circumstances (as when we might be observed performing a spell or
trick). my impression is that the awkwardness or peculiarity of
behaviour may be a distraction away from the task being performed
at hand. 

the academic world has in some measure refined the evaluation of
magic as a field in ways practitioners sometimes avoid or cannot
understand. at times theorists and writers have drawn from classic
accounts of magical theory such as by Frazer, to support their own.
what is described by Kieckhefer as the 'demonic' or 'necromantic',
for example, may be more easily understood to *be* magical, and
this in a thaumaturgic sense, whereas spirit-work or theurgic
enterprises may in part display characteristics of religion.
mystical employment of magical techniques is of course very popular,
and yet some mystics see the world through their mystical eyes and
generalize their own perspective across the spectrum which it is
possible to see magic, what qualifies as such, and how it works.

# when the exact opposite is the case! 

I'm not sure that in these burgeoning occult times these kinds of
simplistic generalizations of physiognomy or any more convincing
than the culture-bound attempts at physiognomancy these resemble
(classing those outside one's genetic map as somehow inferior).

# Magicians
# have a steady, unblinking stare that sometimes makes the professor get
# agitated and look away.....

this is a very interesting commentary, Poke. since I tend to represent
this exact activity and consider myself a magician I may have somewhat
of a less convincing defense of exceptions (:>), yet I suspect that
you are speaking here of a certain type of magician, perhaps the one
with which you are most familiar. I'd be interested to know if you
think this characteristic is always true or develops more over time.
i.e. is 'a magician' an equivalent of some condition of expertise,
adeptship, or are magicians (compare the Potter 'Wizards/Muggles')
just *different kinds of people who always maintain unblinking stares*?

# Another example is so-called "magical thinking." ....

I've run into this a few times also. sometimes it can be quite 
insulting, agreed. and yet I've met those who used the term in
less egregious and insulting ways to speak of a certain kind of
regard for magic (incorporating it into their worldview, for
example). as the former, your criticism is, I think well-placed.

# Um hum. I may write an article for this journal---if they have
# the guts to print it we may open an interesting area of academic
# exploration: "Hermetic Studies/ lecture and lab."

go for it, Gnome! that they're willing to consider modern mages at
all seems to me to be a step in the right direction. :>

r       B
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