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Authority and Science of Magick

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,sci.skeptic,alt.occult
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Authority and Science of Magick
Date: 13 Jan 1999 03:27:26 -0800


Rodney wrote:
# > >Yeah, and in my school of thought, to hell with both students and 
# > >instructors. We're all learning from each other.

regarding skills this may be problematic.  generally I agree.

Cavalorn replied:
# > In honesty, I don't agree with the everyone-is-equal argument which
# > Rodney seems to me to be presenting, in which 'we' are all presumably
# > part of one big research group, because I don't see any a priori
# > objection to the student/instructor arrangement. It's present in 
# > _other_ aspects of life, obviously enough.

the controversy is whether what is being discussed is 'an aspect of 
life' or is something unusual in comparison.
one star in sight 
# is a mistake to apply the social concepts of legal 
# egalitarianism and democracy to spiritual levels of mastery.  

a lovely assertion.  I agree with its entirety, and yet I wonder
whether the attitude toward which it points might not serve us
in any case.  that is, despite the apparent fact that spiritual
levels of mastery are indeed differentiated, why shouldn't social
contexts in which the relative level of mastery is ambiguous or 
disputed (i.e. not a guru and hir chelas) be treated as a round
table sharing as opposed to either setting about the 
establishment of some standard by which these levels may be
socially discerned or defaulting to the notions of those who may
find it valuable to claim such mastery?  there are some humble
individuals (some say this is a quality of mastery itself) whose
purity would surely be occulted if we were to use the default.

# It makes a lot of sense to say that everyone is EQUAL in the eyes 
# of the law.  It makes no sense to say that everyone is EQUAL in 
# regards to a specific discipline, or even spiritually level - 
# flatland Ken Wilber calls it. 

agreed.  the real controversy comes once we've agreed about this.

# No one really complains about it except when you start talking about
# the internal dimension. Externally you can easily measure it.  Joe 
# knows how to fix cars, I dont, teach me Joe, thank you. 

yes, these I'm calling 'skills'.

# Interestingly some internal arts we don't seem to have a problem with
# admitting teachers.  "My Yoga teacher" "My Zen meditation teacher" "My
# martial arts teacher" none of these statements will raise many eyebrows.

'Yoga' is both an internal development of union which cannot be
instructed and a batch of sets of disciplines which are taught
by a variety of different teachers.  without the qualifier we
are left to fill in the blanks (Raja Yoga?  Tantra?  Hatha?
Traditional?  Westernized?  Combination?  New Age?, etc.).

'Zen meditation' is a specific activity within a Buddhist
tradition (or set of traditions, such as Soto and Rinzai) that
approximates to the same basic form.  if you were to say 'your
Zen teacher' we might take issue with an instructor of 'Zen' in
the same sense as that of 'Yoga' -- it can only be pointed
toward, not directly instructed.  

'martial arts' may have a parallel in the sense of learning any
art -- one can only be instructed as to the basic structures and
techniques, the rest is the development of an interior process
that may be inspired by the techniques or instructed as an 
ideology attendent with the physical and/or psycho-spiritual

notice that all of these examples are alien of origin to the
West, and in particular to Christianized cultures.

# But if you say "My Magick teacher," watch.  

there is a stigma from the religious cultures of both the
Christian and Scientific establishments -- the former deem
its unauthorized practice to be forbidden, the latter deem
it as a ridiculous affair for the modern individual to take
up on account of its primitive and fantastic relations.

# ...that is because you can demonstrate Yoga, you can 
# demonstrate Zen, you can demonstrate martial arts.

I hope that I have explained why in each of these cases
there is a significance which transcends an ability to
demonstrate them.  'Yoga', 'Zen' and even 'art' are, simply
put, not observable to the eye which does not participate
in the same internal activity, and may be overlooked even
having had experience with the associated disciplines.

# Why is Magick in such bad shape?

opposition from Western establishments.  presuppositions about
of what 'magick' consists.  

# "The Problems with Magick" by Robin 
# Copyright (C) 1998  

left in to assign it as such, intending to repost this to public
forums and archive.  please inform me if this is problematic.

# Problem A.
#   Magical results are poorly demonstrated even by those who claim high
# attainment.

then they are not doing magick.  any who cannot, over time, provided
sufficient notice, produce change in conformity with Will is simply
not a skilled mage, regardless of the claims.  if none can achieve
this then either the field is in very poor shape or (and this is
usually the contention of those who would save face) those who know
the skills of magick are too busy employing them to be bothered
with trying to demonstrate that it might be accomplished.

# Problem B.
#   Magick invariably involves a heavily mythic subtext and endless
# rearrangement of poorly related mental concepts.  Instead of dealing with
# magical acts taking place on the level where the result is expected to
# happen, it's all mixed up. (We 'go out' on the astral plane and how long
# is it before we have deluded ourselves into thinking we're living there.
# We send a message to our subconcious to make something happen on the 
# other side of the world.) 

the mythic subtext of magick can indeed be problematic in coming to
understand magick and its effectuality.  however, that it *can* be 
does not necessitate that it is.  being able to discern the tool 
and the application of the tool is imperative here.

# Problem C.
#   Magick's "secrets" are inevitably exceedly compact, expressed in a few
# words.  This leads to an overarching impression that the majority of the
# disciple and information in the system is superfluous.

the central principles of successful magical operations are simply
expressed, but sometimes complex in character.  it is true that the
majority of the discipline and information in magical tradition is
superfluous, this is not merely an 'impression'. therefore this is
not really a problem except for those who attribute to the magical
enterprise a batch of tools which it need not contain or cannot
see magick from its accoutrements.

# Problem D.
#   These few "secrets" are not secret at all.  They form a sort of
# technology.  Some people pretend that the technology can be 
# controlled and this leads to smoke screen, posturing and lots of 
# ridicule.  

where magick becomes religion it enters into traditional and cultic
proscriptions and prescriptions.  the technology as you have it
above can be controlled, though different individuals may control
it in a variety of ways and this may not always serve the interests
of any but the controllers.

# ...this kind of attitude make the supposed science of Magick into 
# an internally self conflicting absurdity.

without a central or systemic structure of authority, disciplines
which in any way approximate to social or personal power will have
contentions as to their nature.  magick is more like Science in
the way that Buddhism can be seen as scientific: that it proceeds
from observation and proof rather than faith, whatever may be
accepted as initial hypotheses.  

since self-delusion is a major problem for solitaries, social
systems have, over time, developed to attempt to minimize this.
thus mystical traditions were born.  these may become corrupted
by religious, cultic influences just as easily as any other
social venture where power and knowledge are associated.

magick doesn't become an internally self-conflicting absurdity
until religous cults attempt to delineate authority structures
surrounding it, especially in some absolute manner.  the
humility of a tradition indicates its health.  if it says what
it itself contains rather what is outside of it then it is more
likely to be of relevance to participants, however faulty.

# Problem E.
#   Since the systems of Magick are so filled with apparently 
# superfluous fluff (Problem C) 

for the uninformed outside observer, yes.

# with no way to reliably measure sucess and failure (Problem A) 

measurement of success and failure is quite simple, it is just
avoided by those who want to seem successes.  the way to test
it is to observe the activities of a mage, taking careful log of
what it is that they say they are attempting; how difficult,
given the circumstances, this appears to be; and how often they
are able to achieve their intentions.

# Magick degenerates far too easily into:
#   1 : [Trivia]
#   2 : Delusion

deluding self OR others.

#   3 : Sex
#   4 : Politics

5. Religion (probably covered by 2 and 4)
6. Entertainment (thus, combined with 2, becomes 'Stage Magic')

# Problem F.
#   In order to support the fluffy success promised by Problem E 
# (success in Trivia, success in Delusion, success in Sex, Success 
# in Politics) people who would otherwise be working together to 
# further the art and science of Magick waste thier talents and 
# energies jockying to satisfy them. 

there is a problem with this discernment.  magick is *used* to
achieve things within the domains mentioned above.  that these
are not considered magical successes illustrates a fundamentally
flawed review of success: we are prone to ignore whether someone
who achieves something did so intentionally or was carried by the
conditions and circumstance to where they arrived, serendipitously.  

the former is magick, possibly a fluke.  when consistently
achieved the individual has a penchant for the practice of
magick, no matter how they made their practice.  the latter is
'luck' and it is said that such 'fortune' may be intentionally
manipulated (some claiming that this is the basis of magick).

your initial analysis was of "a problem with admitting teachers",
and you set out a number of reasons why the science and art of
magick might experience these problems.  of those you presented,
these stand out to me as relevant and sustainable:

	* results poorly demonstrated
	* heavy mythic subtext
	* struggle for control of the technology of magick
	* degeneration into other pursuits

I think the THIRD contributes the most to the problem you are
attempting to dissect.  those who control or can be said to
control the technology of magick will be *able* to accomplish
the 'other pursuits' you mentioned by virtue of social flim-flam,
and the poor demonstrations and mythic subtext merely add to this
deception by obscuring the real discipline involved.  

that is, admitting a 'teacher' confers an authority which we
either do not presume that such an individual would desire 
(as they would not if their pursuits led them to be or had a
prerequisite for success of being humble) or might not wish
to allow as we want to be able to contend for this authority
for our own reasons.  

given this, the most reliable books about magick will tend 
to be those written by people with a broad experience whose life 
exploits have led them to signifant success in a number of areas,
including the areas of self-reflection, critical analysis, and
written expression).  the same could be said about individual
sources save the written expression will be substituted for
the verbal and/or bodily.

other possible sources are those who, for some reason that we
may not understand, have been given insight into the phenomenon 
of magick, its dynamics and principles.  this insight may arise
as a result of ritual and/or magical endeavors to acquire it
(say, instruction with extramundane intelligences or tutelage
with gods of magick), or it may come naturally to the source by
virtue of exposure to such individuals or cultures (e.g. the
occasionally wonderful observations and reflections of anthro-

blessed beast!

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