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Eclectic Synthesis and Syncretism

To: Christian Magick Elist
From: tyagi mordred nagasiva 
Subject: Eclectic Synthesis and Syncretism
Date: Kali Yuga 49941208

Quoting: |anonymous
|>Christianity would seem to be easily compatible with Chaos Magick. 
|I disagree, and most emphatically with the word 'easily.' A Chaos 
|Magician would take Christianity as a paradigm of belief, equivalent to 
|all other paradigms of belief, as one might try on new clothing to see 
|how it filled.

A Chaos Magician might do all kinds of things.  "Nothing is true. 
Everything is permitted."  These are the maxims of the popular style.

|Are you empowered to confer initiation in each and every tradition?

If you speak of social recognition and integration, then assuredly not.
If you speak of personal integrity and the initiation of a particular
approach in the paths with which I associate, then I feel that I am 
indeed capable of initiating anyone within them, and have done so,
though my methods are not usually ceremonially-based.

------------------ another anonymous quotation

|> I'm afraid I'm just a boring old traditionalist who believes in the 
|> initiatory value of one system and its own related adjuncts.  Isis 
|> forgive me for saying this, but syncretism of this ilk aggravates me
|> as well.  

I want to say that just because I support the notion of an eclectic
syncretism (which some associate, I think, rather deprecatingly with
'schizophrenia') this does not mean that I see no value in the sects
of organized traditions.  In fact I think that they can be very 
important crucibles not only for personal transformation in terms
of the knowledge and wisdom benefitted by members, but also in terms
of a social catalyst within which one may aspire.

I only caution that social groups are liable to corruption just as are
individuals and that those which encourage the domination of the group
over that of the individual are doubly dangerous.

|> I agree that it is pointless to claim that you subscribe to all 
|> religions, and I know a lot of people who make exactly that claim. 

Without actually doing so and/or demonstrating some theoretic as a basis
for this claim, it is indeed pointless.

|> However, I do know other spiritual schizos like myself, people who draw
|> from two faiths rather than one;  Christianity and Buddhism is a
|> particularly popular combination, and there is a lot of good literature 
|> on the blending of those two particular traditions. 

The issue would appear to center around whether or not 'drawing from'
a number of faiths (as in your example) is the same as 'adhering to' them
sufficiently to identify as a member of them.  I prefer to leave this
evaluation to the individual who makes the claim.  Attempting to regulate
it has got me nowhere quickly aside from feeling that I am disrespectful.

|I made an exaggerated statement merely to make a strong point in relation 
|to a particular concoction being put forward as a working possibility ie 
|the 'Christian, Chaos, Mage'. 

I'd like to say here that I can imagine very many possibilities in relation
to the combination of Chaos Magick and Christianity wherein it would be
exceedingly easy to combine these.  Of course it would require that the
individual so involved was able to release some measure of hold on their
belief structure.  Please note that one's Christianity need not be founded
upon belief at all, and when it is not, then it is quite easy to accomodate
Chaos Magick when described as utilizing belief as a tool.

|However please also note that I refer to the initiatory power of one 
|tradition and its OWN RELATED ADJUNCTS....  

The relevant terms being used here which I think inspire some controversy
are 'initiation' and 'tradition'.  I was asked recently with what tradition 
(or multitude) I'm associated, and I think the definition of 'tradition' 
has some bearing on my response.

If one means by 'tradition' a social organization then you might call me a
'Thelemite', since I am formally associated with Ordo Templi Orientis at 
this time, though I have been also been initiated (empowered) by a Tibetan 
Buddhist into the 'current' of Yeshe Tsogyal (a simple ceremony involving 
many others).  I have been formally 'initiated' into a variety of paths,
but none of these constituting involvement in social organizations.  I'm 
*affiliated* with several organized religious groups, including the 
Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Satanic, some merely online and none 

The word 'initiation' is a term hiding a very complex set of concepts, since
it may mean one thing to a social group and quite another to a Priest or
Priestess of a magical or religious path.  Sometimes these are associated
and sometimes they are not.  That is, some claim that the social rituals
confer or begin a relationship with the divine or a principle that is the 
focus of the group, some claim that they may or may not do this depending
upon the individual in question, and some claim that the social is merely
a reflection of the personal process which we may undergo if we are 

When one begins to speak of 'initiatory power within a tradition', then
again this is a tricky confluence of terms.  If Naomi means to imply a
socially-recognized ability to confer group membership and any psycho-
spiritual energies or commencements attendant to that conference, then
when the question is put to me whether I have such power I must reply
in the absolute negative (nor am I ever likely to have such power with
the possible exception of within my own tradition of tantric monasticism).

If, however, she includes a personally-realized ability to inspire a
comprehension and dedication to the principles and practices which I
know to be the essence of the social traditions, then in many cases
(most if not all of which I mentioned), then I'd say I suspect the
answer is yes, though I have only had this tested in a minor fashion
and mostly as a counselor among friends (such a relation as I prefer)
rather than as a Priest or Hierophant.

|There are lots of other blends that work remarkably well and can enrich 
|each other, especially at a philosophical level.

I think that it takes a great deal of imagination, creativity, and
sympathy to fabricate a synthesis among various religious and magical
systems.  I agree that particular social segments of all are simply
not compatible with other paths (notably those which are dogmatic and/or
closed-minded).  These last, into which I cannot enter into membership,
I attempt to learn from since I have many brothers and sisters who dwell 

The philosophical level (in its most basic, process-orientation) of any
religious or magical path is where the Middle Path is given birth, where
the commonalities of all mystical systems begin to flower.  Only due to 
the development of fixed knowledge-systems and practical codes do the
beautiful edifices which constitute social traditions become incompatible 
with their parallel organisms.

The way I like to see it, most of these systems are constructed as spokes 
of a very large wheel and once in a while a confluence occurs in which two 
of the spokes generate a third which remains separate from its parents.  
However, at the center of this wheel is a marvellous temple (a tower, 
rising 90' perpendicular to the various spokes).  Here all of these 
systems have their root, at God's Gate, the central Nexus, the Crossroads 
of Religion, the Centerpoint of Magick, the Summum Bonum, wherein dwells 
True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.

|However magical work is different to philosophy. And through our magical 
|training we know that it is possible to work directly with the 
|minds/being/presences (however you wish to express this) behind/within 
|each tradition. 

It is evident to me that we are using our language in a very different
manner from one another, since my experience of magical tradition is that
it is not much different from its 'religious' counterpart in that initiates
are often told not to 'mix the streams' ("Wiccans don't do Ceremonial
Magick; Aleister Crowley was a Satanist."  "Thelemites are a different
breed of magician from the Neopagan ecstatics; those neoshamanic groups
are merely preparatory for the real work of the Knowledge and Conversation
of the Holy Guardian Angel, the Transit of the Great Abyss, and the Great
Work to follow.").  

Your usage of 'philosophy' is obviously much different than my more process-
oriented preference (see Needleman's _Heart of Philosophy_) also, since I
would consider diligent philosophical endeavors to be a necessary element
of any magical curriculum, whether in the linguistic or other forms.

|...It has been my experience that while we quest, we do mix and match both 
|philosophy, teaching and probably through magic to some extent. This is in 
|fact a vital stage,though I do see it as a stage (often a very long one).

Then it is obvious that you and I have quite different practice, since my
own focusses upon a central working, unifying through eclectic synthesis 
the various religious and magical systems, using love and will, into a 
syncretic whole.  

This has been in many ways the work of those whom I consider to be the 
greatest of mages in history, and I consider it not only to be a personal 
but social working of some importance to me and to the fate of our 
biosphere and plane(t), Gaea; truly a work of compassion.

|Now my point really, is that you cannot be initiated into several, 
|traditions, because initiation represents a serious commitment and a 
|willingness to probe deeply for years to come under the supervision and 
|guidance from probably both inner and outer teachers from the same 
|stream. It is thus at this point that a choice is required. 

I tend to agree and do not feel that any choice is required at all,
though it is often made.  It is much like dedicating oneself to keeping
the temple clean, which will involve countless lessons including how to
use and care for the tools, what dangers may present themselves to me
during the period of my stewardship, how different seasons affect the
mood and method of upkeep, and most importantly how to keep asking who
it is that maintains the temple.

The various cultural and intellectual approaches to the religious and
magical Way do not present themselves to me as anything more than 
variations on a theme, each with their own very valuable lessons and 
problems.  Certainly to be comprehended they require a serious commitment 
of time and energy.  Certainly I shall be guided by inner and outer
teachers as I come to know the particular spoke.

Yet always, always, relevant systems of this sort appear to focus upon one 
or two items (depending on how one sees each of these): myself, and the 
divine.  I have yet to come upon a religious or magical system which did 
not provide a particular approach to the study of and/or relationship 
between them as its central purpose.  "Mage, know thyself."  "To thine own
self be true."  "To me!  To me!" "As above, so below."  

|The effect of [exposing students to mixed liturgy drawing on world myth]
|is that students naturally and organically refine and indeed define their 
|own path [where they spiritually resonate].

I'm not sure that this differs between religious and magical students
and/or teachers, and it seems to me that one persistent problem is that
organizations tend, over time especially, to encourage conformity rather
more often than initiative and genius.

|...the work enables us to experience one current through its 
|many faces as experienced and named by many different civilisations. 

This is precisely the Current of the Tower of Babel of which I spoke above.
It has many expressions as a concentration of experience. (Nocifer)

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