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Magic and Merchants -- A New RPG? Board Game?

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.lucky.w,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic,alt.magick
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Re: Magic and Merchants -- A New RPG? Board Game? (was ...)
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 00:23:20 GMT

50010729 VI! om Hail Satan!

M about sri catyananda:
>>> she is advertizing religious supplies on alt.magick, and
>>> refering to them as magickal supplies.

preposterous. the two have no absolute distinction.

sri catyananda:
>> Not me. I do not refer to religious articles as a "magickal supplies" --

> by 'religious supplies' I am again refering to your spell kits and 'lucky
> amulets'.  

spell kits are composites designed to enable someone to cast a spell.
this is folk magic. amulets have been a part of most magical traditions
for hundreds, thousands, of years, as you must know if you have any
actual background history with your Arabic folk-magic relatives.

> they are religious because their successful use is based on the
> belief the user places on them (and you).  

the notion that religion is belief-based is inaccurate. conventional
assessment of religion details greater complexity and structure,
inclusive of the participation by more than one person (i.e. religion
is a social thing) as well as some standardization of liturgy and 
iconography. academics of religion are pretty consistent on this point.

there are some magicians, for example, who claim that belief is a 
*necessary* element, and their activities do not really resemble 
religion more than just by virtue of the fact that they are alone. 

Chaos mages tend to fight against the notion of magic-requires-belief
and attempt to abandon belief in construction of spells and rites,
or VARYING belief according to temporary desires. while there is
inevitable overlap and coincidence of elements between religious
and magical activity, mere belief is insufficient (because of its
limitations of time and pervasiveness) to designate religion.
moreover, some religions are simply NOT doctrinally defined.

> with magick tools, the focus is within, in the practitioner.

you appear to have been bitten (as has Chris and a number of other
posters to the alt.magick newsgroup) with the religious belief
perpetuated by Crowley and his cronies in the Golden Dawn: that
magicK is a mystical endeavour and follows certain standards of
practice, belief, aims, etc.

while magicK may do so, the larger subject category of magic is
one which VASTLY (in terms of time *and* evidence) overshadows
anything Crowley or the Hermetic mystics and charlatans ever wrote.
and most of not all of it pertains to getting some specific
change made through symbolic means, not through appeal to deity
or through the virtue of religious works. 

> "traditional folk-magic" is religion.  

not by any standards than your own peculiar lexicon.

> "traditional folk-magic" can be used by a magician of course, 

not 'of course'. magicians make up traditional folk magic. 
we're talking about definitions of terms, and these are plainly
in contrast with your usage.

> but your description of why you sell these pre-made kits and 
> who buys them all point to the dissemination of religion, 
> not magickal growth.

except that your embedded premises: that magicK is what she's
talking about, that magicK leads to growth, that that which
doesn't lead to growth is religion, etc., are simply not true.
these ideas aren't reflected in the expression of those who
study the subject and they don't hold up to my experience of
religious and magical communities and activities.

as I see it, magic can be applied toward religious ends, but
the two are different at *least* by virtue of number of
participants, if not coincidence of scripture, rites, and

> ...when customers purchase pre-made kits, do you always discuss 
> *why* one must use the particular roots? or boil an item in urine? 
> or use a certain color candle?  do you discuss properties of the 
> items and how they relate to the intent of the working? do you 
> discuss the philosophy or psychology that provides the foundation 
> for the magick to work?  

intellectual predispositions and beliefs are not necessary to the
activity of magic. what makes the magic work is not that someone
has thought of some philosophy or psychological model. when a
person asks to be shown or told how to cast a certain spell,
doing more than this is to enter into arrogance and a prejudice
of one's own religious beliefs.

> do you tell your customers what items might be used as substitutes
> for others cause all that really matters is the scent, or color, or
> whatnot?  

nice. sri catyananda openly acknowledges that substitutions for 
(even very reduced versions of) spells are perfectly legitimate, 
and that the spell kits are just conveniences. 

> ...these types of questions are what distinguish between whether
> someone is practicing magick or religion.  

preposterous. natural magic is not the same as religion, and you
have glommed them together into an intellectual mish-mash without
sustainable meaning. it may serve your interests (which appear to 
be based on Crowleyan standards, but could be Neopagan or other
neuvoreligious of some type), but that doesn't make accurate.

> everyone is of course free to practice religion, and you are free 
> to service those people, but selling religious supplies is not 
> the same as selling magickal supplies.

there is no sustainable distinction between religion and magic as
you have offered it up. you don't give enough detail.

>> The fact that many people (not all) practice a religion as well 
>> as practicig magic is not relevant to the QUALITY of the goods, 
>> which was the matter under dispute.
> I never disputed the quality.  I have only criticized the fact that 
> you sell them.  they are probably excellent quality.... are 
> taking advantage of peoples' ignorance. 

elaborate on this accusation beyond that below, please.

> ...there is no good reason to perpetuate ignorance, even under the 
> guise of "traditional folk magic".

there is no prerequisite vow to educate the public as a mage.
if you have accepted one, then that's your problem. there are
more people perpetuating ignorance through contentions based
on ignorance such as yours (being apparently unfamiliar with
the real differences between the categories of religion and
magic, making assertions which only pertain to your personal
prejudices that seemed to be popular in the Hermetic community) 
than there are those who take the time, dedicate the energy, 
and archive the information *about* the various magical 
traditions and practices in abject contradiction to your
ridiculous claims. 

it is one thing to decontextualize someone's activities, take 
one aspect of their work, and call it 'perpetuating ignorance',
but it is not a convincing argument when the same person has
countless web pages informing the world free of charge how to
do the spells which are being sold.

>>> and though the two can be related, the power relationships between
>>> a buyer and seller of magickal goods and a buyer and seller of these
>>> kinds of religious  goods (whos power depends on religious belief)
>>> are very different.

> ...the buyer and seller of magickal supplies understand that they 
> are mere tools used to train and alter the mind, which then enable 
> the magician to perform magick.  

this is false, and I know of those who sell magical supplies
(not specifically Crowleyan, more extensive) who believe in
their efficacy as potent-in-themselves, rather than just being
symbols for the mind.

> the buyer of religious goods such as a 'lucky amulet' or 
> 'traditional folk-magic' or other spell kit believes the 
> tool itself is what causes the magick, 

this is not a religion-magic distinction, though it is a valuable
distinction amongst *people* (different people hold to these
beliefs). luck and magic are typically banished from religious
groups because of their competition (usually independent), but
not always.

there are many magicians, witches, druids, etc., who have faith
in the power of the tools. there is no reason that they should
not have such faith. that you call it 'religious' is just a
misguided smear. their religion is something to which they may
*apply* their magic, or which may accompany or become part of
their magic. perspectives on this within the neuvoreligious
community are not monolithic, of course.

your better response, as I see it, is to show how it is that 
magical tools are NOT powerful (if you can), demonstrate what 
wonders you are able to do without any "magickal tools", etc.

> which creates a dependence on the tool and on the seller of 
> the tool, 

here is the first real critical analysis. you assert that
spell kits are bad because they 'create a dependence upon
the tool', but there is no evidence for this. dependency is
an unrelated condition in relation to usage. do you feel that
there is some kind of habitual substance introduced into the
kits (what, MSG?) that causes this? what brings about this
supposed "dependency" and how did you arrive at the conclusion
that it is necessarily a part of spell kit (or other magical)
use which you don't particularly like or have been trained is 

why isn't a cache of information which describes multiple
methods of using numerous magical items contradictory
evidence to your claim, as an accompaniment to spell kits?

> and also embeds the belief that magick can only be performed 
> through the use of the proper items in the proper manner and 

even Crowley believed this (cf. Book Four). but the sale of spell 
kits on its own does not necessarily include this. you have provided
a generalization as support for your extreme assertions. in
fact there are sellers of magical supplies (even kits) who are
not attempting to embed any beliefs whatever, just providing
the supplies to those who want and/or need them. that you
generalize about all of them undercuts the strength and
tenability of your assertion.

> that the seller of the items is the one who knows what "proper" is.

this is only a particular *kind* of seller -- one who wishes to
presume some position of authority. in fact there are many
different kinds of shopkeepers of magical items. some of them
designate what they know is proper, some don't. you're not
accounting for those who are different than your facile contention.

> in the "culture" of those who consider themselves students and 
> practitioners of magick.  

it isn't a single culture. look more closely into Arabic magic
if you don't believe me. 

> you seem to keep trying to pull some kind of cultural issue into
> this.  

it is unfortunately related to culture. those deluded by Hermetic
shamsters have taken up an almost religious belief that all
magical tools are crutches and all magic is for Godly purposes.
countless examples to the contrary are insufficient to dissuade
them from these essentially faith-based religious convictions.

> have you forgotten that I am also jewish, and maybe I haven't
> mentioned this explicitly, but I have a family history of arabic 
> folk-magick practices and if I was so inclined could claim to be 
> an 'initiate in a family tradition'?  does that give my criticism 
> more credibility?

not really. your background would only improve your argument if
you said that you'd interviewed many mages and religious and
had pieced this together as a kind of anthropological study
(I have done the former myself and this is in part why I have
argued against you here).

blessed beast!
emailed replies may be posted  -----   "sa avidya ya vimuktaye"   ----- 
"that which liberates is ignorance"
    hoodoo catalogue: send postal address to

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