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Power and Spellcasting

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.wicca,alt.pagan.magick,alt.magick
From: 333 
Subject: Re: Power and Spellcasting
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2003 08:49:55 GMT

50031103 viii om -- guessing as to attributions, apologies for any errors

Figinn the bold:
#>#>#>#> ...power is given to those least likely to misuse it.

Brett the critic:
#>#># What a quaint notion.

as I said, it has a lot of staying power. there are hordes of
socially-orthodox mystical mages who believe it without doubt.
its repetition as by Figinn here is a promulgation of its meme,
though he doesn't wish to sustain a defense of it. the best
defense is some transcendental 'you-cannot-know-the-cosmic-God-
but-it-is-in-charge-of-us-and-I-have-special-insight' ploy.

#>#># And so very wrong, without even going into the word "given".

in terms of sociopolitical power this is not wrong at all, 
though the occasional exception crops up. sociological 
mages dwell in the same power-given mentality, typically. 
this is why there are orders and vows of secrecy, 
reputations on the line, etc.

Figinn the less-bold:
#>#> And how do you know this?

#># Because morality (which is what distinguishes between 
#># "use" and "misuse") doesn't matter to any 
#># demonstrable power.

oh yeah, throw in the 'demonstrable' portion. that lets most
of the fantasyland inferred, believed, and whole-hog-swallowed
gods that are behind magical powers right out! ;>

#>#> In hindsight however, I should have better phrased my
#>#> response to say that the greatest power is *achieved*
#>#> by those least likely to misuse it.

this is usually the justification for mages who puff up in
arrogance, have problems with personal integrity, and are
generally over-achievers in their own minds: "I *earned*
my wings, bucko! Straighten up and fly right [/agree with
me, submit to my will, do as I say, etc.] or you'll be
sorry [the cosmic power will undo you]!"

#># Yes, that's better.  It clarifies just how value-laden 
#># and subjective your claim really is.  Who decides what 
#># power is "greatest"?  You do, of course. Who decides 
#># who has achieved this "greatest power"? You do, of course.
#># Nice and tidy bit of self-flattery.

the cosmic God (rough equivalent of the speaker) does that.

the whole thing rests on cosmological presuppositions which,
as you have perceptively pinned to the floor, are not really
demonstrable in any overt fashion. that mages pretend that its 
reality is a foregone conclusion is their undoing. that they
thereafter presume themselves moral *because* they are powerful
is an effective duplication of 'Might Makes Right' but without
all the fancy-schmancy bits about love and compassion that 
some (PoMo?) mages prefer.

religious make this kind of claim all the time, and it is in
part what drives the value of the story of Job: detaching the
position of the religious with respect to the cosmic God from 
position in the material realm. many religious don't want that.
they'd rather pretend that they are in the Power Seat and that
this Seat was *earned* by good behaviour (when in fact most
know that they are themselves fraudulent occupiers of the throne).

apparently Figinn the less-and-less bold:
#>$ Is there necessarily an ethical component in magick?  

theurgy tends to include it. it is not necessary, no.

#>$ ...however to fully understand the ethical components 
#>$ of magick, we must fully understand *what* is considered 
#>$ ethical, what is *not* considered ethical and *who* gets 
#>$ to decide.  In such a scenario, ethics can no longer be
#>$ judged as subjective.  There would be one "etched in 
#>$ stone" set of morals for all of humanity.  That may 
#>$ indeed be the case and I have written much about such 
#>$ an idea.

what, Ten Commandments? who decides would seem to tweak the
identification of the ethical, indeed. amongst theurges the
usual adherence is to the divinity. whether that divinity
provides the ethics on stone tablets, or calls 'em a Rede,
or leaves some kind of vague set of doctrines ('karma',
'bushido', 'thelema', 'agape', etc.) for the faithful to
figure out for themselves and abide or betray with cosmic
repercussions, seems to depend on human imaginations.

#> ...the buzz-word "given" referring to "power"(s), 

that's how theurges typically think. talk to Sufis and they
will go all goofy about magic as if there are tight controls
and major hurdles and it's all the One God's doing anyways
so don't worry much about these faux siddhis that aren't our
objective anyways (to earn the favour of the One God and be
His Best Boy). same is true of yogis and the siddhis that I
just mentioned. to an extent, Crowley was playing with that
in his writing and his system (putting 'Magick' on *top* of
Yoga as an inversion).

#> as if Figinn being [was?] completely oblivious to the 
#> responsibility of earning said power(s) through the 
#> fruits of one's own contemplative and or magical labor.

no, 'given' implies sucking up to some cosmic power, and
that is what theurges usually promote as part of some vast
ordinational conformity-scheme whereby power is distributed
or at least controlled to *their* specifications, 
which is what Tom seems to have been commenting on. 

you can see this from inside and it looks pretty secure, or
you can see it from the outside and it looks pretty arrogant,
unfounded, and generally undemonstrable (as is the cosmic God).
[I have a demonstration against the *intellectual* cosmic God
that involves the failure to make our year 360 days, but we'll
let that one go.]

#> Tom and I both picked-up Figinn's apparent struggle within
#> him(her)self concerning issues of moral superiority and 
#> inferiority.

it did appear that way, though she felt it necessary to
equivocate and backpeddle rather than attempting to support
the over-reach. a magic-metaphysics that would allow for
hir initial claim would be one somewhat sociological, in
which the community dictates the power and the ethics.
some anthropologists go for this kind of explanation of
magic (it has to become known before it will be effective).

# I have no struggle concerning issues of moral 
# superiority and inferiority.

then who gives power? where does it come from if it isn't
handed out by cosmic Gods? is there a scarcity model of
power, or is it free for the taking? why bother with the
"earning" bit? what faux "achievements" will you invent to 
support the edifice you're constructing as you back out?

# ...I never even claimed that there *is* an ethical 
# component in magick (and by extension everything else) 
# ... even though I acknowledged the possibility.

  "...power is given to those least likely to misuse it."

the term 'misuse' is strikingly ethical in its implication.
Tom mentioned that above. you apparently didn't mean what 
you said. that's ok with me. if you don't snipe too much
more I may do even more to shore up your argument.

#> ...others' ethical systems somehow or another shaping, 
#> suppressing or interfering with his(her) own ethics (or
#> lack thereof); as if to say the very thoughts of others 
#> dictate his(her) own realities -- and willingly so.

fluctuating ethical systems probably aren't that unusual, 
especially if they aren't made real until they are tested. 
people just hide them well. if strictly conceptual, (the 
'what would you do if...?' scenarios), one may always be 
the Kristos in one's universe and never abandon the Proper 
Authority. given some alternatives in one's vicinity 
(e.g. those who seize power for their own projects, have no 
ethics, or generally trespass beyond the norm of society's 
dictates), some warp is bound to occur in the impressionable, 
inexperienced, or shallow. focussing attention on them because 
of it may set a hurdle in their education, since the issue 
immediately becomes *their* integrity, consistency, and ego,
rather than the point they were attempting to put forward.

one might criticize Crowley for this error, inasmuch as
he failed (as so many egotists do) to admit his most egregious
errors, pretended that they didn't occur, and left a smattering
of differentiated expression in his wake. were he to have just
fessed up as to his self-discovered ineptness (the dearth of such
profession a testimony to his lack of introspection; where it
obtains, a jewel in his proverbial spiritual crown), then we might
be able to do more than demonstrate his spiritual inferiority and
magical failure (something many Thelemic theurges will not admit).

#> "'etched in stone' set of morals for all of humanity."

this is a philosophic issue, generic. such ethics/morals are
idealized or argued all the time, though their 'etching'
directly implies some cosmic authority. an example which does
not require such etching is Utilitarianism, however weak it
may be to defend as necessary. at least one may thereafter
set one's store in genetic predispositions of one's species.

# may indeed be the case. I have written and thought 
# much on the subject and am undecided to this point.

as has been pointed out, you sounded pretty decided (even 
in your qualified whole from which I helpfully excerpted), 
and this is why you're getting heat for it (because people
don't like it). that you foment personal squables *after* the
attention is drawn to your person only makes the matter worse.
no amount of "//end of thread"s will allow you the last word.

take heart in the knowledge that you started the thread by
your expansive and popular contention. I admire you for it. :>


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