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What is Magick?

To: alt.magick
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: What is Magick?
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2004 04:50:41 GMT

Old Coyote wrote:
> "Asiya"  wrote

> > "catherine yronwode"  wrote

> > > Asiya wrote:

> > > > "Alexander Mulligan"  wrote

> > > > > In alt.magick, Erich wrote:
> > > > >
> > > > > > and the extracted portions of 
> > > > > > classical thought spanning near all cultures into a
> > > > > > viable working system of supreme initiatory attainment.
> > > > >
> > > > > "initiatory attainment"?  Are we talking about magick or a
> > > > > college fraternity?
> > > >
> > > > Certain systems of magick have initiation cermonies, signifying
> > > > that the student/frater/soror is about to begin a new period of
> > > > study and experience. Some people confuse these rituals with
> > > > actual attainment (enlightenment, mastery, etc).
> > >
> > > And in some initiatic lodge systems, the rituals of initiation are
> > > only performed after the candidate has demonstrated an actual
> > > attainment of proficiency.

[snipped examples of lodge systems that require a demonstration
of attainment of proficiency before passing a candidate to the
next grade]

> > What do these pedantic demonstrations have to do with actual
> > attainment?

"Pedantic" is not a good description of the vast panoply of possible 
demonstrations of proficiency used in lodge systems. See below for an
example of a proficiency test that should satisfy you as non-pedantic.

The word "attainment" is vague, so let us look at what people were
posting about. 

Erich / Jason referred to "initiatory attainment."

You recast this as "attainment (enlightenment, mastery, etc)"

I clearly specified what i meant above when i used the term
"attainment of proficiency." 

I used the term "attainment of proficiency" in order to reply to
Alexander / Bruce in terms of Erich's original phrase "initiatory
attainment." I was referring specifically to those forms of attainment
to be had within an initiatic system. 

This is also tangentially related to one of your terms -- "attainment
(mastery)" because in the course of initiatic matriculation in a lodge
that requires proficiency tests, what the candidate is demonstrating
is mastery of the subject matter that is taught in that degree. This
is quite obvious in lodges whose initiatory scheme is based on ancient
trade guilds (e.g. the Freemasons): The officers of such lodges are 
specifically looking for demonstrations of mastery of skills
(speculative and/or operative). Further, one who has attained the
highest degree (e.g. the 3rd degree in Freemasonry) is called a
"Master." He has literally "attained mastery." 

I did not speak to your "attainment (enlightenment)" since the word
"enlightenment" is too ambiguous of definition to be addressed without
further hair-splitting. Since you asked, though, i will simply note,
briefly, that the word "enlightenment" in its most colloquial sense
(realization, "the dawning of the light," etc.) is the prime objective
of Freemasonry -- but that the word "enlightenment" in its Buddhist
sense (as a translation of specific Sanskrit religious terms) is not
an "attainment" that is conveyed in Western lodge matriculation
> What does joining a club have to do with actual attainment?
> Obviously, it affords one the opportunity for instruction.
> For instance, a club of Tibetan monks, or, The Church of LDS.

> > Are you suggesting that someone else's magickal or spiritual
> > enlightenment can be objectively determined by recitation, gestures,
> > and academic research?

Asiya, you originally made TWO definitions of "attainment" in reply to
the mention by Jason / Erich of "initiatory attainment." You came up
with "attainment (mastery)" and "attainment (enlightenment)." People
have chosen to relate more to what Erich / Jason wrote. I don't think
that anyone here is really relating to "attainment (enlightenment)" --
and certainly not to "enlightenment" per se. 

> Given my previous assertion, perhaps you can accept that those rituals
> are just that, only rituals that allow the people providing instruction
> under the auspice of the organisation in question the opportunity
> to recognise the fact that thier students (at least the dilligent ones)
> have made some progress.

Actually, you did not state that, as far as i can tell by following
this tread. You wrote: 
> > > > Certain systems of magick have initiation cermonies, signifying
> > > > that the student/frater/soror is about to begin a new period of
> > > > study and experience. Some people confuse these rituals with
> > > > actual attainment (enlightenment, mastery, etc).

In other words, you claimed that initiation ceremonies mark "a new
period of study and experience," rather than that initiation comes
after a demonstration of "attainment (mastery)" over -- or "attainment
of proficiency" in -- previous subjects of study and experience within
the lodge system. 

In lodge systems where tests are given, the candidate cannot be passed
to a new degree simply on the basis of having studied the material --
he or she must demonstrate "initiatory attainment" through a
proficiency test. 
I was not disputing what you wrote, by the way. I was simply
supplementing your description with some information from my own
Experience concerning lodge systems that work in ways you did not take
into consideration. 

> Of course this is all pretty obvious, and so saying makes it seem
> likely that you would already know all this stuff, and probably accept
> it unquestioningly, in the contexts I mentioned previously; Tibetan
> monks etc. Which would imply that your objection was actually to the
> occult lodge system, which would be fair enough, except, you too are 
> an occultist?
> This is really the only interpretation that makes sense. You might also
> object to the efficaciosness of spiritual instruction under any 
> auspice, but that would really be whacked, you *are* an occultist, and
> you had to learn that from somewhere, so it should be safe to assume
> your belief in the power of instruction to facillitate spiritual 
> attainment.
> Evidently you, like Groucho Marx, do not want to admit to membership in
> any club that would have you.

I think that another explanation is that Asiya is not familiar with
lodge systems that conduct proficiency tests. For instance, she called
such  tests "pedantic," which is not not always the case.

Let me give an example of "attainment" that is tested in certain lodge
systems and that could in NO way be called "pedantic." 

This example comes from real life, but i cannot state the name of the
lodge, for reasons of obligating oaths i have taken. It took place in
Morgan City, Louisiana in 1970. I was a friend of one of the

In Lodge System X, the candidate is taught certain grips and passwords
by which to identify fellow lodge members outside of lodge. 

In a certain degree in this lodge system, the candidate is taught not
only how to recognize fellow members of the national lodge system by
certain verbal phrases, but is obligated by an oath to help them if
they are in distress. 

The candidate in question is a shoe salesman. He works in a shoe
store, fitting and selling shoes. He is not the manager of the store.
A man comes into the store who is wearing very worn clothes. He is
limping. He sits down in one of the fitting seats. 

The salesman has a choice: Recognize the raggedy man as a human being
deserving of service or drive him off as a homeless bum. 

Let's say he chooses to approach the man with courtesy. He walks over
and says, "Can i help you?"

"-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --?" asks the bum, making a secret hand gesture,
and thus stating clearly a request for aid from a fellow lodge member!

The salesman is baffled. A dirty, raggedy guy is claiming to be his
ledge brother. 

He has some choices: He can ignore the request for brotherly
recognition and aid, or he can demonstrate the grip or password he has
been taught as a response or he can honour oath in the breech and ask
out loud, "Are you a member of Lodge System X"

Let's say the salesman provisionally accepts that this man is his
lodge brother and that he demonstrates the grip of the degree to which
he has been initiated and offers aid to the stranger. 

The man then shows the salesman that his shoes are completely broken
down and have holes in them. He explains that he was travelling and
was robbed, that he has no friends in this town, and that he can't
walk any farther on the shoes he is wearing. 

What does the salesman do now? Again, he has choices: He can decide
that the bum somehow learned passwords and phrases to which he is not
entitled and that he makes a habit of ripping off shoe stores by
appealing to lodge members for aid; or he can use his own money to buy
socks and shoes for the down-and-out guy; or he can steal some socks
and shoes out of inventory to give to the guy, thereby meeting his
lodge obligation at no cost to himself. 

Well, we all know what we'd like to see in such a situation, if we
were members of a lodge system that teaches both loyalty and honesty.
So let's say that the salesman pays for and gives shoes to the fellow.
What next?

Does he stop there? Does he pat himself on the back for having done a
"good deed" and send the man on his way -- or does he ask, "Do you
need food? Do you have shelter for the night? May i conduct you to my
lodge where the brothers will see to it that enough money is collected
to buy you a new suit and train fare to your destination"?

What the candidate does in such a case will demonstrate WITHOUT ANY
PEDANTRY his mastery or proficiency at the lessons taught in the
degree he has studied. If he passes a proficiency test of this type,
he may be deemed ready to receive initiation into a higher degree. 

And, as i said -- this is a TRUE STORY. There are lodges in America
that arrange such tests of proficiency. In this case, the supposed bum
was the master of a nearby lodge who had come to town on business, and
was asked to test the proficiency of the new lodge member. The shoe
salesman passed -- not only did he buy the bum shoes, he gave him
money for lunch, told him to come back when the shoe store closed,
took the man home with him, and telephoned his lodge master to see if
more aid could be arranged. He was deemed to have attained proficiency
in the subject of the degree he was studying -- b.'. l.'. r.'. and
t.'. -- and was deemed worthy to be passed to the next degree. 


cat yronwode 

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