Something’s been bugging me, not just recently but for years. I’m going to call it, Magical Fractions Friction.
Practitioners of different paths calling each other out or, self-inflating their own path. It proper pisses me off.
Magicians, Witches, Shamans. Cunning Folk, The Wise, Mages, Druids. Thelemics and Hermetics. It seems every path has its perpetrators. Roughly, I see it falling into two categories; those who don’t know any better, so cling to their own "true way" out of a need to feel secure, or academic types, who may or may not have practical experience, but see themselves as superior, because of their study, and judge others against their own accomplishment. Each seems desperate to prove their legitimacy to, not only the world of magic, but the world as a whole.
Within the realm of my personal experience, both at Airy Fairy and through my work with Notwork 23, I feel honoured to mix with a smorgasbord of amazing magical practitioners. From meeting people taking their first steps as a seeker; a neophyte, to some really inspirational elders, and everyone in between.
It upsets me when respect gets lost on the internet, and sadly at times in person. Respect traded for petty digs to get cheap laughs or gain fans and likes. To raise a profile or be the King of Edge.
I started out a Hedge Witch, and I'm unembarrassed to admit this. I read, practiced, talked to others. These were pre-internet days, so books and people were how you learnt; through practice and experimentation. By doing and finding what worked for me.
In 2003 I wanted to do some formal training, as many do, so I found a reputable Wiccan Priest. What do I mean by reputable? Well yes, linage. Where and how they started was important to me, because like many structured systems; OBOD, IOT, OTO, etc, knowing that someone went through training that is demanding, and that they got out the other side, is an indication of their mindset and suitability to teach genuine magical arts. I do acknowledge formal training and reputable lineage is not the only way to succeed in the magical arts, and that success is quite probably determined by genuine application, which leads to the ability to show others a way.
My path was influenced by a Wiccan High Priest. He arrived in Airy Fairy at just the right point, finding someone reputable is often a synchronous moment. There are other ways to find teachers; write to authors, temples, ask friends, even twitter. Finding someone with authenticity, that appeals to your need, at that time. Sometimes even without these "badges" one might have the fortune of finding a genuinely competent teacher to help lead you on a path you seek. For me, right then my need was Wicca.
Did I learn the history of Wicca, of Gerald Gardner? Absolutely.
Do I know that most of the book of shadows, though not all, is the fabrication of himself and largely Doreen Valiente amongst a few others? Of course.
In my opinion, both the individual and the collective practice of magic, is an ever-evolving path. The Book of Shadows is simply a start point from which to make one’s own. We have to remember, back then The Witchcraft Act hadn’t been repealed; the Book of Shadows was a bud, which enabled a witch's personal path to blossom. This wouldn’t have been achieved, as it would some 20 years later, with the birth of Chaos Magic; by admitting to making it all up. It’s not what the individual or the collective practice needed.
Though enough of my experience, I’m just one of 1000’s of magical practitioners world-wide, but to return to my rant…
What riles me, is when magical practitioners take up barbs against each other's paths, lines, schools or organizations. Especially when it’s done in a way that casts direct aspersions on individuals who follow the path being denigrated.
Nothing is perfect, and similarly to many other areas of life, it appears people who gain great knowledge in a particular area are far too ready to pull down others, often without taking the time to really understand the alternative viewpoint at all.
Not having a particular interest in some paths is fine, is natural. It’s what makes finding a path that genuinely interests you such a wonder. But it seems to me, that some people try to legitimise their own practice, their own path, by disrespecting another path. To the point that disparaging others becomes an integral part of their practice. And that’s never right. Surely?
I understand there’s a multitude of personal, and perhaps even justifiable reasons, why people do this. But isn't it about time we stopped?
Really, it’s 2020 and that kind of behaviour is so old school. You’re not Crowley and you’re not Hermione Grainger… stop telling other people they’re wrong, that your way is the best way, and let practitioners find, or better still build their own understanding of magic. Of course, help them understand lineage and signpost the paths worn by the elders, so that they may find their way, after all those paths were worn through great hardship and respect must always be paid.
Personally, I identify as DiscoWiccanChaosMagiciZen. However, telling the Wiccan part of me that I'm practicing a made-up system of magic, or directing ridicule at me with astonishing arrogance, is frankly small minded, cruel and serves no kind purpose.
EVERYTHING IS MADE UP, SHMUK!
Everything we are all doing is made up. If it works for you, do it. If it doesn’t leave it to someone who it does work for, and simply rejoice that everyone has the opportunity to find their own path.
Keep making it up brothers and sisters. It’s how we evolve. Individually and as a collective practice.
Now that’s MAGIC!