Sunday, November 9, 2008

The occultist and the Magician

Since I am having trouble getting my final three day write-a-thon off the ground I thought I would post something here to get the fingers tapping.

 A few weeks ago I was reading a book about the Nazi occultist Karl Wiligut. A friend commented "So you’re into Runes now?”. Not as something I feel the need to do as a magician, no, but as an occultist yes.   He didn’t quite get the distinction.

 I am an occultist and a magician. The occultist is a historian and anthropologist of the hidden religio-magic traditions of the whole planet. Nothing is out of bounds. There are areas that I specialize in, like Tibetan Occultism, New Orleans Rootwork, etc, but there is almost nothing that I am not at all interested in as an occultist. There are also things that I will spend months researching that I have no interest in spiritually, just because they interest me intellectually.

 As a magician, I am interested in taking things that I know as an occultist and enacting them in a spiritual path and sorcerous action. The roots of my magick practice are by necessity more narrow than my interests as an occultist. My wide interest as an occultist does however open up my spiritual practice to incorporating things that resonate with me even if they are from variant cultural or spiritual traditions.

 Knowing that these people over here work magick this way, and those people over there do it a completely different way assists me in not slipping into fundamentalist views about a particular tradition. On the other hand spending a significant amount of time learning traditions from their own cultural perspective without drawing comparisons right off the bat, keeps me from slipping into the sort of nihilistic conclusions of chaos magick or outright silly eclecticism of most of the modern neo-pagan movements.

The occultist in me may be reading a book about sects of Japanese skull fucking Buddhists* but that doesn’t mean that the magician in me is going to start practicing it.




*Tachikawa sect



Donald Donato said...

That's a very clear explanation of a point that is consistently muddled. Thanks, Jason!

Al said...

What?! No skull fucking? There goes Christmas.

Jason Miller, said...

Dude, of course there will be skull fucking. I was just making a rhetorical point.

I wouldn't ruin Christmas.

Rufus Opus said...

Except for skull fuckery...

I went through a similar discussion about entheogens this weekend. I love to read about other people's methods of monkeying around with their brain chemicals. But there are relatively few flavors I add to my own soup.