Thursday, January 15, 2009

On Criticism

I recieved a letter a few days ago from a reader who is a member of the SOL. He complimented me immensly on my writing but added that he had a few points that he disagreed with me on. Near the end of the letter he thought that I probably thought things like Servants of the Light is for sissies. 

I thanked him for his compliment. Congradulated him on his disagreements, explaining that I have never met any teacher that I have no differences of opinion with and hope for the same out of all my readers and students. I aksed why he would think that I wouldnt like SOL, given that I am a member of the Sangreal Sodality and William Gray did a bit of training there. He noted that I have been critical of groups like the OTO and the GD in the past. 

I want to be clear about something. If I take the time to criticize someone or something, than there is something there that I think is of value. Generally speaking, I let things that I absolutely have no interest in or think are total crap pass without comment. There is the rare exception, but in general I criticize only those things that I find vakue in. 

Therefore I thought it might be a good excercise to go through some of the people and things that I am often critical of and extoll what I see as their virtue. 

Aleister Crowley: I think he has made immense contributiuons to the field of practical magick. My friend Charles said it well at a talk this summer: Crowley looked at the GD and said: "Magick should be a little less arts and crafts, and hey look at the really profound work that these indian and chinese doods are doing...". Seriously meditation is the cornerstone of his system, and it is the cornerstone of mine as well. 

OTO: Now that I am no longer on the inside I criticize it less vociferously, and then only when asked. I think that they do wonderful work preserving AC's works and I think that they end up leading a lot of people to their true will. Indeed I measure the success of the OTO at this not only by the people that have worked their way through the system from 0* to 9* (exactly one person BTW) but in the people that have quit and schismed off to bigger and better things more in line with their nature. 

Lon DuQuette: I think Lon is brilliant. He is a fantastic writer and has excellent reasoning for everthing he teaches. He just happens to be wrong on the nature of spirits and the focus of magick :-)

GD: The contribution of Mathers and Wescott is immesurable. Greater than that of Crowley IMO. If it was not for the rituals that came out of the GD I would not be the magician I am today. I still use some of them from time to time. 

Wicca: Wonderful stuff that clearly speaks to a lot of people. Three of my closest magickal bretheren in the world are Gardnerians and they do some amazing shit. I pulled a lot of value out of my early explorations into Wicca, it gave me a good understanding of natural magick and helped me see the use of nudity, ecstatcy, and bondage in ritual. Nothing wrong with that. 

Tibetan Buddhism: More than any other system, my training as a Tantrika informs my magick and my life in general. If I didnt have the burning need to teach and innovate, or if I was not born a white dood in the USA, I would be perfectly happy working in this field alone. But I do and I was, so I branch out. I am still upkeeping my commitments and consider Dzogchen to be the highest most profound set of teachings I have ever encountered. If you havent heard me be critical of Tibetan Buddhism, its because I usually save that for Tibetan Buddhist lists and groups. 

Chaos Magick: I actually like a lot of what has come out of Chaos magick. I just dont think it works the way they think it works and actually see them limited by their own assumptions. That said, they attempted to streamline ceremonial magick, place a strong emphasis on measurable results, get rid of magickal hierarchy, and use reality itself as a symbol set. It succeeded at some of this and failed at some of this overall, but I am most thankful for the exposure to it and for working with some of the tech that Carroll, UD, and Hine put out there. Its easy to forget how revolutionary it was at the time.

Left Hand Path: To clarify I am talking western LHP here, not Vama Marga. Knowing what I know now if it was 16 years ago and I was hanging out at the Equinox again with our little cabal of occultists looking to join the OTO, I would have taken Lee up on his offer to join the TOS instead. I am deeply impressed with a lot of their tech. I am even more impressed at they way the are able surpass their founder and former heads. Aquino is no more a magus than Flowers or Webb, each of whom declaired their own "word". I like their emphasis on results and their insistance on the blending of magickal and mundane efforts. Very much like my own system.The Gurdjieffian attitude towards spiritual growth also goes a long way with me.  If I didnt think that the LHP/RHP dichotomy was completely bogus, the "isolate intelligence" schtick to be silly, and that they are a little to caught up in being "dark" I would join up today.

Thats it for now. If I forgot anybody let me know. 

If I am into something that you havent heard me criticize, trust me, I'll get around to it.


Frater BH said...

Well, I am not sure where that opinion would come from. You've always been able to disagree respectfully with that which you feel the need.

Sometimes, criticisms come too close to a hidden fear or realization for the criticized. Sometimes the critic is a jerk. Usually, the first is always seen as the second. grin

Persephone said...

Jay I am so offended... you didn't criticize my fruit spells!