Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who Uses Magick?

A few years back I had the opportunity to attend my best friends initiation into the Taoist Spirit Possession group of the Than Vo Dao Kung Fu school in Philadelphia. During the initiation Master Phan invoked one of the original teachers of the system into my friend, while smoking him with incense and slapping certain power points on the body to open him up to the influence of the spirit that would literally enter him and teach him Kung Fu. When you attend one of the sessions, its really quite amazing: a dozen people doing kung fu with their eyes closed and not hitting each other or the walls. After the initiation, Master Phan came up to me and let me know: "I hope you dont think this is like voodoo or something like that..."

One of my best friends in Nepal was my buddy Dave from New Orleans. We attended a pretty intense teaching on Phurba practice one afternoon where they got into the specifics of mad-lay, the art of making the linga or doll to represent the enemy, and the way to liberate the enemy using the phurba. A day or two later we were chatting about Vodou, and Dave gave a shudder and said: " I tend to stay away from that stuff. It kinds freaks me out..."

Last month I was talking with a little old lady at the Catholic gift shop about her use of the Miraculous Medal of Mary, and the Novena that she used with it to get her daughters abusive husband to leave her. After telling me the system for using the medal she assured me "I know this sounds like witchcraft or something, but its not like that."

I like to ask people at my classes what percentage of the population they think uses magick. Not just simple prayer, but actual magick. I put it up at about 70-80% in this country. Closer to 90% in Catholic countries that understand ritual better than Protestant countries. They just don't necessarily call it by that name.

Scott made a post today about impreciatory prayer amongst conservative Christians and how one pastor at least was claiming victory ( and by proxy, credit) for the recent murder of Dr Tiller, and is now focusing his efforts on President Obama. This is not so strange as it would seem. There are lots of examples of impreciatory prayer in the bible. My personal favorite to use is Psalm 109, which is part of "Inominandum's Sure Fire, Shock and Awe, Fuck yo' Shit Right Up Ritual" .

Scott further states: "Normally conservative Christians don't have a lot of magical aptitude simply because magical people usually don't fit very well into rigid spiritual systems..."

I think a lot of people would agree with that statement. I think a lot of people would be wrong.

The trap is to confuse the sort of counter-culture or sub-culture groups and overtly occult practices that I and most of my readers engage in with being the only way that magick is practiced. Its not even the majority. Unless we are talking about people with the gift for practical magick, there is no such thing as magickal people. Amongst people that have a gift for practical magick, I have found no real tendancy against rigid spiritual systems.

Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche is probably the most powerful magus I have ever met, but is pretty rigid in his approach to practice. Speaking of Tibet the Gelugpa, who are extremely rigid, use group magick for everything.

An old friend of mine from Saudi Arabia is a Naqshbani Sufi and told me all about their use of magick to control the Djinn and so on. He is also a VERY Rigid Muslim. Taliban supporter, etc. Don't think that all Sufi's are whirling dervishes...

Conservative Christiatans in the US use magick all the time. In fact I think they are way more adept at using to effect politics than Liberals are. Yeah, they call it praying, but at the point where you are organizing retreats in "combat faith", learning exorcism techniques, and having prayer circles aimed at specific judges and such, you are doing magick. Don't even get me started on the Catholics. You can go to jsut about any Catholic shop and buy a statue of Joseph to bury upside down in the yard to sell your house.

Anyway, the point of this post was'nt to pick on Scott. The point is that you need to realize that not everyone that uses magick does it like you do, or even calls it magick. People from traditional cultures often pay professionals to do magic for them. Others do it themselves or with others from their church. But as a rule, you should assume that EVERYONE does magic.

6 comments:

K. Sequoia said...

[applause] Yes! Awesome.

k. sequoia

Riley said...

I've met a lot of talented spell slingers who like 'rigid' systems, they like the structure and sense of tradition and so on (identity is also a factor when it come to this stuff).

Ananael Qaa said...

Unless we are talking about people with the gift for practical magick, there is no such thing as magickal people.

As I mentioned in my reply to your comment, people with the gift for practical magick is exactly what I meant.

Amongst people that have a gift for practical magick, I have found no real tendancy against rigid spiritual systems.

I guess I would agree with you up to a point if you're including systems like Vajrayana, which are rigid in the sense of requiring strict practice but which are specifically structured around what I would consider facilitating genuine spiritual realization.

However, in the context of the post I was more thinking of literalist Christianity, and in my experience there is little facilitation of genuine realization there. I guess "rigid" was perhaps not the best choice of words - what I meant by that was spiritual systems that allow little room for individual spiritual progress.

Jason Miller, said...

You write: "I guess "rigid" was perhaps not the best choice of words - what I meant by that was spiritual systems that allow little room for individual spiritual progress."

The thing is that almost every religion allows for individual progress. The question is: towards what? If you are saying that people with an aptitude for practical magick gravitate to systems that cultivate individual freedom, than I have to disagree.

I also disagree that there is much connection between spiritual realization and practical magickal muscle. I used to think that way, and I wish it were so, but experience has taught me otherwise.

Ananael Qaa said...

I also disagree that there is much connection between spiritual realization and practical magickal muscle.

We've been over this one before so I already know that we disagree on it, at least up to a point.

I think there is a connection, but what complicates the equation is practical magical talent. A person with little magical talent can adopt a meditative system of spirituality like Buddhism and become highly realized, but still not be able to do much on the practical sphere. On the other hand, people with very high levels of magical talent don't need much in the way of realization in order to get things done.

However, there's still a connection between the two because practical magical ability is a combination of talent and realization, and I would therefore posit that any genuine spiritual realization will always increase your personal magical ability by some factor. It's just that somebody who doesn't start out with much aptitude won't necessarily notice - and for that matter probably won't be drawn to practical magick anyway.

Josephus said...

I'm interested about your "Inominandum's Sure Fire, Shock and Awe, Fuck yo' Shit Right Up Ritual". I don't thing I've ever seen Psalm 109. Amazing. Is that something you'd like to share?