"Shes a phony, but shes a real phony."
The above quote is from Breakfast at Tiffany's and was made George Peppards character regarding Holly Golightly played by Audrey Hepburn. In it she completely makes up a history and persona. The quote above affirms the way that even the made up history and persona become integral to the real person. The made up history is just as important as the real history.
The sentiment is also captured in a great quote from Neil Gaiman: "Things need not have happened in order to be true."
Last night at my class on energetic healing in New Hope, someone mentioned how much what I was teaching was similar to Reiki, which she surmised would naturally be the case since I had studied Tibetan Buddhism and "Reiki is Tibetan..."
Of course Reiki is NOT Tibetan. When I pointed this out, she kind of looked a little heartbroken. I thought about it for a second though and noted that many, if not most, traditions have fake or at least exaggerated histories. For example:
Wicca is not a lineal survivor of prehistoric practices, or even old English witchcraft dating back a couple hundred years.
The Golden Dawn wasn't really a chartered lodge of an even more secret German group.
Blavatski was not really the agent of a group of Eastern Mahatmas, nor was Hoot Koomi a Tibetan,
Lama Govinda was not a real Lama in the sense that most people understood him to mean.
Dadaji was not ordained as a Kagyu lineage holder.
The Key of Solomon was not written by Solomon nor does it accurately reflect magick that Solomon would have done.
Reiki is not a Tibetan practice. Neither are Tulpas.
Aradia was probably more of a creation of Lealand than an accurate portrayal of Strega.
Zora Neel Hurston likely made up a lot of the "Hoodoo Initiations" that appear in Mules and Men,
Karl Kellner did not get sex magick tech from three eastern adepts
The OTO does not represent a brotherhood that LaoTzu would in any way recognize.
Lets not even get into the Necronomicon(s)...
You get the idea.
There is a lot of BS out there. I myself have pledged to swear off the practice of weaving BS stories behind myself or my system of magick. That however is a personal choice. Its not a condemnation of those that do weave BS into what they do. I have come to understand that BS serves a purpose.
Most of the examples above are things that I consider good. They are useful and I am happy that they are around. Most of them would not have gained the ground that they have without the BS to promote them. Did people profit off the BS? Yes. Did people get duped? Yes. But for the most part it was harmless duping and in the end the good outweighed the bad.
The phony stories ended up being a better reflection of the material than the actual origins. So when it comes to stuff like Reiki being Tibetan, or Wicca being a survival of prehistoric goddess worship, or the OTO being a vehicle for Tantric and Sufi sex magick practices; just remember...
They are phony's, but they are real phony's.