It is great that there is an interest for the western Hermetic, Gnostic, Alchemical and Grimoire traditions.
There is an aspect of this that actually worries me.
Gone are the days when ex-potheads who think you should summon goetic demons as a means for self-help psychotherapy write books on magick and people take them seriously. Gone are the days of chaos magick throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (If they would have done it right we would have a Postmodern, English, hoodoo equivalent of pure technique, not Chaosmagic as it is practiced by the rabble who claim to be chaoites today. Oh how I miss the drug and sex and rock and roll fueled pact in its heyday along with the fucked up adepts of the psykick yyyuuuuth. Coyote242 is sorely missed.)
Today there is a true interest in the original traditions and this is commendable as on the positive side it gives rise to scholarly texts that are very well researched. Some are not purely academic but come from the pens of people who actually practice as well. There are discussions and a revival going on.
This is all, nice and good, however it is just as dangerous as the "all in your head, man" crap that came in the wake of reprinting Crowley and the modern occult revival of the past 50 years. Now, the pendulum has swung over to the other side.
Being too sucked in to the letter of the texts is just as bad as complete postmodernism. The Occidental esoteric tradition does have some very unique powerful spiritual technologies that do not exist in other places. And this technology has been the same since hellenic times. But believing that pure re-creation is a valid approach, or even needed is just hubris.
In my traditions we use the metaphor of keys. The key of silver and the key of gold are needed for decyphering and being able to understand certain underlying concepts and truths of the Occidental tradition. Without the keys, errors occur and the Stone cannot be created.
Writing without having the Key(s) is not a new trend among true seekers, historically it has happened before in the tradition. It is most notable in Alchemy where, Puffers, (people who do not actually understand the alchemical texts as they have no master only the texts themselves and then go on and write their own texts interpreting everything physically) are made fun of and looked down on by real alchemists. They also cause enormous amounts of confusion as alchemists today must not only busy themselves with the riddles in the texts they also need to test the text for actual validity.
This "problem" is very much due to the worldly powers (church and or government) repressing things and the fact that we had a massive gap between literacy, times of non literacy and then a booming of literacy and the printing press. But hey, thats for a later rant.
that appeared between the 15th and 17th century texts.
There are 3 main trends among the revivalists- (I will use Alchemy and Grimoire based magic as examples here)
Wankers have no idea what they are talking about and their material should be avoided like the plague. Wankers are not harmless scholars who misunderstand something, they are so utterly misguided and misunderstand the tradition in such a way that they can completely ruin someone's process. A wanker might have stumbled upon Jung and from that moment on worked alchemy as a metaphor for the individuation process and disregard the Red Book and Jungs 7 sermons as "odd". A wanker may also read a few alchemical treatises and then come to the conclusion that real mercury is called for in laboratory alchemy when the actual treatise is in actual fact about inner alchemy. Then when he is having hallucinations from lead and mercury poisoning he will be even more convinced that the visitations he is receiving are further proof of his enlightenment.
A wanker may not even be aware that inner alchemy always has external aspects and well and all laboratory alchemy mirrors an inner process too.
However a discerning student with or without one of the keys can quickly identify this category because their teachings do not really work. There will be a percentage of those who claim they do but a true student who is willing to, you know, be honest with themselves will quickly realize what the difference is between success and delusions shared with others.
Examples include :
A) Not using a circle when doing evocation, not because they think "its all in your head, man" but because they truly got it into their heads that it is a blind or "not needed".
B) Living in some roleplaying game, fantasy sci-fi inspired cosmogony yet disregarding the existence of real miraculous effects. For example, believing that having succeeded with spirit communication and second sight-hearing is the same thing as actually evoking an entity into physical appearance. BIG misstake.
C) Completely failing to understand the cosmology they claim they are well versed in. Demons are Demons, NOT daimons for goodness sake, would you want to do business with Dr. Hannibal Lector in the middle of the night in a dark alley? No? There are such things as demons. Not all things made of spirit are nice, missunderstood or bullshit like that. You do not need to be "in the right mindset and then realize they are just helpful and dualist ideas are wrong." They are earthbound for a reason. They do not reside in the pleroma nor do they want to.
Examples of wanker texts or texts written by Wankers:
-Crowleys introduction to the Goetia where he explains that the 72 are aspects of the brain.
-Books that include statements about the "real tree of life"
Puffers mean well, and they are valuable for the work they do. Puffers might compile hundreds of texts that have been previously untranslated and make them available to the general public and the few real practitioners. There may be some misstakes in translation because Puffers do not actually possess the Golden Key and do not actually know how to create the Stone either, but the misstakes are mostly accidental and they mean no harm. The problem with Puffers is that due to their experiences with aspects of the work, for example goetic uses of Grimoires, or ability to create alchemical elixirs are seen as signs of them being on the right path or having understood what they are doing. This is a problem as this means the Stone can never be revealed.
Puffers are dangerous in that they can misslead, by accident, but they serve a good purpose as they can teach certain techniques that you do not need the Golden key for.
You might learn everything you need for true evocation, but you'll not understand the REAL Purpose behind it. If you did you would be in possession of the Golden Key.
Puffers today are re-creating a tradition failing to understand that there is no need to re-create it as the tradition is alive, it is just hiding. The problem is, as I see it, that puffers are becoming numerous and the few puffers who by accident have managed to create the stone wrongly believe that they have the key, when they do not. There is thus isolation and the ex-puffer becomes a sad puffer who has the white stone, just doesn't know what to do with it or how they actually made it and ends up going in eternal circles trying to retrace their steps.
The final position is of course, taken up by the true masters.
On the first glance, the writings of a true master are almost indistinguishable from a text by a Puffer, however there are some telltale signs. Puffers will always be stuck in a research academic mindset, whereas a Master is beyond such things as hir golden key unlocks all doors in all traditions. Also, true masters are able to relate to other texts, fully without their chosen specialist field and agree. This is because the keys allow for translation of terms and words, not just transmutation. Unfortunately, we only have very few real masters on the scene releasing books and texts; there are more puffers and ex-puffers.
Where am I going with this?
Hopefully the pendulum will swing back and stabilize, between the puffer re-enactment and the acidhead psychobabble, if we are lucky and more real masters get out of hiding or the real traditions spreads beyond 50 people this might happen. Otherwise, I fear that we will keep seeing sand-castles being built and in the end the tradition will die out as the puffers will have taken all the prima materia available and the true alchemists wont have anything but dross to work with.