27 april 2011

My own research interests when it comes to the western esoteric tradition are very clear and concise.

I do not think we need to worry about reinventing the wheel when it comes to the Royal Art. The Western esoteric tradition is still alive and kicking and there are real living traditions in

-Gnosticism. That can truly give you Gnosis and free you so you may return to the pleroma
-Evocation. Living traditions closely allied with arabic magick that have real effects and is designed to elevate the practitioner and the world.
-Theosophy/Rosicrucianism. How to be a living prophet and parttake of heaven.
-Theurgy/Alchemy. The creation of the stone and the attainment of that which hermetic and alchemical texts speak of.
-Mystical work. Self explanatory really.
-Folk Magick. Hidden in central europe and in the still highly Christianised parts, but it does exist as a living tradition.

But what are we missing? The Western Esoteric Tradition, as the umbrella term, is not that hot with what Agrippa refers to as natural magick. This little tidbit of the Western corpus is all but lost. A lot of it made its way into the USA during the great migrations. A lot mixed with what later became Hoodoo with its southern feel and 90% africna origins (Obeah anyone?).

We have lost most of the Roman work with the local spirits. Angels and Demons is one thing, but what about the actual missunderstood nature spirits? The Exu of Kiumbanda? the Lwa like beings of Haitian Voudu?

Chaosmagick tried and failed in kickstarting the practical aspects of the Western esoteric Tradition as it misstook Theurgy for Goety.

The church is of course to blame for this, the massive dualism created in the 11th century and perpetuated since then by western "science" (Science Deified and Science Defined is an excellent book to start at for those who do not know just how messed up western science is).

We can, however rekindle the flame and link the river of our tradition to some still fresh wells without cultural appropriation.

Examples include:
If you work in a tradition where you work with Godforms, get to know them in a more shamanic way. Get a frickin' statue and set up a shrine for the deity. Learn to write its name in Hieroglyps (veve anyone?) and then offer it some food. heck give it blood if you want what do I care. But read less books and go with what it says sometimes.

Look into hoodoo. Don't try and become a Rootdoctor whilst living in France. But read up on it, understand how and why they use herbs and objects the way they do, then look at the greek magical papyri, look into The Magickal Practices of Roman West. Go to some museums and look at the artefacts. Study Ficino and his books on medicine- See? and already the correspondences will make more sense.

I believe that it is possible to rejuvenate all aspects of the tradition without falling into the trap of cultural appropriation, the need to join all sorts of traditions we are culturally not prepared for or reinventing the wheel badly. (post 60s evocation gives me the creeps).

5 kommentarer:

  1. Great post as always. One question, wouldn't the folk magic found in Europe be the same as natural magic, or at least contain elements of it?

    Generally, I've found that folk magic traditions are strongly allied with natural magic, like hoodoo, for example.

  2. @Ali

    Hmm good question. I have found some forms of natural magic surviving in the form of folkmagic, sure. even qabalistic jewish magic and in parts whit a large muslim population there are sometimes traces of Arab magic. I learned some spells from the mother of a classmate from Iran.

    The reason I make a difference is because most of the catholic and orthodox folk magic and the scandinavian trolldom stuff does not really follow the doctrine of signatures the same way. So I would class them as separate things.

    I think of them as parallel evolving strains of a similar thing... Both use sympathetic magic and there animist traces in them, but the use of the actual objects and beliefs is in once case quite steeped in the everyday religion and in the other its not.

    There are of course grayzones where both intertwine (based on limited understanding I would hazard that hoodoo is the prime example of natural magick and folk magick mixing).

    We also have to be careful not to look at a set practice with natural magic eyes as then we would try and explain something thats not there...

    a psychologist that asks a child to draw a house is looking for signs to interpret the picture. No smoke from the chimney means one thing, mom being absent from the picture means an other thing.

    However on some level its just a house.

    Not very verbose today am I? :)

  3. Excellent post, brother. One particular thing stood out for me...and that was what seems to be dis-inclusion of American Folk Magic in the Western Esoteric Corpus. America is part of the West, and our traditions should be included under the umbrella of the Western Mysteries. Hoodoo has it's roots in Africa, certainly...but also in Europe. Root doctors and conjurers in my grandmother's day consulted the European grimoires, used Qabalistic techniques and the psalms of the Bible for prayerful incantation...there's nothing African about any of that. Hoodoo is a child of the new West, and that includes America. Most root doctors and conjurers grew up in the African-American culture (although we are more multi-varied now...which is a good thing), which is emphatically Western and American. I know that you are European, and so are likely speaking primarily to that audience, but I just wanted to say that we Black Americans are of the West, and Hoodoo is part of broader American and Western culture. Oftentimes we are treated as an outside entity, I feel. Many of us, as part of slavery's legacy, have ancestors from Europe; we are woven as deeply to Europe through pain and complicated bloody history as we are to Africa through lineage and descent. The Western Tradition includes us. So, the Western Esoteric Tradition is more than alive and kicking;it is growing like a fire. I would encourage our European brothers to join us in understanding and working with the Hoodoo tradition. You don't need special dispensation to do so. It's a part of your esoteric heritage as Westerners. No one ever told me I couldn't be an Alchemist because the tradition began elsewhere in the West, the same for Hoodoo. You can be a root doctor in France, damn straight. You will need to interact with American conjurers to get the essence, to understand the root culture of Hoodoo...especially if there are no African-Americans near you. This is normal in the Western Tradition. It wasn't until I interacted with my European Brother-Alchemists that I truly penetrated the Alchemical tradition. So, natural magick is absolutely flourishing in the Western Esoteric Tradition from where I stand.

    Great post as always, Brother!

  4. @AIT well said!

    I am indeed writing for an European audience and also slightly vary of cultural appropriation that WMME have a tendency to do.. My understanding of Hoodoo was that it is culturally linked and thus even though you might be able to get the essence, as you write, it might be very difficult to become a full/fledged rootworker without being as immersed in that specific southern vibe.

    I am well aware and all for the fact that so much of Natural magic survived in hoodoo and that tradition is therefore a source to help rejuvenate parts that have gone forgotten back here.

    Thanks for pointing out the error in my thinking.

    You are right that america is part of the western tradition, I would however argue that America, like all old colonies, has done something to the inherited traditions at times which make it very unique and into a different river if you will.

    At other times, many things manage to survive in isolated pockets that die out in the main tradition.

    Consider how many odd religious groups emigrated to America and managedto keep their religion alive even when it died out on the continent.

    As I am not American and do not have insight into the ethnological socio/religious and magical aspects of the culture I am vary of making broad claims, except in instances where I know facts.

    And writing for Europeans colours my cultural focus. :)

  5. And don't forget us Native Americans as to why the U.S. and North America is different.