discernment

You are what you read

Reading is a virtue highly esteemed, if not an essential requirement for anyone inclined to pursue the occult. It is held somewhat akin to piety. One of the first question anyone new to a group can expect to be asked is, what books have you read? Or, have you read this book or that book? Some people can turn it into a well and proper competition. Being well read and able to quote authors is often seen as a sign of intellectual superiority and expertise. Having a massive library, perhaps containing rare and out of print titles confirms to some selves and to others just how serious and devoted to their craft they are. We stressed the value of academic evaluations of sources about the craft in one of our blog entries sometime ago, yet we fear our position has been grossly misunderstood or at the very least interpreted very superficially indeed.  Ideally, everyone would be well read on a variety of topics, not just books with the esoteric theme of choice, and we would be able to critique what we read, starting from those books we’re biased in favour of. Trouble is, criticism itself, to be valid, must stretch beyond subjective preferences, and it is well renowned in the craft that lack of discernment coupled with the cult of the personality have led to books being voted top of the reading list by popular consensus rather than merit and actual usefulness. Autobiographies spring to mind. The worst are not even written by the person written about. What does one take away from reading about the magical life of a stranger? Inspiration? That’s bullshit! I can turn a street corner right now and stop the first person I meet. I am sure they will have some wild tale to tell and most likely have had an amazing journey one way or another. I have most certainly heard many of such amazing stories from the most unlikely of people. Stories of undeterred courage against seemingly impossible adverisities, of people who beat the odds of a truly bad hand dealt in their life, and stories of people who made a memorable impact on the lives of many. Just tonight, for example, I come from a meeting of a lobby group started by a woman who lives in a relatively small town. She placed one invitation on social media to say what the event was about, asking anyone interested to go along if they fancied talking about it over a cup of coffee. Three hundred people turned up. Within one year, there are three millions members across Europe and she’s representing the interests of all these people at the negotiating table with the powers that be. The same powers who will implement a white paper upon an entire nation very soon. I doubt anyone will write a biography about her any time soon, and yet, there is some great work going on here. We’re not talking about another mamby pamby goody-two-shoes whining about human rights. This is someone who had a problem shared by many, who read the right books and did something about it.

“It is only through difference that progress can be made. What threatens us right now is probably what we may call over-communication–that is, the tendency to know exactly in one point of the world what is going on in all other parts of the world. In order for a culture to be really itself and to produce something, the culture and its members must be convinced of their originality and even, to some extent, of their superiority over the others; it is only under conditions of under-communication that it can produce anything. We are now threatened with the prospect of our being only consumers, able to consume anything from any point in the world and from any culture, but of losing all originality.”

― Claude Lévi-Strauss

There’s so much more to the craft than pandering about things that cannot be proven nor they will have any real consequence for the present or the future. Who can, hand on heart, afford a fuck to give about dinosaur consciousness when there are more pressing matters, so much more at stake on to which apply dreamwork and visionary magic. So much more than becoming another passive consumer of esoteric thrash.

Poncing around a Freemason hall in your vestments is not going to achieve that. Escaping into the imaginary of the Hookland County won’t shield you from the harsh reality. Teaching people…no sorry, training people, in what to believe and whose pseudo-history to read, planting ‘seeds’ in the heads of seekers so they become little obedient cyphers who can recite someone else’s life story by heart and parrot every bit of tosh slipping out their mouth is not going to make powerful witches any time soon. These are signs of accepting mediocrity that will have you on a downward spiral to human dilapidation.

It’s true, knowledge is hidden, especially the practicalities of applying it to do something meaningful with, in the kind of books only an independent mind driven by a free spirit free of external influences will find unaided and unobstructed by the myriads of doyens soliciting for attention. Those two traits are non-negotiable for aspiring occultists, sorcerers or insert what you will instead. Anyone who travelled a fair distance on the crooked path will tell you, compromise independent thinking and freedom of spirit at your own risk and detriment, and believe! You’ll encounter many advisers along the way who will try to persuade you to do just that.