Is ‘Public Occultism’ Fading Out?   35 comments

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:. – Acts 2:17


Nick Farrell has done it again.  Love him or hate him, you have to admit he knows how to stir things up from time to time.  😉  This time, it was with a blog post declaring the death of “public occultism.”  If I were to summarize his position, I would say he feels occult students have become millennial wannabes who believe magickal knowledge should simply be on tap.  You just turn on your computer, press a few buttons, and one of the various modern occult leaders will simply deliver their wisdom to your front door in a nice box with a smile printed on it.  You shouldn’t be expected to actually have to study, to practice or (Gods forbid!) actually get up and DO anything.  Nick tells us of one student who canceled their own initiation ceremony because they had to go pick up a new fridge.  He discusses how few people make it through the first lessons of his correspondence course – apparently because there is practical work (beginner stuff like sitting in meditation for half an hour each day) and the students just can’t hack it.

You can bet there have been reactions to Nick’s post from every point of the spectrum.  Some wholeheartedly agree that modern occult students have simply lost the path.  Others suggest there are issues, but that Nick is probably making more out of them than is necessary.  And yet others are downright angry at his implications – possibly because he hit a little too close to home for their comfort?  I don’t know…

I find myself somewhere in the middle.  On the one hand, I’ve actually seen much of this before.  I remember, during the 1990s, it really felt as if the above-quoted Biblical passage had come to pass.  Magick was no longer some dark and dirty underground secret – a taboo hobby which could cost you your job, your home, and your family.  No, magick was back!  Magick was mainstream!  “The Goddess is alive, and magick is afoot!” – so proclaimed T-shirts and bumper stickers.  You couldn’t throw a stick without striking an occultist or someone who personally knew one.  Covens and orders were proliferating.  That stupid movie The Craft happened, I guess.  (It wasn’t all bad.)  For a while there, magick and paganism had become an outright fad – and it wasn’t the first time.

In the history books, we see that occultism enjoyed a boom in popularity in Europe during the late 1800s and into the early 1900s.  However, two World Wars put an end to that.  It revived again in the 1970s and grew quite popular by the 1990s, and then the world went to hell and people found other things to talk about.  Then along came Harry Potter and Hurricane Katrina, and suddenly there was a fad for ATRs (African Traditional Religions) and old-school witchcraft and wizardry (like Goetia).  That latter fad, in fact, is still underway.

The point is that occultism, in one form or another, seems to swing in and out of popularity all the time.  The muggles find the subject either fascinating or terrifying (often both), and it makes great soil in which to plant your fantasy fiction.  Ever played Dungeons and Dragons?  Were/are you into comics?  Star Wars?  How about the works of Piers Anthony?  Or Terry Pratchett?  Lord of the Rings or (of course) the Boy Who Lived himself?  All of these and much more are examples of some point in history where magick grabbed a hold of the public fancy and thus enjoyed a bit of a golden age – just as it did in the late 1900s, and during the late 1800s, and during the 1600-1700s, and during the Renaissance before that.

So the “death of public occultism” is nothing new and shouldn’t really raise any alarms.  In fact, I dare say it is part of the natural order of things.  A fad comes along, during which large numbers of people enjoy exploring the occult sciences.  Then, as expected, the largest number of them move on to the next shiny thing and occultism is left with the very few who were truly called to the Path and have something to offer.  Those few then become the teachers of the next crop of aspirants – once the next Tolkien or Rowling comes along to get everyone excited again.

Some have suggested that it is not magick that is fading away, so much as popular interest in Golden Dawn-style ceremonial.  And that is true to a large extent. “Western Mystery” (read Ceremonial Magick) conferences hardly ever happen these days, and if they do they are small and informal.  (You may remember the SOMA conference in Texas that didn’t happen.)  My current Ceremonial Magick 101 class does not have a single ceremonial magician in it.  (Though that may be more due to the local market being tapped out – we’ve been holding the class in the same place for a few years now.)

But it’s not just the CM community that seems to be in a slump.  Attendance at Pagan Festivals has been down over the last couple of years.  And the class I hosted only a week ago on the subject of working with ancestors (using a boveda, something we learned from our ATR experiences) had a truly dismal turn-out.  Yet the same venue has no problem filling seats for New Age classes.  In fact, my wife and I have both noticed that the shop itself has, over the years, progressed from being an occult shop where Pagans hang out to a semi-Pagan/New Age shop where New Agers hang out.  And this has been in reaction to the market, not a decision made by the owner.  You see, the biggest and fastest-growing occult fads out there today are the New Age (yes, still) and Chaos Magick – both systems of E-Z Occultism that encourage you to just make it up as you go along.  No study.  No work.  No effort.  Just play.

These are the trends that I personally find worrisome.  It all seems to come down to the millennial mindset of on-tap information and instant-gratification.  The belief that anything worth having isn’t worth working or searching for.  And, my all-time favorite, the ridiculous jackassery that leads students to honestly believe they are there to teach the teacher rather than the other way around!  (At that link, the blogger states:  “A core tenet of the WMT is reincarnation therefore there may be some younger people who remember way more than their older counterparts.”  I assume he wrote that with a straight face, but I don’t see how.)  Many teachers are finding it necessary to either stop offering classes, or are dumbing them down and converting them to New Age nonsense in order to sell seats.

The fact is that occult information has become too easy to find.  Worse than that, occult leaders are too easy to contact.  There was a day – even as recently as my younger years – where an aspirant had to seek and quest for many years to find the occult.  The only popular literature out there was a Time-Life series called “Mysteries of the Unexplained” (hey look! you can still buy it!) – anything else had to be sought out one painstaking bit at a time.  And that was just the books!  The possibility of actually meeting or even conversing with one of the leaders of the occult underground was the stuff of fantasy.  And when you did meet one of them, you respected them.  You feared to annoy them with your puny little questions, and you took their answers seriously.

I can understand why students don’t want teachers who walk around like Ascended Masters and talk down to everyone around them.  That’s an extreme.  But the other extreme is to have easy access to nearly any occult leader you could want, where you can just drop them an instant message and have your questions instantly answered. No need to seek for the answer, or even just look it up in a book already on your shelf.  Hell, don’t even bother with Google!  Why should you when the current teachers are right there on demand?

In the early days of the Information Age, we teachers tried to step up and help everyone we could.  We had gone it alone, and we knew how that sucked.  We were in awe of the technology that allowed us to communicate with students like we had never done before, and we used that to help as many seekers as we could.  But what you, dear reader, likely don’t grasp is that this state of affairs just kept growing.  In the beginning, I helped every single person that wrote to me – both laypersons who needed magickal help and seekers asking for guidance.  I even guided a couple of people through their own attempts at the Abramelin Rite.  (And, O’boy, was that a bad idea!)  But, very quickly, I found myself overwhelmed.  Between email, internet forums, and social media sites like Facebook, I was receiving more requests than I could possibly answer.

Not only that, but I also discovered 99% of the people I was trying to help valued my teachings exactly as much as they had paid for them (in dollars or personal effort):  zero.  I was wasting my time and theirs.  In the end, I had to put up a price-wall to reduce the number of requests for help, and (for various reasons) I have completely ceased privately teaching magick to anyone online.  (And by the latter I don’t just mean that I don’t take online students – I’m talking about people who constantly write me with question after question, apparently hoping they can learn magick from me via attrition.)

None of this would be such a problem if occult leaders weren’t so easily accessible.  I believe that we have freely given of ourselves so much that we have inadvertently devalued both our art and our experience.  We have saturated our own markets with free goods (that being ourselves).

I think it is time for the serious occult teachers to consider reducing their availability.  I’m not suggesting we should disappear from the Internet entirely.  But we need to pull back.  We can write books, articles and blogs and even interact in online groups.  We can still give interviews and appear on podcasts.  We don’t have to vanish into obscurity.  But we seriously need to pull back a little, and stop trying to be occult white knights riding to everyone’s rescue.  Students should learn every scrap of magick they can from the written materials before they come to us.  Then they should feel fortunate when they can get a private word or two with us – because that is what makes them value what we have to say.

“Public” occultism is on the way out (at least until it rises again).  So we won’t have the luxury of hosting standing-room only lectures and conferences the way we could just a few years ago.  We aren’t going to get rich.  (Not that we ever were…)  And we will be dealing with smaller numbers of students – but with any luck that will also mean we will be getting higher quality students.

Let the tourists go find the next shiny thing.


Posted October 10, 2015 by kheph777 in history, social commentary

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35 responses to “Is ‘Public Occultism’ Fading Out?

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  1. This is what I like again in Nick Farrel list.
    He made people talk about, question, agree and disagree.
    The important is: he made some people think.
    Just some as you commented Aaron.
    We have cycles in any areas, and magic is just one where people, including the “spiritual tourists”, will give a look, but few continue on that.
    Many just have the first contact, buy one book (usually a easy speels book), go to some free public chats.
    Few of that may really try to do some of the exercises and go after some additional information.
    If they have result, even to become a bit more curious, some who tryed something, will go a bit more and attend to some other public chats, buy a second book, look at some foruns.
    And only after that, some will do a former first step into the learning. This means: they discover they need to work and accept that.
    Later they will discover there’s a lot of work. It’s a natural process where only the ones who get they need to work to get results will continue.
    Is the same if you want to learn to play piano. It’s a 15 years course. Or become a Kung-Fu master. Years, decades.
    Thanks internet, the Public Occultism is not really Fading Out, what happens is just a lot of people now can access information and become curious to start and even follow that.
    Well, now we have more curious and lazy one doing their lazy claims too, but is something with time we put in place how to deal with such ones.


  2. This actually made me happy to read. My personal issue was being so fwoofy that I didn’t think I needed to study seriously, that the information wpuld be given to me as and when I needed it. Admittedly, I sought out information left and right. That, however, was a problem in and of itself. A lot of the stuff I read was b/s with some good stuff thrown in. It took me a long time to find actual teachers willing to teach me, *if* I went through a preliminary period to ascertain if they were a good fit for me.

    It turned out they weren’t, because I was not ready. Psychologically, emotionally, physically not ready. Looking back, I actually value those few teachings that I did get from them *because* they were secret. Because I had to work for it, spending time and money and making my mind up “this is what I want”. If someone helps you too much, you constantly run to them when you get freaked out. I much prefer the other teachers in my life who have given me tools and said “Here. This is how I use them. You can do this too, but you have to start here and work your ass off.”

    So, I agree with you. Thank you for your candor. You are one of the few people I take seriously anymore, because of your devotion to your faith and the occult. You also just make a hell of a lot of sense. 🙂


  3. Paganism simply wasn’t succeeding at what it needed to. Instead of growing incarnate spirits in the path, it was becoming comfortable wallpaper and “adjusted” to what the animal and the social (and financial) market wanted.
    There is always a high drop out rate in correspondence courses as the student teacher relationship Links only operate on a single informational level – this forces ‘life’ to pressure all the other Link levels.

    We are seeing a sea change towards secularism in the mainstream, even more solidly towards humanism and materialism. This create differences in number of seekers and their expectations.


  4. Reblogged this on Abhainn and commented:
    Because the subject is very much on the go so to speak I thought I’d share this blog from Aaron Leitch.

    I’m not really sure if I have much else to add to it. In Ireland the occult, generally speaking, has two primary facade’s from what I can see. The first is that of the Neopagan or Wiccan who over a sympathetic Pub Moot will nod to the more CM work that they may operate on parallel lines to Paganism or Wicca. Of course their Paganism or Wicca is not for the fluffy-bunny types either but the moniker often shields them in conversations with the New-Agers in pagan social circles. The second type is the type that will not really be caught out too handy. Their occultism is not for the masses and as genuine practitioners of magic they rarely take on students.

    I’ve hidden among college going students for a while now. Even attempted to set up a college pagan society (we had no takers) but I found that most modern witches don’t really wish to explore the occult or magic they simply wish to practice it. When it becomes clear that practice means PRACTICE things waver and teeter off. I’ve come off even crazier amongst these lot of people than I do amongst “Muggles”! It is frustrating and tiring being alone in a crowd. In fact if I am honest trying to make the crowd work out has cost me my own magical practice.

    As such I am a fan of retiring from the limelight and paying more attention to the Art of Magic.


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  8. Hi Aaron yes I wrote this with a straight face. I do not think age is the only factor involved in wisdom. There are certainly many practitioners who are old and clearly not wise at all . There are elderly practitioners who started late and young ones who started extremely early, the former know comparatively little. Young people can be ”wise beyond their years”. Are you being ageist?

    Reincarnation is a core tenet of the WMT. By accessing ”the magickal memory” it is possible to access knowledge and wisdom from previous incarnations.
    As an actual teacher I find it far more enlightening and rewarding if you enter relationships with students believing that you can learn from them as much as they can learn from you. The relationship is dynamic. Perhaps the ”mantle of mastery” that some elderly practitioners dress themselves with is what is putting off earnest young seekers.

    Obviously the millenial generation are not above reproach, they do lack concentration, etc but you and Farrell moaning about it isn’t going to change anything. You have to change your teaching strategies if you want to make a difference. And eventually you will be dead which means the WMT will go in the direction chosen by these young practitioners. They’ll be little you can do about it. Unless you reincarnate.

    Here is my response to Mr Farrell’s recent post posted on hermeticlessons some time ago now: – please enjoy, in your kind words, more of my ”jackassery”


    • Yes, I’m aware of the wisdom that a teacher should learn as much from his students as he teaches them. You, however, have entirely missed the point of that wisdom and used it instead to justify your own laziness as a student. The phrase doesn’t mean that you are there to teach the teacher about his subject. A teacher learns from his students *via the act of teaching.* Ask any academic, and they will tell you that you learn more by trying to teach a subject to others than by merely studying it alone.

      You, on the other hand, have decided (completely on your own) that it means you know as much as the teacher and should therefore be instructing the class. You are the problem with modern occultism.


      • You haven’t read the post, Aaron, that you reposted. That is exactly what I am saying – as a teacher you should be learning about teaching and adapting your strategies. What about my blog convinces you that I am a ”lazy student”?

        In order to learn as a teacher there has to be a dialogue with the student that is how you learn. Its fascinating that you have chosen to talk down to me as if I am a student of yours. This is a huge problem with the attitude of your generation of teachers. I am not your student and if I were I would leave right now.

        No offence, my brother, but I currently share a group with you and supported you with my efforts when you were down. You are being ridiculous.


      • Well, I wasn’t exactly impressed by the suggestion that past lives should somehow count toward one’s knowledge and practical experience in the current life. The belief that the student “already knows everything” he needs to know and merely needs to “remember it” is exactly one of those bits of Newage nonsense we teachers face every day. Even the reincarnation of the Buddha himself is expected to endure rigorous education and training – he isn’t expected to just “remember” everything from his past lives.

        I was also rather unimpressed with another post on your blog that directly supported the ridiculous notion that a sorcerer who doesn’t have money isn’t a sorcerer at all.

        But it is not, nor has it been, my intention to comb through your blog to pick apart your ideas. My intention has been, however, to discuss certain ideas that have infected modern occult students. Ideas that make it difficult to pass the knowledge on to the next generation, and – frankly – ideas and attitudes that are affecting all areas of study, not just magick. And, unfortunately, you happen to be not only one of the folks showing signs of that infection, but you have taken it upon yourself to staunchly *defend* those attitudes as if they were virtues.

        The bottom line is they are not virtues. If you truly believe you already know more than your teachers – that you already possess vast knowledge and experience that merely needs to be “remembered” – then you only need a past-life regression coach, not a teacher. Worse than that, there is nothing any teacher can possibly teach you. Someone like Nick Farrell posts a rant about what he’s facing as a teacher (I mean, come on, he directly referenced a student who canceled an initiation to go pick up a fridge!), and you post a rather lengthy diatribe about how wrong he is and how teachers need to learn from their students.

        Yeah, brother, that kind of thing doesn’t look impressive at all. And, if I’ve somehow misunderstood your stance on all of this, *please* do explain! I’ll approve your responses (as long as we stay civil), I’m not censoring you here – but I’m not going to hesitate calling BS when I see it.


      • But if a sorcerer is any good, can walk the real walk, why can’t they magically deal with their money issues. It’s not like there’s an escape clause just for money – eg “You can understand the Divine Will, contact your HGA about your path in the World, Understand the Principles behind what makes the Universe tick, Create Change in the Universe at Will …. provided it’s not about money”

        If the sorcerer can’t even manage basic principles in Guph or Malkuth which has huge amounts of information and feedback, how can they truly expect to claim great skill in spheres/areas less tangible or witnessable.

        I would go beyond just money, and say about intimate relationships – If one knows principles and oneself that well, how can one fail at such things? Certainly one could look at a partner and say their Will and interests lie in a way I do not wish to go, and let them free – being unwilling to pay ones personal price to walk that road with them. But in other ways, how can a sorcerer claim greatness, if they cannot handle this basic thing?


      • Of course one should be able to apply one’s magick toward money issues, as certainly as one should apply magick to any other issues in life. However, to suggest that a lack of wealth proves one is not a “real sorcerer” is taking the concept to a ridiculous extreme. Many shamans and magi throughout history have lacked wealth, for various reasons. In fact, magick tends to proliferate where folks don’t have cash to solve all of their problems…


      • Logos, I don’t think you are a lazy student.
        And yes, I used it as the generic term in my other posts.
        You have a so long but interesting blog for mind oriented people.
        But the same I have found a lot anywhere.
        Lazy? NO!!
        The word is stuborn. This is not an offense.
        A lazy does nothing.
        A stubborn works hard to keep doing the same, whatever happens.
        You have collected a lot of information, worked with that, recorded all that information by head.
        Like an artist, a musician who learned to play hundreds tunes, in all styles. But not only one a personal creation.
        This is more like what we named as “book only magician”, but with some steroids.
        You are just repeating some works, long repeated, using your own words (see, I say using your own words), to say the same you recorded in your mind.
        Where is the new?
        Where is YOUR practice?
        In a previous life? That means nothig now if you are unable to say something new, from your own practice that only will start when you choose to do the work by yourself instead of searc for texts that agree with all you pre-fixed terms.
        Previous lifes are learning, but you must follow from that and start as a new seed.
        When the seed start to birth and grow, all steps must be done. Nobody start at top. Just remember the Gautama Buddha. Have he started at top? Have Jesus started at top (despite all bullshit from some texts)?
        Some posts at your blog have “intelectual” interesting material for mind oriented people. But more of the same.
        Like that people who love that most boring “jazz music”. Only practice on complex scales. Listen at elevators and some boring bar full of boring people repeating all the books they have read.
        Life is out there.
        Is easy to make a lazy one to move on. Just let the dogs out.
        But being stuborn, is the same as being frozen, no heat, no life, only the same, again anda again.
        Repeat books and work of others by mind is never wisdom.
        Wisdom, is te result deom one own work and this, is recognized b the ones with vision.
        Never something you may claim as a merit. There’s no “diploma by time” in magic.
        This never can be a claimed merit, but a deserved result that happens withous any asking.


      • *I’m* a lazy student.

        I want everything as if by magic 😉


  9. See, this is why I try to wrap my head around new knowledge and concepts FIRST before bugging the adepts. Generally, on various Facebook groups, I keep my head down and let the heavy hitters go back and forth about things above my pay grade rather than ask them a silly question. But then again, I’ve generally approached learning new things independently with minimal help. Generally…lol

    Still you have no idea how grateful I am to have a core group of experts to turn to should I actually get stuck. 😀


  10. Aaron, I followed techniques found in the WMT and they proved very useful at recovering information from previous incarnations – details of this information is freely available on my site(s). As I said again just because a person is older does not mean they are wiser. Not all teachers are good teachers by any means. The definition of a good teacher varies between people. My definition of a good teacher is explored on my blog and it seems that successful teachers such as Jason Miller or Josephine McCarthy (i.e. those who are not moaning about students or money) largely agree with me amongst many others on the more progressive side of education – this was exposed during previous social media discussions on this subject that you were absent from.

    I am not suggesting that a student should not listen to teachers or not work – but I am suggesting that it needs to be undertaken in conditions of mutual respect and dedication to the tradition. Obviously there are bad students out there as well as bad teachers. I have been fortunate enough to have several good teachers (by my definition) during my esoteric career that have helped me excel in these arts. I also cultivated the traits of a good learner. Obviously poor learners are out there, what I am saying is that some attitudes of poor learners may manifest because you are a poor teacher. Many poor teachers struggle with class control or maintaining attention levels. This is because their lessons are not interesting and they are not compelling charismatic speakers.

    As I explain in my blog on Teaching and Learning magicians who complain about their lack of money or the quality of their students don’t cut very fine figures. If you are selling yourself as a magician you should be presenting your strengths. Jason Miller does not complain about his lack of money or how shit the students are and thus he has students and money. If you guys are struggling with attendance at conventions or student fees or book-sales or whatnot – do some magic or some marketing. There are lots of good books out there about enchanting these things alongside just basic books on marketing products. Some of your links go to Myspace or antique websites with sparkling stars in the background. Spend some time updating these things and giving them a fresh coat of paint. Something as simple as this can do wonders.

    If money isn’t your thing and you are more into other ideas in magic – then lead the life of the ascetic and be happy. Many magicians have not had riches as their main focus and you judge the success of anything based on achievement of goals. If someones’ stated goal is attainment to a prophetic level of understanding or obliteration in the divine kiss I am not going to judge them by whether they have successfully paid their mortgage.

    My students won a global philosophy competition the other year. I have had film-students make documentaries about my approaches to teaching. I give workshops to students and teachers on personalized learning. I am fairly confident in my knowledge of how education works. The fact that Nick is choosing to be negative about a poor student rather than praise a successful student speaks volumes. He is going out of his way to write about the failures of his students whereas other teachers will present the success stories. This is hugely revealing about the underlying attitude of the individual and it will obviously affect where discerning students go for their education.

    In Nick Farrell’s writings I detect an urge for the old days of ”teacher speak – student listen”. Many many others have commented on this Aaron it is not only me. This approach to education was great for the industrial revolution when we were creating factory drones – it is considered a failing approach now. Teachers who adapt their strategies are respected and valued, those who don’t are sacked or disappear to lack of interest from students. Obviously many of the leading adepts of the Golden Dawn regularly embarrass themselves with their shocking and often petty behaviour and this does not help attract students either.

    I feel we are going through a seismic shift in the tradition at the moment. We will see who makes it to the other side.


    • Interesting. What do I take from your statements here? Apparently “good teachers” are doing very well for themselves, but any teacher who “moans” about certain modern issues (e.g. Nick Farrell and myself) are really just “bad teachers” and thus no one wants to learn from them. That’s pretty arrogant of you, brother. And completely untrue.

      As has been pointed out time and again in this discussion (here and elsewhere), these problems are not unique to students of magick – and in fact teachers in all areas are facing the same hurdles with their students. I find it interesting that you take personal issue with our decision to discuss these problems – as if, according to your own personal play book, we shouldn’t be allowed to have the discussion. And, again according to you, it merely proves that we are just bad teachers.

      Is that really where you’re coming from? Because, if so, it hardly improves my opinion of you.


    • Nick is a great guy, and done well.
      However it is not forgotten that he made some demands, was answered, and did not follow through. Such stagnation and loss of way is , as you should all remember, is normal when one makes that misstep in your path…a misstep brought about from a wrong decision previously. Some same not give the lesson until the student is ready, others stated to give the student what they demand as it is the students Will which the student must learn to assess and control what they desire, a meta as much of important as the message.

      As for the past life stuff. Part of the point of passing the veils is to have access simultaneous to those life times, for better or worse, however, the student of now can only work to the depth of their now awareness. So up to you, teacher, to learn which school of teaching you wish. Are you one who mothers your student? Or one who only accepts the best surviving student? Perhaps that is a question asked in higher circles, likewise to be played out in the lower circles…. Which brings us around again.


      Carl aka mist42nz
      • ”No one aged 20 to 30 knows anything about people, life or has put in enough man hours to understand magic. If you are training at that age you are lucky and have more time to learn. Once you have a few years under your belt you will have stories to tell. But even then you still know nothing and will have something to learn. Those people you think know nothing actually have pissed off far better people than you and stopped making the same mistakes you are doing 20-50 years ago. Even Jesus did nothing meaningful before he was 30 and he was supposed to be a god.” *Nick’s comment*.

        ”A core tenet of the WMT is reincarnation therefore there may be some younger people who remember way more than their older counterparts. This could be the first time on the WMT wheel for an older practitioner (they might have been a fish or a frog last time) and a young one who has the fortune and done the work on their magickal memory (and who was a magus last time) could absolutely outstrip their older colleagues and supposed mentors.” My response.

        At no point I am suggesting that a student knows more than their teacher – although there are bad teachers out there who know little and misunderstand their material and there are several times in history when a teacher has stepped aside for a brilliant student. During this post I am drawing attention to Nicks extreme generalizing and ageism. I use the term older and younger practitioner. There are a huge number of examples of very young practitioners doing well in the occult sciences and loads of examples of people not joining the arts until they are advanced in years.

        There is also the simple fact of life experience. There are many out there whose experience leads them to wisdom at a young age similarly there are many older practitioners whose lack of life experience causes them to be deeply ignorant. Jesus obviously didn’t get far past 30 – did he know nothing about people as Nick suggests? The Ari, by all accounts died before he was even supposed to start studying the KBL and was already extremely proficient by 22. There are lots of ways critical thinking can unpack Nick’s un-thoughtful comment without evoking reincarnation.

        The fact is though that many sophisticated practitioners have been here many times before and they move much more rapidly through understanding because of those prior experiences.

        The complaints that are emerging across education are often from teachers who are not adapting their strategies or university lecturers who still expect obedient audiences that sit and listen. I think we will find that university lecturers are more exposed to this as mainstream education has adjusted. As I keep saying the world has changed, not for the better or the worse, its just different. Your generation were considered ”crap” and inattentive by the previous generation, etc etc etc.

        Of course you can have the discussion, I felt moved to add my comments to the general debate that was raging across the internet at the time and received considerable support for my position and yes I radically disagree with Nick. In fact every single one of his positions I find lacking in insight and understanding. Obviously you are entitled to your opinion and interpretation of my words.


      • I could just paraphrase Dion Fortune, and say the the first initiations only draw on towards the temple, actual further lifetimes of incarnation and re-initiation (and re-dedication) are required to align a soul towards the great adepthood.

        OTOH, I could also say that we have moved the cultural gestalt and guph, that the conditions for our young are far more open and emancipated, leading to less baggage and more conducive to the Work. This would be a claim the Great Work of the Chiefs is actually bearing fruit. However any practitioner is [usually painfully] aware that some claims are foolish, painful, and from the Ego-identity side of the veil.

        Or I could go the Freemason route and say the Most can, if he choose, place complete wisdom in the mind of a child.

        Or I could do the “dragon keys” (more pre-incarnation than reincarnation though).

        With regard to the genius, I would be wary of narrow focus. Often that genius child on a piano does so at price of discrepancy elsewhere, something which considerably narrows their ability to practice the high magics – likewise one suited to higher magic as a child would likely be, by the nature of their mindset, be near impossible to related to or instruct.

        In fact, thoughts of Mdm Besant and Krisnamurti come to mind in this discussion, in particular Mdm Besants need later in life to seek to place K. as her guru and as teacher unable to break her mental process free from that relationship she had grown in.

        As to your final paragraph, I think you find the answer is rather simple and has been well tested. A free range system was developed at released through the normal channels. Many free thinkers picked it up, and took the core principles with them to their home shores, like bees collecting nectar back to the hive. those seeds were planted, and the fruit watched. Most students, given the ability to “express themselves” had far more interest using the freedom to gain titles, write books, and more importantly, justify their existing expectations – as opposed to develop wonderous creativity utilising the new material.
        the initial greening looked promising – but that seemed to be the product of the more formal upbringing, given room to develop, and the reduction in ego-build-up issue was hopeful. Sadly the seed generations tended away from that productivity – many of the ego problems still existed, it appears as property within the raw ore itself, that need to be validated solely by external comparison; what did change sadly was the the level this occurred at was lower…much lower. Also the creative freedom was used to sideline the foundation principles, and thus in many places pseudo-skills rapidly cuckoo’d those with real skill (powerbase protection) as those without real ability, and with witness unaware of what (or where to look) it was far less evolutionary expensive to develop pseudo-skill and gain reputation of ability by social links rather than actually follow initiatory or equivalent paths – especially as the initiatory reconstruction tended to result in social loss and [material/emotional] difficulty. Furthermore, it became more popular to gain the fake (easy) skills and reputation, and actually avoid what appeared to be dangers and damage and loss from the real reconstruction and growth. This is why that particular method was decided to less effective, and that experiment has been terminated and is in the process of re-absorbtion/winding down. Those who did achieve growth are still being connected and supported, and the developed skills enable them to harmonise with older material.

        to whether “they” are lazy or undisciplined, self-motivating or creative – only their individual intent and decision will decide that for themselves. such matters are not of particular interest in the larger picture of whether or not the development of humanity will be advantaged by this method of expression of their genius.

        …or so I’ve heard…


  11. Gilberto,

    I would argue that anti-intellectualism is a *far greater threat* to the WMT than what is currently being discussed by Aaron and myself. Remember this is the tradition that brought us Fludd, Newton, Paracelsus, Agrippa, Dee and Shakespeare (and all the rest) and laid the foundations of Science – it is a thoroughly intellectual tradition. I hold degrees in Biochemistry, Genetics and Environmental Sciences. The fact that my blog is intellectual and that my materials are intellectually demanding means that I am acquiring peers that I actually resonate with and want to work with rather than dumbing my materials down for the ”New Age” student to survive as Nick and Aaron are discussing (others) doing. I am not writing the next 101 book or Tarot for Dummies or just spouting fluff fluttering in the wind. The fact that the ”Grimoire Crowd” is hoovering up the best students is because the ”Grimoires” are intellectually demanding.

    I discuss personal practice at length on the Blogos – astral projection, pathwalking, my experiences living in the Donkey in the Cradle (Edward Kelley’s House in Prague), practical Kabbalah and much much more. New materials include my work on the Sefer Yetzirah, Cellular Consciousness, the Metabolism of Time, KBL, a re-styled physiognomy informed by modern endocrinology, the 231 Gates project on time travel, astrogenetics… – in fact the Blogos is replete with new material that has never existed before. Is it building on the work of my forefathers in the tradition? – most certainly, that is what being part of a tradition means, especially a fiercely intellectual tradition such as the WMT, is much of it new? – most definitely. The fact that I am writing in scientific language or using words/referencing ideas that you are not familiar with may be contributing to you not understanding.

    Unlike many blogs I give my material for free and intend open discussion with peers as opposed to just using it as a platform to sell my materials, books and workshops. I appreciate that some people may steal my ideas but I am more concerned with the ideas entering the tradition than any personal financial benefit I could accrue from them – which is minimal anyway as so many of these authors are currently bemoaning.

    When exploring the occult with writing I think it is necessary for us to be as precise as possible in order that we can be as specific as possible when it comes to healing people. The fact that I am careful with spelling and use a rich vocabulary shows that I respect how using general terms and/or allowing textual mistakes can lead to severe errors. There is no way to communicate successfully by writing other than this. Sloppy writing shows a sloppy mind and a sloppy will.

    I resent that you assume that I am an ”armchair magician” because I am an intellectual. It is also foolish to assume this in light of the individuals who laid the foundations of the tradition. It also means that you are overlooking (on purpose?) all the personal accounts of practice that I give that many blogs are extremely short on. I express myself artistically through theatre and photography – these are aspects of my being that you may see referenced on the site but wouldn’t really get if you didn’t know me personally, I understand that.

    I agree that Wisdom is not acquired intellectually and one should not worship intellectualism above all else. It is a component of your being as valid and worthy of expression as your artistic or emotional side. Wisdom is a result of living and applying experience successfully as well as your connection with Divinity.


    • I don’t think Gilberto has – and I know I certainly do not have – any problem with your intellectualism. In fact, I’d dare say we vehemently agree that anti-intellectualism is a major issue in modern occult circles. That, in fact, plays directly into what teachers like me and Nick are facing. There is nothing in what you’ve written above I can find fault with – in fact it runs almost entirely counter to the assertion you made (about students knowing more than their teachers) when entering this debate. I’d say that suggesting a student can “remember” more from a past life than a teacher could have gained in their current life via diligent work and study is part and parcel of the current anti-intellectual movement.


      • Neither pillar of intellectualism or anti-intellectism will bear fruit. Intellectualism is the money with the hand in the jar, how can you cross carrying that burden, let alone return with a new cup of tea.
        Anti-intellectualism is the monkey who can’t even get the lid off the jar (or doesn’t even comprehend the nature of a container).
        Who finishes the Tarot first, teh Fo0l, or the Magician….?


        Carl aka mist42nz
      • Hi Aaron, see above for my comment on students knowing more than teachers. Again, I am not saying there are not bad students out there. You are the ones saying you have to dumb down courses and no one comes to lectures etc. You are ones saying you are struggling to raise money for temples or whatever.

        I don’t have these problems I am interested in peer-peer dialogue not harvesting students so I can set the intellectual level wherever I like. You could choose the students you take. What about testing students first etc? Well this only becomes a problem if you are financially dependent on the above and therefore have to dumb down or take weak inattentive students because you need their money. I am trying to suggest ways you can improve your lot (such as adjusting your websites and teaching strategies) as opposed to simply complaining about it.

        And again I really think you are missing the point of my post and arguing with the point you want to argue with, which is fine. I will entertain you but I think you’re missing the bigger picture here.


      • Well, then, Blogos, I’m glad you are such an Enlightened Master that you “don’t have these problems” like the rest of us. Perhaps, someday, we will all achieve your vast level of wisdom and experience and become good great teachers like you.

        Seriously, dude, I can’t get past your ego – and your unspoken insults – to even reach whatever message you might have here. All I hear is how any teacher who dares discuss the modern issues faced by teachers is a “bad teacher” (that we are “moaning”, that we are “struggling to raise money” that “no one will come to our lectures” and other bullshit) and how we all just need to change with the times. Like you.

        It is no wonder at all that Nick is so fed up he’s telling you kids to sit down and shut the hell up for a change…


      • Errm Aaron do you read posts in a completely different way to me? – throughout Gilberto’s reply he is saying things like you are ”mind-only” and ”book-magician on steroids” or ”intellectual material for mind-only people” or overly ”complicated jazz music” etc etc and falsely describes the blog in so doing which is actually full of practical experiences and experiments.

        I really think you are being very very generous to your friend if you don’t read this kind of thing as anti-intellectual but its up to you.


      • For the record, I was responding to your post, not Gilberto’s.


  12. No problem with your vocabulary nor your wall full of diplomas Blogos.
    I have mine too and I work in high technology area for almost four decades.
    In no ways I told on “anti-intellectualism”.
    I repeat, you study a lot and do lots of work on study.
    But in the magick level I see almost nothing.
    As you have read soo many books and studyed sooo many ancient text and have soooo big memory, the most basic you may have learned is something we commented sometimes: any advanced magician will see you. No need for tarot readings or whatever. There’s no way to become hidden (except in the Lord of the Rings book).
    This is what I told. You have lots of study, that’s good. But you miss practice. You write a lot, but where are the rituals, the discipline, the meditation, the works for you and others? I see nothing.
    You are just one more intelectual who is so full of texts inside and because this you have no time for practice.
    The day you have a real practice, whatever it is, be sure I and others will see you.
    Keep your studyes, that is always good.
    Understand all of us in cerimonial magick need to study, research a lot.
    But to study and draw nice tables is not the goal.
    For a magician, drawing patterns, seals, circles,tools are not just an “artistic” work. Nor something academic. That is part of an entire work, where prayer, meditation and using each moment to connect the energies/spirits is used.
    When you see a former magician preparing his/her tools, you will see someone on prayer, that is already part of the rituals.
    Same for the times of study.
    Magick is not mechanic.
    Magick is not only in mind.
    Magick is not something you study, as many do, then do one and only one ritual. Then they say the magick did not woerked!!! NO! You will do dozens, hundreds, thousands of rituals. Practice!
    With practice some day you will discover you only can be doing a living ritual if you let the books out for a moment, and enter in that separate world for that time and allow something new to happens.
    Do not be afraid, the books will wait for you outside the ritual space.
    Magick can be the same as climb mountains.
    If you read all books about mountains, watch all photos and videos of mountains, you are not a climber.
    What will make you a climber is: study the mountain (to know about that), train and prepare himself, then start climbing, from smalls hills untill someday you is able to climb some higher places.
    Then you will be a climber.
    Understand this example?
    Here is why you is stubborn on your arguments. You become an specialist on mountains pictures and texts, but never have gone into a mountain.
    Does you kno there are many very high mountains where is possible to reach the top without need of complex skills? Just walking with persistence?
    You write about high magick like a parrot, but for sure I will be glad if you start working with candle magick because this will be real practice and only then you will have a real background behind your words. For now, you have words, ego and diplomas that means nothing without any practice.
    Start practicing more, prayer, meditation, follow some basic grimoires, learn to work with the basics, the elementals, the body care, develop a personal space. All that is part of the process. Take one hour out of the books each day for practice.
    With time, your own light will start to shine and this is visible anywhere in the universe.


  13. You seem to miss Blogos’ point. He doesn’t seem to be criticizing your talents and qualities as a teacher at all, but rather your approach to teaching, and you seem to take offense while no offense seems to be intended. He’s simply trying to convey that it could be helpful to change your method and the way you present yourself toward your (potential) students, and if you choose to do so, your frustrations may very likely disappear. And Blogos seems to be right, since his claims are backed up by an overwhelming amount of evidence. I suggest watching Ken Robinson’s Youtube vids and reading his books for more information about the failure complete and utter of some, and the successes of other teaching methods.

    “in fact it runs almost entirely counter to the assertion you made (about students knowing more than their teachers) when entering this debate. I’d say that suggesting a student can “remember” more from a past life than a teacher could have gained in their current life via diligent work and study is part and parcel of the current anti-intellectual movement.”

    While the majority of practitioners, including myself, do believe in reincarnation, there is no hard evidence for it. But this is irrelevant here, because what we do know and have prove of is that some people are more talented than others. There exist young child geniuses who, for example, mastered the piano better than many of us “normal” people could in a lifetime, even with hard work and diligent study. There is nothing anti-intellectual about this, because these same children often sacrifice their childhood for hours-on-end daily practice. Would you try and train some average kid to do the same their play would in most cases most certainly improve, but it still couldn’t even touch upon the performance of a genius of the same age.So it’s not at all unlikely that someday you meet a talented student who could master in a year what it took you a lifetime to accomplish. But how would you even find out, if you keep trying to force students into an outdated teaching model (in which they are often spoon fed, kept back, and deprived of the ability to fully express themselves), or if in your mind they’re already “lazy” and “undisciplined” to begin with?


    • “He doesn’t seem to be criticizing your talents and qualities as a teacher at all, but rather your approach to teaching, and you seem to take offense while no offense seems to be intended. He’s simply trying to convey that it could be helpful to change your method and the way you present yourself toward your (potential) students, and if you choose to do so, your frustrations may very likely disappear.”

      Blogos doesn’t know one damned thing about my approach to teaching, nor how I present myself to my students. The very implication that he does is the height of arrogance. It is an insult, and it is very much intended, and I do not appreciate it one bit.


    • What kind of hard evidence do you require.

      Some reports I have read are very convincing. people knowing things that they couldn’t know, describing places they’ve never been or heard of, naming rooms and hallways that once existed that didn’t (and got them laughed at as cranks) and then found by archaeologists years later.

      Perhaps if you cross the veil so the barriers between the lives falls away and you can share them simultaneously in your gnosis; perhaps that will satisfy your sense query?


      • People knowing things they can’t possibly know doesn’t prove a thing. Some psychics seem to be able to know a lot about a lot of things they couldn’t possibly know. Most of the time they’re just tapping into a collective memory of some sorts instead of their own past lives. In other words, you may come to believe that it’s your own past life your seeing or experiencing, but it may actually just be the life of someone else. For me talents are harder proof of reincarnation, and I do believe that this is how it actually works. You’ve learned something in a past live and when confronted with the same thing in this live you “remember” how it works. But you still have to go through all the steps and be confronted with those things which need remembering. But the whole process of learning/remembering just goes a lot faster compared to someone who didn’t learn those things in a past life, and that’s what we call talent. Think of being good at maths when you were younger, but when you became older and stopped practicing math everyday you forgot those things you learned in school. Should you choose to relearn them today you have to first go through all the steps again, but it wouldn’t take you too long to get the knack of it, especially compared to someone who never bothered with math anyways. But I still don’t have hard proof that this is how it works, because talent could also simply be a product of the right genes being present and/or basic interest and curiousity of a particular subject already inherent in a child (or adult). Or maybe talent is a mixture of both, past lives as well as genes etc. I don’t have hard proof of one thing or the other, but talent itself most definitely exists.


  14. Aaron, I said I have no problem because I am interested in peer-peer dialogue not accumulating students.

    ”I don’t have these problems I am interested in peer-peer dialogue not harvesting students so I can set the intellectual level wherever I like.” Blogos i.e. I don’t have to dumb down because I am not interested in money from students.

    You are very clearly misreading this. No offence Aaron but you’ve talked down to me throughout this whole piece and you seem to be convinced that what you think of me matters to me.

    Repeat – you and Nick are posting about faulty students, not me, and that’s why people are pitching in and commenting. If you post publicly on a blog expect dialogue. Rather than perhaps thinking that your methods might be part of the problem you are attacking people who point that out. Maybe your methods aren’t the problem, maybe you are the perfect teacher, who knows.

    Again, the advice is genuine. Change your blog to a more readable format, update your links so they don’t go to myspace, etc and you might find the good students who are currently going elsewhere maybe come back to you. You should also stop supporting Nick’s statements like ”noone between the age of 20-30 knows anything about people or life or has put in enough man-hours to know about magic.” Come on – this is not only deeply offensive its also just really easy to criticise – i.e. older practitioners who start late, young people with way more life experience than older people just because of that their experiences, etc. Its obviously going to offend bright young students, don’t you see that? There are many other offensive comments.

    Anyway you guys enjoy yourselves, I am not continuing to bang my head against a brick wall. I wish you the very best.


  15. There is a real reason why the popular occultism emerged. If you examine it carefully, you will see, that the popular occult paradigms, do not stand as much for spiritual and magical development, but for (political) ideologies.It is used to channelize such ideas in people’s minds and strengthens them in the society. Chaos Magic(k) is an agent of anarchism(and nihilism), so are most LHP paradigms, most New Age and Wicca or Wicca-similar paths.The latter channelize environmentalism, feminism and other things, which the serious student won’t give a damn! Regretfully, the same happens within groups such as O.T.O, where a lot of debates and quarrels appear, but not about magical issues- the members of this order quarrel about political ideologies, alas! Quarrels, magical wars, intrigues and magical/spiritual/moral degradation appears among IOT/Chaos magicians.

    Despite that most of them loudly speak about “Harm none”, they may appear to be harmful, because it exhaust and exploits their followers. Their spiritual resources(some may wish to call it “energy”) are spent to maintain these ideologies and not for their own magical and spiritual development. Why I think so? Let me tell what I experienced, while I contacted with these people, who were into the popular occultism:

    – They have constant doubts in themselves. Especially the Chaos magicians: they have no motivation to practice it and need to be motivated by external sources and people. Just a few words from me and these people start speaking funny things such as :”aaah, I got motivated when you told that and that”. If they aren’t motivated, they fall into depressive states, similar to the abstinence of drug addicts. The greatest harm, which these paradigms bring are exactly a collapse of the faith in self(which is hidden behind a stupid arrogance “you are so stupid, you do not know what the real power actually is”).

    -They feel urged to get into conflicts.

    -They are paranoid: the Wiccans have constant fear of the disapproval of the Church. It is a shame all their complains such as “Please, teach people that we aren’t evil”, “Burning times – never again”. It is really strange, that even me, I was caught by those fears, when I meddled with these pop-occult-pseudoneopagan bullshit and they disappeared, when I started practicing more traditional forms of Magick such as folklore magic, Runes and other(not very popular modern magical paths, mostly originating from the modern Russian esoteric schools).

    -Something, really unforgivable here is, that most seemingly serious students, who were into this popular occultism, have the constant compulsion to “enlighten the other”, i.e. to spread this “knowledge” among the other. Sometimes, this impulse may be greater than to practice alone. Could it be, that the magical “egregore” of the paradigm itself needs new and fresh followers in order to survive? And with its decay, it drifts those, who follow this ill paradigm with itself.

    – Why, the hell, most of them feel the need to show their “beliefs” to the society? And this impulse is compulsory. If somebody rejects to do so(within the same paradigm), the other start looking badly at him/her.

    – Crowley himself has complained in his “Magick in Theory and Practice”, that his book : ” …has attracted only too many dilettanti and
    eccentrics, weaklings seeking in ìn Magick an escape from reality. I myself was first consciously drawn to the subject in this way. And
    it has repelled only too many scientific and practical minds, such as I most designed to influence”. For this, the Theosophy must be blamed. The esoteric/theosophical/mystically-superstitiously-religious frame of thought must be replaced by another conception, which would embrace the Magick and the other techniques for spiritual development, which is more compatible with rationalism and the modern scientific age. Nowadays, the Crowley’s scientific illuminism could be that base.

    On the other hand, the real Magic has never been popular and easily accessible. It has always been a part of the shadows. Yes, there is something between the shadows and the popularity and these are the courses, which are paid and are expensive. There is a belief, that the paid knowledge is dirty and twisted, but if it really is, it is much purer than the paradigms, which are free on Internet and the book shelves.

    So, it is not only me, who detected, that the popular occultism is a dirty work. But let us return to the main question: will it die? In my opinion, maybe not! As I said, it is a channel of various ideologies, which are planted with magical means(some easily -applied techniques, which most people may use). The only thing I could say, that for this task, the popular occultism does its job and it does it well. The paradigms, which were popular till now, may die out, however and will be replaced by other, that the masses would appreciate as “new and fresh” and will creep over them as flies on honey…or something else, on which the files creep. I have heard a lot of those popular occultists, who were disenchanted with the paradigms, known till now, recognize the spiritual/occult/magickal wilderness, spreading now and believing that a miracle will happen soon.

    You may say, that I am conspiracy theorist, but alas, I am not. I do not believe in governing Elites, reptiles, subversive actions of secret societies etc. These things are done by people, who have some knowledge – it is not needed to be enlightened, Illuminated or to be very, very, very skilled magicians. Even the popular paradigms may give this knowledge – how to create a magical egregore, and therefore how to create a paradigm and then by the means of the modern day IT communications- to spread it around the world.

    So, if you wish a good magical paradigm, create it for yourself/ves, but on the base of traditional and proven sources and not on fantasy, wishful thinking, pseudoscience and new age bullshit. And the most important: keep it for yourself, your successors and very proven friends.


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