A confession: I was a teenage Witch. My early guides on the path of magick were mainstream, Neopagan authors like (gasp, horrors) Scott Cunningham.
Now that all the “hardcore” folks out there have lost all respect for me (and I am deeply wounded by this) I’d like to address my fellow “fluffies” or “recovering fluffies” as it were. One of the things that I always took for granted, even as a New Age Commie Secular Humanist reprobate, was that magick was something you did. Books were just…suggestions really. It was only when I moved to an area where the Pagan community consisted of more than just myself that I discovered people who thought that reading about Witchcraft made you a Witch. This I found odd, something like the notion that a person who never stepped into a lab, conducted experiments, or looked into a microscope could call themselves a “scientist” by virtue of having read a lot of science books. Or calling themselves a “musician” when they’ve never picked up an instrument. You get the idea.
I’ve said it before, but I think it bares repeating: 90% of magick is bullshit. Specifically, the 90% you’ll get by reading books on the subject. Out of the context of regular and directed practice, the metaphysical speculation and ontological frameworks upon which occult practice relies are utter gibberish. This is so in exactly the same way that a musical score means little or nothing to non-musicians. One could teach themselves to read the notes, but they wouldn’t have the notes and the motions needed to produce them ground into their nervous system. They wouldn’t feel it.
As has been pointed out in numerous posts as of late, much of current “occulture” is really just a bunch of people talking about magickal theory. To be frank, it seems that the most frequent contributors to the discussion have little to say that isn’t either posturing on their part, or a regurgitation of RAW or Peter Carrol. Maybe some Anton LeVey thrown in for spice and true outsider chic.
This was, in part, simply inevitable. Since we can’t be burnt at the stake for being interested in these things at the moment, and due to the rapid circulation of data, we were bound to see people who latched onto “occultism” as a fashion statement. In another sense, though, the current situation has more less remained the same since the 16th Century. During the development of Western Hermeticism (the part we can actually verify) there were also thousands of phony alchemists for every John Dee or Bruno. Fakery comes with the territory, it seems.
Now, what set Bruno and others apart. Read Frances Yates. The difference was an impatience with “pedantry” and a willingness to actually do the Work. Not just talk about it, not just read about it, do it.
I would argue that it’s more important to do something than it is to do a particular thing. This will spur on development and might even cause something resembling…Enlightenment?