WordPress has a function which allows me to see, among other things, what key words people punch into various search engines to reach my blog. One thing I’ve found intriguing, though not particularly surprising, is that nearly every day someone comes here after doing a search for some phrase including the word “Qlippoth.”
You write one essay on the topic…
Anyway, this got me thinking about the tendency of modern esoteric students to focus on elements of the Path which are really tertiary, but for whatever reason have a glamour of “sexiness” about them. It makes me wonder how many of these folks know the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, or the Divine Names for each of the Sephiroth in all Four Worlds. How many have actually integrated the Tree in their psyche to the extent that working with “The Nightside” would even matter? If you have not done this, most Qabalistic work is mental masturbation.
The point of a Path is that it’s a Path. You travel from one point to the other, in a series that is based on the development of your Soul. I realize that this will sound horribly stodgy, but the jackdaw approach to the occult is one of the things which derails people and breeds all those trainwrecks who end up writing conversion testimonials for Fundamentalist Christian magazines after spending a year or ten in the throws of heroin addiction.
No, really. There’s no shortcut around spiritual development if you want to be a channel for spiritual forces. I have encountered far too many people whose “power” is in their head, and who in fact suffer from inflated egos on the milder side to full on paranoid delusion at the extreme. Dig deep enough, and you’ll find they started with something way beyond their degree of skill, with little or no cleansing beforehand. You would get similar, though more mundane results, if someone who lead a sedentary lifestyle and smoked three packs of cigarettes a day tried to run the Boston Marathon. (The heart attack such an individual is likely to suffer in those circumstances is in many ways merciful compared to a lifetime -or longer!- membership in the Black Brotherhood. It’s a mistake to assume occult errors end at the moment of discorporation.)
I suspect many reasons for the “heroic” method. A key, if not central, one might be the simple fact that most people in our society simply don’t believe in things like the Soul. Any notion that it could develop, then, is naturally absurd. Unfortunately, the Soul is one of those things you can only experience, not be told about, as is most of the Divine, so I won’t attempt to “prove” its existence with words. The only answer I know of is to embark on… a path of Spiritual development and find out for yourself. This of course will bring up the objection that one has simply deluded oneself. Infinite regress is a bitch. One simply has to decide on a direction at some point and take it.
The other problem may be the baggage that the idea of “development” carries with it. We’re used to forms of spirituality which are open to everyone, and have come to distrust hierarchies of any kind. This is a perfectly reasonable reaction to all the abuses committed by individuals who think their ability to attain rarefied spiritual states entitles them to some level of control over other people’s lives. Exclusive groups made up of such individuals are (a) obnoxious and (b) rarely achieve more than a mutual admiration society.
A much more constructive approach is to think in terms of artistic skill. Not everyone has the ability to be Anna Sophie-Mutter. She didn’t emerge from the womb a master violin player. Ms. Sophie-Mutter learned her scales, her fingerings, and spent hours and hours drilling these things into her nervous system. That’s why she’s such a great violinist. The process of becoming a competent Mage is exactly the same. No one would object if someone suggested that playing a musical instrument is a specialized skill. This is obvious. Likewise, no one would suggest that a musician’s skill in one arena entitles them to run other people’s lives. That would be ridiculous.
It would be best, I think, to treat magickal practice as a skill one develops, rather than as a cookbook one reads and repeats formulae out of. Far fewer explosions in the kitchen that way. It means study, and hard work, and all those things occultists in this day and age are wont to avoid. But it beats psychosis and tacky self aggrandizement any Aeon.