I am currently writing a book of the process of choosing a magical path. The book will be put up on the net as a free download, with additions from other writers, magicians and teachers. It will stay on the web indefinitely as a free resource and will not go into print; this ensures it is free and stays free (publishers are not to keen on authors giving away on line books when they are also up for sale… fair enough).The book goes into depth on various issues that are often not looked at or talked about in regards to magical training and being a magical student. Until it is ready to go online, I will post the occasional snippet on this blog. If any of you have issues on the subject that you think should be addressed in this book, just let me know and if it is relevant, I will cover it.
This extract is about truth, truth to oneself and looking for truth in the teacher. Honesty is a foundation tool in magic and can be one of the hardest and most misused aspects of magic, both in training and practice. If you can be honest with yourself and you find a teacher who can be honest about the training, then you have already succeeded in navigating the first hurdle that confronts a magical student.
When one first starts magical training with a group, school or teacher, the sense of euphoria, joy and sense of ‘going home’ can be very powerful as one finally feels they have found a way forward. It often does not take long though, to find oneself confronted with aspects of the training that makes a person feel uncomfortable or inadequate. Most students react to this by either feeling isolated and useless, or by becoming very evangelist about the path, as if to block out the aspects that do not sit well with them.
The evangelism is a common stage that can hit for a variety of reasons, not just from a place of inadequateness: when a student finds a home, they will defend it vigorously, and conveniently ignore the failings of the group. We see this play out on a regular basis in social network forums with students from various schools bashing it out in ever increasingly aggressive tones. Such a display of misguided loyalty reflects the immaturity of not only the student but also the school.
To be fair though, there are some societal manners that will dictate we defend those we love and are connected to, even when they are wrong. A student will blindly defend a stance, person or philosophy not because they understand it, but because of loyalty. Add to that the very common attitude that many grow up with: an adult must never admit to a student or child that they are wrong: it is perceived as a weakness. This way of operating flies in the face of magical development: the first maxim of magic is ‘to know thyself’, which is about honesty. Such necessary honesty is firstly about ones self, and then about everything else around you.
This translates for a magical student, as the first lesson to be learned: everything and everyone has limitations, weaknesses and strengths. Every magical path and teacher has their blind spots, dead ends and imbalances. Why? Because magic is a structure created by humans and as such has all the inherent issues that every human has. To flower as a magician you first need to know that wisdom, and then it must be acted upon through your life, your magical training, and your own personal development: magic will only evolve if we as humans evolve
If the path a student is on begins to display its weaknesses, it is important to recognise those weaknesses and decide if the path still holds enough learning for the student to develop. Most do, a few don’t. From that understanding, the student learns to be respectful of the path and teacher without clothing them in the glittering aura of power: never ever put your path or teacher on a pedestal. Understand the workings of human nature and understand that while everything has its weaknesses and down sides, it also has its strengths and gifts.
If the teacher or course you are considering demands unbridled loyalty or legally bound secrecy, then that is not a good teacher or school. You can be loyal to a group or person, without glossing over the bad bits. It is all about seeing the balance. If the group or teacher has good that balances the weakness and that the teacher or path is open and upfront about the weaknesses, then you have a path or teacher that can help you along the steps of magic that you need to take.
If you perceive the magical path you are walking upon as all wonderful, as the best, the only true path, then you are not learning and understanding, you are simply following. To simply follow is to not learn magic; it is merely to be a member of a magical club. There is a difference.
On the other side of this is the issue whereby a student does not understand the deeper aspects of a magical action or path, and does not understanding why a particular stance is being taken: they will argue with the teacher or with other magicians, but that argument comes from a place of ignorant opinion. Never argue magic from an opinion or theory – it is better to stay silent until you have direct experience and then you have a valid voice.
Overall, if you see a magical school that you are considering studying with, and that school has many factional spats with other opposing schools, and lots of the students are busy verbally launching personal attacks upon the opposing side, think very carefully about handing over your magical training to that school.
You would expect some of that behaviour from the early beginners as they defend their ‘family’, but if any magician who is beyond the very basics is also behaving that way, it is a sign that the school is either badly unbalanced or is not actually operating with any depth of magic. Such behaviour falls away quickly from a person as they step into real magic: it challenges your own truth and holds a very clear mirror to your face.
This in turn helps you to reflect more deeply upon the behaviours of those upon the path. Disagreements are normal and are a part of everyday life: we all see things in a slightly different way. But any magical path that holds a dogmatic stance and encourages such dogmatic behaviour from its students is a path worth steering clear of.
A good school or teacher can be measured by their ‘offspring’ – students or initiates who have stayed the course with a teacher should display a good amount of maturity, self analysis, independent thought and the glimmerings of wisdom from experience. If instead you see ego posturing, power games, bickering and one up manship, then you see a course that has done nothing to help the student evolve.
A good school chooses their students with care, or uses inner filters that allow inner contacts to steer appropriate students to a school while filtering out ones who will not be able to cope with the training.
If a school accepts its students by way of financial decisions, i.e. if you pay you get to join, then it is a fair guess to say that a good percentage of the students will not be good training material. That does not mean that such a school is not worth considering, it simply means that you will have to wade through a lot of shit to obtain the training that you seek.
Before you sign yourself up for magical training, think carefully about what it is you actually seek and why. Research the school you are interested in, check out their initiates in discussion forums, and have your bullshit meter turned on to full power. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If it promises extraordinary powers, they are most likely full of shit and will be happy to take your money with a smile and a stroke of your ego.
Magic is hard and demanding, it is messy and it is complicated. If you find a school or teacher that is willing to tell you this, and it’s students don’t act like morons in a public forum, then chances are you may have found yourself somewhere to train.