Sometimes learning about magick is like playing a game of telephone. C’mon, I know you remember that game we all have played as children at one time or another. One person starts the message, and you patiently (or in my case, impatiently) await your turn to hear and pass on the secret knowledge to the next willing ear. You knew the message you heard was somehow different from the original. Yet, you accepted it all the same. I cannot recall now what was even the point of that game, except maybe to see how jacked up the initial words would be by the time it reached the final pair of ears. The reason I bring it up, even now, is because sometimes I feel like I am playing a game of telephone whilst I earnestly seek out magickal information.
In this electronic day and age that is lorded over by conglomerates and their satellites, a vast library is at the fingertips of anyone fortunate enough to be in possession of a mobile device, personal computer, or even a smart tv. It’s just that easy to log on, search for, and download data about any subject you can imagine, including some you wish you hadn’t (I, too, have danced on the dark side of YouTube). For someone like me who finds herself left to her own devices in the quest for magickal knowledge, this is a godsend. For someone who doesn’t mind (read: deliciously enjoys) pouring over pages and pages of info for even the tiniest iota of a morsel to satisfy her tenacious appetite for wisdom, this is heaven. But all of this blessing is not without hazard. There is another side to this coin of fortune.
Though there is a wealth of available information, one must be aware that it is not, as Mc Hammer so melodically phrased it, “all good”. The internet has become, for many, a way to exist outside of or apart from the “real world”. Many people adopt names and personae that are vastly different from the self that others meet in the material world. I can guess this happens for many reasons: 1. It’s a form of escapism from a drab and zestless life. 2. It’s a way to convince others that the perpetrator in question has more knowledge and skill than they actually have. 3. Who knows, really, why people do what they do? The point is, they’re doing it. There are folks online purporting to be descended from long and ancient lines of witchcraft and wizardry. There are folks who say they have studied and mastered a thousand and one forms of magick. Over the last several months I have come to be aware of these charlatans and their antics. Over the last few months I have discerned that learning about what magick is is as equally important as learning about what magick is not. How else will you be able to decipher the difference between a fraud frater and a real rootworker? For someone who can be a bit on the trustful side and eager to believe, also like me, this can be the bane of her existence.
Any researcher worth his salt must always strive to obtain the source of info, or at least a verifiable, reliable, and corroborated accomplice.
I was introduced to this magickal life by way of Chaos Magick ala Grant Morrison. A quick search of the Web for more info yielded more results than I could shake a selfie-stick at. Using my discretion and natural need to dig for the truth, I quickly discovered the wise and powerful A.O. Spare, a man whom many consider to be the father of Chaos Magick. This finding gave me a vantage point from which I could survey all the other information I came across, looking to see how closely it aligned with the original mission of one of the founders of this system. “Cool”, I thought. “No biggie”, I said. “That was fairly easy.” I even found a handy little vortex of info regarding the Chaos genre. From all this I gleaned that it was just as important what I put into my magick with my intention and preparation as it did by whatever system I chose to borrow from.
Phase 2. Then I got curious about other forms of magick, many systems of which are initiatic in nature (though thankfully, not all). Palo, and its various divisions is one. Hoodoo and Rootworking is another. And yet another is Traditional Witchcraft (not Wicca or Ceremonial/Ritual Magick). Here is where I meet my bane. I want, and need this information. Obviously so I can somehow assimilate the data into my working body of knowledge, but also for the sheer fact of knowing. According to a genealogical DNA study I participated in completely by happenstance, I have ancestors from Central & West Africa, North, Central, & South America, Southeast Asia, and Northern Europe. For me, this magickal data serves as a gateway to my ancestral past and gives me clues about a heritage that would otherwise go unknown. But, since I am not an initiate, I am subject to withholding of info, and am only given the most basic systematic tenets that serve to provide a general overview. Or, like in the case of many ceremonial magick traditions, I am being given erroneous or incomplete information. All of which is done to protect the secrecy and integrity of data that has passed hands and minds for generations.
Having recently come from under the weight of mainstream Christianity (Baptist), I am not looking for any new masters just yet. So, while I want to learn all that I can, I am neither quick nor anxious to align myself with another system that also requires my complete and undying allegiance at the price of my ‘eternal soul’. But without undergoing the initiatic process of Palo, for example, I am left to try to glean what bits I can from any paperback or blog post I can lay my eyes upon; all the time facing the truth that this info could be wrong by accident or by design.
I feel like I don’t really have a solid leg to stand on here. I’m using my intuition and researching the hell out of people and their works so I can ‘know’ if the info I find is trustworthy or nah. It’s mostly exciting, especially when I make connections and find synchronicities between traditions. At the same time, this discovery is entirely frustrating because I don’t know who to trust. Why are most of the purported teachers of Hoodoo and Rootwork middle-aged white folks? Mind you, I have nothing against middle-aged white folks personally. But being that Hoodoo and Rootwork is a syncretistic system created by the African diaspora during slavery, I have to wonder how authentic and pure the tradtions that these so-called conjure schools tout actually are. Why do ceremonial magick organizations even bother to disperse any info if all they’re going to do is disseminate false or incomplete info?
I didn’t have the gift of magickal/spiritual hand-me-downs from my familial forebearers, so I really am left to find this all out on my own. This really is a work in progress, and the attainment of truth is a quest that lasts forever. My conclusion is that I must first and foremost be in tune with myself. By this method, I will know when I encounter something that does not align with my true purposes. I will use various methods of divination at my disposal to determine paths and possibilities. I will meditate and be on the look out for synchronicities from The Universe to tell me if I am on the right path. I will apply acquired knowledge with wisdom and discretion.
OAN, if anybody out there wants to teach me about any of the systems I have mentioned above, please reach out to me. We should definitely talk!