Sunday, May 9, 2010

Continuing Education for Everyone

I never bought into the old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I have found that even when one is a middle aged adult, expanding your horizons with education is a very important activity, especially when you are an aspiring ritual or ceremonial magician. I must say that I am constantly learning things from life, as well as habitually hitting the books and broadening my perspectives. As a youth, I developed an insatiable curiosity about almost everything, which took me out of the torpor of my youth culture and its inherent anti-intellectual perspective and put me on a track of learning to be literate and knowledgeable in a number of different fields. I must also say that loving to learn new things helped my career and my practical approach to life as well.

Because of this, I am happy to say that I have a reasonable amount of knowledge on quite a number of diverse subject areas. I am not an occult nerd, a person who knows a lot about occult subjects, but knows hardly anything else. Believe me, I have met this kind of person often in my travels and life experiences - being too specialized has some real risks even for the average person, not to mention the occultist. These days, for every book on occultism or magick that I read or study, there are at least several other books on a wide spectrum of subject matter that I also read. I try to leave no stone unturned, and I have found history, archaeology, philosophy, science and psychology as some of the many topics that I am continuing to investigate.

Another thing to consider - nobody knows everything there is to know about all pertinent topics that one might encounter in the pursuit of occult wisdom and enlightenment. There’s always room to learn something new that powerfully enriches one’s overall perspective and intellectual grasp of things. Being exposed to someone elses perspective may actually stimulate one’s own creative activities and cause one to examine a topic or area that one might not have bothered to examine without that stimulation.

I will illustrate my point by telling about some courses that I am taking through the internet as well as some workshops that I recently attended.

First of all, I attended two courses put on by Lon Milo DuQuette at the local occult book store in town (Magus Books). Lon taught several courses, but I could only attend two of them, so I chose one on Goetic Magick and the other on Enochian Magick. I must admit that I already have some knowledge of these topics, and in some cases the knowledge is extensive, but I wanted to get someone else’s opinion on the topic, and Lon is known to be an excellent instructor. He has the knack of artfully mixing humor, personal experience and occult philosophies and practices together into a narrative that is both entertaining and insightful. I only wish that I had his skill for being both hilarious and deeply insightful. If Lon comes to your town to give any of his famous lectures, I would highly recommend attending them. Even if you are an experienced occultist, or a novice, you will gain something from his discussions. I would also recommend reading his books, since all of them have something to offer, even to a supposed old hand such as myself.

So I guess you might be wondering what did I gain from Lon’s workshops? First of all, Lon’s class on Goetia was centered on him regaling us about the first time that he evoked the demon Orobas. He spent almost an hour describing in detail his calamitous ordeal of attempting (and succeeding) in this working, despite the fact that it happened more than thirty years ago. It was funny and also insightful, teaching how Lon perceives these entities called Goetic demons. At nearly the end of his talk he discussed some of his opinions about this system of magick that neatly dovetailed with my own opinions. During this class, I had an inspiration for a new ritual, so I hastily put some notes and a ritual outline while simultaneously listening to Lon’s lecture. (That ritual is now completed, and waits for me to test it, which I am looking forward to doing very soon.) The fact that Lon looks at things in a similar manner to how I view them was very interesting and powerfully corroborating for me. The class was really worth far more to me than the mere fee that it cost.

The second class focused on the basic structures of the Enochian system of magick, it’s sources and how Lon and his associates use this information to work some basic forms of Enochian magick. We even spent some time performing a demo rite where the audience chanted the Enochian letters and then the spirit names associated with the Holy Table, Sigillum Angels and the Table of Naluage. While we performed these tasks, Lon intoned the 19th Enochian Call to invoke the 30th and lowest of the Aethyrs. Once completed, we were all quite buzzed by the energy released, and many of us had some kind of visionary experience. What it did to me was compel me to re-examine all of the Enochian material that I had read and examined years ago. I guess you could say that it’s time for a refresher course for me, since another cycle of looking over and studying this material would probably help me gain new insights and practical uses of some of the material that I have not included in my current working regimen.

In addition to attending Lon’s course, I have purchased a course on “Mansions of the Moon” by Christopher Warnock. I will getting into this course very soon, since I am interested in expanding my current knowledge of this astrological topic, since it fits into what I have previously devised as a system of talismanic workings, using the 28 Enochian Seniors and Kings as well as the Olympian Spirits to define these powerful and useful entities. Using the Mansions of the Moon ties a potent temporal factor into this working, which I have found is very important to the working of practical magick.

Christopher Warnock has a number of online classes to choose from, including ones that comprehensively instruct one in practical and magickal Astrology. They are a bit pricey, but seem to be worth it. The package for a class includes one or more books, an interactive CD Rom containing the class guidelines and even a some free software. I have already installed the software that calculates the timing of the Lunar Mansions, which is pretty tough to do by hand - trust me on this, I know from personal experience. I am also planning on taking two more classes of his in the future, and these are on the 36 Decan Faces and Astrological Geomancy, which can be used as an alternative to Horary Astrology. I am also planning on taking the course on Elective Astrology at some future date. You can find his online course list here, I highly recommend them. I believe that it’s important for a ritual magician to be knowledgeable about practical astrology. You can also find his blog here, where Christopher discusses many interesting and obscure magickal astrological topics.

I have also discovered that my local community university has quite a number of courses available online. Of particular note are classes that teach one to be a more effective writer and communicator. There are at least several of these classes that I intend to take over the summer, since they are only $99 a class, which is pretty cheap. Classes are taught by experienced writers who also have the gift of teaching as well. Since I am very weak in the area of fictional writing, and because I have at least several fictional projects that I can’t even attempt to begin with the writing skills that I have, I will be taking these courses so that I can expand my writing ability to include not only nonfiction, but also fiction as well. There are a lot of other courses, too, and over time I expect to take advantage of these relatively inexpensive offerings. I would highly recommend that anyone who is serious about mastering the art of ritual magick should continue their education and expand their horizons. Be like me and leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of knowledge and experience.

So even though I have been a practicing magician for over 35 years, I don’t know everything, and of what I do know, there is much room for improvement and refinement. I may be a middle aged magician who is looking forward to geazerhood, but I am not yet ready to just rest on my laurels, as it were. There is still a lot to learn and know in this world, and my curiosity has not yet become sated. Hopefully, it never will.

Frater Barrabbas   

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we all need to keep learning! I try to do the same.