“I think what matters is if people are sincere in their wish to follow the old ways and to carry them on – not whether they’re initiated by so-and-so or whether they have the umpteenth degrees. The power you get is the same. A witch is a witch is a witch.” – Doreen Valiente.
For the purposes of this blog the terms mythology and mythical figures shall stand for heroes and deities because various traditions and systems of magical practice have different outlooks on these concepts.
Here we go, for your entertainment, development and consternation, the top 10 questions as compiled by myself:
- Is the process of “backward birth” or palingenesis in modern magical systems something seekers consider before applying? If it helps discussion then palingenesis begins with the initiation of the seeker or candidate into an underworld which generally represents the unconscious mind. Through here ‘ordeals’ or ‘trials’ are faced on the understanding that the new initiate will temper their minds before the main process of magical and spiritual work begins.
- Following on from the above, then do you think the mythos or the mythology of the Tradition or System bares upon your decision-making? Basically does it matter whether you are placed in the Great Hall of King Arthur as Arthur himself or Merlin or is the importance more of spiritual link to God or the Gods of Mount Olympus?
- How intimately do you think/feel/believe you ought to identify with mythical figures from the Tradition/System? Here you may have intimate relationship as worshipper or postulant or do you feel that the story is what is of importance not the figure itself?
- Is this always a good idea? Explain why or why not. Many magical initiators have developed theories on how much one identifies with the figures within the tradition – afterall we aren’t Herakles or Persephone themselves… (shshhh if you are tell me I’ll not blab!)
- How important is this process to your sense of connection to your overall goals (Higher Self/the Gods/Deity etc.)? The process may be separate entirely, especially if the process is cerebral or completely psychological (D.H. Lawrence’s “Having it in the head!” comes to mind here!) but then why not just go for therapy?
- Do your patron/s mythical figures act as a psychopomps or guides on your Traditional Path or are they separate? If so, then see Q7, if not then see Q8.
- How important is the role of a guide/s on the magical path to you? I’ve a theory that in the wake of modern Wicca moving in to the realm of public scrutiny something crept out as a means to help people not freak out and see devils at every turn and that was personal protectors or patrons (in Male-Female pairing just like Wicca we all know and love) these forces could be called upon to remove negative impressions or block spiritual attacks on seekers who worked without training. I could be wrong – there is a lot of precedence for the tutelary deities of a household in antiquity but these were not connected to the mystery schools insofar as we know.
- How much help are guide/s on the mundane path? Or is it all business all the time?
- If they are separate from the Tradition, how do you reconcile the two natures/forces? Have you considered the time and dedication that each entity or figure is likely to demand for your to obtain a meaningful connection that can be worked with? There is offerings of prayers, invocations, ritual ensoulment (either ceremonially or over time), journeying (shamanic or Inner Vision work) and then making sure that the personal does not conflate or become confused with the group’s figure – whats good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander!
- As you change do you expect your guide/s or psychopomp figures to change too? I wonder whether you feel this is a psychological change being projected on to the situation or if this is a new contact for you to experience and learn with?
Lately, Nick and Peregrin have been having a wee dialogue on their blogs concerning the nature of the Golden Dawn beast! Basically they have been asking what it means to be contacted and how this works with tradition and lineage. This got me to wondering about whether new seekers even cared for such discussions. I mean how much thought is ACTUALLY put in to applying to a Tradition when most seem to be acting on a gut feeling or deep routed intuition. So I compiled these questions to get a body started.
There is, of course, an obvious counter to this if one reads Doreen Valiente’s quote stating a “witch is a witch is a witch!”, while one may or may not be a witch or magician in a particular tradition or system one can be a witch/magician by one’s own work.