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Neopagans and Academia

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,alt.pagan,alt.religion.wicca,alt.witchcraft
From: lorax666 
Subject: Neopagans and Academia (was Crowley Failure Stories ...)
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 02:07:53 GMT

50021113 VII

Secret Chief:
>> Certain portions of the neo-pagan community have a rather different
>> definition of 'scholarly' than we might be familiar with.  Something
>> along the lines of 'author doesn't drool all over himself.'

that's rather harsh, though I can appreciate your intent here.

>> BTW: It's usually used as an insult.  Funny people.

for good reason too. the academic community has apparently become quite
convinced that those who practice magic are fools or untrustworthy, in
part because of the unfounded religious propaganda trying to pass itself
off as scholarship (e.g. from Oberon Zell and others who use a facade of
scholarship to bolster their religiopolitical agendas), and in part due
to academic biases toward materialistic atheism.
"Asiya" :
>heh  Yep. "Scholarly" is sometimes taken as "non-spiritual" by them,

with good reason. if you look at academics of magic you'll find that
they are almost without exception studying some medieval history or
another culture's beliefs and practices. my contacts in the academic
world (very few) indicate that identifying as a practitioner is the
kiss of death for the aspiring scholar (in refutation, please point
out some practitioners of magic who are also scholars on the subject).

>rather than just making it up as you go along, 

the point is better made in a distinction sent by one of my email
correspondents: that between operational vs. speculative magic. the
Neopagan community has noticed that many Hermetic magicians and even
some Neopagans are primarily speculative occultists. this extends
even further when speaking of the academic world into complete
abstraction from the subject matter (into areas such as sociology
and anthropology at best). many Neopagans are primarily operational
in their focus, and this turns to ART rather quickly (varying on
traditional themes to create one's own formulae and spells). this
latter kind of 'make-it-up-as-you-go-along' style is a demonstration
of one's PROFICIENCY at operational magic (usually spellcrafting),
rather than attempting to rely upon something some "master" may have
told them about what they need. 

this breaks down when we begin to consider specific Neopagan religious 
traditions that have been strongly-affected by Hermeticism, solidifying
rite-forms such as circle-casting and communion-wafer-charging. contrari-
wise, when I was studying with Gardnerian witches (*California-line*,
who are the most lenient and open-minded, apparently, they were 
often reminding me that their craft could not be gleaned from
books, that they could recommend some books but that every one of
them had severe limitations and drawbacks, INCLUSIVE OF THOSE THAT

>which to them is the more spiritual way of dealing with facts.

this is just inflammatory and describes moreso the beginners who
are hooked on Llewellyn books than those with any strong ties to
Neopagan religiospiritual traditions of magical practice. I've met
some very studious Neopagans, I do not think that they were at all
wowed by the run-of-the-mill fabricator. this is especially true
of those who realized that they were attempting *without any real
social connections* to revivify or recreate that which they were 
being informed about by academic sources (primarily anthropologists 
and historians) about what constituted pre-Christian "pagan" rites.

I'd have to say that it IS more spiritual to derive from inside
oneself the components of one's religious practices, and that some
kind of historical basis is completely IRRELEVANT when considering
how best to worship whatever and whoever the devout deems worthy.

speculative magic is more popular with book-collectors and academe-
fetishists. from this almost entirely intellectual endeavour, 
one may come to a more concise and supportable position on what 
may be considered "the real", because it can be determined through 
reference to historical sources. speculative tradition therefore
focusses on how to determine whose rites are "wrong", and how the
Other Guy is not authoritative or powerful. one must somehow come
to satisfy another with warrants and reliable research in order to
convince the participants of the correctness or sanctity of one
religiomagical pursuits.

this takes a slight detour when the proponents of Hermeticism 
attempt to promote their magic over that of others, because their
objectives are primarily internal (as described) and mystical,
rather than demonstrable in an overt sense. where Neopagans and
ceremonial magicians coincide on this point (the primary aim of
magic being something spiritual, rather than mundane and practical)
so are they allied as to their reliance upon books and citations,
however biased are their allegiances to what they call 'scholarly'.

blessed beast!


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