Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If you take it apart, make sure it can go back together.

In my tenure as a Practitioner, I've heard a lot of, "The best spells are those you come up with yourself". I generally agree with that once you mastered the basics of your particular path. I also have met few Practitioners who have actually waited till they have mastered the basics to do so. Thus, I pass along this bit of wisdom from my dear departed Dad:

"If you take it apart, make sure it can go back together."

Which is followed with: "If you don't know how it works, leave it alone!"

Crafting ritual is both an art and a science. Part psychology, part meditation, part energy work, part proper materials. When I was younger I was obsessed with breaking down techniques and finding out what made them work so well as opposed to others that did not so much. Diagnostics and trouble shooting.

You have to understand the basic internal logic of what is going on under the hood before we start tinkering and tweaking. A home brew rite will often times be very effective just because you are making it from the ground up, thus understand the basic logic. But if it is placed in the context of an established tradition, or combining traditions, you need to have a clear understanding of how it works on its own terms before you start fiddling!

That is a major hurdle to many folks approaching Hermeticism, honestly. One of the greatest criticisms other than it's stuffy, takes too long, and is "Eurocentric", is that it seems very cobbled together. There is Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, Christian, Arabic, Sumerian, all thrown together in a pile. Honestly, when it is done poorly, it is exactly that. The philosophy behind Hermeticism is what makes sense of all the disparate seeming bits. It gives them logic and order. You don't have to believe in anything, but you do have to understand what it is you are trying to do in the context you are trying to navigate.

The necessity of grasping the internal structure of a practice is what has made me learn to love Chaos Magic. Chaos allows the practitioner to build a meta-system where the practitioner can reframe the internal logic of the system.That allows a practitioner to believe in something they wouldn't normally for the purpose of Magical effect.** Granted, it is no longer the thing you started with, but traditionally inspired Chaos (if we are being nit picky). Much like how we make French inspired food in our house, though we do not cook French food very strictly.

To carry on the cooking metaphor: You need to know your materials, spices, heating, utensils, flavor profiles, before making up a dish on your own within a particular style. I learned this the hard way trying some experiments with Indian food. Those spice ratios leave little wiggle room for the novice. What I ended up making was about as close to Indian food, as egg noodles and ketchup are close to Italian food. I took it apart, but it did not go back together well.

Many times we rush to have our Adept pants on too early, and miss the whole damn point of the Novitiate. Grasp the basics. Do your foundational practices, and once you understand how things work at a greater than intellectual level, then move on.

There is no shame in using someone else' technique. I am not ashamed I did not build my car from the ground up in a garage. I let the people at Honda do that for me. Also, there is no prestige in using someone else' technique. One of my coworkers drives a BMW, and I am glad for her being fortunate enough to do so, but she didn't build it. She enjoys the privilege of driving it, but the skill in crafting it belongs to the gearhead engineers at BMW.

Once you are savvy enough to really make your own contributions, once you are that Gearhead in the garage that made a whole new, innovative, never before seen, Technique in your tradition, then you are really an Adept. At least as far as the technical side of things goes. You understand every bit from the ground up. If you take it apart, you can with confidence put it back together.You are the Captain of your own ship.

Technically, what makes a master? Nicola Tesla.

**Going back to belief for a second, I agree totally that belief is active engagement. It is plugging in. It has nothing to do with dogmas. You believe (actively engage), you do, and then you Know. Once you've experienced how a thing works you can then even more actively engage with it, the stumbling block of dogmatic belief is no longer a problem.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the inspiring post. One day I hope to become a Gearhead in the garage.