A painful truth of today is that kids don’t respect teachers these days – by teachers I mean people who are experienced and knowledgeable. Tell me, when you was a child, did you obeyed your parents? Or school teachers? The kids in the early XX century and in the centuries before were different. They respected the elders – people with knowledge and experience. And today, kids trust their online buddies more, than they trust experienced occult masters. And it generates a lot of problems. Today, I wish to talk about on-line and 0ff-line sources of magical knowledge, and about teachers and organizations.
This article might be harsh – but I wish to share some important information with you, so eve if you might feel like I’m pushing you back, know that in reality I just want you to be a bit more careful on the path of magick and spiritual development.
Hundreds of years ago, there were no books – at least, they weren’t as popular as they are today. There was no Internet, no radio and no television. If you wanted to learn something, you had to find the teacher willing to share his knowledge with you. And you had to spend many years learning and living with the teacher. He was able to pass his knowledge and his experience on you, and this was the order of things.
Today, all you have to do is to get online, read some articles, then visit your local library and read some books, and you think you’re an expert. Of course that you’ve learned something, and you have acquired the basic knowledge. It’s possible with articles and books. In case of normal fields of our human existance, you might want to go to a collage and get more knowledge supported by nice diploma. But in case of esoteric arts and the occult, people think that because there is no occult university anywhere in the world, then they don’t have to spend many years learning, and it’s possible to master the arts within few weeks.
Universities might not exist, but occult orders and independent teachers do exist – and if they’re still sake, then it means they have spent many years acquiring the knowledge and experience. I’m sorry to destroy one’s dreams, but the truth is – it takes many years to learn the esoteric arts, this field of knowledge is no different then math, astronomy or medicine. There are many things to learn and memorize. Let me give you simple example based on my specialty – psychic development. If you want to become psychic, you can’t end up reading few psychic development guidebooks. Sure, you should read them as they often provide practical advices, but if you really want to learn things, they you need to study meditation arts like Zazen practice, energy system theories, Hindu esoteric teachings as well. Exploration can take you even further to lecture of Kamasutra and both Tantric and Taoist sexual traditions that deal with energy manipulation. You might need to learn some scientific books about cognition as well, and in the meantime, fall into interest with Feng Shui and maybe even Tibetan Buddhism. And this is just the beginning. You can’t learn these things during few weeks, it takes years to learn them.
A good teacher is able to tell you what you should read, what should you learn and how should you learn. A good teacher will advise you, telling you which practices are useful, and which practices are a total waste of your time. Small books, articles and online forums aren’t the best places to start learning magick (that is, there are many great books and articles, but they’re just the beginning of your journey). Think about it – on-line articles presents only small piece of knowledge. If you want to get the wider picture, you need to either read a lot, or find someone who can explain things to you.
Anyway, the problem with information that is widely available to everyone is one thing. The fact that young people don’t respect the elders is another. For some reasons, perhaps because the information is out there, kids and teenagers who are interested in paranormal, psychic phenomena and the occult, doesn’t perceive more experienced and older people as guides and teachers. They see them as obstacles, people that block their own development. Yes, I agree that teachers can give hard time – they often say “you’re not ready”, or “don’t do this”, or “this is dangerous”… I was a teenager myself so I know that this can be a pain in the back. But hey – I’m older now, more experienced, and I have learned at least this – people, no matter how painful it might be – are right. Every single teacher that was pushing me back, was right – because I wasn’t ready for many things. And you’re not ready for many things, either – at least, not now. But the time will come, so be patient.
Kids and teenagers who deal with the occult these days think that they’re all-powerful, and that the older guys are just weak cowards if they don’t want to exorcise a demon. But are they? I thought the same way when I was younger – I thought I can deal with any demon because I’ve read “how-to” tutorials in some books. But then during a simple ritual many, many years ago, my teacher told me that some astral critter attached to me and was draining my life energies. Well – sufficient to say, I never felt any entity attached to me. This was the time when something broke within me – my belief that I can sense anything, and deal with anything. From that experience, I’ve learned at least three things. First of all – my sensitivity to negative energies has increased; second of all – today I know that when my intuition tells me “stay as far as possible from this”, then I trust my intuition and I staying as far as possible; third thing is that I’ve gained yet another proof that when experienced psychics and occult experts tell me that I’m not ready, then I’m not ready.
This doesn’t have to push you back – because when a teacher, or any more experienced person tells you to step back as you’re not yet ready – then it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to learn something or do something in the future. If you will learn other things first, then one day you will be ready. Teachers just want to tell you that you should be patient, and you should learn the basics, so when you will encounter more problematic entities or practices, you will know how to deal with them. This means that you should learn patience – a skill often denied by young people.
My advice is this – learn patience first, and remember that basics are always important. If you won’t learn the basics, then more advanced stuff will cause you to collapse. When someone tells you that you’re not ready, then listen to this person. He might be wrong if he doesn’t know you, but you will step back thanks to him to re-analyze if you are really ready. If you are – then good. If you’re not, then you will safe yourself a lot of troubles. But trust the people who are trying to teach you something, people who have more experienced than you have – they’ve spent years learning and studying, and their backs might have been kicked. Today they’re trying to save your back. Show some respect because of this.
Sometimes, one can find many good books and articles about magick, so don’t be mislead that all the written content is pointless. The thing is that one must find these books, first :).
Technological advancement have caused the esoteric teachings move from real world into the Internet. It’s especially visible in case of Chaos Magick practices, where almost the entire modern community is focused on the online interaction. You can find a lot of esoteric education services online, say e-books or e-courses. As always, some of them are good, some are just waste of time. But as long as writing a whole book or preparing a course takes some time, this area of esoteric teachings will be quite safe – safe from the “fluff” that can be found on esoteric discussion boards – online forums, on which everyone is a “master” of High Magick. At least in their own minds.
I’ve seen it many times – a person registers an account on an on-line forums, and begins to publish posts in almost every thread, showing people how wrong they are, and how correct he/she is. Rarely these people will give details about their age or experience and knowledge, they will just write useless comments and posts that are proving everyone else wrong. People like this are harmless for experienced esoteric practitioners, but online forums are often visited by inexperienced beginners, who do not know what is right and what is wrong, and if the so called “occult expert” in question will focus on proper marketing actions, they will perceive him as the great master, and everyone who is attacking him, as total ignorant of his true knowledge. Now for the beginners, such false experts are harmful, because they will share false knowledge. And false knowledge generates real problems.
Because of this, I’m not big fan of online occult forums – I like finding new contacts there, but I rarely teach, and I rarely learn from others. It’s not worth the risk for me. But I need to be fair here – this problem isn’t limited only to online forums, but to entire esoteric movement. Everyone who see a niche in the market can write an entire book about any subject, and either pretend that he received initiation and blessing from some Hindu guru, or that his knowledge is based on channeling from higher planes of existence, passed to him by some highly evolved entity. Yet, subject of channeling has been discussed earlier on ASoM. Anyway, because in the modern world, and especially in the field of esoteric movement, everyone can say something that will be considered by less experienced people as truth, and the pure useful knowledge gets busted.
I don’t have much to say in this matter – I have only one advice, don’t bother learning from online forums, stick to books – after all, they’re still much safer sources of knowledge. But personally, I still prefer to learn things face to face from others. That’s why I organize meetings I call “Open Houses” – when a bunch of people gather to discuss esoteric subjects. Such meetings are focused on specific esoteric discussion, and the participants are simple sharing their knowledge and experience regarding the subject. People who are ready to show their faces and speak in public, rarely have anything to hide, and often they simple speak the truth, mainly because you never know which person is able to see auras and will instantly tell you “sorry, but we know you’re lying”. This leads to simple fact that during offline meetings people are sharing useful and real esoteric knowledge. And because such meetings are “open”, nobody is obligated to anything. To me, it’s one of the best methods of learning new things.
If you would like to organize an Open House meeting, you can use discussion forums to organize people, or local newspapers or local web portals. Find few people who are willing to discuss esoteric topics face to face, set time and date of the meeting and go for it. Personally, before organizing the meetings, I’ve prepared a list of possible subjects that I was interested in, and I’ve found among participants of the meetings people, who were willing to talk about the subjects from my list. So my Open Houses looks like this – someone talks about specific topic, and then we ask questions, and we engage in discussion, exchanging points of views and knowledge. It’s like off-line forum, but this time, people are more spontaneous and rarely fake their own advancement.
There are also occult orders, more closed esoteric groups as well. Should you even bother with them? Well, basically every group have advantages and disadvantages, and you need to learn both in order to make up your mind. Some groups are definitely sects, other groups are just bunches of friends and buddies who share their knowledge with each other. For me, it’s hard to tell if occult orders are good thing, because I was never a member of such order. But I’ve heard stories – so I can say that for some people, occult order will work pretty well, because more experienced members can teach younger members, and they can protect the beginners if something goes wrong. Of course, there’s still a risk that the group you want to join is a sect. In such case, you won’t learn anything. That is why it’s important to always collect opinions about the group you want to join – and opinions can be always found in the community. Use your buddies, online forums and more experienced esoteric practitioners to get as much info as possible about the group before joining it. What’s most important – the group must always have clear policy of leaving the group. You don’t want to end up stranded in a community that won’t allow you to leave. A word of explanation – in this case, you can use online forums to cross-reference different opinions about the group you’re wish to join. You can also check local anti-sect organizations, to find out if they know anything about the organization you’re about to join.
But even here, things are rather complex. For example, I’m Reiki practitioner. Reiki is not a religion, nor a sect, yet there are organizations – both government-funded and Chrisian-based that consider Reiki as dangerous sect. In first case, we deal with misinformation by fanatical lobby, in second case we deal with religious inquisition that sees Reiki as direct competition and “religious enemy”. Which is strange by the way, because real Christians are very friendly people, and I know many Chrisitan Reiki practitioners.
I’m not saying that you should become Reiki practitioner – this is always up to you. I’m just sharing my perspective as “member of a dangerous sect”. For me, Reiki is a blessing – it’s both healing and spiritual growth system that changed my life. I’ve seen people benefit from Reiki, I’ve seen people cured with help of Reiki. For me, it’s positive energy. I never heard about “dangerous sect” until I became Reiki practitioner, yes – and now that I’m already Reiki practitioner, then this “dangerous sect” is nothing more than just funny statement. But for people under anti-sect organization’s influence, then this statement might be very real. As with everything, it’s a matter of perspective. In some circles, Reiki became a victim of negative propaganda spread by its enemies. This negative propaganda is the only possible truth for some people, and complete lie to others.
On the other hand, I know many great spiritual development systems and groups that were followed by many wise esoteric practitioners, that turned into dangerous sects. I’m not going to mention any of them because of my own safety, but “Sith happens” – the dark side is powerful and it is really present in the modern world.
Because of this, cross-referencing opinions about people, teachers, groups and systems is the best thing you can do. Never, ever rely on just one source. Read as many books on a single subject as possible; read as many opinions about esoteric teacher, psychic or healer as possible; find out as many information about the occult order or group as you can. And keep an open mind – if majority of people says something is bad, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. If majority of people says something is good, it doesn’t mean it is good. Continue searching for information further – if someone complains for healer’s services, then why does he complains? Maybe he’s a pseudo-skeptic? Or a competitor? And vice versa, if someone post positive opinions about specific person or service, then why is he doing so? Maybe he was paid to post positive thoughts? Or maybe the healer and person posting opinion are good friends? Everyone can post different things, everyone can tell the truth or lies. In the end, even if we have access to opinions, reviews, discussions and social communication, the only person who can make the final decision is you. You and your “gut feelings”. If you sense something is wrong with the teacher, or organization you wish to join, or people you talk with, or healer you’ve just met – just let it go. But if somehow you will find yourself among bad people, remember – you’re never alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – you have friends, you have family, finally you have law enforcement.
Even if I advice you not to use online forums for occult studies in details, they can be very beneficial for general use – to get ideas, learn terms, find out that there are other practices beside the ones you’re working with. Forums are also good places to meet new people, and to get opinions about different practices, teachers, groups and so on, as I’ve already mentioned. Beside forums, we also have hundreds of social networks, including Twitter or Facebook. The Internet is part of our modern life, and it should be used for your own esoteric practices.
Don’t be afraid of the Internet in your esoteric pursuits. You can find books, ebooks and online courses that share both theoretical and practical knowledge. But similar to off-line resources, not every ebook or e-course is legitimate, so cross-reference it first. Because it’s easy to find masters of High Magick online, yet it’s difficult to find legitimate esoteric and occult practitioners who really have the knowledge.