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Magical Mutts and Paradigmal Pedigrees

Recently I was involved a bit in a discussion on different types of magic and learning styles–primarily those who learned through institutions of magical learning or other organized group, versus those who learned on their own. The whole discussion amused me greatly, but it also made me think.

To me, I see two sides of the issue. On the one hand, I see those who have learned under a particular tradition. They were probably part of a group, and learned through some sort of training or initiatory or grading process. They’ve received their “paradigmal pedigree” and have the paper trail to show it. On the other hand you have the “magical mutts”, those who have studied and learned on their own, with no formal training, and probably with no real involvement in any magical group.

The former side sees the latter as undisciplined, and probably not really practicing “true” magic. The latter sees the former as too stuffy and rigid and too caught within their particular rut or paradigm to grow further. Terms like “slave’s magic” and “hedge magic” are brought up. Either that or, I’ve seen instances where the mutts wished they had pedigrees–probably something to do with an insecurity of somesort maybe, as opposed to a desire to learn anything else on one’s own. And well, the ones with the pedigrees don’t like being accused of taking too narrow an approach with their magic, of course.

I simply sit, observe, and chuckle to myself at times when I encounter these sorts of exchanges. Certainly wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen such discussions, even outright arguments (though the one I most recently witnessed didn’t qualify as an argument by any stretch) boil up before. I use dog metaphors when discussing this sort of thing because I think its an appropriate parallel, and well, it goes with my whole theme you see. As for me personally, well. I myself would classify as a magical mongrel (even an outright pariah* in some cases, based on some of my more ah, unconventional beliefs and practices).

You ask a bunch of dog owners, and you’ll get a bunch of different responses on wether or not a mutt or a purebred is the better dog to have. There are accounts where you can train a mutt just as easily to do a purebred’s job, and there are accounts where you can only rely on a specific conformation or behavior to get the job done. Sometimes the bloodline becomes too bottlenecked–old traditions too rigid and restricting–there is a need for new blood. In the end…really, it doesn’t matter to me wether you learned by yourself or you learned under a specific group, tradition, or system.

What I look for in a person is Knowledge, Will(ingness), and Intent. Whether you are a part of a tradition or forge one of your own, these things are important. A more appropriate saying is that it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but the fight in the dog. If a person goes about their magical work and play with full sincerity and willingness to learn and follow through, and the knowledge to back it all up–or the willingness to acquire said knowledge, then that’s the important thing. Discipline, in short. Anyone can have that, or gain it, or develop it on their own.

I’d have to say I have quite a bit of fight in me. I’m still fighting, and I don’t have any plans on stopping, either.

*Pariah: A mongrel feral dog that lives on the outskirts of civilization and is generally shunned. The Canaan Dog of Isreal is an example of a pariah dog that’s become a breed…now that would make for an interesting metaphor.

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Categories: magic Tags: , ,
  1. December 21, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    I liked this – I kind of think of it the same way. I tried a variety of ways. For many years I studied on my own. Then for several years I studied with a group, but as a group we were studying many traditions and not just one. Then I studied with a group for one year, during which time we studied only one tradition. Then I went back on my own. I think that whether one is a mutt or a pedigree (or walking in both realms, or actually bringing to life a long-dead tradition/species/realm) the common denominator is “study”. Your book reviews and others (like Lupa’s) help direct people toward sources of study that are worthwhile and not a total waste of time. If I’d had such information many years ago, I’d probably be farther along (and richer, since I wouldn’t have bought a lot of the stuff I did).

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