The Past, Patterns, and Keeping Silent
In looking back through my childhood (not an easy thing to do), I realize that I had all of the (stereo)typical behaviors of a magician and shamanist in the making. Traumatic events, both explained and unexplained. My brain was wired differently–so differently that I was consistently medicated for it from the age of seven, and reminded of it for every day of my life. I didn’t start actively trying to make friends until college, and even then, I wasn’t very social. I’m still not. As far as practitioners go, I’m very, well…solo.
Though unlike some, I was very underwhelmed when I began reading about magic, paganism and the occult back in my preteen years. It all seemed to describe to me things I knew already, or was already experimenting with. I somehow didn’t seemed too incredibly surprised to find others doing the same, though I was surprised to be able to connect with like-minded individuals who fit that niche. When it came to the occult and the paranormal, the big thing that really surprised me was that a thing like “otherkin” and “therianthropy” existed outside of my own little island of being. The honeymoon period with that, however, is long since over. I no longer actively seek connection between peoples that fit those two descriptors, simply because most of them are merely trying to escape from themselves and the species or world they were born into. I have no commonality with the false, the damaged, and the confused.
It leads me to wonder why I deal with the occult or animistic community at times. I can’t really say I deal with it as much as some–I am virtually inactive on most social fronts aside from my writing. But the patterns I seem to pick out most readily is the glorification of the bullshit artists and “internet shamans” that float around out there. The ones that are glorified for their fanciful storytelling, name-dropping, pity-partying and attention-seeking through their traumas (which, they feel, is an automatic badge for the practice of shamanism). Although they claim to be healers and to (desire to) help others, in the end they help no one but themselves–if you can really call it “help”. The people they surround themselves with are nothing more than yes-men, psychophants and enablers. But amongst these people are those who, I was astonished to find, are actually reasonably intelligent people. It stunned me to think that people who were so smart could be duped by such high school grade behavior. It wasn’t until I read Daniel Pinchbeck’s Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age did I find out that Carlos Castaneda had actually duped a fair amount of professors who even had studied the Yaqui culture. Suppose this thing could happen to someone regardless of intelligence, though it leads me to speculate why, and how. The essay within the book, “Shamans and Charlatans: Assessing Castaneda’s Legacy” is well worth the read and relevant to this part of my rant. In fact, Reality Sandwich has some great essays in general on a variety of topics.
But it’s one of a few reasons why I step back, or remain on the periphery of what people there call “community”. I was never much a social being, which is kind of funny you think, coming from someone who claims strong alliance to canine archetypes. But witnessing this sort of thing is a turnoff towards community. The bullshit artists, the spindoctors. Plenty of people can write books and still be completely incompetent, and just because you’re popular doesn’t always make you right. I’m also a private person, and the extreme freedom by which occultists and shamanists share in gross detail their experiences is beyond me. I hold strongly to the clause, “To keep silent”, or as Christian Sedman in Generation Hex puts it:
We could tell other people straight out, but of course the minute you talk about magic–the shit you’ve turned into gold–is the minute it turns back into shit.
But hey, at this point you’re thinking “Well hey Solo, you do write about magic, right? Yes I do. I love doing so. I want to inspire people, or at least shoot out that signal flare out there that yes, there is someone else out there who isn’t doing this for wholly selfish reasons, or to find some sort of crutch for an inadequate life. Sedman goes on to say:
Sometimes you can write about it. That kind of works. The best thing you can do with something you’ve written about magic, I think, is inspire somebody else enough to try it themselves, so that they can see for themselves.
Even within the paradigm of magic and the animistic, there is so much people aren’t seeing, and it can be frustrating. I try not to waste too much time myself though. I am too constantly involved in the magical and animistic world to always pause enough to write about it or network or “do business”. Or, perhaps it’s too involved in me.