There's a trend in modern occultism for practitioners to want to settle only for scholarly material on the occult, as if letters behind a name signifies the author will be accurate and his methodology somehow foolproof. At the same time, there's a growing disdain for anything that doesn't smack of this intellectual elite.
We certainly do need to keep our minds fertile ground for new scholars rising up in the ranks among practitioners. Solid research is needed to convey historical data that, has often in the past, been purely in the realm of conjecture. Today we're seeing newer occult scholars who are gaining ground in learning ancient tongues and scripts which help decipher tablets, scrolls and texts that have often baffled non-occult scholars. Further these young researchers are purging ahead with deciphering not only scripts, but also symbols, glyphs and errata found on old talismans often thought undecipherable such as what Andy Foster has done with the Heilig Pentagram from the 6th & 7th Books of Moses grimoire.
Unfortunately people are wired for ‘either/or’ thinking being usually brought up that way by their parents and schooling and thus what is IN today is OUT when the next thing comes around the bend. So we have people who for years clamored for practical how-to information when all that was available was scholarly material on the occult most of which was historical. Then a shift came about a decade ago where these same folks began to take scholars more seriously since the scholars began to present more than just history, they started to show manuals that were buried in library and museum archives then brought them to the pubic eye. Today the shift has come full circle where nothing is seen worthwhile unless a professor’s name has letters after it which should not be the case since there are some worthwhile scholars rising who have yet to attain any sort of academic recognition.
To make matters worse, there are lesser works of magic and sorcery that are scorned by these intellectual elites (elitism?) who by their snobbery are now using their influence to literally shit on authors that have significance and validity even though these lesser authors are not academics. Granted the lesser authors have a easier time selling their materials as they often "pander to the lowest common denominator in society", quoted by a well known and outspoken ceremonial magicKian even though this same CM fails to realize that the lowest common denominator happens to be PEOPLE WITH PROBLEMS unlike himself who happens to be a deluded savior who thinks he walks on water.
The lesser works of sorcery have always been about helping people with how-to material. In fact, most all of the grimoires going all the way back to ancient Egypt have sorcerous spells that deal with day to day common things like:
- obtaining love
- success in business
- guidance for knowledge/wisdom
- dealing with adversaries
- help with weather (for crops)
- assistance with livestock
- obtaining a favorable court judgment
- and so on.
This is why people seek out sorcery and magic in the first place, not to become a scholar in it. The goal of a scholar is most admirable yet I do believe many who have attained this role have let it go to their head much like scholars of the past did when they became kooky and acted odd. After all, once you’re tops in your field, you can do whatever you wish and no one will say anything to you about your behavior. Don’t believe me? Read about the ancient philosophers and their quirky lives. Hell, look at the plethora of odd professors running around universities today acting strange and weird. Intellectuals often are a strange lot but we shouldn’t blame the bushel for a few bad apples.
The lesser works of sorcery do fill a need in our society, our metaphysical society, that must be filled. And yes it is quite true that there are charlatans afoot behind every rock waiting to take someone for every nickel they can bargain. Let’s face it, that is never going to go away. Look at all of the charlatans parading around in the mainstream religions folks; where do you think occult charlatans get their ideas from in the first place? (Why reinvent the wheel?) And to be fair, history has taught us that there have been no small amount of charlatans who posed as scholars to sell a book with false credentials. Medieval manuscripts teach us that there are numerous occult books attributed to the likes of Agrippa or Alpharabius who never penned yet their names are on these forgeries. This begs the question how many such instances of books will be brought forth once the likes of Owen Davies, Richard Kieckefer or Stephen Skinner are long gone? Say in 100 years someone may come out with another meaty manual of magic with Dr. Richard Kieckefer or our own Dr. Stephen Skinner’s name all over it even though he had nothing to do with it. Expect this WILL happen perhaps not with him but someone’s name will get used and most likely smeared as a result.
Scholarship unfortunately is not the handmaiden of practical workings. Why? Most scholars spend their time doing research in libraries and reading which is tedious work. Note taking and cross referencing materials is often drudgery and tiresome, I know because I’ve done this myself on occasion. It’s like why aren’t great mechanics good racers themselves? They build and maintain the vehicle but someone else takes the risks out on the track. The occult research scholar is the mechanic and the practitioner is the racer who takes the risks on the track. But let us remember too that some practitioners write books themselves and while their material isn’t scholarly it can often be usable and worthwhile.
Lately I’ve been turning on the members of my online discussion group to some old occultists that rarely got a chance to shine. Today these late, lesser known occultists get sneered at for various reasons by elitists and yet the members are trying these lesser works of sorcery and discovering for themselves that they have missed out. Many of them have been misinformed by scholars that such books are a waste of time and then taken on a wild ride of history which in itself is fascinating though often dry but has little practical application. The problem with this is when you have scholars preaching opinions instead of presenting facts from research. Some of them begin to sound like “Dr. Ken Hamm” clones who may seem to know what they’re talking about (when it comes to lesser magics) but in the end they wind up sounding more like kooks bitching for the sake of complaining about the plethora of lesser works on the market.
Some of these lesser occultists have been authors from the Parker Publishing world such as Anthony Norvell or Theodor Laurence and Geoff Gray-Cobb. I’ve also been introducing folks to the likes of Ophiel whose books on Astral Projection and Creative Visualization are legendary in many occult circles. Anthony Norvell had a strong run at Parker producing some memorable titles in healing and metaphysical uses of chakras. Geoff Gray-Cobb offered both a simple method of spirit summoning and a short catalog of spirits to summon for aid.
Other authors I plan to introduce will be a surprise but for now suffice to say that none of them are academics and they’re not bad authors in the least. Their material is sharp and spot on. Just because they’re not practicing Solomonic material does not exclude them from worthwhile study and use, especially for those of you who are interested in learning how to get things done without having to wait for the planets to align properly as the medieval practitioners most certainly did.
In closing, what I’d like for you to take away from this is to remember that both the greater and lesser authors as well as their works are needed in our metaphysical society. Not everything needs to be fixed with a spirit found in a 14th century manuscript nor must we always consult a post-modern book on sorcery to find answers to nagging questions. Just realize that the balance is a thin line that few dare to walk and none like to stand on for long else the crowd can become hostile wanting to take pot-shots. Employ some common sense and use your noggin. Research, study and grow. Also, be not afraid of modern authors because you may pick up something useful to add to your repertoire.