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Paths, processes and systems - part 1

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Jul. 29th, 2010 | 10:41 am

I'm going to put up some of the stuff from the original emails I sent M after our conversation where we started talking about magic and I started trying to lay out some of the shapes of the world for her. She had no idea what was out there, so I ended up sending a few emails that just categorised a bunch of stuff. This is part 1, on paths. Feel free to comment, to add bits or correct bits.

There's paths, and there's processes. Paths are things like religions or belief systems, that usually contain one or more processes for managing / affecting the spiritual or magical world along with any rules or codes of behaviour for what kind of affect is appropriate. Your mainstream religions take the ability to affect the s-world and put it in the hands of highly trained people (priests, pastors, rabbis, mullahs etc etc), leaving simple prayer as the only appropriate method for the layperson. The ability to do things like bless food or drink gets given to the highly trained representatives who've also been trained in the responsibilities and are in a political system that uses checks and balances to keep them roughly in line and observed by peers or hierarchy. The earth and pagan religions as well as more mystic forms of mainstream religions (eg Quakers) take some of that power and responsibility and put it back to
everybody (eg Quakers believe that everyone can hear and interpret the word of God, not just the priests). Not all paths are religious in nature - for example, despite common perception, the Jedi path and some Druid paths do not require a belief in one or any gods. Technomages that treat magic as a different sort of science can also be a bit this way.

Quick description of some common categories of path

(NB there's quite a lot of variation within each, there's several categories I've missed and I don't promise to be completely right on the paths I've not had much contact with):

* Wicca: tends to focus on the divine union of opposites, usually male and female but not necessarily, both internally and externally. Can focus on two great god beings plus extras, or on the general pantheistic approach.

* Dianic Wicca: focuses on the mysterious and divine feminine, worships the Great Mother or other overarching female goddess.

* Druidry: focuses on the creative result of the divine union - the sacred Child. Tends to be towards integration and balance and the resulting creative outpouring. Often not tied to any particular religious structure, but is most often practiced by people with a pantheistic or animistic belief set. May draw on the Arthurian mythic cycle as well as the Gaelic mythic cycles.

* Germanic Neopaganism (Asatru, Odinism): based on the old Norse pantheon. The Compass doco I mentioned had as its featured Odinists a rowdy bunch of lads in a pub.

* Jedi: core belief that the Force is in all things and can be sensed and manipulated. Not necessarily religious.

* New Age spirituality: very broad category often drawing liberally from both basic Christian precepts/concepts (eg angels, the One Creator) and 60's influences such as Transcendental Meditation (eg chakras). Or even influences of the early 1900s such as Spiritualism, seances and the Egyptian craze. Kind of a catchall of "allowable" Western thought. Sometimes referred to as "sky" religions, as distinct from the "earth" religions (though there's an increasing amount of crossover with the increased acceptability of environmental thinking).

* Technomagery or cybermagery: tends to be solo practitioners, heavy use of technological metaphors.

* Shamanism: a solo path. Usually but not always drawing from a specific native tradition (there's many native traditions feed into this). Walkers between worlds who work a lot with unusual mental states and experiences.

Part 2 goes more in the direction I think you were asking, which is about processes and systems. Now that I've described the "who", i.e. a few of the existing systems (which you may
already have mostly known about), I'll come back to the "how", "why" and "what" that is more about what different people/systems think you can do and how. Like the conversation one group I was in had where one lady stood up and said "This finding internal balance and peace with limitations is all well and good, but I saw Star Wars when I was little and I still want to turn the lightswitch off without getting out of bed. Where's your teaching for that?"

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Comments {2}

Bunny M

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from: bunny_m
date: Jul. 29th, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC)

but I saw Star Wars when I was little and I still want to turn the lightswitch off without getting out of bed. Where's your teaching for that?"

There's no such thing as a free lunch, lady. Where's that energy going to come from, and at what cost, hmm?


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from: tozgirl
date: Jul. 29th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)

I took her point though, which was that the nice lectures on being good to one another and ourselves were not why most of us had started this in the first place.

On the lines of what you're saying, I've always liked the Terry Pratchett take on it which was that you still needed leverage, and you didn't want your brain to get pushed out of your ears.

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