**This is another post I'm moving over from my old blog and was originally published on July 21st 2014. Still very much relevant and always will be **
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “otherwise you wouldn’t have come here.”
(“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll)
I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve been in the company of magical practitioners mocking the practices and beliefs of others. I freely admit to having engaged in this myself, bitchiness can be very contagious after all.
I understand the passion so many of us often have for our practices, and the frustrations that we may experience when we encounter people who we feel are doing something incorrectly, based on misinterpretation or sheer ignorance (at least, as far as we are concerned). Sometimes though, we can do with taking a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror and asking ourselves what it is that makes us so sure about our own practices.
Hanging out with magical practitioners of various flavours and persuasions and engaging in magical discussions with them soon taught me that we all put up these barriers around ourselves. We have the stuff we believe in and practice and that we perceive to be within the realms of magical possibility, and then there are the beliefs and practices that we deem to be nonsense and are relegated to the “woo woo” pile. We each have different “woo woo” meters, though, so unless we are solely in the company of those with very similar views to ourselves, discussions can get interesting and sometimes just outright uncomfortable.
You may feel that the new age girl with the turquoise feather earrings and crystal round her neck talking about messages she received from an Ascended Master to be full of the brown stuff, but in the same breath will speak in a very matter of fact tone about something one of your dead relatives told you just last week. Is it any more ridiculous for one person to claim to have been communing with an ancient Greek Goddess of Witchcraft, than it is for someone else to feel that their prayer to an Orisha has been answered?
I’m not trying to make a case for swallowing everything anyone says without question. I just feel that too many people are too quick to make snap judgements about what is genuine or not. If you do feel another person is simply delusional, whereas you’re personal interactions with the spirits are genuine, ask yourself why that is and remind yourself from time to time of just how crazy all of us magic working, spirit believing folks are to the outside “muggle” world.
Some of the most judgemental and black and white views I hear tend to come from people who are very settled in one particular tradition or way of working. I have no issue with those who only stick to what they know or prefer and don’t challenge themselves by spreading their horizons, it can be a very practical thing to do and advantageous for the individual in some ways. Reading about, or acquainting yourself with some different concepts and traditions, however, can only be a good thing in terms of your personal education and understanding. It is good to remind ourselves of how little we know. Many people in the Craft, for instance (and many other traditions, I’m sure), often comment that the more years they spend practising and learning, the less they feel that they truly know.
Are Qabbalistic pathworkings just adventures in imagination land? Is spirit possession just your brain playing a trick on you? Is that mojo bag nothing more than just a pouch of herbs giving you a psychological confidence kick? As the old saying goes, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!