Discipline in the Face of Emergency

I want to talk a little more about why I am betting on the witchly rather than the wizardly, acknowledging fully that part of this is simply favoring my own temperament.

When I talk about the import of discipline for the wizardly modality, that process necessarily has two sides: that which orders and that which is ordered. This is why one of the natural patterns of wizardly transmission is that between a teacher and a student even though the precise shape of that relationship can vary a good deal. While the Platonic pattern is a particularly eccentric and strict expression of this, there are many others. Whether we are talking about yogic gurus or Masonic lessons, the core pattern at issue is the same: how to transmit and preserve an identifiable discipline down through time.

Camus noted that power like this tends to exert itself as fully as it can and so naturally limits its extension to preserve its sense of control. Thus we have the importance of surrender in the guru material and of secrecy in the masonic. The way in which a wizardly discipline confronts its limits plays a constitutive role in its development.

That is in part because discipline acquires force through circumscription. By directing itself to what lies within its capacity to thoroughly change, it creates an environment around itself that supports its goals.

Here, the word ‘order’ becomes a double-entendre, referencing both the activity of discipline and the concrete manifestations that discipline produces and sustains. Discipline and exercise, right? The way in which a regimen of fitness produces a fit body better suited to practicing the discipline that made it.

In its most robust expressions, we can usually talk about a treble-entendre, where there is an actual social order that develops to support and perpetuate a disciplinary regimen, as in the Order of the Golden Dawn, British Traditional Witchcraft, La Regla de Lukumi, Ifa, Neo-Vedanta.

A center and its emanations, if you will.

As the discipline itself becomes central, its practitioners take on an outward attitude of humility toward it. The elitism that is a natural restraint of the wizardly displaces itself toward the discipline and the order that supports it rather than to a specific teacher. Humility becomes a personal virtue whe adopted toward the discipline enshrined within the order.

The combination of glory and humility packs quite a punch. It is hard not to admire it when it is in full form. Well, unless you happen to be on the receiving end of its discipline and aren’t able to yield to it properly. Then you tend to get angry.

Here’s the thing: go back up, read that bit about the centrality of wizards coming to terms with the material situation, with their limits. The wizardly transmission from teacher to student is encompassed within a broader pattern of adaptation to its times, to the contingencies of its eras. It has to make a pact with the times (and hence one of the key joints of wizardly and witchly).

The trouble is that the times are hard to please at the best of times and right now are downright unruly. These days, the contingencies are on the verge of collapsing into a cascade of rapidly shifting exigencies, any of which are capable of snapping a line of transmission like tinder and blasting order to bits.

It is under pressures like these that discipline tends to take the Stoic route, held close and applying itself as narrowly as possible, that it might be threaded through the needle of disasters.

This is also a good time to learn to run with the witches, to let the ragged edges of spirits bleed together and enrich the dirt soul that will outlive us all, in which all the futures yet unseen must find root.

Because there may be no ship of ours that makes it through the coming storm, only the sweep of refugees thrown darkly against each other in the press of the night. But even there, in the swelling crowd, there is hope.

One thought on “Discipline in the Face of Emergency

  1. I like this. I’m definitely in the mindset of the wizardly rather than witchly, but it’s interesting to think about the risks attendant in that, and the potential benefits and risks of the witchly paradigm.

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