Gordon’s latest post has me thinking about what it means to have goals in magical work. I often feel like a bit of an outsider to the ‘do magic for x, get x’ school of magical work. In most cases, it feels like if I really want x, there are usually more direct routes toward x than magic. I know, the get it camp tends to favor doing magic as a way of securing the route, but it’s never been a major part of my work.
I will probably sit down sometime soon and think about adding a few new categories and subcategories around the discussions of the Kabbalistic material. I’m holding off a little because I want to have a sense of the directions it is opening. For this post I want to talk a little more about the apophatic dimension of the sefirot that I see underscored in Sefer Yetzirah (SY).
This returns to some of the practice-minded implications that began this growing series of posts around the SY.
So, first, there is this post that seems to be making the rounds, especially the specifics of “David’s” experience. The there is having David Gordon White’s bits about sinister yogis going through my head (he makes the point in miniature in his book on Patanjali). There is the recent post over at enfolding.org about therapy and mindfulness. The story of David, the experiences with mindfulness as part of disruptive reform program, and the history of revolutionary yogis, opens onto a broader discussion of adopting practices from other cultures. There is a common narrative about these that I think we ought to undercut.
That narrative kicks up around the occult scenes in the face of stories like that of David. There is more than a little ethnic Romanticism at the foundations of self-identified ‘Western’ occultism (both among ‘magical’ and ‘religious’ strands). When confronted by these stories about the dangers of spiritual work, it manifests as otherwise sensible people muttering gnomic warnings or patting themselves on the back about how careful they are engaging with ‘foreign’ or ‘exotic’ cultural practices to which ‘Westerners’ aren’t well-suited.
I’m still chewing over the idea of ‘tradition’ and ‘traditional’ from yesterday and I am getting closer to the kernel of it. Talking about the difference between traditions as historical entities and traditionalism as an attitude definitely puts me on the right track. The notion that there is an attitude at the heart of my attraction to the term gets me even closer.
I can start to put on a better name on that attitude, too. Respect.