We all know of the book enthusiasts: the collectors, the name-droppers, the text dogmatists. And then there are the authors of those books. Some are actually original. Many others are like this guy, only less honest:
“Sigh, so someone got mad at me and posted a bunch of besmirching shit about me, because when he insulted all white americans I called him an uncultured redneck foreigner, or something. And he got mad. Mostly, I think he’s just pathetic. However, I’d like to address something he mentions, publicly, clearly, and concisely: NEARLY everything I teach and charge for I learned for free from www.esotericarchives.com, and no one needs to buy my shit to learn magic. My stuff just explains it the way I explain things. It’s useful, to some people, but it would still be better if you just learned it on your own.
Agrippa is the source of most of my learning and practice, and it’s all there on Joseph Peterson’s site for free. So I don’t want to hear any bitching about me charging for repackaged Agrippa. I’m telling you up front, clear and clean: I SELL REPACKAGED AGRIPPA, AND I’M PROUD OF IT. And my experiences. Deal with it. Don’t buy my shit if you don’t want to. That’s cool.”
The ‘less honest’ ones are totally unoriginal and plagiarizing dudes who get praised anyway – like, for example, Donald Michael Kraig – and because of their dishonesty, make it hard to sort out the original authors from unoriginal ones without spending money. We can discuss how ‘writing is a magickal act,’ but publishing is a business. Whatever ends up making a profit, goes. You are being sold something, regardless of the content being worth it.
So when I see a pathetic attempt at snark by supporters of abusers pulling rank and asking,”What books have you published?” I really have to laugh. This is the new standard of measurement of spiritual success, not “What work have you done?” Even assuming that writing a book is required of the Adeptus Exemptus of the A.’.A.’., most Thelemites do not make it to that grade; it’s even more certain that most writers of occult books are not adepts. Yet supposedly, they know things that anyone else below the grade of adept does not and cannot find out on their own.
Listen, book-worshippers: I’m a freelancer. People PAY me to write for their business blogs, Q&A and product info sites online (no, I don’t get paid for this site – don’t even go there).* Authors, as a rule, do not make beaucoup bucks for their books – unless they have connections and fame (like the saying,”It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”) or are unoriginal hacks with a lot of influence and support. If you are someone who relies on their partner or a day job to make the real money so you can stay at home and pursue your middle-class dream-digging of writing or art, then you don’t know the first thing about being a ‘starving artist,’ much less a well-fed one. It’s a hobby for you, which you can change like yesterday’s socks as soon as you lose interest in it.
The book/author-worshiping feeds into the armchair magickian mentality and I’m sick of it. It is how we get to the subjective and relativist ‘magick is whatever you want it to be’ and abstract pipe-dreams that go nowhere except the feel-good parts of the ego. It is how we rationalize looking the other way when a famous leader/author does something harmful or advocates quackery; everyone else in comparison is a jealous nobody plebeian who couldn’t possibly know what they are talking about, because they aren’t materially profiting from their knowledge. (By the way, that means you.)
And for those who are, then it’s a question of who has profited more. A silly competition, which some people choose not to participate in on either side. The rest of us can’t all be spreaders of the Word by [insert name here]. We like coming up with our own thoughts and words.
But it wouldn’t matter if those talking about spiritual abuse aren’t profiting, because they are immediately assumed to be talking in order to profit or gain personal power anyway. It’s a case of projection. According to this guy, you can assume anyone talking about spiritual abuse is a troll and the most important thing is keeping together the group at all costs:
“You want to know where spiritual abuse comes from? It comes from the guy who waltzes in from nowhere, pretends to be superior to those present, and attempts to seize control (even if only morally). More often than not, he’s the guy loudly declaring that the existing leader or leaders need to “explain themselves.”
*That* is the guy who is going to spiritually abuse you – and he’ll do it the whole time declaring he is here to protect you from spiritual abuse.”
Meanwhile, the same white dude who published a number of books will eventually die like the rest of us, and you know how the names of dead white dudes are glorified. You could quote anything and put his name at the end of it, and it will be valued as super profound and logical. At that point, it’s not about valuing any insights by me or you or her or him, but name-dropping.
Notice how because ‘abuse’ is prefixed by ‘spiritual,’ he implies that it is somehow not real abuse when existing leaders are accused of it, just trouble started by a dramatic harpy – sorry, a dramatic guy (to be fair, his forum is over 90% male). Is spiritual work not real, either? Hmm. Another one of my ever-present gripes with magickal theorists: if you can’t relate the practices to real life, you are going to lose credibility among the seekers. A lack of accountability (that leaders ‘explain themselves’ regarding spiritual abuse) will likewise lose credibility among the seekers.
Per psychological studies along with my own experiences, leaders abusing their power are being cultic and counter-revolutionary. A stranger who ‘pretends to be superior’ is powerless in relation, not a threat (except to an insecure leader), and will only be believed by the very young or gullible. And a leader who doesn’t distinguish between creeps vs. (supposedly himself) the real deal isn’t worth their salt. Spirituality is not some sacred cow that is immune to critical thinking, nor does it need some elite to do the critical thinking for everyone else.
Why are the reputations of leaders so much more important to protect than those of followers and former students? Here’s a tip: even people who’ve done spiritual work can abuse! They are still human, after all; in every other area of life they are just as bad as the (for lack of a better term) the Muggles, if not worse (more in this post). Magick is as much about practice (lived reality) as it is about theory and altered states of mind, and the maturity gained is going to reflect in the practitioner’s everyday ethics and behavior towards others; attempting to compartmentalize and completely separate magick from everyday life is schizoid. The aforementioned attitude denying spiritual abuse creates hierarchies, divides people and prevents them from interacting with each other and questioning things. In other words, from doing actual magick instead of buying or writing books.
Here is a sentiment that could apply to spiritual leaders and church founders in the occult or neopaganism; just replace ‘god’ with ‘writing books,’ ‘occult experience,’ ‘grade level,’ or ‘membership in ___ group’:
“I’d think one of the biggest differences between the two (other institutions vs. church) is the self-proclaimed superior morality via god. All this constant keying in on ‘everyone else is doing it too!!’ in order to keep the stank off your shit is hot mess that we do in the 3rd grade. Don’t tell me you have divine authority over every living being as an institution of higher power and then when I call you on your shit, all of a sudden you’re on the same moral level as everyone else.” – Ronaldo DeconstructSelf Jones
Writing takes skill and practice; it does not mean simply putting words to paper. Paid writers and bloggers have to edit their own work so they don’t get rejected for too many mistakes, whereas authors usually go to an editor to clean up their mess – that is, if they don’t have a ghost writer. That’s right, editors are the unsung heroes of the publishing world. Do you believe that occult authors just so happened to be among the students who actually paid attention in grammar class? LOL.
Getting published in the occult world is not that great a feat, and really not that hard – especially if you are a man, or behind one. Kissing ass will get you everywhere, as evidenced by a certain formerly-blacklisted professional salesman** now hobknobbing with previous enemies-turned-friends. If a total charlatan can do it, so can anyone.
* As of April, thanks to life circumstances and the tips from a sister radfem and friend. Guess what? Women using male pen-names to get published wasn’t just a Victorian-era practice. Discrimination against women in writing happens to this day.
** Supposedly blacklisted, according to him. Per the article, it was likely people simply looked him up online, and didn’t like what they saw. He always made it a point to publicize all his info – a ‘come at me, bro’ taunt – because caring about privacy was cowardice…or something.