May You Always Walk Uphill: Post-Chaos and Hermetics

What I was first entering grad school years ago, the head of the department gave me this “motivational speech” about how once you become an academic no one else will really understand you anymore, and blah blah blah. It was a lot of elitist BS ;). He did have one great nugget in there. He said scientists can only be happy on an incline. Only if you are constantly learning and walking up hill, having a steady stream of new ideas and info coming in will you be happy. To do this you need a mind open to all of the possibilities. I think the exact same things applies to magicians.

I’m only ever happy when my mind is open, when I’m reminded just how much there is to know that I don’t yet, with that possibility of eventually learning it, knowing it, owning it. Jason’s post about the post-chaos era really got me thinking. I was thinking long before that actually, but it was the catalyst to actually write about it. I really considered throwing my gauntlet back into the chaos arena. For a little while. That was a great time in my life. I felt invincible then. Invincible is a feeling much needed right now, especially in a world where as an adult you feel more or less at the mercy of outside forces.  Job, economy, politics. None of that was really on my radar then.

That’s where magic steps in though.

The Post-Chaos Era

I also realized part of my chaotastic urge was wanting to re-capture that feeling of openness, of walking up hill again. It’s really not about becoming a chaos mage again (for me at least). It was my home once yes. Have you ever tried to go home again and found either you’ve changed and the people there have changed (or even worse, stayed the same!) so it’s still the same location but it’s no longer “home”. I think everyone has experienced this. Remember that helpless feeling of realizing there is no net? You can’t ever really go home because home as you remember it no longer exists?

It may still exist for some people who have tended the flames their daily, grown and changed with the environment, but for you it’s gone forever. You have to go back into the world and make it work because there is no going back. You have to find home all over again. It’s kind of like that.

For me, it was realizing that lesson I had learned there and had forgotten and taking it back with me.

This universe is a wonderful beautiful place. No matter how much I learn about it through science, magic, or religion I will never have even a sliver of the universal truth, if such a thing even exists. To me this is actually comforting in some twisted way. I think if anything the shift from the chaos era to the post-chaos era should be the shift from Nothing is true, everything is permitted to Everything is True, Everything is Permitted. It’s the recognition of just how truly awesome and large the universe is. For me this was the entire draw of the whole system.

Personally, it wasn’t about whether pop-culture icons should be used or not (I’ve never used them personally so it’s neither and issue nor interest for me), its about the view point of openness, realizing that although I can adopt a formal cosmology I recognize it probably is only a small piece of the actual puzzle. My meat suit makes me myopic. To me that’s part of why I’m on the magical path. Magic is a set of corrective lenses. Magic affords me the best means of transcending that near sightedness, both in this life and hopefully (if my plan succeeds) beyond.

So for me, this is the single most important lesson I needed to go back and reclaim from my old chaos days. Openness. Wonder. Without these qualities my magic is destined to stale. So for me (notice how I keep using that phrase), moving into the post-chaos era is about bringing with me the main lesson I learned in my chaos years. It’s all about reclaiming wonder and not getting stuck in dogma for the sake of dogma and being open to new experience. Being open to the reality of my own ignorance, yet not wallowing in it.

The World. It’s a pretty awesome place.

One example of this is my recent experience during the Water initiation. I talked about aliens in it. Aliens people! I really felt weird making that public. Are people going to lose respect for me? Are they going to think I’m crazy (I may well be)? Yet those experiences did happen as I described and to not include it would be disingenuous to myself. It kind of falls into Gordons Whiskey Rant territory. So yes, I think there is probably some weird cross over between what people describe as aliens and spirits (apparently I’m not the only one). I think it has something to do with the Sphere of the Moon too. Do I understand it? Hell no! But it’s wondrous and beautiful and I’m open to it. This is my post-chaos lesson. The fact that no matter how much I think I know, I realize I know very little. The spirits will always surprise me. That’s part of how I know their real. If I wasn’t being surprised, I’d be a little suspicious.

So am I saying Chaos Magic isn’t a good system? NO, I still think it works just fine for those practice it and most of it’s adherents are people I respect the hell out of. Ultimately I know myself well enough that I wouldn’t be happy there. It’s no longer my home.

Hermetics: The New Love Affair

I’ve been around the proverbial spiritual block the past few years. Druidry was a close fit, but the Celtic thing always stuck in my side (say it with me folks “I don’t do Celtic”). Witchcraft is totally awesome but ultimately too lunar and not enough solar for me. For me Hermetics is like the one night stand that you ended up falling in love with.

I stumbled onto this current path by “randomly” listening to a you-tube video of Jake Stratton-Kent speak. I wish I could find it again, but I can’t. I was fascinated. Awed even. This was something new to me and I knew I needed in on it. it kicked off a journey I never intended on taking. It lead me on a bread crumb trail following this line of thought back to grimiores and then to ceremonial magic until I somehow ended up discovering Hermetics. I decided to take The Black Work course half out of curiosity and to learn how to work with spirits better, and half out of this insane nagging itch that wouldn’t let me NOT (I’ve learned not to ignore that feeling). I kind of expected to take what I learned and move on, back to paganism. I never expected to find that it fulfilled me that much. Change me that much even.

I’m talking a complete total feeling of finally doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Realizing my role in the universe and all that deep stuff (Is this The Great Work?). It’s been a total game changer for me. I remember RO saying once on his blog that Hermetics has everything he needs (again I have no idea where but I remember reading it). I didn’t understand that at the time, but now I can totally see it. I thought it would be dusty old tomes and Crowley regurgitation (Ugh!). Yet I found a rich tradition, tradition I craved, that includes all the elements I needed to help me advance. It’s got the pure solar aspect. It’s got the down and dirty primal stuff I crave too if you know where to look (I actually think Hermetics is probably the 1st centuries version of Chaos Magic).

The tradition thing is a big one for me. I like being connected to tradition, something that has worked well for thousands of years, yet also leaves room for innovation. This is what I’ve been seeking for awhile even though nothing fit. Tradition and initiation. I didn’t expect to find it here. Isn’t that always the way?

I refuse to give up the dancing goats though! Don’t. even. ask it.

Hekate, you ask?? She’s there too, again you need to know where to look. She was in the system before it was even a system. I’m not leaving her behind in any way. I plan to focus a lot more on the Chaldean Oracles and the PGM in my future studies along side the Corpus Hermeticum. The keys are all in there. My path probbaly won’t look exactly like others. I’m cool with that.

So in short I decided to try on the system to see if it fits only to fall in love with it in the end. I mean that sincerely. For the first time in a long time I feel home. Between Hermetics, and the Strategic Sorcery current I’m finding that I have all the tools I need. The rich tradition merged with the innovative new. It’s a good time to be a mage. Is it trendy? Possibly. I’m not sure if I care really.

So I’ve thought about this a lot this week. A lot. I ended up discussing it with Kammeal last night inadvertently too (Or rather he ended up discussing it with me. I just sat and listened. Quietly). I got a strong “stay the course” vibe. I’ve wandered enough. It’s time to put down roots.

For a long time I’ve been wandering looking for one inclusive title that describes all I do. I think I’ve kind of found it here. This makes me happier than I can possibly articulate.

I’m still going to be pursuing my Chthonic and folk magic studies (I think the word Witchcraft has too much baggage that I want to avoid right now). I need my balance, my lunar and solar. Ouronic and Chthonic with me somewhere in the center. I don’t see having to abandon that at all though.

So for better or worse I’m throwing my gauntlet in the Hermetics ring for good. Hermetic mage. One descriptor. No more of this “and” stuff. I like the tradition. It’s a good fit. Not just “good enough” but like really fucking good. I’m done with short term relationships, it’s time to put a ring on it. Maybe it’s the effect of those elemental initiations, binding me to the path? Whatever it is, I’ve found myself on this path and I can’t step off. My gut tells me so.

I feel like I’m walking on an incline again, learning and being challenged. So, here’s to always walking up hill.

(If you noticed that my post about Kammeal from yesterday is gone it’s because it felt too private. I didn’t feel right having it out there. Something just felt off about it so I marked it as private. Just thought it deserved an explanation as to why it went missing.)

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9 Responses to May You Always Walk Uphill: Post-Chaos and Hermetics

  1. That resonates with me. I am still at home with my Sumerian deities, but my other growth direction is Hermetic studies. Do check out Poke Runyon’s Hermetic Hour podcasts on blogtalkradio.com; I am getting a lot out of their associate member program. A long time ago, they decided to “rePaganize” Solomonic magic, and I think they did a great job.

  2. Scylla says:

    I’m actually working on a post about “What I learned from Chaos Magick” – and it all comes down to “That may or may not be ‘Superman’ but it’s asking me to call it ‘Superman’ and it looks like ‘Superman’ so being a dick about something that insignificant is like looking askance at someone who doesn’t fit a gender normative and saying “Yeah, but what are you REALLY.” – what I need to know is what’s presented, and to keep flexible enough to shift paradigms without breaking the path away under my feet each time.

    • Seillean says:

      Scylla,

      I think that’s a really good way to approach it. Do you still do much chaos style workings in your practice? I look forward to reading that post!

      • Scylla says:

        Honestly? I do Chaos-harkening bits a lot.. Because the approach is not that different from fragmentary traditional/folk practices that have been shored up by reasonably correct-shapen bits adapted from other sources. (winkwink, nudgenudge)

  3. jowzeph says:

    Hermetics has always been one of those things that I always come back to, and if I am honest with myself, that I never really leave. It’s like that person you don’t officially break up with, you just speak less sometimes and still occasionally sleep together.

    Pete Carroll’s newer Chaos stuff is truly wonderful, and was very accessible to my Hermetically trained brain meats.

    It’s a little hard to innovate in Hermetics, but I think RO does a wonderful job. Some of the innovations need to be kept as a sort of in house secret, otherwise there tends to be a bit of flack from some conservative corners, but that is all par for the course.

    • Seillean says:

      Hi Jowzeph,

      Thanks for the comment and encouragement. I like your analogy 🙂 Oh, I’ll always have a love for PJC. I greatly enjoyed The Octavo.

      Oh and yeah, I tried hard (I’m not sure successfully or not) to keep my writings down to my own experiences and not divulge too much of the course material.

  4. MrBlack says:

    Nicely written.

    Enjoyed the analogy of “openness” because that’s how I approached magick, which eventually lead to ChM, which helped me polish up my own style.

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