• Are You Practicing Golf Magic?

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    Unfortunately social services couldn't do anything to help this child.

    There are few things in this world that I hate. But I really hate golf. The only redeeming feature of golf is the club house and even then their drinks are too expensive.

    I’ll just wait for you in the carpark. Don’t worry, I brought my own wine. (Always bring your own wine.)

    Let’s take a step back and look at golf. Let’s make a few demographic observations. (Disclaimer: I’m cheating because I am professionally familiar with golf magazines. I already know the demographic. It’s AB1 M40+.)

    Golf is a moderately expensive pastime undertaken mostly by middle class, white, heterosexual men that typically requires entry into one of their various clubs before you even get to play and principally involves keeping little notes about how well you’re performing against what you “could” be achieving. There is a huge amount of dull, solo practice. Sometimes there are prizes if your little notes reflect comparative success.

    Remind you of anything?

    Lodges are the talk of our internetz again and I’m not going to weigh in for two key reasons: I positively define interested outsider in this case. Also because RO is making better observations than I could (as well as generally making himself useful if a fight has broken out in your particular club house).

    Now I like the GD. How could I not? I live walking distance from the first Isis Urania Lodge and I bore people with that info whenever we walk past where it was. I like picturing Crowley, dressed in his “time travelling drag queen” finest, getting out of the cab and ranting about authority when Yeats comes to the front door.

    I know the precise spot in the British Museum where Sammy first clapped eyes on Moina. And some of Regardie’s (original) works are part of my own personal ‘classics’ range of modern magic.

    So I’m a fan. But I’m a fan of the current. Nick makes some excellent points about whether the Lodge system is even useful anymore. And we’re going to expand on that. We’re going to widen it out to education in general because -even in the muggle world- education hasn’t kept pace with societal development.

    It would be too easy just to say the Lodge system is golf magic and everyone should stop the madness and play nice… even though I sincerely hope they do because we’ll all miss their input if this gets proper ugly.

    It would be too easy because, for a good few centuries, Lodges were an extremely effective educational technology. Both Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism appeared immediately after the Inquisition put the smack down on the Renaissance by burning my personal hero (and star of this blog header). Argue amongst yourselves whether Bruno and Campanella ever met, whether Dee started Rosicrucianism on his travels/official spying trips, whether those German alchemists had read Civitas Solis, it doesn’t really matter. It was a ‘soupy’ couple of decades.

    Whatever happened, lodges appeared because it was an effective way of carrying on the Work during the social disruption of the Thirty Years War. No paper trails, no real names and no monarchs having to admit they were Hermeticists (even though several of them undoubtedly were).

    In a stratified society, the tiny fraction of the elite who could actually read were used to the idea of assuming your “betters” knew more than you and information fed down from the top.

    It probably hasn’t escaped your notice but that’s not exactly what the modern day looks like. (Which is why, if it even needs clarification, I don’t think lodge members and golf magazine readers are the same thing. It’s just an example.)

    In the modern day we haven’t yet found the best system to educate our own kids so they’re set up for work, let alone go messing about with each others souls.

    Let me know what you think of this:

    Even if this doesn’t define your own educational habits have you given any consideration to whether you want your magical tradition to die with you? Because this is how new initiates will find it. Statistically, you probably owe a big part of your spiritual identity to what you found online. Do you see “actually, we’re the real lodge” anywhere on this infographic?

    Gone are the days when spoiled Englishmen could hang around the salons of fin de siècle Paris, swap prostitutes and just pick up on whatever the cool kids were doing.

    Now don’t mistake this rant as being in any way anti-initiation… Far from it. This rant is about a technology, not the product it once used to make. You don’t need a lodge for an initiation. The Cathars managed just fine for centuries on a one-to-one, Jedi-style basis.

    As RO pointed out, some lodges have demonstrated a disturbing tendency to repeatedly fail as technologies of transmission over the last century. Maybe because they’re not built for today? Maybe it’s like trying to use an abacus on the trading floor of the NYSE?

    Maybe the lodge system has come to the end of its usefulness? Maybe it’s best to simply come together for company, mutual advice and support, while carrying on the Work together? Selfishly that’s certainly what I’d like to see from a current that I genuinely respect and admire. Because I will miss your input if this gets all flamey and ugly.

    Maybe the time has come to permanently adjourn to the club house for a few mojitos and let nature reclaim the links?

    First round’s on me.


    London-based occultist and pseudo-pseudohistorian. Messes about with sigils. Travels a lot but is otherwise extremely lazy.


    8 Responses to Are You Practicing Golf Magic?

    1. Apel Mjausson
      March 1, 2011 at 1:54 am

      Something seems to be in the air. In addition to the lodge stuff you and RO are writing about, there’s a big kerfuffle about a ritual at PantheaCon that turned away people without having specified who would be OK to attend.

    2. March 1, 2011 at 11:56 am

      Excellent post, a number of my relatives are teachers and this has given me a lot to discuss with them.

      Your suggestion at the end of the article about how the non-lodge based magical development could work reminded me an article that I read last week: http://www.gantthead.com/content/articles/261940.cfm

      It talks about how Delivery Project Management Offices (PMO) were dying off, but Methodology PMOs were still adding business value.

      The Delivery PMO is perceived as a threat and my experience of them has been that they by their nature stir up politics in an organization. I suspect that lodges may have a similar effect.

      The Methodology PMO is perceived as an enabler and if applied to magical development would (hopefully) focus more on growth and excellence with less political friction being generated.

    3. March 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      THIS is why I am solitary. This exactly.
      Wanky self imposed hierarchy, puffed up dogma based on someones elses ideas, someone elses ideal that the media is more important than the message – petty useless bullshit that only serves as a roadblock to finding your own path, your own truth. Do I want my ‘tradition’ to die with me? Yes, because everyone should find their own path, even if a group of like minded individuals inspired a few forks in the road.
      Clearly I am not a joiner, but I would be happy to adjourn to the clubhouse for a mojito & some lively discussion. Just don’t ask me to wear those hideous blue checked matchy matchy pants!
      Sorry, feeling ranty
      Mrs BC´s last blog post ..Monkey Logic

    4. jonquil
      March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      ‘revolutions’ & spats seem to be in the air from tunisia, egypt, yemen, & libya to american ‘witch wars’ to u.k. lodge-istics. our world seems to be rearranging itself on many levels.

    5. March 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      @Jonquil Hopefully into the shape of a giant pair of robot boobies or a wang.

      Either way there’ll be giggling.

    6. Sunfell
      March 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      I adore our digital world, but it is so etherial and incredibly fragile. The ‘cloud’ can vanish at the flip of a switch, or worse, a nice, nasty CME from the Sun. And the tech gets rendered obsolete and unaccessible within decades, if not months. Who remembers the Palm or the Cleo or the Newton or the cassette or Dictabelt? Anyone?


      That’s the unfortunate thing about such digital magic- it truly is fleeting and fragile.

      Books are a bit better. Not quite as fragile, but still a frozen time-slice, rendering a snapshot of the places and attitudes and biases of their creation. I still use them as the way to lay the foundation of a practice.

      But once that foundation is laid, the best and most ‘modern’ thing to do is shelve or re-home the books, stash the tools, and shut down the tech, and permit Them to address you directly. Otherwise their Signal gets lost in the noise of all those apps, quarrels, and WholierThanThouness that tends to bugger up the clarity of the Current.

      It isn’t easy, (and can even be existentially fatal to the curious or ego-stuck) but one thing is certain: what you get is perfectly suited for who and where and when you are.

    7. March 1, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      I think that the future of magical education is social constructivism. Instead of a top-down model where the leadership of a group imparts privileged secret information only to those deemed worthy, the social constructivist model treats learning as a collaborative exercise in which all can participate on equal footing.

      My magical working group has done some experimentation with this sort of exploration and learning and so far the results seem to be quite positive, and we plan on going further with it in the near future. It is especially good at facilitating peer review, which is often lacking in top-down organizations.
      Ananael Qaa´s last blog post ..A Saint Paul Goat Sacrifice

    8. March 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      You bring up a lot of good points with this. One of my degrees I’m working on right now is a bachelor’s in education. There are two main discussions in western philosophy of education now; what social model of education should we use, and how relevant is digital technology to the future of education.

      Even at the University level some professors are still eschewing the use of laptops for their students. Imagine my surprise first day of class when I had to get out my pocket moleskine and hurriedly write down basic timelines of Sumer.

      For a while a few years back, and it is still going on, there was a lot of blame for attention deficit disorder on modern digital tech keeping our minds running in circles and ruining students. Like your graphic mentions though, the other side believes that we’re learning more and more how to process multiple streams of information at once. I’m pulling off an A average with a 130% course load (meaning minimal extra time to dedicate to courses) and yet every class -save the one where my laptop is denied to me- while I’m taking notes I’m playing chess on facebook, reading my blogfeeds, writing my own blogs, writing papers for other classes, articles for publication, etc. I’d argue too that I’m not a digital native at 26, I’m probably just before that new mentality really appeared, but I can see enough of it in myself.

      Oddly enough though between my personal experience in education (both my own and the study of education), an historical framing in the Cybermodel of magick, and my own magickal past I’ve not thought too much about how the rise of digital tech influences our magickal society and workings. You say lodges are on the way out (simplified rehash) and yet in the same vein there is a rise in complete digital lodges or primarily digital lodges, I’ve seen some where for example most of your work is email or instant messanger but you’re required to visit once a year (or such) for in person work. I wonder if this is just our inability to actually progress, or a transformation.

      Historically new technology has mimicked old technology until people became comfortable with it. Clay pottery was originally painted in cross-hatches to look like woven baskets. Ionic columns were sculpted to look like the bundled reeds they replaced. Phones had bells on top long after the ringers were internal. Is the migration of lodges to cyber space the same thing, or is it the next “wave” of lodge-organization? There is definitely a series of flaws with the lodge structure in our current society, but are they completely on the way out, or is it time for us to change how we conceive of lodge magick?

      I mean the OTO is stagnating; very little member movement, both into the order and into higher degrees; no new works are being produced; no major projects are being undertaken. Frankly I think a lot of that is being too attached to the status quo and not having the presence of mind to walk to the places that scare you. The GD is repeatedly growing, splintering, and imploding. I love both orders and their teachings, but there is something in the methodology that is flawed. The question is what, and how can we fix it? If we don’t the lodge model may die, which may not be a bad thing, but we have to be sure that it is the time for it to die and something more appropriate will come after.

      “There is a choice in life: one either grows or one decays, grow or die, I think we should grow.” ~ Robert Zubrin

      Are lodges outdated social structures, informational structures, magickal structures or some combination? I don’t think we’ll get an answer before many such organizations are destroyed in the birth pangs whatever comes next…to sound overly dramatic.

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