Inflating Vs. Distilling Witchcraft

Photo by David Pennington on Unsplash
Photo by David Pennington on Unsplash

“Sometimes you have to read between the Blavatsky.”  These words fell out of my mouth while I ranted gave a talk on my latest book to the gathered members of the Cascadia Illuminati this past Saturday.  I’ve done several podcast and radio interviews about Sigil Witchery, but this was the first book talk for it.  It was rather free-form. As many discovered last summer while I was on tour, that when given some booze, free rein, and the floor to speak, I can be rather entertaining. Even more so when it’s a bunch of occultists in front of me – which makes me a mix of emboldened and slightly anxious (because of there being a possible outburst of POS – Pompous Occultist Syndrome from the crowd.)

At this moment in the talk, I was referencing Austin Osman Spare’s The Book of Pleasure, which he wrote most of in his mid-20’s. It is the book that made me count all the blessings that the book I started on at the same time in my life perished in a horrible computer failure. Most occultists can cipher from the book that he was deeply inspired by Madame Blavatsky and similarly styled occult writings – and also he very much wanted to sound knowledgeable, important, and deep.  (Which I think is exactly what most intellectual folks desperately want to be perceived as when in their 20’s.) However, you can get a better sense of the man he was (and became) through the tone of his footnotes. Which is why in Sigil Witchery, I describe the character of main text as something that makes you want to drink whiskey to get through it, and while the footnotes depict a person you want to drink whiskey with.

Someone on the Internet misconstrued this comparison as evidence that I found the text “difficult.” (Which is hilarious because I’m also the same person at the age of 11 read the Book of Revelations for fun.  Also I have long been (rightly) accused of having a SAT vocabulary and overly complex sentence structure.)

No, I wouldn’t call it difficult at all. More like tedious and overblown if I was going to be snarky (and honest – and really, I like Spare.)

You see, the thing I have discovered over the years is that I’ve lost tolerance and patience for having to plow through inflated (and often poorly written) text to get to the point. Do you have time for that shit? Because I certainly don’t.

Inflated Occult Texts usually have one or more issues at the root:
– The text is modeled after earlier texts of the same nature
– A desire for esoteric embellishment
– The text is more of an exercise of ego vs. education
– An inability to explain simply, succinctly, efficiently, or effectively
– The text is designed to purposely confuse and confound the “unworthy”

Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash
Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

Let me give you two examples of text, each explaining a part from the same ritual (that I just made up):
Example A:
“Within the outer circumference of the sacred sphere, the duly-prepared dedicant must trace a path thrice round. Upon entering the primary revolution, the seeker shall withdrawal essence from the aether, channeling pluerally and releasing through the solar plexis. This progression ignites the lowest entity of the spiritual trinity, awakening the beastly spectre that resides ethereally at the base of the abdomen. Commanding thy carnal nature, bring it forthright to the temple of the mind. Once secure profoundly within your bodily vessel, proceed to embark upon the secondary revolution. ”

Example B:
“In casting your circle, you will slowly trace the outer edge of it three times. During the first cycle, you will call upon your fetch or animalistic part of your spirit by breathing in deeply down into your belly.  Imagine the breath waking the sleeping creature, stirring it to life. Then proceed to the second iteration.”

Do you see what I mean? Which was easier to read and understand? Both as a writer and a reader, I’d rather cut the crap and avoid the wankery.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love words. LOVE THEM. I am definitely no stranger to waxing poetically when inspired. I’m also a Gemini so I feel driven to tell you ALL THE THINGS. However, I am eternally grateful to my book editors for their ability to push me to make sure what I wrote is cohesive and relatively clear. I don’t write books to satisfy my ego – my goal is to provide material that is educational and accessible. I believe it shows respect for the reader.

I also believe in immediate, unadorned Witchcraft. My goal is for people to be empowered and aided by what I write. I don’t need to bury truths in flowery language or prominently display my own knowledge and resources. As a teacher in multiple media, it’s my job to impart knowledge effectively and inspire students.

Especially in times like these, the need to help people find their way is even more important and essential.  Adding on additional superfluous layers of mystery serves little purpose. There is no need to be excessively elitist and full of hot air.  Because folks, we have work to do.

(However, I will be more than happy to raise a glass and cheer on alliteration any time.)

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