Monday, May 4, 2015

What went wrong? ''Ten Tips for Young Occultists''

Nick Farrell has just released an incredibly patronizing article which I hope is not endorsed by the ''elders'' of the community.  The whole article has been reposted with his comments in italics.  I want to say I do not know Nick Farrell but I really cannot let this one go without a response.

Realise you know nothing. No one aged 20 to 30 knows anything about people, life or has put in enough man hours to understand magic.  If you are training at that age you are lucky and have more time to learn. Once you have a few years under your belt you will have stories to tell.  But even then you still know nothing and will have something to learn. Those people you think know nothing actually have pissed off far better people than you and stopped making the same mistakes you are doing 20-50 years ago.  Even Jesus did nothing meaningful before he was 30 and he was supposed to be a god.

A core tenet of the WMT is reincarnation therefore there may be some younger people who remember way more than their older counterparts.  This could be the first time on the WMT wheel for an older practitioner (they might have been a fish or a frog last time) and a young one who has the fortune and done the work on their magickal memory (and who was a magus last time) could absolutely outstrip their older colleagues and supposed mentors.  

Most of the current ''elders'' that I respect had early life experiences and were paying attention to the unseen world from a very young age - they were also commenting at a very high level of understanding as a youth. There are many ''elderly'' practitioners who didn't find the path until they were 40.  Sometimes I would value the experience and wisdom of an 8 year old over an 80 year old.  Be fucking discerning.

Isaac Luria is a case in point, who died before 40, and tradition history is full of such stories, but since Mr Farrell brings up Jesus, Jesus did a great deal of meaningful things before 30 they just didn't make the editors cut for the bible. Read around.  And bear Jesus in mind as you carry on reading and think about what kind of Jesus Mr Farrell's advice would have created.

Stop talking. Your theories on occultism, magic or anything are not really worth much.  There will be people around you who know much more than you and they will never speak while you are talking.  While you are talking you are only able to express your very limited understanding.

- The theories on occultism espoused by the older orders are laced with garbage most of the older practitioners accepted on face value precisely because they didn't question their teachers. 

Again if you have done the correct work on your magickal memory (as is supposed to be an important early practice) your age in this life is not as important as Farrell et al are making it out to be.  I have experienced several people seriously embarrassing themselves after believing they automatically ''know more'' than a ''younger practitioner''.  

Bear in mind all the young people who have achieved amazing things in history and all the old people who have died as failures.  Besides who knows anything really?  Our knowledge is finite, our ignorance infinite.  Lets value the voice of our students as we continue into the unknown.

 Listen. One of the things that are really good about the Internet is that you have access to teachers who know what they are doing. If they are talking listen. When you are listening and I mean really listening, you remember it all.  A “lesson” might be too advanced for you now, but it will go in and not be forgotten.

- No, you listen.  The essence of good teaching is for a teacher to listen to their students.  I am sick and tired of hearing the WMT ''elders'' bitch about the students.  You whine like mules. Shut the hell up and listen to them and adapt your teaching practices.  There have been generational level mistakes in passing on the WMT and we are going to have to work hard to stay in existence.  In fact the culture of 101 occultism is so strong now people (and teachers) are forgetting the principles of more advanced magic.  Obviously if someone is lecturing you should wait until question time but the absolute best form of teaching is dialogue.  An introspective student requires completely different kind of attention to an extrovert. - learning should be personalized wherever possible.  Do you want your students to learn? Adapt.  

Do not use questions to assert your own ignorance. Ask real questions related to the subject and its implications. Good teachers allow questions and debates because that is how they learn.  Unquestioned teachers make emphatic statements which will have to be challenged later.

- Yes good teachers listen, so the student has to talk.  That's dialogue and that is how a student ''learns'' what a ''real question'' is. Can't you see how you are contradicting yourself here?  You, as a teacher are setting the boundaries of what is an acceptable question and an acceptable way of asking it.  A more progressive teacher may even let the boundaries shift as they work with the student to define the limits of the relationship rather than making everyone conform.

Realise that you are unimportant. You and your ideas will only become important when you have refined your ideas and found your “voice.” The world is full of people who think they are teachers – an occult teacher is someone who is forced into the role by circumstance and other people, you shouting “pay attention to me” disqualifies you.  If you want to teach, you should never do it. 

- This is incredibly patronizing.  All existence is unimportant at whatever scale and whatever time period.  Or it is all equally meaningful  - the battle between aphids and ladybirds in a rosebush as meaningful as proton torpedo exchange in distant interstellar wars. 

And important in what?  The final years of a dying tradition squandered by people like you and those you talk about? Teachers take note - this is how you crush spirited students. Belittle and talk down to them, rather than attempting to cut through whatever noise and listening to what they are trying to say.

You can learn a lot from some real cunts. One of the thing I noticed that that me and a lot of occultists have been trained by people who have been real arseholes. They may be brilliant magicians but dealing with them requires the patience of Job.  Fighting with such a person is easy – getting on with them is often the challenge of learning.

- You can also be severely damaged by real cunts as seems to be the case here.  I am beginning to wonder if this should be called top ten tips for the suicidal student who wants to fail.  My advice, if you needed it - stay away from obvious psychopaths.  Of course everyone is a bit rough around the edges and you should beware the charming man as much as the aggressive.  Tolerate rogues, don't entertain megalomaniacal sociopaths et al.

A good teacher does not really care what you say, they are more interested in what you do.  They will be looking at your diaries to see what experiences you have had with the system they are trying to teach you.  Work flat out and when you are asked show them your results.

- I agree in measuring achievement on action and not on idle chat, but dialogue is an absolutely essential part of the teacher-student relationship.  The way in which a student expresses themselves is an important part of their development and the teacher should be interested in that.  I certainly care about what my students say how else are they to develop the ''voice'' that you say is so important in your paragraph above?

You will project your weaknesses onto your teacher. Everyone does this, but the younger you are, the more likely you are going to project whatever you feel about your patents on to your teacher. Occultism is full of people who want a mother or a father figure because the relationship with their parents was so bad.  When you are younger this pain is closer to the surface. If you find that the teacher is suddenly becoming your worst nightmare it might be a good idea to evaluate your relationship with your parents before taking it out on your teacher.

- The teacher will project their weaknesses on to the student. Sometimes the teacher may project idealised fantasies/nightmares of sons and daughters that they may or may not have or projections of their own idealised younger self on to their students. This is what is happening here methinks.  As a teacher I watch teachers blame the students constantly - if you change your teaching style and adapt to students individual needs you will not have so many problems.  It is the student's needs that matter not yours.

Don’t just sit there help.  A teacher can teach but organising an event often requires help. Walking into a room sitting down and saying “teach me” is expected but will not earn any friends from the teacher. You might have come from an environment where you mother did everything for you, but helping put out the chairs, making the coffee, washing up is more likely to attract attention from any teacher.  I don’t mean glamourous stuff, like conducting a lecture or volunteering for a ritual role – I mean the shit jobs.

- Help put out the chairs???  That's in your *top ten* tips?  What a dingleberry!

Never challenge the leader. If a group is bad, having you mouth off about it is not going to help.  If you are unable to quietly take your concerns to the leader then you have to leave.  Even if you take your concerns to the leader, be aware that you might be announcing your own exit. The problem is that when you are young you are going to get hurt and diced by magical group politics by people who are a hell of a lot more clued up than you.  Remember that in games like that, you are just there to make up the numbers or be cannon fodder of more mature and politically clever people – it always ends badly.

- Never challenge the leader is a top tip!?!?!  What is he trying to create here - the Hitler Youth?  Students of the WMT do not listen to this idiocy. Always challenge your leaders and teachers.  If they are not up for the challenge they should not be either leading or teaching. Nick seems to be advocating a sit down, shut up and learn approach - almost something one might experience in the late 1940s in a class run by an old bomber pilot or something - NO!

Obviously Mr Farrell has had a pretty rough ride in the occult world as his rather bitter story at the beginning of the article reveals.  I don't know him but I can't condone these as top tips for an esoteric student.  I really hope he reads this and thinks critically about what he has written.

Here are my top ten tips - some are obvious but clearly need restating in light of the above:

1. Practise meditation.

2. Work on your magickal memory, explore the astral plane and master the use of your astral body but never neglect the physical paths.

3. Wherever possible study source texts first and commentaries second.

4. Pay attention to your dreams and maintain your records.

5. Form *student-led* study groups online and in real life - if possible have them monitored rather than directed by ''teachers''.  Avoid un-rectified psychopaths and narcissists for the role of teacher.

6. Know the risks! The grimoires are laced with warnings for good reasons, ignore those who say otherwise.  Stay grounded or you'll lose your mind.

7. Acquire strong spiritual allies through prayer and other devotional practices.

8. Relate to people as individuals regardless of their age, fame or seniority as you will find teachers in strange places. Ignore the bombast from certain ''teachers'', there is a lot of it, its just a trend.

9. Experiment and listen to the Anima Mundi.  Read the responses to your magick in the world.

10. You'll always be a student.  Remember that when you become a teacher.


  1. He wrote this because of the Kircher tree.

    And because he wants you kids off his lawn.

    I agree with pretty much everything you said here BTW. I just had to get the Kircher Tree comment in.

    Young people have a nimbleness of mind that is enviable and much of the best work from people comes from theories that they sparked when they were young, and then ran by people with experience, and honed through their own.

  2. It totally is the Kircher Tree. No joke. Its going to take a long time before the WMT recovers, if it does.

  3. The very best books on the aspirant/teacher relationship that I have encountered have been written by the famous Sufi Master Idries Shah. I strongly recommend "Learning How To Learn" to everyone. Incidentally I agree with both parties; both have excellent points to make. However, it is true that maturity does in fact count for a very great deal, and the quality of maturity is not confined to older people. Everyone has encountered the child who can use power tools better than most adults, and the adult who cannot be trusted with even a sharpened Popsicle stick. That being said, the Qabalaistic Mysteries were not previously entrusted to anyone who was not over the age of 36; this has to do with the ancient Osirian Mystery of the Lamed Vav, the "36 Righteous", who keep civilization going by their very presence.

  4. Yet Isaac Luria, the greatest kabbalistic genius of all time began his studies at 22 and died at 38.

  5. Abraham Abulafia started studying Kabbalah a the age of 31. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto began at the age of 20,

    Rambam (Moshe ben Maimon, aka Maimonides) stated:

    "I say that it is not proper to dally in Pardes [i.e., mysticism] till one's belly is filled with 'bread and meat,' knowledge of what is permitted and what forbidden, and similar distinctions in other classes of precepts."

    So yes a person needs a certain level of learning and maturity before styding the mysteries. But I do not know of a rule that it cannot be studied before 36.

    I am familiar with the idea that 36 refers to the hidden tzadikking (righteous people) in whose merit the world is sustained.

  6. As far as I was aware the rule was no KBL until 40 to cut down on people attempting to meditate themselves off-world before fulfilling their duty to the tribe. ;-)