There is a phenomenon that I observe and I believe that I want to comment it. When I have enough free time, I take part in discussions related to magical practices and traditions both in English and Greek groups. This is what I see a lot today; people telling each other or me that “you don’t need to read books”. My biggest problem is when people say that they don’t have to read books and they magically gain the knowledge needed from their brain or from the connection to whatever that thing is. What? Really? No books? They say that books won’t lead me anywhere and that I have to be open to the energies. For that reason I always keep a gun close to my desk so when I read statements like these, I can easily shoot myself.
Just to avoid any misconceptions I don’t suggest that someone should stick only to the books and neglect the actual practice. My opinion is that someone has to build a strong theoretical basis and then he can start practicing. At the moment the practice begins, someone should not stop reading and expanding his knowledge. He should not consider himself an expert and throw away all the books. A healthy balance between studying and practicing is my suggestion. But my blog post really is about people who believe that books have no value and that we should get them aside and dive into the real thing – as they say.
I have “met” people telling me different things like:
- I don’t know why you are right because you just read a book.
- Why the philosophers’ opinions have more value to you than my own?
- There are other ways besides books.
- My UPG tells something completely different ect.
And my problem is right here. People prefer to let their intuition take the place of the solid and valid knowledge. I believe that this is used as an excuse to let their ignorance grow. They are bored to read a book and they try to convince me (or others) and themselves that I am wrong because I don’t accept as true or valid their opinions or hypothesis when these things have already been proven and analyzed by other authors living or dead who had an actual value and thanks to them today we have so many information and options.
I like to do things in practice but reading books is something you can’t avoid if you decide to follow that road, the magical one. This is what I have understood from my personal experience because when people complain that books are only about theory and no practice, I tell them that there are so many books that are practical. There are books that you can buy and they will tell you how to do things and how to be a practical magician. And there are other, theoretical books that will explain to you why what you read in the previous book works or what it actually means. Books will show you different options and views so you can choose freely from that wide range of information what you want to do.
I have also seen that studying others subjects also helped me in my magical practice as my understanding was growing and I could connect missing parts of the puzzle easier. Quoting Dion Fortune from the book Training and Work of an Initiate we read:
The good occult student should have a sound general knowledge of natural science, history, mathematics and philosophy.
It is vital to all occult training that the student should understand the principle of occultism and not use his formulae blindly and superstitiously.
Well these people always talk about something they call Unique Personal Gnosis. When they make a correlation or they make a conclusion and you ask for a written source they provide no sources and they say it is their U.P.G. What happens is that they present their opinion based on nowhere (and most of the times it is an illusion) and they ask you to respect it and not question it if it is either right or completely wrong as it happens most of the times. So did they use their UPG in the University exams? Did they use the UPG in school exams? So they take exams and the question says: When did happen the World War II? What do they answer? Do they answer with their UPG? And if they did answer that it happened in 3rd century B.C. what do they expect? That the teacher will say “your answer is accepted as UPG. You pass the history exams” or he will say ”what did I just read? I will not pass that student” and then the teacher will seriously think not to pass you in the next two exams to make sure that you will study well. Because when I finished the University, I never answered a single question out of thin air.
Let’s examine another example. How do these people who find no value in books take their driving license? Are they going to take exams only in the driving part or they have to study the book for the theory as well and take exams in the theoretical part too? But when it is about everyday things or easy things, people study books and when it is about occultism they don’t find it necessary. Why do they do that? It is the same as going to the University. You need to study your books and pass a lot of time in the lab as well. If you don’t do the one out of two you never become a scientist. This happens with all things in life. I can’t see why a magical practice must be an exception.
I don’t pretend to know things but I like to read books on different subjects and different people’s views and suggestions who are far more experienced than me. I like to keep a balance in everything I do and it has worked well for me. I try to keep a balance between reading and practicing. When someone tells me that I am wrong I am willing to examine it with him. I know when to step back and let others speak. When I am wrong I have no problem saying that I am wrong. I am still learning and I will continue learning things like all of us do. There is no human that never made a mistake but please don’t tell me that Platon or Plotinos is wrong when you actually never read a paragraph from their books because I will take a trident and I will come after you.