Mixing Currents

By Richard M. Romanowski | August 26, 2001

From: rmr[at]acsu[dot]buffalo[dot]edu (Richard M. Romanowski)
Subject: Re: Propriety of Mixing Currents
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1993 16:40:51 GMT

farrior[at]b4pphf5[dot]bnr[dot]ca (Robert Farrior) writes:

<< [...] I have always read and been taught that the trappings of ritual are basically unimportant and can be even be a hindrance at times. For example, say you get used to entering into a relaxed state only when sandalwood incense is burning. It is possible, in the absence of sandalwood incense, you might not be able to fully relax, depending upon the incense as a crutch. This may or may not always be the case. They are. >>

Shakespeare has power even if you’re out of costume, off a stage, without other actors. But if one is going to be silly, and occultism is pretty damn silly no matter how one slices it, one might as well go the whole hog and be goddamn ridiculous. Yes, men don’t wear dresses. Perhaps putting on a useless, non-functional garment like a robe and lighting silly, old-fashioned devices like candles is a big part of what writers like Fortune and Butler mean when they talk about ritual as a ‘stimulant’. (See _Secrets_of_Dr.Taverner_) They say that ritual is this powerful stimulus, not unlike a drug, and that one must come down from the trip sometime and attend to the Path of the Hearth Fire. This rather bothers me, since I am more inclined toward the 24-hours-a-day liberation of the mystic, and I want every second to be as sully liberating and awakening as is possible. It *is* possible to go for days in an exalted state, but it’s at least as dangerous as going on a three-day acid binge, and probably more so.

<< But, I have also found that the trappings of ritual can be effective in setting the right “frame of mind”, if nothing else. What do you mean by that? Elaborate. Contrast, compare, elucidate, lay it on me. My opinion on mixing currents is middle of the road. If there are things in the ritual that you are uncomfortable with, and you are a solitary practicioner, then alter the ritual to your own needs. >>

I am white (in the musical sense). And yet even I have enough soul to say with Lou Reed that a song cannot be played the same way twice. If you handed me a sheet of music, I would add little licks, or play it differently than I heard it on the album, even if you told me not to do thus. To make definite divergences from written rituals is instinctive to me, since I began meddling with these things long before I knew that ritual existed. Call me a born improvisator. Or just say I’m so unhip that I can’t play the riffs right.

<< In group, you generally do not have control over the ritual and are dealing with the group mind, so I will not advise you what you should do in that case. >>

Group improvisation can be done, if you have people who can do improv theatre and whose goals and the same. If you do magic with folks who are after different ends, and ritual doesn’t keep you together, you may well end up at each others’ throats. In this connection, the vibration exercises in the back of MITAP are handy — they’re so simple, there’s nothing to argue about, and you can even get a bunch of yahoos and yellow-bellies like the University at Buffalo Alternative Religion Student Association to do them.

<< Designing your own rituals is a good thing, providing that you have gained sufficient insight and understanding of what the important parts of any ritual are to allow you to design an effective ritual. Some guidance or assistance may be beneficial, but don’t feel restricted. Do what feels right. >>

And, may I suggest, practice improvising before you use a self-designed technique in ritual. But perhaps I’m biased in favour of improvisation.

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<< Now, at the risk of being labelled a dogmatist, let me say that I believe mixing of mythos is not recommended. By this I mean mixing Egyptian and Greek Deity names, or setting up a ritual in Amerindian style and then throwing in the Holy Grail, or some such nonsense. This is ritual schizophrenia. It is *bad* *Taste*, pure and simple. >>

Death to post-modernism! Death to Deconstruction! Death to the multi-cultural babble that denies the dignity and individuality of any tradition! Death to the feel-good New-Age babble of watered-down mediocrity that chokes the technique and discipline of developing students! Ompehda! Balasti!

<< In ritual, you use symbols to build up a group mind, or in the case of the solitary ritual your own consciousness around a “archetypal” central symbolic current. It is best for all of the symbology applied to correspond effectively. Amen! This gives the subconscious mind a logical path to follow. If you mix in bits and pieces from several different traditions, you can cause confusion which may nullify the working. >>

But you will certainly offend the Erinyes of Tastefulness, who shall thereafter pursue you with rigorously symbolic and intolerant whips, and ye shall become a spiritual nomad, fleeing where no man pursueth, yea, even like unto Geraldo Rivera… … as Crowley would say, this is a question of spiritual caste.

<< This may or may not happen for you, but until you have gained sufficient ability to no longer need the trappings and symbology, or at least to have gained the ability to *know* the roots of the symbols, then I would advise you to pick one tradition and stick to it. >>

Or if you can’t embrace a tradition, pick a Zen exercise — dancing, archery, nose-picking, shoe-lace-tying — *anything* that you like doing well. And do it very well. There are more adepts who simply have developed their skills at their occupations (music, engineering, bus driving, etc.) than there are adepts who bother with the tangled esoterica of ‘High Magic’s Way’…

<< As far as colour of candles go, well, we make do with what we have. Imagination often works better than physical symbols anyway. [deletia] That certainly is a cost-effective solution. >>

One can do magic with imagination but without trappings. Can one do magic with trappings but without imagination?

<< Fraternally yours in LVX, Bob Farrior >>

Sororally yours in LVX,
rmr

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