On Secrecy

By Psyche | March 25, 2013

Secrecy is a necessary adjunct to the performance of magick but its use should be carefully considered since ad hoc secrecy cheapens any subject to which it is applied.

–Ray Sherwin, The Theatre of Magick

Privacy, in this day and age, seems a luxury so absurd that it barely warrants attention, yet in group workings or when one is a part of an order, such secrecy may be called for. Typically it’s quite sensible, with restrictions about identifying members of the group, though the group may also be secretive about the details of the rituals and sometimes even of the training system employed.

However maintaining secrecy merely for the sake of appearing “mysterious” to the “uninitiated” tends to out, and the glamour will be revealed for what it is and with nothing more behind it confidence will be lost.

Sharing techniques, rites and theories fosters growth in the community, and the better educated we are as a whole – even in our independent cliques and factions – the better we can move forward and explore new creative ground.

Sherwin later continues:

Weiser Books - Old World Witchcraft

It would seem absurd then to suggest that the greatest secrets are inviolable and that their publication would have no adverse effect on their efficacy. Yet this is so, for a secret is only worth knowing if it can be understood and there are some secrets which can only be appreciated in the light of prior understanding.

No matter what you share, it won’t touch someone unless they already have already have some basis of understanding. I can describe fresh raspberries to you, but if you’ve never smelled raspberry lip gloss, eaten raspberry yogurt with the little seeds crunching between your teeth or come across some other expression of the fruit – you will be incapable of relating to that experience on a visceral level. If I later show you raspberries and you touch them and get to know them, you’ll be closer – I can take you to that edge, but until you’ve eaten a handful you won’t be there.

After you’ve had them a few times, we can talk shop, the best place to buy them or pick them, discuss the subtle differences in flavour of various strains at different times of year and get into the really fine detail.

Likewise, I can write about Ereshkigal, Azrael, or even the quirky ways of Eris, but unless you know Them I’ll be talking about people you’ve never met – which is ok, it can serve as an introduction, but you may not grok oblique references to symbols, metaphor or turns of phrase – yet. That’s ok. I want to explore all ranges in the spectrum.

Enough dragoning. Secrets won’t be lost, indeed with the important ones it’s quite impossible.

Originally published on Plutonica.net 10 November 2007.

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