This query came in via email, and it’s one I receive quite a bit, in vary forms, so I was glad when the person who sent it said I could share it, and my response, on the site:
I have recently read your article entitled “Why I left OTO” and in the beginning of the post you described yourself as being already a magic practitioner for 15 years. Now, the paragraph made me infer that you have undergone some form of “self-initiation,” learning the topics, theories, rituals, insights on your own and only later attempted to join a community, and this process of self-initiation is something I have been striving for for a few months now.
I have had some interesting conversations with some insightful magicians, discussing the phenomenon of the dark night of the soul, and the feelings of desolation, despair and deep depression which can occur to anyone who is following the initiatory path of magick. There seems to be consensus that all magicians at some point retire from the world (and, in a sense, renounce it) to undergo the mystical rigors of the dark night of the soul while seeking union with the One.
Strangely, I seem to be one of the few who takes issue with this. I think that it has more to do with a mystical approach to the godhead than a magical approach, and there are also the issues of chronic or situational depression, isolation and despair that have really nothing to do with spiritual ascension. In clinical depression, removing oneself from the world is a common symptom, and strong feelings are often replaced with a feeling of numbness, stasis or apathy.
The real question then, is whether or not mystics and magicians experience the iconic dark night of the soul in the same way. Continue reading