Politely Leaving the Mysterious, Mysterious

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There are three ideas floating around my thoughts today.

First, a comment from Simon on a recent post:

I used to be impressed by big meaty looking books about magick and then I read ‘magic simplified’ by Draja Mickaharic which is about 150 pages and has enough work in it to keep most people busy for several decades. Was one of the points where it really hit me properly that magic about doing- experiencing- testing out not reading endless theory. I’d heard it before and thought I understood it but realized I hadn’t.

In particular, I’m thinking about the difference between doing vs endless theory.

Second, a movie from several years ago, Finding Forrester, where Sean Connery plays a reclusive writer (William) who never leaves his apartment:

Jamal: You ever go outside to do any of this?

William: You should have stayed with the soup question. The object of a question is to obtain information that matters only to us. You were wondering why your soup doesn’t firm up? Probably because your mother  was brought up in a house…that never wasted milk in soup. That question was a good one, in contrast to, “Do I ever go outside?” which fails to meet the criteria of obtaining information that matters to you.

Jamal: All right. I guess I don’t have any more soup questions.

Third, a common line of questions I get when telling people about spirits: Where do spirits live? Where do they come from? Do they know what happens when we die?

When I get questions like that, I’m torn three ways:

  • Part of me wants to reward the curiosity and explain everything, even though I know that the curiosity should be channeled into their own exploration, and that sating their curiosity will do them a disservice.
  • Another part wants to give non-answers, to be polite and give fake wisdom and keep them curious. This also leads to a much shorter conversation where we can both enjoy the wonder of the universe, rather than a long explanation of technical details of magick, which usually isn’t as fun with most people.
  • And part of me wants to tell them to focus on soup questions, though I don’t have any idea how to do this politely.

I don’t have an answer, but more and more, I’m realizing that you, my readers, can provide amazing answers if I just ask the right question. So today, I’m asking: What do you do when friends push you for the deep answers of your style of magick, ones that would normally be revealed to initiates only once they can experience those parts of magick themselves?

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7 Responses to “Politely Leaving the Mysterious, Mysterious”

  1. calum says:

    I myself only have one friend who knows that I practice magick. We discuss different styles and ways to do things but always end up with the same answers.

    None of my other friends know, nor does my family. My partner on the other hand doesn’t know what I do in terms of magick but she’s knows I meditate and that I believe in the law of attraction. I’ve never felt comfortable bringing it up myself but if anyone asked I’d simply define it as working with energy and creating a positive environment for myself to gain a deeper understanding about myself and my desires.

    Unless someone was very specific about magick and I trusted them enough to keep myself anonymous. Only then would I be totally honest and share my knowledge and understanding.

  2. Ona says:

    My typical answer is along the lines of: Shut up, put away the books, stop thinking, and do the damn practices. I’ll say it more gently if the person is an utter beginner or truly nervous. If I know them better and they are just being a weenie, I’ll be pretty harsh about it.

    In part the need to have explanations and know the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin is an avoidance technique. It’s a manifestation of fear. “What if it doesn’t work? What if it’s scary? What if it DOES work? What if I do a practice and something actually happens? What if it changes my view of the world, which I’m heavily invested in?”

    What if you just try, every day, and see for yourself? Nothing happens until you actually apply yourself to daily practice. :D

  3. Ona says:

    If the person’s a random stranger or someone who isn’t asking because they are trying to engage with their own practice of magick, that’s a whole different question. I don’t have any answers to the example questions you gave. (Where do spirits live, what happens after we die, etc.). I tend to work with the paradigm the person is most familiar with and the experiential and personal level at which various practices can be useful rather than trying to convince them of any particular belief system.

    I wrote about it here: http://alittledeathblog.com/2012/03/12/reader-question-how-do-i-explain-my-practice-to-other-people/

    • Great post. I had no idea you’d already answered my question months ago. Particularly useful is your method for subtly bringing up the topic, without sharing too much about yourself. Thanks for posting the link.

      • Ona says:

        Thanks for the kind words. But it’s not like there’s only one answer. The world’s more interesting when everyone has a blog and ponders things in their own ways. :)

  4. f3n1x_hvn732 says:

    I always say: “Is something you have to do yourself, because if I explain it to you, probably wouldn’t understand a thing”. Then I gave them a few books to get started if they are interested in more.

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