Learning From Ancient Magick

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Can we learn ancient, powerful magick?

That depends: Was ancient magick powerful? More powerful than what we have today?

I doubt it. But that doesn’t mean we should entirely discard ancient magickal practices. Talking with a friend, she convinced me there’s something worth looking into.

Today, I’m revising my answer to last week’s question:

Can direct magick help me learn those ancient magick that was not pass down or lost in time??

Note: I added this answer to that post a few days ago, too.

My question is, why do you want to learn about ancient magick?

I see 3 possible answers. First, love of history. If you’re a historian looking for ancient Egyptian fertility rites, that sounds awesome, but sorry, Direct Magick doesn’t have that.

Second, you might hope to glean some clues from systems of healing developed over hundreds of years. After all, Western medicine has developed drugs by looking at traditional herbal medicine. (I think aspirin came from investigating herbal medicine, and it’s pretty great.) I see some potential here, and Direct Magick has some useful tools for separating the wheat from the chaff in these investigations.

Third, there’s a notion that ancient magick was more powerful, calling down plagues and reviving the dead, creating objects out of thing air, smiting your enemies. Most people who ask for ancient magick are after power.

Here’s the thing: In ancient times, they didn’t distinguish between biofield healing vs (herbal) drugs and placebo, or even slight of hand, and they didn’t understand confirmation bias — heck, much of ancient history was oral traditions, shifting and embellishing with each retelling. So those powerful lost ancient magicks? They were probably illusionists, herbs, and other non-magickal phenomena.

But if you’re after powerful magick, I do have a path for you: Understand the underlying mechanisms behind magick. Harness them to create better techniques that solve new problems. Build magick into a respected science, one with thousands of researchers worldwide, connected to medicine and physics and the rest of human knowledge. That’s the path to more powerful magick.

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2 Responses to “Learning From Ancient Magick”

  1. George says:

    Yes – I definitely think it’s good to maintain knowledge (in general) of older styles because there’s always something in them, even if it is temporarily not culturally relevant.

    I think we have to guard against the idea that we’re always progressing and improving (and that we are ‘cleverer’ than the people of the past). The truth is more like: there are multiple strands of knowledge and some of them get halted and forgotten, and sometimes one strand cannot be understood in terms of another (they are “incommensurate”, as Paul Feyerabend would say).

    We generally hope that all strands will be unified under a single worldview – but that time might not be “now”. So it might be important to keep strands of ‘apparent nonsense’ alive sometimes, because ‘being nonsense’ might be temporary. It may be the case that lots of the old traditions had knowledge that we have lost, because it wasn’t repeatedly reinterpreted to be in step with the paradigms of the day, and then became unintelligible as a result.

    I’d love to see them rediscovered and reinterpreted with today’s concepts!

  2. simon says:

    Another view on ancient magick which is broadly under your 2nd option but with a bit of a modification i think:

    Its not necessarily better, not worse not simply a historical precursor to ‘new and better stuff’. What we call ‘ancient magick’ might just be…different. And worth exploring because of that.

    Going by your own model a lot of ‘ancient magick’ ethereal software could have been operating perfectly well all by itself. Its not clear that us applying modern analytical concepts is always going to improve things. This is especially the case if a ‘spirit’ (in the way your define the word) designed it. Maybe they already did a pretty good job it and our task is to access it and learn the operating instructions well- by asking the spirit.

    It might be interesting for intellectual scientific purposes to separate out placebo from ethereal connections and bio-field effects. Doesn’t necessarily mean its going to make the effects of using it more powerful for helping people – in everyday life.

    Developing better communication with the ‘spirit’ might though. Seems direct magick could help with that…? But what is the spirit tells us something that doesn’t really make sense or add anything to our intellectual understanding of the model- but it works like gangbusters when implemented?

    So I wonder if the original question wasn’t trying to just get at this- can we use direct magick to find some of these older ethereal softwares an ‘see what they got’? It doesn’t mean that we expect them to be able to cause plagues etc. Nor does it automatically mean they are always going to be less sophisticated – ie the willow bark to aspirin. Actually the main argument of herbalists is that it is not always better to isolate the active chemical in the raw plant- i.e this doesn’t always produce the most beneficial effect. Good for scientific tests to ‘sort the wheat from the chaff’ – not always good for the patient and sometimes more likely to cause an abreaction. This isn’t because the herbalists have a ‘better model’ per se. But they do have the wisdom to step back and accept that they may be dealing with levels of complexity too great to cope with (chaos theory) so they go for a strategic intervention rather than trying to understand and control the entire process.

    This isn’t to dismiss your approach to building better models: I think its very useful and has helped me a lot in thinking about other systems of magick. However exactly how much it really does improve practical results is not always clear.

    Another reason why people are often interested in ‘ancient magick’ is because they see a lot of modern magick is often re-hashing of Golden dawn material and all the 19th century victorian occultism that goes with it. Whilst that often comes full circle back to idolizing ‘ancient’ things its also an understandable desire. Its maybe a search for stripping back cultural overlay and needless layers of complexity. Oddly enough, its the kind of impetus that lead me to blogs such as yours.

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