Here’s an excerpt from Jason Miller’s Magick Monday Newsletter:
I read a rather long diatribe recently on how there is not a single pre-victorian use of the term “Veil Between The Worlds”. The person writing this is correct. It’s not an ancient term. Anyone who thinks Samhain had to do with a “Veil Between The Worlds” historically is wrong, at least as far as that verbiage is concerned. Well done.
Unfortunately, too many people extrapolate from this that the idea is entirely wrong and should be abandoned. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is where I think the idea of differing measures of Authenticity is vital. I tend to think of four types of autenticity being relevant to magic:
The author if the thread is absolutely correct that this veil between worlds doesn’t pass the Historical authenticity test if we need it to be older than the Victorian era.
Culturally speaking it may or may not be authentic. The language is different for sure, but you have to go VERY far back to find people that thought the Gods literally lived as physical beings on My Olympus, or that realms of faerie were physically accessible through caves and such. The concept that these physical spaces might open up and you could physically pass from one to the other is there, but the idea that it was all actually inside that space gets ditched pretty early on. “Veil” then can be seen as another term or moderation of cultures, which of course change and grow over time. New term to describe thinking that pre-dates the term. Isn’t this what terms for for?
Functionally speaking The idea of expressing a Veil or superimposed worlds ala photography is not a misrepresentation, but an advancement in thought. People did what people have always done with powers that are invisible and ineffable: make imperfect maps and metaphors that point as best they can to the nature of these experiences. From the functional perspective the newer metaphors might be, and probably are, BETTER than the old ones.
Extend this out to the very recent decades. There are mystical experiences where people experience pure information that exists above the of concepts of space and time. Hermeticists expressed this as “8th and 9th spheres”, beyond the visible planets. Victorian era occultists expressed this as an “Akashic Library” beyond an astral plane. Modern occultists might express this more as computer code that exists behind a GUI.
It’s interesting to note that Occultists started talking about energy and waves around the time of major advancements in radio and electricity. This has caused some occultists to conclude that energy of waves have no place in magic, but if you look around the world there are all kinds of practices, in both east and west, that can be expressed this way.
So yeah, for the folklorist, the Veil between words is a misrepresentation of what people thought in the past, and is correct that it shouldn’t be passed off as such. But a Sorcrerer is not just a folklorist right?
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