Method vs Symbol Set 

Here’s an excerpt from Jason Miller’s Magic Monday Newsletter:

Method vs Symbol Set 

Every now and then a reader will tag me in a post to say they are reading one of my books. I always enjoy this. It’s nice to know that I am making some impact on the world while I am alive. no matter how small it may be. I then sometimes read the comments to these posts, gaining insight into why people like my stuff, why some other people don’t, and of course why some people hate my guts and wish I would die a painful and violent death. This is all normal, but one trend I am noticing is readers rejecting my work because it includes meditation, breath exercises, or mantra recitation and these are “Buddhist or Hindu”. In the past people have said the same thing about offering rituals I do, thinking that they ” belong to Afro Caribbean traditions.

How the pagan and occult communities have handled different cultural interaction throughout my life has always perplexed me. The generation before me was wildly eclectic, and more than one author reveled in taking whatever they wanted from the “supermarket of belief”. Some of it was fine I suppose, but a lot of it was shallow, disrespectful, and misrepresentative. The generation after mine seems bent on erring just as far in the opposite direction: putting the worlds magic into neat little boxes that we must lock ourselves into, never borrowing or interfacing with anyone else. Both approaches are deeply broken and do no justice to either culture or history.

The problem with the current trend is that not everything fits into boxes. It’s true that meditation, breath exercises, and chants are part of Hindu and Buddhist traditions. They are also part of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions. They exist in oodles of indigenous traditions all over the world. The bottom line is no one can own a way to breathe, or hold the mind, or the idea of repeating a word or phrase over and over. This is the difference between Tech and Symbol Set, or Method and Culture. It’s a big difference.

The wild eclectic boomers actually very rarely borrowed techniques or methods. Looking back its kind of shocking how similar and uniform it all was. They would grab at the Gods and Spirits of any culture that seemed exotic or interesting and plug them into a Kabbalistic column, a “Circle and Watchtower” or “Draw geometric shapes in the air” style ritual and go from there. They wanted the same magic that they are used to, just spruced up with whatever they were into at the moment. I did my fair share of that in my youth, but it doesn’t particularly interest me.

Methods and techniques are different. Yes, they spread from one culture and tradition to another, but they aren’t exclusive features of that culture or tradition. Methods and Techniques like breath, chants, and meditation are usually not dependent upon a specific context. They work because they work. Same with offerings, bodily movements, visualizing, lucid dreaming, and scores of other methods.

Imagine if someone wrote about a book about sandwich wraps and refused to read it because they don’t like Mexican food? That is the kind of thing we are talking about here.

I have no patience for cultural mis-appropriation or people hiding their sources. This isn’t that. Ihave written about sane eclecticism before, so I don’t want to repeat all that now.. All I really wanted to say is that there is a marked difference between Method and Culture. Deciding to meditate single pointedly on, repeat a Mantra to Hekate or Jupiter doesn’t make it Buddhist.

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Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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