Why is it that Occultists (Witches, Wizards, Warlocks, Magicians, Druids, Pagans, WhatTheFuckEvers) get so attached to our bullshit? I understand that humans are creatures of habit, but really, is there any reason to jaunt about poking fun at a paradigm just because it isn’t yours? It’s “occult elitism.” And it makes you a douche.
What’s a paradigm? It’s generally considered a philosophical or theoretical framework in which experiments to prove or disprove a hypothesis are conducted. Merriam-Webster gives it a broad reach, and defines it as, “a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind.”
A more common term might be, “model,” or even – taking a term directly from the definition – “framework.”
If you’ve been hanging out with me for long, you know I’m a devout animist. But I’m not only an animist. I’ll explain in a bit.
The major magickal frameworks I see touted about are:
- The Spirit Model
- The Energy Model
- The Psychological Model
- The Information Model
- The “Meta” Model
Time for a quick and dirty overview:
- The Spirit Model is wholly animist in nature, and is believed to be the oldest. Briefly: the spirit world has its own geography, but is believed to co-exist with our physical world, intermingling with it. Magick gets done through making deals with various (and variably) autonomous incorporeal beings. Think of Teacup in Beauty And The Beast.
- The Energy Model is also animist, but not wholly, because it purports that there is a power or force that animates life, but that this force is not a consciousness. Magick gets done through the manipulation of this energy or force. Think Star Wars.
- The Psychological Model is wholly non-animist, as it asserts that magick is all in your head. If you get results, it’s because of a “placebo effect.”(And honestly, I’ve yet to hear another explanation come out of the Psychological Model.) Magick gets done by trying to plant suggestions in your subconscious mind, which then changes your behavior, thereby arranging your reality to be congruent with your new mindset. Think Shallow Hal, where everything is an illusion.
- The Information Model says that energy is inferior to information. The idea is that information (in whatever form it takes) has no mass and no energy, and thus, no inertia. So, it doesn’t take as long to transmit. It works a little like the Psychological Model, in that the information must be transmitted somewhere, but the results aren’t so limited to self-demonstrability. Magick is done through the transmission of information. While I haven’t studied the Information Model extensively (due mostly to lack of interest – seems boring to me), I liken it to Lawnmower Man, or Tron.
- The Meta-Model, at least as it used to be touted in the 1980’s, and 1990’s, is more of a good piece of advice than anything else. The premise is, basically, always use whatever model of magick is most conducive to getting the results you want. In my opinion, this is just basic Chaos Magick, the foundation principle of which is: nothing is true, everything is permitted. Do whatever you want, so long as you get the results you’re after, in other words, and stay away from rooting yourself into one (potentially limiting) paradigm. Magick is done through whatever means suits you best at any given moment. I don’t have a movie that fits here, but I liken this model to being in the workforce – it doesn’t matter what you do for a living, so long as you’re thriving.
As an example, if you had to do some form of magick to pay your rent next month, here are the answers you might get from each model:
- Spirit: do a Puja for Ganesha and ask for assistance in taking down the obstacle to that more profitable job waiting for you just around the corner.
- Energy: manipulating the archetypal energy field of money to draw more into your life. You might consider this akin to the industry we call “Manifesting,” now.
- Psychological: draw a sigil, rub one out while staring at it, then burn it and go do the dishes while playing loud music so you forget about it.
- Information: put the seal of Bune on your website in the hopes that more people view your offer and buy your shit.
- Meta: decide which one or two of the previous you feel drawn to, and then go do it, regardless of what you really believe on an everyday basis.
I said I would explain my particular paradigm, so here goes.
I’m an animist. I mostly stick with the Spirit Model because that’s what I observed from my great grandmother during my youth.
But not to exclusion.
I also work in the Energy Model. My work (after my Home Coven disbanded) mainly focused around the Energy Model, as that was most popular among Wiccan and Pagan authors of the day, whose books were my primary resource at the time.
And you could say that I incorporate some of the Psychological Model. While not strictly psychology, I’m not above incorporating exercises from a good self-help book into my magick. Most of that kind of inner/personal development work is psychological – or at least pseudo-psychological – in nature.
I’ve seen The Psychological Model in it’s purest form, though, do great harm to people who have followed it. I’ve seen people who have been die-hard supporters of ONLY the psychological model devolve into madness, and be hospitalized. Or worse: wandering homeless, devoid of emotion, visibly present, but mentally absent (and seemingly without a soul).
I’ll keep it one-hunnit: I daresay that ONLY using the Psychological Model is harmful. It lies to you. It fools you into believing that spirits aren’t real, and that homie round the corner can’t curse you.
Until he does. And the spirit he sent against you wakes you up screaming at 3 in the morning, causing you to claw your own eyeballs out. Purely addressing things from a psychological standpoint lulls you into a land of make believe where you have no need to protect yourself magickally or psychically. And then you’re just screwed.
Do I seem a little biased? I’m a little biased. But I have good reason to be.
I’ve seen what subscribing to only one paradigm or framework can do to a person. I literally had a friend who insisted on only Psychological Model who took a long walk off the short plank, and ended up in a straightjacket. That description up above – wandering homeless, devoid of emotion – that was him. He was hospitalized for six years. He died three years and six months ago as of the time of this writing.
So – does working in most of the models (all but the information model, really), make me “meta?” Not really. I prefer to think of myself as Eclectic.
And even though there are those who would poo-poo Eclecticism, let me assure you: there is NOTHING wrong with being Eclectic. I will proudly tout the fact that I have always been, am now, and forever shall be Eclectic. Why? Because it’s hard work. It takes some talent to be able to reconcile within yourself the opposing perspectives of multiple belief systems, because several of them differ with each other on various points. For example: one belief system says you go to the Underworld after death, and become an Ancestor, while the other says you reincarnate until a certain point of spiritual evolution is reached. To reconcile those two together was not easy for me. But I did it, and I understand (at least somewhat) how the two fit together in my own belief system.
The truth is: I wouldn’t really call any of these things a “paradigm” or a “model” or a “belief system” or a “framework.”
You know what I call it? I call it TECH. It’s all just magickal TECH. Petitioning spirits or deities, manipulating energy, dropping your baby-batter on a piece of artwork, or adding the same artwork invisibly to a resume you’re about to hand to a potential new Employer. All TECH. And I’m not about to stick to one single piece of tech.
Two pieces of advice that I always give out are:
- In all things, balance.
- Jack of all trades, master of none.
In other words: be balanced in your approach. There’s no reason for you to stick with one single piece of anything. It’s self-limiting, and will lead you into self-sabotage, if you really want to get down to brass tacks. But also understand that, at some point, you have to buckle down and master a thing. I think the balance lies in figuring out what you want to master, and then using that as a jumping off point for other magickal and spiritual exploration.
Try not to get so attached to your bullshit that you become one of those “occult elitists.” If your schtick is “debunking,” then so be it. It’s a nice marketing gimmick, if you’re the sort of desperate business owner who needs marketing gimmicks. But for those of us who aren’t used car salesmen, who don’t need gimmicks because our shit works, there’s no need for us to “debunk,” and just create conflict for the sake of creating conflict. No need to be a douche.