I was going to title this post, What Paganism Means to Me, but realised that my view would confuse or annoy many. I have decided to dissect what paganism and the occult mean form one area I’m focusing on: Hermeticism.
When someone asks me what I would associate with Paganism I see four vivid images. Ancient Mediterranean practices from Greece, Italy stretching across to Egypt and the rest of Nubia, and parts of Israel up in the Middle East. I see an old Alexandrian world with gladiators, priests and priestesses and various members of the Babylonian world, marching forward and paving the way for almost all modern religions and beliefs today. On another angle I see the solitary magicians living their Hermetic lives in Therugy, penning their travels and scripts in secret all over early Europe before, during and after the artistic renaissance and Baroque ages. My third view would be that of Northern Europe in the slings of battle, against the mighty Saxons, Vikings and Norsemen—and the few battles with Germanic and Roman soldiers. My last view of paganism conjures up modern images of people with statues to the Celtic, Norse, Roman/Greek and Egyptian Deities, alongside fairies, books and Charmed DVDs.
Our world had changed so much, and it’s quite enthralling to see. But you see, that’s where I get a little inquisitive. Where did this modern view of doing things ‘the easy way’ come from? Why do people assume full rituals are pomp? I understand from an experienced occult point of view, the ‘pomp’ is actually needed to draw in energies the mundane dabbler could never raise or grasp. So in a way, I’m glad most practitioners of magick don’t know about old school and traditional magick, or ancient paganism. But, at the same time I wish I could share wisdom to the vast numbers and show them what real magick is. I’ve been close to giving up magick a number of times, but I’ve always held fast because the Universe made it obvious I’m destined for other stronger paths—even if I live my True Will alone.
Now, I’m someone who has to identify areas of failure or strength in order to learn the lesson for myself. On various websites and in some books, paganism is listed with or under the occult. I personally feel the two are different and similar at the same time. I think that if you want the occult to find you, start with either general witchcraft, magick and Hermeticism (Golden Dawn, Thelema, ceremonial magick and other paths that stem from free form practice like Shamanism; not modern Wicca as that involves lots of areas based on these older practices that have been watered down an awful lot, and I don’t have the time to strip it down yet).
Like I said here, paganism is all green and loving, whilst the occult shows the magician the good, the bad and the ugly, which in turn moulds a better equipped and full of ‘pomp’ practitioner. I love the pomp, and have done for years, hence why I had to give up on Wicca. My magick stems from the ancient world, true occultism. Magick that connects you to the Divine in ways that I never imagined. Over the past few months my practice of simple rituals like the LBRP have not only helped me understand the ritual each time I perform it, but I feel more connected to the Universe and angels than I have in the past. It’s wonderful and upsetting at the same time, but that’s expected and shows me I’m on the right path. I’d never change these lessons for anything else in the world.
What is it that scares you most about taking that vital step? You came out of the Broom Closet, and you will every time you meet new people, and you know how big a step that was. What is stopping you from unblocking what pure magick feels like? Now, don’t assume that magick will come easily, nor will you be able to practice as freely as you like without structure, guidance or ‘pomp’. That is the pure beauty of the occult. She’s a rare beauty you may pass a few times on your path, but unless she looks you dead in the eye, holding out her hand, you’ll never know what it’s like unless you give up blocking her out.
How do you know what’s out there if you don’t venture outside? I’m a traveler of magick, and proud. At the same time, I have noticed I don’t like it when ‘experts’ try to tell me if I’m wrong about understanding true traditional Hermeticism, when their only view is that of modern Wicca (5%) and old skool books they haven’t actually practised anything from. Oy vey!
I’ve seen the snobbery from both sides: occultists’ can’t stand modern eclectic dabblers because they refuse to forge a backbone, and discard thousands of years of freedom and magick for a quick fix. On the other hand, learning a lot about magick from as many areas as you can is a bore to most fast paced dabblers of today, and they feel it’s far easier to just stay within the circle once they’ve found their footing.
There is so much I could say about the occult, about how enlightening it is, and how sour it can be at times. For me, Thelema is perfect as it encompasses all of the first three ideas of what paganism conjures in my head from earlier. Wisdom, truth, magick and Hermeticism. I can smile knowing my idea of western Magickal systems is my practical reality. I perform rituals very similar to those of the priestesses and priests of ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece and Israel (without animal slayg. I can research old customs and pair them with my Golden Dawn witchcraft, Thelema and magick practices (as they are all very similar and are based on ancient rituals found and translated) to conduct rituals of personal intent. I have stepped into a world beyond my understanding but I’m happy for it. I’m learning so much, and carving what my personal idea of what the occult and paganism is to me.
What does it mean to you? What images come to mind when you think about the words paganism and occultism? Are they the same or different areas of the same garden?
I wonder… That’s all I do these days.
Sy, x x