PBP: “U” is for UN-learning

Sometimes I miss having students. There have not been many and the reason for that is a general lack of discipline in most people's spiritual lives. Having been raised Catholic, and then my later years as a Buddhist, gives me an edge to my devotional work which puts me at an advantage. Another reason is each of my students, for some reason or another, will not have anything to do with me ever again... all ties of social or spiritual connection get absolutely severed and this is never my doing. Ungrateful and cowardly, they slink off into the sad little worlds I found them in. They never stick around long enough to know how much I learned from them in the process. Seeing magick work for the first time, getting to that place in trance when you learn to journey, invoking and actually experiencing Deity: these are the occult 'firsts' teachers/mentors/elders get to re-visit over and over. In the past year I made a friend online whom I started working with from a distance magickally. When we initially decided to start working together, M gave me a reading and proclaimed me as being “noob” to this path... that in my eagerness and passionate excitement I came across as being someone NEW to this path and kind of work. At first I laughed... during our Skype face-to-face conversation M was looking at me rather seriously. I asked him, “Are you serious? Dude, I have been on this path for 20 years or more... who is fucking counting?” I lost my cool. It was eventual since M is what I like to call an 'Atheistic Witch', meaning M and others like him approach the magickal arts from a psychological perspective (Jungian Archetypes, Luciferian Deific Masks), versus a Theistic perspective (which includes Gods/spirits/deities/etc.).

''Los Caprichos'' is a set of 80 aquatint prints created by Francisco Goya for release in 1799.
''Los Caprichos'' is a set of 80 aquatint prints created by Francisco Goya for release in 1799.

After reflecting, I realized this wasn't an insult but an opportunity. So I played the part of student, attempted to be naïve in our journeys and workings. I started re-visiting my old magickal journals, looking at the evolution of my praxis was more cathartic than I realized. I changed all my altars, started reading less and praying more. I placed my Self back into the fires of creation, ready to mould and shape whilst retaining my essence. In this humbling, the desire to apply this approach to other aspects of my life became refreshing, accepting, allowing me to experience the wonderment of the world again; just as my 5 year old daughter does daily.

This reminds me of a process in Zen Buddhism called Shoshin, or “beginner's mind”. It is a way of shifting perspective to allow one Self an opportunity for openness . As Zen master Shunryu Suzuki says: “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.” Coming to my witchcraft and spiritual life with this kind of eagerness for learning and growing, finding that some things I considered unnecessary or uneventful in my earlier years have new meaning or strength.

It seems all of society is doing this right now, not just in the little microcosm of our occult 'community'. Everything is coming apart at the seams, unraveling like an old patched up afghan. The Federal Government re-opened yesterday (whatever that means), our local mass transit system BART went on strike for the second time this year, there is an Occupy credit card, wars, economy, health, all in a state of flux. Balance is needed and not found, so chaos steps forward to destroy these old patterns of thinking. When we fight change it becomes more painful and difficult. But the multiverse has other plans and if we do not learn to roll with the punches, or surf the waves as I like to think of it, then we're liable to be crushed under the wheels of time. This apocalyptic vision is nothing I fear, but something to be embraced. The purging leads to a re-building, into something stronger and lasting. Every day is a chance for newness and holds an opportunity for peace, by un-learning and deconstructing.