A Syncretic Perspective on Magick
Article ID: 8112
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,857
Times Read: 5,065
Author: Taylor Ellwood
Posted: January 4th. 2004
Times Viewed: 5,065
I've always valued a syncretic approach to my practice of magick. A syncretic practice blends the methodologies and practices of various magickal traditions together. When I first got into magick I started out with Shamanism, but I quickly began incorporating elemental magick and the traditional faerie/angelic correspondents into that practice. I found that it made sense and allowed me more possibilities. And for the last eleven years this has been the pattern of practice for me. I pick up and read books, try out the exercises and then incorporate what works for me into my own system of magick, a fusion of all the approaches I've taken.
I know that some people will disagree with this approach and say you should stick to one system of magick or belief, but I think doing so limits the person. For me a syncretic approach is a big challenge because you not only have to fuse a variety of magickal approaches together, but you have to first read up on and get some insight about the system of magick you want to fuse with your own approach.
I think Pagans owe it to themselves to be syncretic, to explore a variety of approaches and beliefs. If nothing else, the variety will encourage an open mind and a willingness to learn, something we definitely need more of these days. To give you an idea of that I'm currently learning a lot about Far Eastern belief systems. I've been initiated into Reiki one and two, and I've been reading up and working with Tibetan magickal practices that allow a person to raise the heat of his/her body. I'm also beginning to read up on Taoism. I want to incorporate these Far Eastern belief systems because I genuinely believe that I can grow as a person and a magickian by having a deeper understanding and appreciation of other cultures and how those cultures fit within my own mindset.
But I also have to say that I take syncretic practice beyond what might be considered religious or spiritual beliefs. For me a syncretic practice challenges all the limits and goes to the sky and beyond. As an example I regularly use pop culture in my magickal workings. For my solstice ritual my fiancé and I did a ritual to the Dehara. The Dehara are gods from Storm Constantine's Wraethu series. A group of people and myself are currently working with them. It is true that the Dehara are fantasy characters, but the fact that so many people read the books and enjoy the characters gives them life and so we have dedicated ourselves to creating a viable system of magick around the Dehara. Likewise I'd recently read the Chinese classic Three Kingdoms, and I noted that some of the characters had very specific attributes about them. I decided to invoke the characters to call on those attributes. To give you an example one character was named Cao Cao and he personified cunning and wiliness. Another character Liu Bei personified humanity, while Zhuge Liang (yet another character) personified intelligence and strategy. To enhance some of those characteristics within myself I've taken to using the characters as guides and have for the most part benefited from doing so.
Another example of syncretic practice is my current work on space/time magick. I'm drawing on a lot of scientific sources to develop my understanding of how space/time is currently understood. However I'm also doing a lot of reading and practice with systems of divination, sigil work, pop culture, entity work, and quabala. I'm drawing on chaos magick, Jewish mysticism, some classical approaches to tarot and of course my own unconventional approaches to magick. The more I understand on a topic the better I can devise magickal approaches toward fusing and using that magick with the rest of my system. And the more I fuse and mix and experiment with various systems of magick the more I understand about how I can test the limits and boundaries of what I can do with it.
What I know more than ever is that syncretic magick is an individual decision. Many people will not feel comfortable with a syncretic approach and that's fine because that's what works for them. But for people like myself who want to test a few boundaries, do a bit of experimentation, and come up with a system of magick that is uniquely one's own the syncretic approach is best. It turns you on to other cultures, other ways of thinking, and revitalizes what we consider magick to be.
I've commented on some of the systems and approaches that I've used in my syncretic approach, but there is much more. My philosophy is that what matters most is what works best for you. Over the years I've drawn on a wide variety of traditions and practices to find what works best for me. From Tantra to the Golden Dawn, from demonolatry to energy work, from physics to chaos magick, from any and every thing to nothing I will take what I can from what is around me and incorporate it into my magick approach and I do all of this for one reason. Practicing magick in this way invigorates and excites me with a passion to live life and learn as much as possible about whatever I can and then see if I can use it in how I live life. I'll admit there are some approaches I've never used because for me those approaches didn't work. For instance I'm not a fan of Ceremonial Magick. I think it tends to be drawn out and overly dramatic. I prefer meditative practices and on the spot magick. However I know that other people would feel the same about my spontaneous on the spot approach to magick. For those people ceremony is highly useful as a way of getting into the mood and communing with the forces they wish to work with. It works for those people because it meets their spiritual needs, even as my ways meet my spiritual needs.
There will be some people who will say stick with one tradition, one way of doing things. They'll say that mixing magickal systems or beliefs is dangerous or irreverent toward what you work with. I have never found this to be so. However it does help to first read and work with a magickal system in and of itself. This allows you to get a feel for the magickal approach and what you feel works for you. It also gives you appreciation and understanding of the culture.
If you take the syncretic route use what works for you and enjoy it as an opportunity to be playful, creative, and imaginative. I know I have.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Author's Profile: To learn more about Taylor Ellwood - Click HERE
Bio: Taylor Ellwood is a highly eccentric and colorful person who enjoys a very wide variety of magickal practices and traditions ranging from Shamanism to Pop Culture. His first co-authored book Creating Magickal Entities was published in September 2003. His second book Pop Culture Magick will be out in September 2004. Currently Taylor is doing a lot of magickal work with Tibetan practices, even as he writes and works on his next book Space/Time Magick.
Other Articles: Taylor Ellwood has posted 19 additional articles- View them?
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