The Solitary Approach of an Experimenter
Article ID: 8664
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,618
Times Read: 5,480
Author: Taylor Ellwood
Posted: September 3rd. 2004
Times Viewed: 5,480
For the eleven years I've actively practiced magick, I have been a solitary for most of it. I remember that, several days into deciding I was going to practice magick, I met a kid at my high school who said he was a shaman. He offered to teach me magick and I eagerly took him up on that offer. Several days later he called me and told me I had no soul and therefore he couldn't teach me.
I remember putting the phone down and feeling stunned. I had no soul, according to him, but what did that mean? I decided after several minutes that what it really meant was that he was afraid of me. I was (and still am) very much in touch with my "darker" energies and perhaps he felt he couldn't cope with that. Regardless of why he told me that I had no soul, I decided at that point that I would educate myself about magickal practice and that I would be better than him at it.
Now that's probably not the best motive for deciding to practice magick, but at the time it was the motive. Eventually however, it gave way to the thrill of experimentation with magick. I learned something about solitary practice, which I've not yet found in magickal groups. A solitary practitioner tends to be more open to experimenting with magick and this especially happens when you are your own teacher.
But I knew that for me to be an effective practitioner of magick I had to understand the basics of magickal practice. I began to build as concrete a foundation as possible in the different traditions of magickal practice. To this day I am still building that foundation, learning and integrating various systems of magick into a cohesive framework that allows me to experiment with my own concepts of magick, which are sometimes extensions of other people's works and sometimes entirely my own creation.
I first started with shamanism, but eventually moved toward elemental magick and energy work. From there I began learning different models of healing and then went on to work with Quabala, Golden Dawn, and William G. Gray's books as guides into ceremonial magick. From ceremonial magick I moved on to chaos magick and then into Tantric and Tibetan approaches to magick. I also took to studying science, particularly the physics end of it, as well as Far Eastern culture, tradition, and most importantly, strategy. Currently I'm spending some time with shamanism and the Quabala again. And while I was studying these systems I was developing my own approaches particularly with pop culture, space/time, and DNA magick. And all of this I did on my own, without anyone teaching me.
That isn't to say that I didn't work with people occasionally. At times I have worked with another magickian or two who had a similar drive and desire to experiment and improve upon magick. But those times have been few and far between. There are not many people with the adventurous spirit that I have when it comes to experimenting with magick. The few times I've briefly had mentors, I've inevitably been too independent for those mentors, who all too often tried to stifle my creativity. I recall once being told, when I was excited about the idea of using Dragonball Z for a magickal working, that this idea of mine was foolish and wasn't "proper" magick. Needless to say that dogmatic response told me that this mentor was not creative enough for me to work with.
Creativity and imagination, innovativeness and experimentation are the standards of practice I hold to and I suppose that is why I am a solitary practitioner. I have no one setting limits except for myself, no one dogmatically trying to tell me how I should do magick. I have only myself and where my interests take me, and occasionally I also have the rare companionship of someone of like mind and practice and those times are truly savored for what they are. I accept as well that some people may view what I say here as a form of elitism. It is not meant as such, but rather is a recognition that I have a different approach to magick than most people do and this approach is one walked by a rare few. We seek to create new systems of magick, to push past the limits of previous generations and unfold the endless possibilities that can be revealed in moving past the limits.
My path alone gives me the opportunity to push past limits. I recall several times when I told other magickians of experiments I was doing and was told by them that they would never attempt what I was doing or that I was delusional or insane. Eventually they come to realize that I am not insane or delusional, but just have a different outlook on magick. They usually had the benefit of a group, a community, one that could provide companionship, but would also limit them to a specific accepted set of practices. The downside for my solitary approach is that the companionship is rare when it comes to working magick with others, but I am my own teacher, setting my own pace, and if I push too far ahead, well, I'm the person who has to deal with the consequences.
Accordingly there really is no one I turn to for teaching. I occasionally take on a student, but usually only for a specific area of interest in magick. For feedback, sometimes when I experiment I will contact fellow experimenters and start up a think tank of sorts. Usually this is online and people post results of the techniques of mine they experiment with. I also occasionally take part in a think tank, offering my own suggestions and ideas for a person's project. For community, I go to the local college Pagan group for social conversation and the occasional community ritual. I also have slowly been taking part in a larger Pagan community in a city near where I currently live. I find such times fun for the social aspects and also for the arguments and discussions about magick that occasionally come up. I think what I enjoy most in those moments is being included in a community and enjoying the company of friends.
But in the end I am, for the most part, a solitary practitioner. I enjoy the challenges of experimenting with magick and writing about those experiments so I can share them with other people.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Author's Profile: To learn more about Taylor Ellwood - Click HERE
Bio: Taylor Ellwood is the co-author of Creating Magickal Entities and author of Pop Culture Magick, which has just been published and is now available in most any bookstore. He is also the author of the forthcoming book Space/Time Magick. Taylor is the webhost for the Occult Author Resource page and is also working on his PhD in Literacy, Rhetoric, and Social Practice, where he is currently working on a project focused on the literacy of magick. Taylor's web home is taylorellwood.chaosmagic.com and he can be contacted at the email address above.
Other Articles: Taylor Ellwood has posted 19 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
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