I was listening to an episode of Catnip Brew, a podcast that I just found tonight. One of the episodes was about apathy and disillusionment in the pagan culture. Now, as it so happens, the most read post on the blog, at this point, is the post I wrote about my own disillusionment about the occult scene. So hearing that podcast episode generated some empathy on my part. I think it's fair to say that disillusionment of some kind is an inevitable reality of a spiritual path. It's a test of that spiritual path...and could be a kind of dark night of the soul. Some people never come out of that disillusionment. They give up, or turn away in disgust because whatever they are looking for can't be found in the spiritual path being explored. They forget that you can't always look around to find something to answer the questions. Sometimes you have to create the answers.
In fact it is creating the answers that usually leads a person out of apathy or disillusionment. The person may feel jaded and cynical and yet at some point realizes that no matter where s/he looks, the answer ultimately lies within. Yes we can read books, do what the books tell us to do and even interact with other people in an organization and yet at some point the challenge for a practitioner of magic is to define his or her own path. Some never do that, and others do. I think that the apathy and disillusionment is a sign for when it is time to look toward creating your own path. At that point, you realize that whatever is out there won't answer your questions and may not even have the questions you need to ask.
My disillusionment with the occult scene started in the late nineties. I took a two year hiatus from the occult community, from 2000 to 2002, but even when I came back it hadn't really changed. All that had changed was that I was starting to develop my own path. I had read the books and practiced the exercises and rituals, and had some definite results and life changing experiences, but until I struck out on my own, I didn't really start to find or develop the questions and answers that have informed my own life journey. Even after I struck out on my own and eventually helped found the esoteric portion of Immanion Press, there was still a lot of disillusionment to work through. Some of it was from Graduate school and my choice to drop out of it...the feeling of failure and anger over that took a long time to heal. Some of it was disillusionment with myself as a person, realizing just how much I didn't like myself or how I presented myself to others, and some of it of course was magic, because even while I was writing my books, there was a part of me that felt alienated and angry with the entire occult community.
Over time, I found my path. It took years. My elemental work and the Taoist meditations was my answer to the disillusionment I felt about myself. Instead of choosing to remain apathetic about who I was, I decided to change myself, to take a much more active role in shaping myself into a person I could like, love, and be proud of. The process is ongoing, likely always will be, but as i've stated before, i'm happier with myself now than ever before. Even the emptiness working is ultimately a proactive approach toward redefining what I am doing and who I choose to be.
With the Ph.d, my answer to the disillusionment I felt was to ultimately take the skills I learned and apply them to the editing and writing I did, and in the case of several articles and my book, Multi-Media Magic, put to rest my feelings about academia, so I could move on with my life and no longer dwell on something not important.
And with magic? It's ironic that as I started in on the emptiness working, I at the same time finally found my answer to the disillusionment I've felt about the occult scene for so long. When I realized that other people felt the same way as I have, I considered that to be an indication that my dissatisfaction and concern wasn't just in my head. And that allowed me to consider taking a step in a different direction that I previously entertained much, while also finding my answer in that direction. And that direction? For now it's a bit of a secret, though one I've already dropped hints of elsewhere. I'll be more open about it eventually, but I will say that for the first time in a long time, I spiritually feel at peace with the occult community as a whole, because I'm realizing the benefit of continuing to carve my own niche, and find my own path to get the answers I seek as well as continue asking questions.
But I also know the disillusionment I felt, while not fun to experience, has helped me recognize the value of creating my own answers. To some degree, creating the non-fiction line of books in Immanion Press was my answer to that disillusionment, for it gave me an opportunity to promote what I believe is essential to the evolution of the occult subculture as well as the evolution of humanity in general. That was a partial answer and the value of that answer to myself is evident in the comfort I take in not just publishing my own writing but providing a forum for other writers to publish and share their works. The happiness I have seen in those writers when their works were published in a way that respected and valued what they had to say has often provided me hope at times when I sorely needed that hope.
And yet the full answer couldn't be arrived at until recently, until I was ready to take another step forward in service not just to myself but also others. Some of that answer arose out of my life coaching and the networking I've been doing with other businesses. And some of that answer continues to come from my own experimentation, but also work with others. It is in fellowship with others that some answers can be created. The interchange of ideas, the exchange of energy, etc. The magician is not some lone wanderer on a path, not always...Sometimes the path turns and you find there's another person or people there ready to walk for a turn with you. It is the creation of an answer that provides you the light at the end of the tunnel, the dawn rays of the sun ending that long night. What will come after that? Who knows...but I'm ready to step forward and find out.