At Between the Worlds I had the pleasure of attending Literata's talk on modernity and visions of the future. Literata was presenting a historical perspective and explained that modernity as a historical era was a commitment to rationality, and occurred roughly between 1453 and 1945. She explored the occult movements from the Golden Dawn to Starhawk, to show how the various leaders interact with modernity as a concept and also how they had their own visions for the future. It was a fascinating talk, not the least because I started tracing some of the history of various occult authors I've been inspired by, in relationship to their own vision and the history of that vision.
For example, in examining Gray's life, I see how modernity influenced his own approach to magical work, but also how he evolved beyond it and how that in turn influenced the lives of the people who came after him and their spiritual work. I also thought about this in context to my own life and history. I have my own particular vision for occultism, which is reflected in both my writing and in the publishing we do via the press. I see how in the 12 year period that I've been publishing and writing how that vision has changed. In fact, in writing pop culture magic 2.0, this is most evident to me because of where I am now as a pop culture magician as opposed to where i was when I wrote the first book.
I think that applying a historical perspective to your practice and the people that are part of the lineage of that practice can be quite helpful in helping you situate what you are doing and why you are doing it, as well as what and why other people are doing what they do. For example, in another lecture Jason Miller examined the history of the OTO, not just in context to Crowley, but also in relationship to the original abbey of Thelema and the roots of that, which stem from the work of a medieval poet. And seeing that history and how it influences the modern current of the OTO is significant I think in really appreciating what it could be (or so I would imagine for people who are in the order).
Part of my own research of late has involved exploring my own lineage and finding out more about the lives and history of the people who have influenced my own practice of magic. At one time I wouldn't have thought that as important, but its clear to me now that it actually is important because when we exist in a void as it pertains to history, we don't necessarily appreciate the context of what we are working with and yet we may need that context to really understand our magical heritage and how we want our own visions of the future to manifest.