Liberation and Tradition

The value of any transcendent tradition should be found within its liberating qualities. A tradition, of any sort, has no other ultimate value. The use of tradition for tradition's sake is a perversion, a tool of suppression.

From The UnderWorld Initiation (affiliate link) by R.J. Stewart

I've just started reading this book, but I found this paragraph to be tantalizing because of what it says that a magical tradition should do, i.e. provide some form of liberation or freedom through the magical work a person does. That theme is present in a variety of different occult subgenres. Chaos magic advocates for it, as does Thelema, but the danger within any subgenre is the blind adherence to tradition because that's the way it's been done and that's how we should do it.

The idea of examining a tradition or practice of any kind for its liberating qualities is something I agree with, because ideally any magical working you do will be meaningful in a personal way that improves your life by freeing you of limitations either imposed on you by other people or self-imposed due to your own circumstances. When a tradition fails, it is because it actually imposes limitations in the form of dogma and non-questioning. It's easy to fall into those traps, particularly if you are in a group setting and want to "belong" to the group, but when such belonging becomes the priority, the liberation the tradition might offers falls to the wayside in favor of trying to fit into what you think others want.

One of the reasons I've pushed for experimentation with magic is to get out of such group think dynamics. Its good to work with people, when you do so with a spirit of inquiry and acceptance that the experience one person has doesn't need to apply to everyone else, to be valid and useful for that person. Experimentation encourages the idea that magic is best experienced in an environment where a person can try an idea out without getting shut down. When people try to shut you down, it is usually because they feel threatened by your desire to liberate your preconceptions by challenging them through experience. They may feel that by challenging your own preconceptions, you challenge their own, but this is projection on their part, done as a way of preserving a cherished image they want to cling to, without recognizing that the value of experience is that it allows us to shatter what we hold onto, in order to discover how much it may have held us back.