The Occult and Role Models Humans are social creatures, and we inevitably seek people to model our behavior off of. Magicians and mystics are no different.
My experience with the occult, from some early Robert Anton Wilson, Jung, and general mysticism, has largely been from Taoist sources. Interested in meditation, Chi work, and philosophy, it was a natural for me - and Taoist lore has a rich source of colorful tales, characters, and practitioners. My experiences, thus, are a mixture of Western psychology, and an Eastern mysticism containing everything from mental exercises to tales of drunken poets.
Taoism of course provides a lot of fascinating role models, from legendary to more contemporary figures - writers, magicians, scribes, humor writers, and more. There's an emphasis on people who pass on teachings, advise others, find teachers, and so on. Role models are, in short, a part of it's tradition, from the mystics to the doctrinaire religious teachings.
However, this influence on me was not something I noticed until lately, and considering how I would look at legendary figures and modern translators as role models led to me asking the question about role models for other occultists.
At least in my experience, I find little consideration given to role models in occultism. People certainly have them, as noted it's human nature, but I rarely see it discussed. However occult practice involves creating change, it involves symbol and association, and thus I'd say the role models an occultism choses are of paramount importance to what one achieves.
As discussed here on this blog, not everyone is exactly thrilled with Aleister Crowley. I give him his due, but I do consider him to be overrated merely because his reputation seems to be far more than deserved. However, I'd ask another question - how many people is he a role model to, and is he a good choice? I'd say he was smart - but I wouldn't want to be a copy of him.
Or for that matter other mystics - Phil Hine, Grant Morrison, David Lee, Isaac Bonnewitz, and so on - how many people out there are basing their lives on them? How many, for that matter, know it?
If you're an occultist, ask yourself who your role model is - and you can be sure you probably have one or two or more, even if you don't like to think you do. Why did you pick them? Are they a good choice? Are you living up to them? Are you exceeding them?
Examining one's occult role models lets you understand yourself, your choices, and what you become.
That, of course, is a major part of magic.
- Vince Stevens