I was watching the film Kon Tiki the other night. It's a biographical film about Thor Heyerdahl, an anthropologist, who had some interesting and controversial ideas about how Polynesia came to be inhabited. He argued that South Americans had sailed the Pacific ocean to Polynesia 1,500 years or so ago, but no one believed him, and they argued that it couldn't be done with the technology of the time. He decided to prove his critics wrong, by building a boat in the fashion of how it was likely built 1,500 years ago, and then he sailed that boat to Polynesia, without much in the way of modern equipment or technology. What he proved was that it was possible for people to migrate from South America to Polynesia (Whether they actually did or not is still debated). What I admire about the film and about the actual person Thor Heyerdahl was that he didn't let other people tell him what he could or couldn't do. He decided what he could or couldn't do and then proceeded to do it.
When I first started practicing magic, I had this romantic belief that people who practiced magic were people who were open-minded, willing to experiment, and willing to try new things. I suppose I held this belief, because having been a born again Christian and seeing the close-minded fanaticism that such belief creates, I wanted to believe that occultists and Pagans were better than that. I wanted to belong to something where the focus was to explore, test, and challenge the dogma and established view of things. Eventually I was disabused of such romantic beliefs and came to realize that there are pagans and occultists who can be just as close-minded, established, and fanatical as anyone else. It's part of human nature, and there is no special group of people exempted from that nature.
Nonetheless, what I have never been disabused of is my own belief that what's established and held to be true should be challenged, and that if you believe something controversial you should try it out, explore it, etc., to determine for yourself the truth of the matter. When I first started experimenting with pop culture magic (back in the late 1990's), I was told by a person I considered a mentor that what I was doing wasn't "true" magic. He tried to discourage me, but instead encouraged me, because I felt that he didn't have the authority to determine if pop culture magic was or wasn't real magic (ironically enough he was a chaos magician). I didn't buy his statement that I couldn't do pop culture magic. He was't the only person to discourage me. I was told by a number of other magicians that I was reinventing the wheel or that I was a flake or a fluffy bunny or a heretic, or whatever else. All that discouragement ever did was encourage me to continue striking out on my own, as much to prove them wrong as to prove myself right. I never let anyone tell me what I couldn't do and I never bought into their arguments about why they were right and I was wrong (and a good thing to or otherwise I'd have never written any of my books!).
I've never gotten as much flak for the work I've done with space/time magic, identity magic, or working with one's body as a living universe in its own right, but I've still gotten some resistance, some people who think they know better than me about magic and how it oughta be done. And I won't pretend that it hasn't been hard at times to face such resistance and not feel a bit discouraged because someone feels a need to lord their beliefs and values over what you are doing. It is hard on occasion, because there will always be detractors, always be people who think the best way to prove their point is try and take you down and tell you why what you do is wrong and why what they do is right. But what they forget is that what's right for one person isn't right for another. What's right for you isn't right for me, and it doesn't have to be.
Likewise what's right for me may not be right for you, nor does it have to be. I don't subscribe to some of the beliefs that my fellow Pagans hold, but I accept that those beliefs are valid and meaningful to them, and so I don't tell them that what they believe is wrong or that they are doing it wrong. It's not for me to judge them. What I will never accept is intolerance, the attempt to discourage other people from discovering for themselves what their spirituality ( or anything else for that matter) manifests for them. I won't accept the excuse of "you can't do that" from anyone because no one can tell me what I can or can't do. I'm the only authority on that matter, and I have to live with the consequences of my choices, but I also will make those choices because in doing so I am creating my reality, instead of buying into the reality that someone else holds to. And likewise I won't tell anyone else what they can or can't do. I'll encourage them, as I always have, to find out for themselves. In the end the ultimate authority of your life is you...only you can discover those answers. What you have to accept is that what is right for you may not be right for others. That's the real test of authority: Can you accept that you aren't the authority of everyone else, and never will be?
I still experiment with magic (I likely always will) because I am driven to discover my own truth. It makes for a difficult road on occasion, but it also makes for a lot of adventure. And I don't accept the excuse of "you can't do that" because that excuse is lame, and is offered by people too afraid to handle a challenge to their own perspectives. What they'd realize if they did accept that challenge is that at most it might open their minds to some new perspectives and broaden their horizons. At the least it might just make them realize that what works for them does work for them and that should be good enough, without needing to obstruct someone else.
Here's a simple truth: No one else (or deity) is the authority on how you live your life or what you choose to do or believe. You are the only authority of your life. You can choose to let a deity or some other person have authority over your life, but YOU are still making that choice and you are still responsible for the choices that you make after that initial choice is made. No one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to make those choices. You are responsible for your choices. You are the ultimate authority in your life, even if you have chosen to hand that authority off to someone or some thing else.
The latest issue of Portal Magazine just came out, and includes an article by me.
Book Review: The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness by Samuel Avery
This is intriguing book that explores Modern Physics from a perspectives of dimensions. The author provides some compelling and thought provoking arguments about consciousness and the idea that physical reality is an experience of immaterial dimensions that are combined by consciousness into an experience that people can understand. I also like that the author includes mass as a dimension that impacts the space and time dimensions. The author does, on occasion, provide some fuzzy definition, such as what he uses to explain image, but he is dealing with some complex ideas and he does his best to present those ideas soundly. He does his best to make the book accessible to a layperson, while also providing enough depth to do the material justice.