Adaptation, Templates and Inspiration

I think we can all agree that a mage, sorcerer or witch can be highly eclectic when it comes to knowledge, application of knowledge and personal belief. The principal of magic only comes down to as long as it works, it’s magic. This is a very vague term that can incorporate anything from just thinking to the most advanced ceremonial formula.

I noticed that many old teachers and those devoted to very specific systems of magic are more likely than not going to have stigmas whenever people try to adapt. One example are the African-American diaspora religions and magic systems (Voodoo, hoodoo, Santeria, palo mambe, etc). Many practitioners of the magic are still Christian to the point where most anthropologists categorize the voodoo religious systems as a syncretism of traditional African religions, Native American spiritual and herbal knowledge and Christianity. Hoodoo, even though it’s not uniquely Christian, is practally married to the Bible. I’ve read some Hoodoo practitioners having a big fuss over their system being adapted to Pagan beliefs. While I do understand the world is changing, exchanging ideas and creating new things, I do agree that the way many Pagans adapt Christian systems is the worst kind of “cultural appropriation”. It’s one thing to be inspired by a system, learn all you can about it, and then ask “okay, how does this fit in with what I do?” It’s another to decide that you’re basically going to take the rituals and instead of praying to the Christian god as “Lord”, you pray to the Goddess as “Lady”.

Even though the LHP has no dogma, it has a very strong but general philosophy. One of the keywords to the LHP is “respect”. We respect the spirits and gods of our paths. But we should also respect humans, as they are spirits of the flesh. To reference LaVey, we should exercise our own egos, but also realize that others have their own ego. “To impose on one’s freedom is to forego your own”. Yes, we can adapt voodoo and take the Christian aspects out of it (as some pro-African groups are doing right now), but we cannot simply just decide to replace certain gods with other gods. 90% of the time, the new names we come across will be of a new god. Some people may argue that there are a certain amount of gods and each have their own “mask”. This is not something I will totally disagree with however I view this statement as entirely archetypal and attribute no particular god as the main archetype. Examples, maybe, but core, no.

Anyway, I understand that others like to have a template system. There are a few problems with this. Problem one is that the template is almost always in a Western context. This means that if you try to adapt something from another culture into the template, you start to loose the original feel once the new system starts to operate. This should not be confused, however, with experimentation. Experiments may leak with certain influences, but the focus is more likely than not a creative effort. The problem is when experimentation starts with an inflexible template. It’s not really anything once you reuse the template. It’s just a different context divorced from the original meaning.

This leads us to problem 2; since the system is being done out of context, it quickly loses substance. The joy of learning is to learn new things. In order to learn effectively, a template should not be used concretely. You may associate certain aspects of the original material with things from other cultures, but comparative symbolism only makes us have a launch pad to dive into something new. And this is what we should always strive for; “new”.

Does that mean you shouldn’t adapt systems in your own practice? I say no. Nobody is stopping you, even if they talk badly about you. But to do it in a way that is truely enriching, it’s a good idea to start from the context. You’re going to have a bad time with dogmatic freaks and faithful devotees within the original context, but it should in no way make you feel bad. Understand what’s going on, take as much from the original system as you can without having to adapt anything, and then go from there. The main concern shouldn’t be blasphemy but knowledge. Simply reversing the system or using templates does no good if what you want is authenticity.

I’m not saying this to discourage anyone. Lately I’ve been reading and seeing many things that are reminding me how narrow minded the general population is. Globalization is enivitable with the current trends. We have to adapt, but to preserve what we love, we have to preserve as much of it as possible. It’s only the respectful thing to do and we must realize others are doing the same thing. No one is wrong on the premise of culture or heritage, or lack thereof, despite what you may dislike about them.

So, what are you going to do about that?


Beautifully explained.

You can modify an existing system, but you really have to know why you are doing what you are doing when you do it. The best way to gain this knowledge is to work the original system until you understand the “why?” of everything you are doing. Only then is one really in a position to make changes.


Just on a technical level, I respectfully disagree - there are concepts that come up time and again, both here, in the white light world, and elsewhere, that are in no way western (if by that you mean, primarily European):

  • karma - Hindu (India)
  • chakras - Hindu
  • kundalini - Hindu
  • demons - middle eastern, in terms of names, common concepts and dualism
  • hell - same as demons
  • angels - Hebrew, mostly

While there are huge areas of common ground across the world (core shamanism being derived from one key element, and use of words, names and so on as sacred being another) we mainly have a mish-mash of Indian and Hebrew, with a very small amount of Egyptian, but functionally, no-one asks if they’ll be devoured by Amut if they do magick, it’s always about karma or hell.

CS is actually about the closest you will get to a global template, as in a magickal format recognised on all continents, which can then be adapted to BOTH one’s own ethnic/ancestral heritage, and also the spirits you happen to like, and new ones you’ll meet along the way - once mastered in its pure form, so you get the basics right, it becomes endlessly versatile.

This is why I teach people how to do it without reservation on here - it belongs to ALL humans, and it’s also as close to safe as magick can possibly get.

And another advantage is that you get rapid spirit communication with this method, meaning you can directly ask spirits what they do and don’t consent to, so if someone has a wacky idea about calling the Aesir up using a vodoun method, the spirit, and not the human gatekeepers of tradition, can reply as he or she wishes.

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I do agree certain things are pan-human. There are a lot of things that all humans understand and it reflects itself in global culture. And I do respect that some methods are preferred by others. However the differences of such cultures are also of importance. Even though some systems understood that the body has energy, it was unlikely they use a Chakara system to describe it. The understanding of Chakras originated in India and so it is not unwise to study Chakras in both a modern and traditional context, separate from and with other concepts of a Hindu origin. So I’m not advocating giving up on systems based on origin. I’m just disappointed that some people seem to forget the origins of certain concepts and they try to divorce a useful tool for from the context where they can learn a lot more about it.

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