The benefits and dangers in using magick from different cultures

Discuss here the benefits of learning from other system and cultures, also is it harmful for such cultures to learn from them. Have modern yoga destroyed true Hinduism, is new age a modern raping of peoples sacred belief. Do you have to travel to the other side of the world, and study under a master to get the benefits of using that system, or can you learn something from books and spirits instead.

What would western magick be without influence from the east, and middle east. Well there would be no kabbalah that’s for sure. It would more likely be folk magic and not really the system of study we have today.

Most great magicians studied both eastern and western magic, EA Koetting, Franz Bardon, Aleister Crowley etc. So there is a clear correlation in mixing east and west gives great, great result.
Ready go discuss!

When it comes to mixing of magicks the first thing I always think of is how much I need to understand what I am doing and how I am going to be working if. When you don’t have any understanding you will fail. And hopefully just fail and hoping nothing worse.

I agree one have-to understand the techniques deeply in order to know if they mix.
Also when beginning to learn magick, it is better to stick to one system and master it, then moving on for deeper understanding. Or one risk of dabbling and never really master anything.
My first introduction to the occult was the eastern concept of chi and chakra, mostly from dragonball and naruto. And i still find these concepts useful in my rituals, when drawing pentagrams for instance.

Modern times have probably messed up a lot of stuff, and many important teachings have been forgotten - by the influence of annoying things like christianity and muslims.

But then again, if someone wants to try out different methods from different cultures they have learned via books in the peace of their homes - no problem.

It’s not possible for everyone to instantly get some “guru” to teach you, especially when there are probably so many scammers around. Many gods/demons whatever are originally taken from different cultures - so if we were afraid of mixing we shouldn’t evoke demons/spirits either… But only work via a religion like asatru if that seems native enough to us.

Oh boy this topic is a can of worms.

Yogic concepts and western magics don’t really mix well with our minds in my opinion. The concept of karma is so deeply ingrained in Hindu culture that most native Hindus have an intuitive understanding. When a westerner is introduced to this concept generally they attempt to apply it to the Abrahamic moral system that infests every part of our culture. Most yogic practices were introduced to the west incorrectly by magicians like Crowley. His essays on yoga are outdated and useless. His pranayama for example will damaged your lungs and his postures will make you more susceptible to back injuries.

The same appropriation has become popular with ATRs. Some magicians that have a small amount of exposure to an ATR house or society witness types of magic being done and assume they can take the formula out of context and apply it to different things. This may sometimes be true but without an in depth understanding you can cause more problems for yourself than not. When I hear false equivalences being made between spirit pots, ngangas, prendas, pwen, and the brass vessel all I think is: Wow, someone is going to get messed up.

It’s fine if you plan to have an eclectic practice but understand that unless you have been properly instructed by an experienced teacher you are bound to end up with some serious problems. Of course authors of books don’t care about your success, in fact, they encourage you to have problems. They claim that that fact that you are poor and becoming homeless is a test of a spirit. My reply is F-that noise. If I work with a spirit I am allowing that spirit into my life as a welcome guest, if the spirit starts causing me problems it gets the boot.

Be careful what you choose to bring into your life, the seemingly innocuous can turn your world upside down in ways you can’t imagine.

You had that too with multiple indigenous shamanic culture (Hawaiian, Polynesian, Tainos) taking a small amount of knowledge, mixing it with New Age. It was a thing in the 70s-80s.

You had that too with multiple indigenous shamanic culture (Hawaiian, Polynesian, Tainos) taking a small amount of knowledge, mixing it with New Age. It was a thing in the 70s-80s.[/quote]

I’m reminded of someone referring to themselves a “goetic shaman”… not enough facepalm for that one.

Would the Catholic orthodoxy approve of the use of images of their saints and angels in vodou? :wink:

I understand people having a problem with this when their magickal path is also their religion, but while I can understand it, there are those of us who simply want whatever works.

We all draw the line differently on theft (including theft of large amounts of copyrighted materials, even from people like Jo McCarthy who’ve made specific personal pleas not to be robbed! :P) but every magician is after whatever brings the most power, and we’re all dishonest to some extent by the standards of the mundane world, who can’t call on spirits and hidden assistance to help them out.

IMO if you hear about something good from a culture or path you don’t have any connection to, ask your spirits and go by what they say, not human concepts like cultural appropriation and similar things.

If Prometheus had worried about that, we’d still be bashing the rocks together, I mean there are many archetypes and stories of the oldest gods STEALING something to give humans a leg up in the world.

At risk of being political, the caste and gender inequalities that plague India to this day (and which flourished back before the British Empire) are a direct result of that deeply ingrained concept of karma, which usually boils down to “If bad things are happening to you as a result of the station in society you were born into, you probably deserve them.”

I’ve known and worked with a lot of Indian people who felt the same and were dismayed at the way this concept, via the new age, is becoming prevalent in the west.

Meanwhile, although I’m no fan of the Abrahamic faiths, Christianity ended the widespread European practice of one tribe enslaving (and selling) the women and children of neighbouring tribes, and Islam was the first dominant force in India to oppose the Hindu practice of widow-burning and to begin to challenge the caste system.

It's fine if you plan to have an eclectic practice but understand that unless you have been properly instructed by an experienced teacher you are bound to end up with some serious problems.

Humans are flawed and status hungry though, and an outsider who doesn’t know the score will find it harder to judge the various claims for legitimacy.

At the very least, aim to have one or two spirits you can depend upon, who’ve come through for you and saved your ass when you did something stupid (instead of letting it all go wrong and then say it was a “lesson”) and who have an investment in your progress.

I could say ask your ancestral gods, but that doesn’t explain why Hathor, for example, has been such a wonderful leading light in my life (I’m fairly sure I have no Egyptian ancestry to speak of).

My opinion is that the gods, spirits, lwa etc., may have established traditional ways of doing things, may have a special relationship with their initiates and many may only want to have that, but I believe some will reach out to outsiders and share information with them.

Only a fool keeps all their eggs in one basket, and I believe that spirits are NOT folls, and also that they’re distinct individuals and not archetypes or mindless forces, so it makes sense for me that they won’t all have an identical agenda.

Be careful what you choose to bring into your life, the seemingly innocuous can turn your world upside down in ways you can't imagine.

Agree 100% with this.

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Actually, the use of the saints in “vodou” is pre-diaspora. Most Haitians will claim that the Lwa and the St are one in the same.

It’s not that they are one in the same, you seem to be extrapolating a context that I was not expressing, but rather that they are so intertwined to try to do magic with the spirits of say Haitian Vodou could easily land someone in hot water. Not having the knowledge of how to care for such beings or how to cool them when they get hot. Most of what is written in books is incorrect and misleading. In fact, it’s well known that legitimate priests deliberately give misinformation to people.

The thing is: Spirits from a living tradition receiving service and everything they want from a hierarchy the established truly have no care for outsiders. When the Lwa came to me they specifically told me to find an houngan and told me were to look. I wasn’t looking for them. That’s when you have something significant, when something unsought and unconsidered comes for you.

There are very few people, that I’ve seen, who have real success despite stealing practices theybarely understand. Maybe none at all, but who knows?

The fact remains that concepts and practices typically do not exist within a vacuum alone. They exist in living, breathing traditions. They have entire lore and power surrounding them, that has existed for hundreds to thousands of years. Those who think they can remove them from their context and “refine” them are fooling themselves. They are disrespecting a tradition older and wiser than them by thinking that they can refine a practice that has only continued because it existed in that form. And they are fucking with their own practice by introducing foreign concepts that they do not understand completely. They don’t know to handle it…They don’t know to properly work it.

In Colors of the Wind, Pocahontas says, “You think you own whatever land you land on, you think the earth is just a dead thing you can claim. But I know every rock and tree and creature, has a spirit, has a life, has a name.” And the same goes living traditions. You think nobody owns tradition you come across, that it’s just a dead thing to pillage as you please. But every aspect of that tradition exists because it works and is relevant to that culture and history. It comes with the baggage of the past, and the complexities of the practice itself.

I strongly doubt whether the stories of any saints could have reached Africa except under Catholic missionary activity, and therefore it represents, perhaps, an evolution of the representation of these saints that has nothing to do with Catholicism.

That’s my polite way of saying they took the stories of Christian people taught by a Christian outreach organisation, and did what they wanted with them.

I would say, more power to all concerned, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that Euoi was protesting in another thread.

It's not that they are one in the same, you seem to be extrapolating a context that I was not expressing, but rather that they are so intertwined to try to do magic with the spirits of say Haitian Vodou could easily land someone in hot water.

No, I’m saying that Haitian Vodou resembles a religion in almost all ways, including the outspoken defence of orthodox methods that its adherents go in for online.

I’m not criticising their right to do that, although do bear in mind this forum in particular isn’t about religion so much as magick (the whole LHP thing) but, as with certain western trad. magicians for whom magick is “the great work” and akin to any other religious practice, views on what’s acceptable and what’s not are going to differ.

Not having the knowledge of how to care for such beings or how to cool them when they get hot. Most of what is written in books is incorrect and misleading. In fact, it's well known that legitimate priests deliberately give misinformation to people.

What’s their motivation for doing this?

The thing is: Spirits from a living tradition receiving service and everything they want from a hierarchy the established truly have no care for outsiders.

I don’t think, with respect, you can speak for ALL spirits from a living tradition there, and that living tradition would include Hinduism, which is where this conversation began on another thread.

I disagree with this based on, for a start, personal experience - I learned and got an intense and rapid “enlightenment” or whatever you wish to call it studying a Hindu system, from various teachers including an old lineage, that had been directly set up as a kind of “outreach” to those born outside India and Hindu families.

I had a change of direction, but it remains the seed experience from which all my other explorations grew.

Secondly, many people I’ve met who are serious healers, magicians, and general students have also worked with Hindu gods, specifically Ganesha, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati, and while the system and process is very different to the methods someone would use to call a spirit from the Goetia, these gods didn’t turn these people away, or cause backfires, or anything of that kind.

And the living traditions of the ayahuasceros in south America seem very open to outsiders, welcoming in pretty much anyone who has the cash to pay, and most people I’ve ever met have come away from the experience with useful insights and no backlash.

Maybe Haitian Vodou is… special.

When the Lwa came to me they specifically told me to find an houngan and told me were to look. I wasn't looking for them. That's when you have something significant, when something unsought and unconsidered comes for you.

Yes, it’s happened to me and many others on here, and often from spirits who completely surprised us, in that they aren’t any part of our cultural inheritance.

But with respect, I don’t get what this has to do with your general point? That this happened to you doesn’t preclude the possibility of other spirits from living traditions approaching other people and working with them, outside an initiatory, or devotional, framework.

Well, Haiti doesn’t have a really great standard of living for most of its people, neither does India.

If people born into those traditions are the only ones able to successfully work them, why do children of devout Hindus starve, while English yoga teachers - who teach yoga only as an exercise - thrive?

The fact remains that concepts and practices typically do not exist within a vacuum alone.

To my way of seeing things, they exist as power the gods/spirits etc have SHARED with humanity for the greater evolution and awakening of our species.

I guess we can state our points all we want on this, but I know you won’t budge me from that view, and I’ll therefore assume I won’t budge you from yours with words alone either - after all, this conversation won’t be the first time we’ve considered the matter. :slight_smile:

They exist in living, breathing traditions. They have entire lore and power surrounding them, that has existed for hundreds to thousands of years.

It’s my belief these traditions are often riddled with human accretions of custom and bunk that was designed to keep the boss guy on his throne.

Of course some things need to be kept for those who are ready (I don’t think anyone would give a chainsaw to a toddler) but that’s about all - I believe the rest is standard primate status behaviour.

You see similar things when FGM is passed off as a Muslim custom by the Muslims who practice it, despite being nowhere mandated in the Koran. The observation of how people pervert the written words of their own prophets is interesting…

Those who think they can remove them from their context and "refine" them are fooling themselves. They are disrespecting a tradition older and wiser than them by thinking that they can refine a practice that has only continued because it existed in that form. And they are fucking with their own practice by introducing foreign concepts that they do not understand completely. They don't know to handle it..They don't know to properly work it.

I agree when a person sees something and thinks “I’d like to try this” without having ANY spiritual guidance that led them to that point, yes.

Going back briefly to the original topic, the third eye either exists (either innately, or through focused attention) or it does not - if it exists, and is present in non-Hindus, then we have every right to learn about it and take that study where we will - if it doesn’t exist but is simply a metaphor within Hinduism, then so many people wouldn’t have the experience of it opening.

The benefit is the novelty factor. It’s new and exciting, interesting, which really holds your attention. Our attention is always drawn to the point of highest novelty, especially in dreams. That’s just where our attention naturally wants to go, so take advantage of it whenever you can. That’s good for the short term, but novelty fades. If you want to keep using it long term, you’ll need to develop a ritual relationship.

The danger (more of a technical problem really) is that not everything gets translated across cultural barriers. I only speak english and french, but there are some things you just can’t translate. Sometimes there’s no equivalent meaning or concept to properly convey what was originally meant in the original language or culture.
So when someone from outside that culture uses it, they don’t get the benefit of the original intent. You substitute your own programming without realizing it.

Well, Haiti doesn’t have a really great standard of living for most of its people, neither does India.

If people born into those traditions are the only ones able to successfully work them, why do children of devout Hindus starve, while English yoga teachers - who teach yoga only as an exercise - thrive?

^Probably because they are results oriented and not into bs religion and asking for permission.

You don’t have to be born into a tradition. You just have to called to it and learn it properly by someone actually initiated.

They thrive because European colonialism. The dominant culture raped and pillaged. The conquered culture gets blamed for its trauma.
Most of these traditions are not riddled with human beliefs. Many are based on practical results and passing down the knowledge as pure as possible. The ADRs are spirit led and spirit approved.

The thing about these traditions is that they ARE results oriented…They exist that way because.THAT’S WHAT GOT THEM THE BEST RESULTS. Saying that they aren’t just shows how little you know of them and further emphasizes my point: don’t mess with shit you don’t understand.

Besides, it’s not like everyone in Haiti and India practice the spirituality there.

Also I should clarify ny original statement about stealing practices and not having success.
Despite western, white yoga teachers teaching yoga as an exercise having a successful yoga studio, they have entirely lost the spiritual benefit and power of these practices. They have a nice system of exercise, but are spiritually inept. Meanwhile, devout Hindu are starving and unable to practice yoga period.

[quote=“Euoi, post:16, topic:5761”]You don’t have to be born into a tradition. You just have to called to it and learn it properly by someone actually initiated.

They thrive because European colonialism. The dominant culture raped and pillaged. The conquered culture gets blamed for its trauma.[/quote]

Doesn’t that mean that European colonialism, then, works?

I’m not trying to be provocative, but in a conversation like this it’s hard not to be.

The Egyptians had a system that worked for millenia, and then along came Rome, and we’re just the latest inheritors. I don’t see any evidence for a global history of pacifists and tolerance that was uniquely disrupted by white people, let’s put it that way.

The thing about these traditions is that they ARE results oriented..They exist that way because.THAT'S WHAT GOT THEM THE BEST RESULTS. Saying that they aren't just shows how little you know of them and further emphasizes my point: don't mess with shit you don't understand.

Please “address the argument not the person” - I’m asking questions here, and stating the reasons I’ve seen, so far, that make me think that these systems can work well for people who only adopt parts of them, especially the Hindu systems (Haitian vodou is less of a thing in the UK).

I did “mess with shit” (well, I studied and practiced Hindu and yogic philosophies) and I DID get results, pretty quickly, and then I went and did something else. But for a few years I immersed myself in this stuff, including all arguments for and against the idea it’s somehow limited to certain ethnic groups or people born in certain locations.

The funniest thing is, it was always white people worrying about it, and always Indian people saying it’s the way their own people have tried to understand some almost incomprehensible truths, and that what we call Hinduism/Sanātana Dharma is the strongest remaining current of it (after the suppressions of the Christian era) and that they’re willing to share this wisdom.

Also, what do you make of this? From http://studioarcanis.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=13889

http://forum.culteducation.com/read.php?12,123278,page=2

I have long been suspicious of the claims that my yoga teachers have made about the great antiquity of the postures that they were teaching us. Okay, so there were sculptures of yogis and Buddhas sitting in Lotus, but where were all the Downward Dogs and Warriors, Headstands and Forward Bends? Why couldn’t any of the books show us illustrations or even properly referenced descriptions of these poses in the ancient sources if there were any? Well, as historian Mark Singleton has recently reported in Yoga Journal (November 2010), it’s because there aren’t.*

It gets better (or worse, depending on how important you think antiquity is). Not only aren’t these poses–and more or less all of the others which aspiring yogis and yoginis practice so diligently in yoga studios and health clubs the (Westernized) world over–particularly ancient. They aren’t even Indian. They are, you guessed it, Western to begin with. To be exact, 19th-century Scandinavian.

Everything–the five-count format, the abdominal “locks”, the jump-through and the postures–appears in an early 20th-century Danish system called Primitive Gymnastics which was itself a derivative of a 19th-century Scandinavian model that, as Singleton explains,

“sprang up throughout Europe and became the basis for physical training in armies, navies, and many schools. These systems also found their way to India. In the 1920s, according to a survey taken by the Indian YMCA, Primitive Gymnastics was one of the most popular forms of exercise in the whole subcontinent, second only to the original Swedish gymnastics developed by P.H. Ling.”

And guess who decided that it would be a good thing to teach this form of exercise as yoga? Right: modern yoga founding fathers Kuvalayananda (1883-1966) and T. Krishnamacharya (1888-1989), the latter the teacher of such global yoga luminaries as B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi and T.K.V. Desikachar. I love it. Here we’ve been, for the past, oh, twenty or thirty or sixty years worrying about the effects of bringing yoga to the West, corrupting its spiritual tradition by teaching it in health clubs as “merely” gymnastics–and all along, that’s what it was, exercise. To be sure, Krishnamacharya blended his gymnastics with philosophical teachings from orthodox Hinduism and Ayurveda.

Who stole what from whom, and as someone with Scandanavian ancestry, can I go over to the ashrams in India teaching these asanas, and insist they give it back? lol!!

THIS is why the whole argument falls apart for me - everyone on this planet, be they hardcore materialist or mage, just wants to better their own life and will use any means available to do so.

For the last time, I DON’T believe you have to be born somewhere or into something to practice these traditions. I don’t know why you making a point that it’s not limited to ethnic groups.

The point of my argument is that removing practices you don’t understand from a tradition you don’t understand cannot possibly lead to a lasting and fulfilling spiritual practice.

You can’t generalize and say they don’t “understand it” since you don’t know.