One’s process of spiritual development can be different, depending on one’s guidance and influence. When I started in paths alternate to Christianity, I tended to gravitate towards a teacher or guru… or a book of instructions. I preferred being told what to do, rather than following my own path.
I even kidded myself for awhile, that the mix of different paths, was my path. Perhaps there was a bit of truth to it. After all, those different teachings were then brought together as needed to form my a path of spiritual development.
In time, however, I realized that reading one’s instructions…. or following a teaching verbatim is as though one is following another’s gnosis. It is the opposite of spiritual evolution.
One of the reasons I enjoy the Black Flame Immersion podcast, is that the host’s opinions resonate so much with me. I came to a conclusion in my late 30’s that books & teachers were good for guidance and ideas, but in the dedicated following of the material, I felt I was taking on another’s path.
This same reasoning comes up from time to time, in the Black Flame Immersion podcast. The host of that podcast tells his own feelings about how books are another person’s gnosis.
In this way, following a teaching verbatim, will be like wearing a mask. The mask being the person who gave the teachings. This mask is taken into the ritual, initiation, work and this mask is what’s being cultivated; not the wearer.
There has to be a starting point, some guidance. After all if one wanted to know about a deity, they would have to do research. Having a guide or teacher to ask advice from is very useful as well.
A good teacher, however, will not give a person step by step instructions. Instead they will get a person thinking about the issue so to allow their own consciousness to rise up in answer to the question.
As an example, when I first started out on the Left Hand Path (this year, 2019), I was 46 years old. The idea of rebellion is almost lost on me. When I read the writings of many, talking about the first step in the LHP is an act of antinomianism, I was concerned. What am I to do at my age? How would rebellion look for a 45+ year old adult?
I raised these concerns in a Setian message board. Several people responded, and I noticed none of them told me what to do. Instead they offered ways I think about the question.
I’m often confused about how Heterodoxy and Antinomianism differ and how they play into the LHP or Western LHP (should you see a difference)?
The quote above is one of the responses I got. He wasn’t telling me what to think, or what to do. Instead he asked a question… how does heterodoxy and antinomianism differ?
I had to define heterodoxy. This lead me to a specific notion that heterodoxy is a deviation from an orthodox ideology or doctrine (such as Christianity, Buddhism, Atheism, etc.)
When I thought about the issue like this, I began to form my own pathways here… and I came to the conclusion that antinomianism for me, wasn’t in rebelling like a teenager in some angst, but in the removal of the Old Ways. What the host of Black Flame Immersion calls “the baptismal removal,” or a Setian might refer to as the burning of the old icons that held one’s view, filtering reality.
What about books? Let’s talk about books!
In the modern occult path, books are written like stereo instructions (if people remember what those were like.) Everything is outlined like steps. Step 1, you make your tools like this. Write this name on this wand, and that name on the athame, and wear this color of robe and burn this incense. Step 2, memorize some banishing ritual and open with that. Step 3, start the invocation in this way, stand this way, hold this tool and speak this god name while raising your arm at a 45 degree angle….
This is what the host is complaining about. This type of instruction removes the person. This is a path of some author’s personal gnosis, or worse yet it’s a path of gnosis handed down generation after generation… or worse yet, it’s some authors way to get money by reinventing something handed down to give it a new spin and get more book sells.
This is a far cry different then say studying and doing one’s own research. As an example, imagine if someone wanted to study Greek magic. They could reach out to a modern book of instructions, or they could learn the Greek language. Then, with some rudimentary knowledge of Greek, they could start reading the Magical Greek Papyri on their own.
A process like this is hard. Walls will be hit. Words or phrases unknown will have to be further researched. But the reward here, is that the system one learns is digested and created internally. This isn’t about finding an older book of stereo instructions, it’s about what the reader/Initiate brings to the table (themselves.)
The Setian Dr. Stephen Flowers describes this process. He coined a term for it as the Polarian Method. It’s complex, involved and heavy to research. If one is studying ancient Germanic magic, one adopts the language, reads texts in their own written form (not translated) and so on.
“What the fuck,” some might say. Yes this approach is demanding, but it’s the growth of the soul. If Dr. Flowers came out and said, “ok I translated everything just listen to me. Don’t think about anything, just do these exercises each morning, noon and midnight….” Then we’re taking on his gnosis and not bringing our own self/individuality to the process…
In my opinion this is why magicians today may get a phenomenon or result here there, but internal change doesn’t seem to be occurring.
There is another approach of individuality in magic, occultism, spirituality. It is the path of devotion. In this path, one devotes to the deity their time and effort. They are as open vessels. No barriers to the deity (like protection circles) are utilized.
Instead, the Initiate makes a space, cultivates a relationship and builds the bond of Selfhood. This also establishes a link that will bridge the gap, providing personal gnosis and a personal path to the goals of the Initiate.
I have nothing against book learning. I buy a lot of books. I also have nothing against seeking advice. I ask people for advice all the time.
There is a difference though in the following of a teaching verbatim, and researching a system to form one’s own path and understanding.
There are approaches here… one would be the polarian method, as defined by Dr. Flowers. Another approach would be the path of devotion, as described by the host of the Black Flame Immersion podcast.
These approaches seek individual gnosis and assist the initiate in becoming who they are meant to Be.
Polarian Method (“How to be a Heathen”) by Dr. Flowers:
Polarian Method described in an interview: