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The Map is Not the Territory

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on April 1, 2011 | Comments (7)

A few mornings ago I received a phone call from a friend on the opposite side of the country. Alay’nya started out as a hard-driving scientific researcher. We met at a psychic fair in San Diego where she came and received a Tarot reading from me. Although we’ve rarely seen each other in person, we have kept in touch.

Alay’nya has gone through enormous changes. Today she is a professional belly dancer, teacher, and more. You can learn about who she is and what she’s teaching and doing by going to her website.

We talked about a new book she’s completing. We also talked about how she’s setting up classes combing spirituality with dance in a highly structured format.

Although there are some special forms of belly dance for men (such as in the image shown at the left), most people doing belly dance are women. I pointed out to Alay’nya that many women I know personally or know of, who would be interested in combining the physical (dance) and mental (spirituality), do not like “highly structured” formats. Some consider such structure and hierarchy to be patriarchal, regressive, and antithetical to their spiritual progress.

Alay’nya said that although this may be true in some areas, in other areas this such as where she teaches, this is not true and that women there are looking for the structure. Still, I suggested that she might consider adding something about the nature of her work and how the structure of what she is doing integrates mental and physical, body and mind.

Different people have different needs and because of their backgrounds may see things in different ways. In fact our backgrounds and personal history build up the way we see the world. They make up our “maps” of reality. But as we say in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), “The map is not the territory.”

I believe that for magickians this understanding is important. It’s one of the reasons I introduce NLP concepts in the new chapter of the 3rd edition of Modern Magick. Our personal understanding of the universe, our map, is not the reality of the universe. It is merely the way we use to better interact with the universe and other people in it. The closer our map is to reality, the better we function in the universe.

Welcome to Paganistan!

It’s important to understand that our maps are neither right nor wrong, they are just different. The closer your map matches my map, the better we communicate. Patrick Dunn deals with this more explicitly in his book, Postmodern Magic. I introduce some of this concept in Modern Magick. We both show how this concept can help you understand and better work magick. And that brings us to Paganicon.

Paganicon is a new Pagan convention taking place in Minnesota (AKA “Paganistan”), possibly the first such convention in Minnesota since Llewellyn held the first modern Pagan conventions in the U.S., the annual Gnosticon, in the 1970s. This year, my friend John Michael Greer (who wrote a foreword for Modern Magick) was the keynote speaker and, I understand, received a well-deserved standing ovation.

One person who attended the convention was Frater Barrabbas Tiresius who made a blog post about his experience. In the post he describes a workshop given by Scot Stenwick. Mr. Stenwick, it would seem, didn’t like my presentation of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram followed by the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram as a prelude to magickal work. You can read his complete presentation at this LINK. He claims, “The ‘banish-banish,’ or as I call it the Banishing Field, shuts down all ongoing magical effects in both the microcosmic and macrocosmic realms.” This, he claims, limits success.

Frater Barrabbas writes this about the workshop:

One of Scott’s most important declarations about planetary magick is encapsulated in the following quote: “The correct method for most macrocosmic work is in fact to combine the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram with the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram.” This clears the magician’s personal field of consciousness and then calls the macrocosmic forces into that field. I found this statement to make a lot of sense, although since I don’t use these rituals, I couldn’t verify that statement off of the top of my head.

Ah. So rather than LBRP followed by LBRH, Mr. Stenwick prefers the LBRP followed by the Lesser INVOKING Ritual of the Hexagram. Frater Barrabas believes this makes “a lot of sense.”

Your Map is not My Map

This could be seen as a serious, considered and reasonable criticism of my book. I think it’s fair to ask the obvious questions: Is Mr. Stenwick right? Am I wrong? There are actually two answers to that question.

Answer One: I would respectfully say that Mr. Stenwick is partially correct. I would say that the LBRP followed by the LBRH purifies and banishes all ongoing magical effects in both the microcosmic and macrocosmic realms around the magician, not that it shuts them down. This small difference means that your immediate area becomes open to any sort of magick you wish to do. This is extended in answer two below.

However, the way I present this is my map. My system works excellently for me and many of my students. In his map it absolutely shuts things down. In his map he will be more successful doing the LBRP followed by the LIRH. So the answer is not that one of us is wrong or right. It’s simply that his map is not my map. If your map is closer to his, as Frater Barrabbas’ seems to be, Mr. Stenwick’s method will “make a lot of sense.” If your map is closer to mine, then the method presented in Modern Magick will “make a lot of sense.”

Answer Two: Frater Barrabbas does some excellent work, looking into this question in other resources. He points out that Modern Magick doesn’t go into the type of magick Mr. Stenwick is presenting. What isn’t discussed by either Frater Barrabbas or Mr. Stenwick is that Modern Magick is cumulative. I have done both planetary and zodiacal rituals but not after merely doing banishings. Instead, I would do the Opening by Watchtower which includes a very powerful invocation. The Watchtower ritual is fully and extensively described in Modern Magick. In sum, Modern Magick has you banish on all planes and then invoke. Mr. Stenwick proposes a brief banishing and a brief invocation.

So which of us is right? Again, it’s not a question of right or wrong, it’s a question of which map is most closely aligned with your map. To Mr. Stenwick, who lives by his map, he is right. To Frater Barrabbas, Mr. Stenwick’s map makes a lot of sense. For me, my map makes the most sense.

I realize that this leaves people reading this blog in a bit of a conundrum. Which system should you follow? In Modern Magick I strongly urge people to study other books to get other opinions and ideas. For the truth (at least, the truth according to my map) is that magick is an experimental science. It doesn’t matter what any of us think or believe. What matters is what works. Mr. Stenwick, Frater Barrabbas, and I can only show you what works for us. We show what works when we follow our maps. We are like fingers pointing at the Moon; look at the Moon and not the finger.

Therefore, the real key (again, according to my map) is what Dion Fortune wrote, that there is no room for authority in occultism. As a magician, an experimental scientist, it’s up to you to try it out. Give each system, each methodology, a thorough set of experiments/rituals. See which one works for you. That’s what you should use. That’s what most closely matches your map.

Reader Comments

Written By Stefan
on April 1st, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

That’s right again a briliant article, a briliant teacher.

Written By Scott Stenwick
on April 4th, 2011 @ 1:45 am

As far as your comments go regarding magick being an experimental science I couldn’t agree more. Every student should try out the rituals for themselves to see firsthand what works best for them. In fact, my LBRP-LIRH method was the result of more than a year of experimental work on my part involving variations on the Lesser Rituals. My model followed my data, not the other way around.

I also would like to make one slight correction to your description of my method in Answer Two. My method for opening a ritual is more involved than just doing the LBRP-LIRH and jumping into the conjuration. For opening a Jupiter invocation, the example I give in the linked presentation, the sequence I use would be:

3. Preliminary Invocation
4. Greater Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram for Jupiter
5. Conjuration

Thanks for your response. I’ll probably be posting some additional comments on my blog some time during the next week.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on April 4th, 2011 @ 9:35 am

Thank you for your correction.
I would, however, respectfully disagree with your statement that your model followed your data, not the other way around. You had to come up with a model (LBRP-LIRH) first. Otherwise, there would have been no reason to do it in that pattern. It certainly would be correct to say that in your experience, your data confirmed your model.

Written By Scott Stenwick
on April 4th, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

You’re right, I think we’re going to have to respectfully disagree on this one. Here’s what I did as far as testing goes – I’ll leave it to you and your readers to decide whether my findings are simply a case of confirmation bias.

After doing the LBRP/LBRH as taught in Modern Magick for a number of years, I initially began experimenting with the LIRH after noticing that the LIRH is the version of the Lesser Hexagram that is covered in Aleister Crowley’s Liber O. After trying the LBRP/LIRH out a few times it seemed that something interesting might be going on with it, so at that point I set out on a long series of magical experiments to try and determine which ritual combination worked the best. After compiling a year or so of compiling and analyzing my probability testing data I concluded that the LBRP/LIRH worked substantially better, at least for me. Had the data gone the other way I would have just switched back to the LBRP/LBRH.

I’m not discounting the possibility that you allude to in your article, that there could be some difference in temperament that might predispose a student toward one arrangement of the Lesser rituals over the other, but I continue to think that there is more going on here than the data just confirming my expectations.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on April 5th, 2011 @ 10:11 am

Thank you for your comment, Scott.
What you are describing is EXACTLY what I encourage readers of Modern Magick to do. Use what’s shared in my book (or any books or from any teachers) and use the system well. If something isn’t being as successful as you like, try something different. If it works, use that. If it doesn’t, go back to the tradition that has worked for so many people.
I also suggest that when a person finds something different that works for them, they should share it with others. Let others have the advantage of seeing what works for you. This gives people more choice and more ideas to experiment on their own.
I would respectfully add, however, that it would be a mistake to assume that becomes something works for me, you, or anyone else, that of necessity it is the “right” way to do things and must work for everyone.
I don’t really think that you and I are that far apart in our ideas. Part of our apparent differences seem to be more oriented toward terminology. What you’re defining as three parts of ritual, “Preliminary Invocation, Greater Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram for Jupiter and Conjuration, I had linked together in my original article as the Conjuration. You seem–and please correct me if I’m wrong–to have assumed that I only suggest doing the two banishing, LBRP and LBRH before going into a conjuration, however in Modern Magick I encourage people to do the Opening by Watchtower which includes Invoking rituals before doing any conjuration.
It would seem, then, that I suggest an extra banishing and different invocations prior to a conjuration (or similar magickal work). This, I believe doesn’t make either you or me right or wrong, just different…and only slightly different at that.
The infamous “bottom line,” in my opinion, remains what I wrote in the last paragraph of the original post: “Therefore, the real key…is what Dion Fortune wrote, that there is no room for authority in occultism. As a magician, an experimental scientist, it’s up to you [the reader and practitioner] to try it out. Give each system, each methodology, a thorough set of experiments/rituals. See which one works for you.”

Written By Scott Stenwick
on April 6th, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

No, I didn’t mean to suggest that all you do to open a ritual is the LBRP/LBRH. I’m quite familiar with Modern Magick and I know that isn’t the case.

Our bottom line here is pretty much the same – I agree that the key is for every student to try out various arrangements of the rituals to find which structure works best for them in as scientific a manner as possible. One of the reasons that I’m as vocal as I am about the LBRP/LIRH method is that in looking around the community it seemed like nobody was teaching the rituals in that combination and I get such good results with them. If some of the students out there try it as a result of my experience and it works better for them, as I see it my job is done.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on April 7th, 2011 @ 8:57 am

Then you’re doing exactly what I have suggested. Do experiments to discover what works best for you and then share it with others. It may be that others may find that works for you might not work for them, but at least it has opened their minds to other possibilities. And for those who find that it does work you will have helped them and saved them a great deal of time. Continue your good work and continue being as “vocal” as possible! Our paths up the mountain may not be the same, but the are fairly parallel. There’s no reason we cannot help each other on our respective paths.

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