If the rat-race is a problem, what of the rats themselves? Well, at the outset, I don’t mean to insult every occultist around. Like I said before, there are plenty of sincere, skilled, and genuinely compassionate magicians and mystics out there who are or consider themselves to be part of the occult community. Well and good. But there are those who would intentionally bring others to harm or unintentionally lead them astray. It’s too easy to fall into paranoia, but no good comes of that. It’s better just to know some of the possibilities and look out for patterns. Here are five true stories, the first four current and the fifth from about a dozen years ago:
- There is a magician who calls spirits to force men to have sex with them, who is always surprised when the men come to their senses and leave (often in horror), and who has set themselves up as a teacher and a shaman;
- There is a magician who heads-up an initiatory school and forces ritual spirit possession upon women so that they may have sex with those women without the women even being aware of it;
- There is a magician who does not believe that it is possible to obtain information from spirits, and yet claims to do spirit work and sells services which rely on spirit contact;
- There is an occult author, quite well-respected in some circles, who publicly denounced their guru and teachers for publicity’s sake, threw some friends under the bus for their lack of misanthropy, and now spends time begging women for sexual favors while using occult tropes and hints of “Tantric secrets” to entice them;
- There was a Neopagan “elder” and Witch who traveled around in a van, going from Pagan festival to occult gathering, trying to convince much younger women to sleep with him and, when they wouldn’t, forcing himself upon them. Last I heard of him, he had been arrested for sexual assault.
The first two may sound pretty far-out, while the latter three are just occult-themed versions of unfortunately run-of-the-mill abhorrent behavior, the likes of which you will find in any group of human beings large enough to draw con-artists, frauds, predators, and the well-deluded. Those who have not seen the likes of the first two—who don’t know what spirits, properly called, or what magic generally can do—may think them the overreaching efforts of those who have nothing more constructive to do with their time than to mess with “spooky action at a distance” on other people. But consider, for a moment, even beyond skepticism, the motives behind such actions. Even if a person’s gun is loaded with blanks, if they aren’t aware of that and they point it at someone else and pull the trigger with the intent to harm or kill, should we not at least take that intention seriously? And all the moreso in that the act is obviously premeditated? Perhaps, in such a case, there isn’t enough evidence to convict in a court of law, but there’s certainly enough for the intended victim to take action to keep themselves safe.
Here, then, is the scum of the occult community. It only tends to rise to the surface when the pond is stirred or plumbed, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there even when you don’t see it. Like any population, many occultists are doing their best just to get by and find some meaning, security, and happiness in life. But there are some who carry diseases, who are driven by their diseases, and who want nothing more than to infect others. Just as you can tell rabies from a distance by watching for erratic behavior, foaming around the mouth, and other tell-tales, you can often catch out an occultist or magician (whether they’re any good at it or not) who means to manipulate you or do you harm. Watch how they behave in social settings. As the old saying goes, when someone tells you who they are, believe them; they’ll often let you know their intentions more obviously than they even realize. If you are a magician or mystic yourself, tap your resources to gain more information. I find that I Ching is exceptionally good for gaining insight on how best to approach people, both groups and individuals. But, when in doubt, take control of your own sphere of influence; do not allow someone to get closer than their earned trust should indicate and, if someone willfully breaks that trust and reveals bad faith, step away. Finally, if someone finds you a bad mark they will likely walk away; let them, but be aware that they may well try a last, frustrated, parting shot.
Predators and charlatans have a lot of tells, but we often insulate ourselves from them by our own optimism, romanticism, and desire for friends with similar interests and worldviews. But as in all areas of life, a commonality with a person in one area does not mean that they will be helpful to your spiritual practice or even that they are a decent person worthy of your time and energy. Again, misanthropy, cynicism, and paranoia don’t keep us safe; they instead dissolve the social bonds which allow us to support one another when real dangers do rear up. But caution and intelligent application of one’s knowledge and skills, drawing on the knowledge and skills of trusted friends, are warranted here as in any other area of life.
Here, though, is one more reason to avoid the occult rat-race. Filter carefully, make friends, keep it simple, and don’t waste your time on superficial “community”; the practice is the thing.