I often wonder why my New Age experiences have been overall better or at least very different than much of the absurdity I see now and how the overall community identifying as New Age has turned for the worse. I’m stunned that something that was so entwined with the late 60’s peace and environmental ethos when I began has now converged with QAnon. It’s hard to see something that was characterized by environmental “earthship” houses and communes devolve into right wing gun toting politics. Sure there has always been a blend of self reliance and personal responsibility in the mix, but it was interwoven with a larger context of interdependence and universal connection. Like the paradoxical balance of Aquarius, the quest of the unique individuality with social consciousness for the future. Not that my own experiences were not unhinged at times and had their share of conspiracies too, as I began my journey into light worker community near the Hale Bopp Heaven’s Gate comet cult suicide, but still it’s different. Among the groups where I gathered individual madness was a gateway of initiation, a temporary condition, so my only hope is that this moment is a gateway to something better, the collective dweller on the threshold challenging our attempt to pass.
I feel it was the Witchcraft first, with the Hermetic influence that helped me parse things out in different ways. My dive into New Age was for deepening my healing skills, and conjoined with herbalism and getting into the land and nature. Then I dove into Theosophy, and down the rabbit hole of various world occultism and metaphysics. I think understanding the historic and cultural context allowed a greater ability to get the gold nuggets out of the parts that were outdated, without throwing the whole thing away. All ancient wisdoms are somewhat outdated, and few are egalitarian to our modern sensibilities. All this to end back at broad definition of Witchcraft as an orientation to the world as well as an art, science and religion for me.
Recently in chatting online with some friends, the notion that former President Trump is a light worker, an idea pushed by a particular segment of the New Age community came up, and when I first heard it last year, I was aghast. If light is a metaphysical symbol for consciousness, and light workers are about raising consciousness and brining healing to people and planet, I can’t think of anyone more embodying the antithesis of those ideals in recent times. While I do believe some pretty awful people “serve” in the overall pattern, it is usually their faults and flaws that are serving, with the universe taking advantage in filling a pattern of response. We can fulfill patterns skillfully or unskillfully, and usually when someone’s faults are playing an unconscious role, it’s the job of everyone else to respond more skillfully and consciously.
I remember a smaller contingent of local folks who had the zeal of fundamentalist Baptists in their New Age beliefs and low and behold that was what they were prior to coming to the New Age systems, but they were the minority. One healing “ritual” I went to was essentially a tent revival for the ascended masters and angels and the leader presented themselves as fully realized and enlightened. She tried to convince me that I must give up the “darkness” of Witchcraft but as a teacher she wasn’t capable of any kind of theological discussion on her beliefs and practices with a greater context. They were simply “of the light” and other things were “not of the light.” Her nature was revealed and she left the community in disgrace attempting to start up in other places with limited success.
It was like Witches who had a Christian mindset around the gods, not consciously realizing they just switched names and stories but kept the same basic paradigm of their Christianity and couldn’t successfully use magick. They saw it only as prayer and supplication if they were worthy of the gods’ support. I had to have a break from Christianity to both embrace my Witchcraft and later see some beauty in mystical Christianity. The New Age did help me find my way to the concept of the perennial tradition but it was and is a continual quest or learning, seeing similarities, noting differences, and applying to my life and Craft as we all move forward.
It’s been helpful to remember a teaching from the Qabalah on the various visions, obligations, illusions, virtues and vices of each level of the Tree of Life. As you climb what was true in one level is false in another as your perspective changes with your experiences, and your ability to understand more deeply grows. When I look at ideas that look outmoded for me, I have to remember they can serve someone else now and ideas I think are very advanced and enlightened are the outmoded ideas of someone deeper, and if I apply myself, they will be for me too. I can’t get attached to anyone one way as being right and the only right way. Looking at these ideas in the context of an evolving system, each serving a part of the whole, can help me remember it’s not just my point of view.
When I see someone espousing the brilliance of The Secret, I can be ok with it if it’s helping them and know it’s one step in a longer journey even though it personally bugs me. When I see someone describing their divorce in terms of soul agreements I might wince, but I have a good friend who got through his divorce with that paradigm as nothing else framed it in a way that helped him accept it and move on. If someone studies with me I might offer more organic or magickal based occult paradigms but they are all tools to get us to the next stage and I shouldn’t be so dismissive of other tools while still always encouraging us to go deeper in thought, feeling, and practice. The trick is for none of us to get stuck and keep moving deeper.
The Aquarian ideal will always be challenged by extremes with its traditional ruler the planet of karma and restriction Saturn and its new ruler the unorthodox Uranus. I had always learned the key to the paradox of Aquarius is that you can only serve the greater good by being your unique self. Better to do your own dharma, your own Will, imperfectly than another’s Will perfectly. Yet it is a process to find and enact yourself, a new challenge we must rise to every day.
There is a popular metaphor for the spiritual quest, that one must first dig a well and strike water to sustain oneself in a healthy manner. You must pick a practice or path and dedicate to it long enough to strike a connection to source, to spiritual “water.” With that connection you can explore other sources, other wells, with greater safety. Those who dig for a bit, fail to strike water and move on, again and again, are wandering in the desert. There can be benefit to a wandering, but if you spend too long wandering, you spiritually dehydrate, starve, and become mired in illusion and delusion, seeing oasis where there is none.
If you have dug a well and travel to other wells, other real oasis in the desert, you might find different way to craft your well – mechanisms to descend the bucket, ways to decorate around the well and venerate the well. You might synthesize from the parts something unique to you and your practice, while keeping your roots, the original work that struck water for you. Like building up a mosaic construction, making a harmonious whole of the things you find that inspire you. You might even form the seed of a new tradition or community.
I wrote Ascension Magick with the intention of bridging the gap between the New Age and the occult, the Light Worker and the Witch. I have found value in both. Just as I won’t demonize the runes as a whole due to Neo-Nazi’s, I won’t demonize the New Age as a whole because of QAnon. I’ll continue to draw from my well, share its water, and visit and receive water from where i visit. If the water is good and clear and nourishing, I’ll accept it. If its not, I will not, but I’ll continue to seek understanding in the perennial tradition.