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Are Occultists More Superstitious Than Non- Occultists?


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#1 SuccubusSherry

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:28 AM

Here's something we could all discuss: do you think we as occultists are the ones who are superstitious? As in 'this has happened and it must be because of my spell' or 'this has happened and it must be x entity who has caused it' ?

We might be inclined to call the average person with no interest in the occult the one who is superstitious, like in times of the past when if the cattle were sick a witch must have caused it. Sometimes I get the impression that in modern times it would be us who would say that ourselves, while the general populace would not say it.

#2 violetstar

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 11:59 AM

Short answer a resounding No.As Occultsts we move away from superstition and ignorance as we tread our respective paths.
To face a real daemon, you must first look inwards and conquer your own darkness.Luis Marques

#3 Shinichi

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 01:54 PM

By definition of the word (google it), the answer is yes. The difference is that we tend to know more about how such things actually work, and so we can tell if the sick cow got hit by a witches grudge, by elfshot or just wasn't taken care of properly. ;)



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#4 monsnoleedra

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:08 PM

By a textbook definition we probably are more superstitious. But where I think the line is drawn is that a lot are more self-deluding or gullible than the general atheist population. A religious person prays and if the prayer is answer, or they can convince themselves it was answered then it was. Many in the occult / pagan community cast a spell and make results fit their desire for success regardless of the spell actually doing anything. Likewise, encounters with the otherworldly fall into the same category. So wanting that anything that happens must be an encounter, even if they have to bend the situation to make it so.

I agree with Shinichi in that for many of us we tend to know more, though I personally think we error more on the side of caution and disbelief of an encounter than blind acceptance of it. Not all for many who are new to the occult or pagan community want it so bad they accept anything.
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#5 violetstar

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:31 PM

I was referring to Occultists.
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#6 monsnoleedra

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:42 PM

View Postvioletstar, on 19 April 2017 - 03:31 PM, said:

I was referring to Occultists.

Seasoned occultists versus novice is a difficult comparison. The same might be said of one who is trained within a school and under a teacher versus one who is self taught. Not that the one is better than the other education material wise but the experience & guidance with the teacher can give guidance the lone person does not have access to. Though I will not say that simply having a teacher automatically makes it better for a bad teacher can be worse than having no teacher at all.

As for the term Occultist that to is difficult. Figure occult means "Hidden Knowledge" and what today is called paganism or pagan was pretty well being called occult in the 70's and early 80's even though it wasn't ceremonial / high magics. So for many from that era / generation pagan and occult are still interchangeable and we separate the two by stating Ceremonial / High magics when we refer to "Occult" in that sense. That is not to confuse the later use of Pagan / Paganism with the capital "P" to denote the religious title versus the small "p" to denote the category.
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#7 wren

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:42 PM

I second Shinichi.


#8 violetstar

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:55 PM

Belief in superstitious nonsense simply exposes the fears in the believers mind.
To face a real daemon, you must first look inwards and conquer your own darkness.Luis Marques

#9 wren

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:04 PM

I didn't get anywhere in the recent amulet thread, but this might be the better place to express those ideas. Would that be of interest to you, Sherry?

#10 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:26 PM

What's happening in this video is that the pigeon is in a box equipped with a light at eye level (called the keylight) on one end, and a good food magazine at the other, which is illuminated when food is available. The program delivers a grain pellet into the illuminated magazine at a randomized interval, probably every 3 to 6 seconds or so. The keylight goes on between food deliveries, and goes off when the food is dropped. While the timing of keylight and the food delivery are linked, the pigeon's pecking behavior has no effect on the food delivery: it's simply a signal that food is available. Yet there you see the bird consistently running the length of the box to peck at the keylight.





The way the behavior that you see came about is that the pigeon was put into the box and the program started. It took the bird awhile to notice the light in the food magazine, but when it did it explored the dispenser magazine and found the food. After that it hung around that end of the box and kept exploring the magazine for more food, and of course more food came after a bit. At some point when there was no food in the magazine the bird noticed the keylight at the other end, so it went over there to explore. Pigeons naturally peck at interesting things, so it pecked at the keylight a few times. When it noticed the light in the magazine it ran back to get the food. After several minutes (maybe 10 or so) the bird was consistently exhibiting the behavior you see, needlessly running down to the end of the box and pecking at the keylight between food deliveries, deliveries that are going to come whether the bird pecks the keylight or not. In fact, in this example, the bird is burning more calories running and pecking than it's getting from the food.

This phenomenon is technically called autoshaping. The explanation is that the bird has formed as association between keylight pecking and food delivery even though there is no causal contingency between the two, leading some to characterize the behavior as superstitious. It's a highly consistent effect that has replicated for decades and in many species, given conditions that are natural for the species (e.g. nose-poking into a hole for rodents, etc.). While it's true that the lab-demonstration is a contrived, not so natural situation for pigeons and rats, and that people are different from pigeons and rats, consider people who perform magick acts to make specific changes in their life; here's how that goes:

1. The magician makes a decision about what they want to change.
2. The magician performs a magick act.
3. The magician's life changes.

Then the magician's life changes as desired or it doesn't.

When it does, the magician (quite naturally) attributes the success to the magick they performed. Here's the thing: if the magician's life would have changed anyway, without performing any magick acts, the autoshaping scenario is aptly reflected, and the magick act is akin to the pigeon's keylight pecking, in that a superfluous behavior is inadvertently reinforced by something that was going to happen anyway.

Now, I'm not suggesting that every act of magick has no real effect on the outcome. Just to be out there with it, I do magick for most everything that is important to me and have for decades. I am, however, suggesting that magicians as a group are at higher risk than average for developing superstitious behavior, specifically because most magick practices require the insertion of an extra activity (a magick act) between the decision to initiate a change and the assessment of the targeted change.

What's different between the pigeon autoshaping lab scenario and a magician's life is that the true contingency between keylight pecking and food delivery is known with absolute certainty because it's under the control of the lab tech, whereas the true contingency between a given magick act and a given life change is not known with certainty.

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 19 April 2017 - 05:21 PM.

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#11 monsnoleedra

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:29 PM

View Postvioletstar, on 19 April 2017 - 03:55 PM, said:

Belief in superstitious nonsense simply exposes the fears in the believers mind.

That one I think depends on the superstition. It was superstition that you'd drown if you went swimming after eating, pretty false. It was also superstition that the Daddy Long legs spider was the most poisonous spider around, not true. Belladonna aka nightshade has a superstition with it as being super deadly and a killer any time it is used, very much superstition and pretty much true. Passed from factual use into superstition.

Just because something falls into the superstition category does not mean it is nonsense though many times it is or falls into the urban lore category.

Edited by monsnoleedra, 19 April 2017 - 04:34 PM.

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#12 SuccubusSherry

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:46 PM

View Postwren, on 19 April 2017 - 04:04 PM, said:

I didn't get anywhere in the recent amulet thread, but this might be the better place to express those ideas. Would that be of interest to you, Sherry?

Certainly Wren, elaborate on that.

Quote

What's different between the pigeon autoshaping lab scenario and a magician's life is that the true contingency between keylight pecking and food delivery is known with absolute certainty because it's under the control of the lab tech, whereas the true contingency between a given magick act and a given life change is not known with certainty.

Quote


I thought this would interest you, Eugene, and I still laugh quite often about your comment in that old 'Gifts of Chocolate' discussion, about a squishy toffee. If you have cast a spell for someone to give you chocolate and you find a squishy toffee on the pavement, would you count that as a success? I still look at things and say, "Is this a squishy toffee?"

I'm finding it hard to think of examples that relate more to superstition than to attributing magical results, (possibly falsely). One I can think of is, supposing I'm walking along the road and a dog barks at me? The idea might come into my mind that it is barking because I've been doing some ritual, or some occult force is attached to me. I have to make an effort to remember that it might be a dog that barks at everyone, or it might be barking because I've been touching my cat. Also I find it a slight effort to recall that some dogs bark at me and some have no reaction at all, so it very likely means nothing at all.

#13 monsnoleedra

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:28 PM

Not specifically occultist but today the idea of totems / Guides / power animals and the idea that one see's an animal and it has to be a guide with a message for them. Dream about an animal it must be a totem. See an animal it's got to have a message for you. Hear an animal and it's a guide or a divinity that is taking animal form to speak to you. Supported by nearly every 101 book on the market that tells you to watch for such signs of confirmation from your totem, guide, power animal or deity when you call upon them.
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#14 SuccubusSherry

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:38 PM

I can imagine that in the past people might have said, "she is a witch because all the dogs bark at her," and that would plainly be a superstition. It could be that dogs in general have a message for her, but more rationally it would probably be something they could smell. Maybe there's something in her garden she touches that other people don't have in their garden and the dogs can smell it?

I just feel that nowadays more people would go straight to the rational explanation. The woman herself, if she was a witch, might think, "Oh, dear, the dogs are all barking at me because I'm a witch." It is no benefit that your neighbour isn't persecuting you, if you are persecuting yourself.

#15 monsnoleedra

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 06:03 PM

View PostSuccubusSherry, on 19 April 2017 - 05:38 PM, said:

I can imagine that in the past people might have said, "she is a witch because all the dogs bark at her," and that would plainly be a superstition. It could be that dogs in general have a message for her, but more rationally it would probably be something they could smell. Maybe there's something in her garden she touches that other people don't have in their garden and the dogs can smell it? I just feel that nowadays more people would go straight to the rational explanation. The woman herself, if she was a witch, might think, "Oh, dear, the dogs are all barking at me because I'm a witch." It is no benefit that your neighbour isn't persecuting you, if you are persecuting yourself.

Touching on the persecution thing it seems I see many times where people go off about them being persecuted for being pagans or witches on various forums. Yet many times the things they are trying to do would have someone going of on them regardless of what they are practicing. Yet they insist it is because they are pagan or witches and for no other reason. Not to say some of them are not valid examples of discrimination but discrimination is not persecution.
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#16 wren

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 03:58 AM

Who are we to decide what is superstitious bunk?

Our objective world is compatible with infinite explanatory schema, all more or less wrong.

People live in their schema, adjusting it here and there as personal taste demands.

The lived-world of the Baptist is quite different from the Buddhist's lived-world. Which is correct? Mu.

How the hell is one supposed to choose between infinitely many incomplete maps? You give up. You acknowledge that you have a map already, and that it is more or less helpful. You engage with it sincerely while trying to see the mysteries of creation, the spots in your map where explanations just become assertions. They are the points closest to pure observation and primary belief.

If a "superstitious" knowing occurs due to sincere engagement with the lived world...if the subject knows in their heart of hearts that dogs really do bark at them because they are a witch, then is it still a superstition? I think it is an outwordly perceived manifestation of inner systems, much like how "synchronicities" are described by the broader occult community. It isn't a synchronicity without the belief in it being a synchronicity.

I hold that people that engage sincerely with their maps will perform acts in accordance with their maps, some of which will look like superstitious bunk from the outside. From the inside, though, it is an approximation exceedingly close to Truth, regardless of the "mundane" causality.

Cultural Omens are some of the most widely known and recognized superstitions. The problem is that omens are things that, at least in part are made true through the believing. Stepping forward through the path of sincerity is stepping deeper into your own truth and power.

#17 violetstar

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 11:34 AM

View PostShinichi, on 19 April 2017 - 01:54 PM, said:

By definition of the word (google it), the answer is yes. The difference is that we tend to know more about how such things actually work, and so we can tell if the sick cow got hit by a witches grudge, by elfshot or just wasn't taken care of properly. ;)


Then what of the belief in 'Graveyard dirt'? It is an example of ignorant readings of magical texts taken as a literalism by the uninitiated.and then paraded as fact.

Edited for clarity. Try not to put your response in the body of the quote. It makes it look like Shinichi said that about graveyard dirt.(Wren)

Edited by wren, 20 April 2017 - 01:38 PM.

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#18 Shinichi

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 02:03 PM

View Postvioletstar, on 20 April 2017 - 11:34 AM, said:

Then what of the belief in 'Graveyard dirt'? It is an example of ignorant readings of magical texts taken as a literalism by the uninitiated.and then paraded as fact.

Edited for clarity. Try not to put your response in the body of the quote. It makes it look like Shinichi said that about graveyard dirt.(Wren)

Go learn what occult virtues and sympathetic magics are and then tell me that dirt from a consecrated graveyard or the grave of someone you loved or hated is the same as the dirt in your back yard.

In at least every tradition that I have worked in, literally everything in the world has metaphysical properties (be it the occult virtues of hermetics or the spirits of animism), including graveyard dirt, and even the plastic of the keyboard I'm typing on. It is the mark of an initiate to see those properties in one way or another (clairvoyant inspection is "easiest," animists can just ask the thing, and astrologers and such can deduce correspondences), and to understand how to use that thing in spell and ritual.

Ignorant readings of magical texts certainly do exist. That's why so many people end up getting in trouble when they dabble. However, you should not take that to mean that initiates are never literal. Indeed, that's just as much a blind as the literalist approach - you have to be able to tell the difference.

As I said, we are by definition a superstitious lot. We can divine the future by reading the changes in the wind or watching how a rock on a chain moves, so why exactly is graveyard dirt is an odd thing for practitioners to work with?



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#19 monsnoleedra

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 02:09 PM

Violetstar wrote: Then what of the belief in 'Graveyard dirt'? It is an example of ignorant readings of magical texts taken as a literalism by the uninitiated.and then paraded as fact.

That's an interesting superstition that has at least three theories and potentially a thread of truth or fact. One theory ties into Vampire & Revenant lore, especially in Eastern European lore where the the vampire and or Revenant was more ghoulish and tied to ground rot and left part of its essence and foulness upon the very grave and land. Disturbing the grave or it's soil could cause the vampire / revenant to rise up and attack the living. Taking part of the soil and placing it upon a person cold be used to direct the attack. Read one theory that tied that to premature burials which I suppose happened fairly often in the early years, especially in Eastern Europe.

The other theory is probably more Western in the sense it comes from Roman and Hellene (Greek) lore and pertains to the idea of the Restless dead and the idea of the defixiones. Figure funeral rites and ritual rites to ensure a spirit crossed into the underworld didn't always get performed so a person's spirit could be earth bound. Such a spirit could be Restless and cause trouble for their family, the local population or be ensnared / trapped by others by force or promise of ritual of release. Via the defixione one could bury it at the grave or a few sources say take the grave dirt and bury it in that and influence that particular restless dead.

My personal belief is that belief is so powerful it is in part why you see a nearly similar idea form in Christianity regarding consecrated and unconsecrated burial ground and burial practices. Which will also influence where people can be buried versus how they died and spirit crossing into the after life. Main difference being heaven or hell vice underworld or restless dead and earthbound

Of course the first category in Eastern Europe probably more likely to find bones and fragments in the soil more so than in the west. Though from some accounts I've read of early funeral / grave sites and the fact animal disturbances and disinterment's occurred fairly often all of them probably pretty certain to include human remains. Something graveyard dirt would surely be lacking from any graveyard today.

Of course no one ruled out the rising force was not actually some disease from the rotting flesh that attacked and then killed the person. Which would inspire a pretty good superstition about creatures rising from the graveyard dirt. Of course that is not touching upon the sympathetic aspect of low magics and what might be called folk magics where sympathy and emotion is a major charging factor to it's usage.

Edited by monsnoleedra, 20 April 2017 - 02:17 PM.

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#20 violetstar

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 02:20 PM

My apologies Wren.I was referring to the posters line of thought which is at odds with fact.

I argue that through ignorance of how magical texts are composed the uninitiated or unlearned mistake various prescriptions for literal instruction.

History has furnished us with many examples of such texts wherein the actual authors explicitly state there are blinds and codes that will need to be deciphered.This includes Agrippa and the majority of the old Alchemists.

If people wish to maintain their personal belief and refuse enlightenment in spite of the facts presented,then it is their choice.
To face a real daemon, you must first look inwards and conquer your own darkness.Luis Marques





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