Thursday, March 11, 2010

Time for Magic to Change: a Conversation with Shawn Melcic

I recently received an e-mail from Shawn Melcic concerning my recent interview in Mystic Wicks magazine.  With his permission, I wanted to share that exchange here:
I recently read your article in MysticWicks Magazine and I wanted to applaud you.  Most people anymore are content to say that they're pagan, barely examine it, and all of a sudden they are a high priest or priestess.  We do need another group like the Golden Dawn to actively engage people and teach them something valuable about what it is they believe.
Personally, I think some of these new groups may arise from the Internet. They may be mailing lists or invite-only forums, but they will be closed and selective. Instead of gaining degrees through ceremonies, one will gain credibility within these groups by contributing intelligent and worthwhile material.  (Of course this will lead inevitably to schisms and new forums developing: ultimately this will be a Good Thing, as it will result in cross-pollination like we saw with the various G.D. and O.T.O. spinoffs).

There are also a few of the old-model groups doing some good, solid work. Ivo Dominguez, Jr.'s Assembly of the Sacred Wheel comes to mind, as does the Universal Temple of Spirits and Raven Kaldera's Kingdom of Asphodel. There are definitely serious teachers out there. Unfortunately, they generally don't proselytize and they expect their members to make serious efforts and put the theory into practice. This means they don't get quite so much attention as the "Become Enlightened in Ten Easy Lessons" people. But this is fine, given the nature of our path. Mystery religions have never been mass movements: they are aimed at a limited number of people who are willing to do what it takes to encounter the Divine.
The question, however, is who is going to do it and when?  Better yet, what would be required to do so without getting beaten down by the mighty hand of government?  What would we need to do in order to visit a real life temple to a goddess on pagan soil?  You have my attention... now where do we go from here?
I think the dangers of government intervention are greatly exaggerated. A few dozen folks discussing magical and spiritual topics aren't likely to catch the attention of Homeland Security.  And we have a number of Pagan festivals which create Pagan sacred space for attendees: I think the secret will be to keep them going.  (And, of course, the best way to do that is to go to as many festivals as you can manage and afford! It's not just fun -- it's a spiritual mitzvah!)