Undergrad Anthropology student here

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Communio Naturae
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Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by Communio Naturae »

Hi all,

I'm an anthropology student about to start writing a thesis titled: Exploring occult ritual magical practices. I've stalked this forum for over 5 years or so and have been practicing very basic magic for around the same time (sigils, candle magic, invoking/banishing rituals), nothing too heavy. I'm a member of a golden dawn temple (neophyte) and have a theoretical/academic interest in magic and ritual which I hope ya'll can help me with. In my thesis I'm hoping to break away from issues of irrationality/rationality, truth/falstisty and instead focus on the expressive side of ritual and magical practices. I will not over intellectualize or over rationalize experiences. I just want to describe. My first question I would like to explore is: What led you( who ever would like to answer ) to the belief/practice of magic and ritual? I would like to focus on conversion narratives initially. So, I hope you guys can share your stories with me and give me a greater insight into magical practices and what led you to them. As a way of giving back to the this community I can share with you the various sources I have come across so far dealing with magic and ritual practices.

Sabina Magliocco-Witching culture
Susan Greenwood-Anthropology of magic
Jenny Butler-Ritual practice as visual culture and creative expression of identity(chapter in Communicating Cultures)

Will add more books/articles when I've explored more.

Thank you!

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Hound
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by Hound »

Welcome.

I find your approach most interesting. Consider me intrigued.

In your quest for knowledge would you prefer people to submit their answers here or through various other means, such as PMs?

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chowderpope
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by chowderpope »

My interest in magic probably stems from my childhood with a parent whose practice sort of resembles that of the Pentecostal church which seems to be pretty oriented with magical belief. Seeing people possessed by spirits and exorcised had a big influence on my interests. I guess I was always interested in ghosts and the paranormal. Then there was a slow introduction over several years to the idea of magic as a serious practice. [thumbup]
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Communio Naturae
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by Communio Naturae »

Yeah if people could post there replies here that'd be great. Glad I've piqued your interest Hound. Care to share what led you to the occult/magical practices? I think It would be a good idea to keep things public as I'm sure there are many other people on the forum that may find these stories interesting.

Cheers for the response Chowderpope! What was your earliest experiences seeing people possessed and exorcised? What was this experience like?

Communio Naturae
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by Communio Naturae »

I should explain what led me to the occult also. I grew up as a catholic. Went to mass once a week. prayed daily. However my beliefs evolved probably around the same time i started experimenting with psychedelics and cannabis at the age of 15/16. I can even remember smoking hash and going to mass on one or two occasions during lent. My mother would go to mass five times a week during lent and I would accompany her most of the time. Around this time (age 16) I stopped going to mass as i grew disillusioned with the whole 'born with sin'/'meek shall inherit the earth' doctrine although still maintained a healthy relationship with gnostic christian teachings. Magic mushrooms helped to dissolve my ego and I had to re-establish a sense of self which was quite difficult. During this time I started listening to Tool, shpongle, psychedelic rock and psytrance. Also started listening to Terrence Mckenna and Bill Hicks. Terrence is sampled quite a lot in psytrance tracks! This definitely influenced my thoughts, eventually leading me to an interest in the occult.

I had been suffering from anxiety/depression from the age of 12 due to moving from London to a a small town in Ireland, where I still live. The cause of my anxiety/depression was this move form England to Ireland as it was quite the culture shock. I spent a lot of time on my own smoking weed in my bedroom reading and listening to music. I still love solitude! I have a healthier relationship with solitude now tho. I no longer smoke weed as it started causing anxiety which was probably due to the amount I was smoking over the years. At the age of twenty I started to practice magick. Sigil magick candle magick and self affirmations. Definitely had success but the success was quite limited. Bought Franz Bardons IIH but never got far due to my undisciplined nature. I'm 26 now and in Uni now so my main focus is anthropology however I still do banishing and invoking pentagram rituals every otherday. My main magical focus currently is personal development. Just trying to be a more balanced and healthy individual. Get rid of some anger issues and try be more social.

So i guess a number of things led me to the occult. My prior religious experiences with catholicism. Depression/anxiety which led me to being solitary. Psychedelics. Music. Various people like Terrence Mckenna and Bill Hicks. This story is a bit all over the place but I think I've covered most of what led me to my interest in magical practices.

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Stukov
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by Stukov »

Maybe you could detail a little more about what you are looking for. As I have said elsewhere, I'm all self taught and self learned. Had experiences due to back injuries and was able to do things that shouldn't be possible with accuracy that was higher than one would consider statistically significant. So many paradigms are caught up in explaining why the practitioners never really under how. For example when you do X and Y happens, and many different paradigms will use this as verification that B exists or explaining it by use of C. When in reality B and C can help you visualize and perhaps learn things, but the causality is only X then Y, there is very little verification (at least if you are trying to be somewhat empirical about it) that the mythos being presented is actually true. In the physical world, it is like saying if I can punch you and find a dollar on the ground, it means I'm Sasquatch.

Stories and mythos can be useful for understanding the world and learning about yourself, but when people use it to sell a dogma whether religious or occultist, it usually ends up being used as a mechanism of control or power. So I'm not sure if I'm answering your question or what your question really is.
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bathtub-alchemist
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by bathtub-alchemist »

Whatever led me to the occult was within me all along. I began around age six with no training. The basic concepts came from the Old Testament Bible stories my mother read to us kids. We were told magick was very real and very evil, only strengthing my innate belief.

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the_spiral
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by the_spiral »

I was born into it, no conversion necessary. I started working roots as a little kid and everything unfolded from there.
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Hound
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by Hound »

Hm. Like a few others here, I got started very young. An unfortunate event broke the indoctrination attempts of my parent. The spark that is my thirst for knowledge was lit. I'm, mostly, self taught. I traveled quite a bit and studied under a few people in my late teens, but have primarily done most of my growth and learning through individual experience. I'm guided by a deep rooted instinct. That impulse has yet to lead me down a path I've been ill prepared for. My insatiable hunger for data is the only thing that has allowed me to accumulate said knowledge and experience in the brief time I've been alive. Most people treat this as a weekend hobby. For me, it's every waking moment.

I agree with something Stukov has said, though. Mythology can be an excellent guide, but keep your eyes wide open. Define your own path.

Communio Naturae
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by Communio Naturae »

I guess my thesis will be a defense of magic ritual and magical practices and how they have the capacity for personal development and transformation. Aslo, I want to argue that there are 'ways of knowing' outside Reason. I would like to know more about peoples personal experiences with practicing magic. The more descriptive the better. My thesis advisor thinks that focusing on conversion narratives may be a good way to gain more understanding on this topic. Thank you all for your responses. Extremely interesting that a few of you have started quite young. I wasn't expecting that at all, probably due to my own experience.

Stukov, could you expand upon this- "Had experiences due to back injuries and was able to do things that shouldn't be possible with accuracy that was higher than one would consider statistically significant". I would really appreciate it. My question is very broad and confusing however I'm trying to refine it.

Okay, new question: What are peoples personal experiences with practicing magic and performing ritual? The more descriptive the better.

Communio Naturae
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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by Communio Naturae »

the_spiral wrote:I was born into it, no conversion necessary. I started working roots as a little kid and everything unfolded from there.
What do you mean by working roots?

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Re: Undergrad Anthropology student here

Post by Shawn Blackwolf »

"African American Hoodoo (also known as "conjure", "rootworking", "root doctoring", or "working the root")
is a traditional African American folk spirituality that developed from a number of West African spiritual
traditions and beliefs."

From Wikipedia

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