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Crafting The Art Of Magic:
A Critical Review
By D. Hudson Frew (Morgann)
Copyright 1991 by D. Hudson Frew.
Used by permission of the author.
The Eightfold Path
On page 89, Kelly describes the traditional Gardnerian "Eightfold Path or Ways to the Centre". These are a number of practices that may be used to raise energy in a Craft magical ritual. The Eight Ways are:
- Meditation or Concentration...
- Trance, projection of the Astral.
- Rites, Chants, Spells, Runes, Charms, etc.
- Incense, Drugs, Wine, etc., whatever is used to release the Spirit. (Note: One must be very careful about this.... Drugs are very dangerous if taken to excess... hemp is especially dangerous, because it unlocks the inner eye swiftly and easily, so one is tempted to use it more and more....)
- The Dance, and kindred practices.
- Blood control (the Cords), Breath Control, and kindred practices.
- The Scourge.
- The Great Rite.
On page 90, Kelly notes that:
It is clear from his long note after entry 4 that he was personally not familiar with the use of drugs as part of a magical training process... and so was not trained in such use by an earlier coven; instead, he has learned the concept from reading.
How is this "clear"? Because Gardner did not spell out in a document to be given to new initiates any details of the use of dangerous drugs? Also, Gardner spent years in the Civil Service in Burma, as Kelly has already told us, at a time when that same Civil Service actively controlled the opium trade. It is more likely that Gardner picked up information there than from "reading". Kelly even observes that "Eightfold Path" is a "Buddhist term", but says that this only:
... points towards the simplest, most probable conclusion: that Gardner had learned about all these 'mind-altering' techniques by reading about Tantric systems, but almost certainly at second hand via Randolph, whose Eulis was in his library, or Crowley... (emphasis mine)
Once again, Kelly does not bother to look beyond Gardner's library for information. Gardner spent years in a Buddhist country. Are we to assume that he learned nothing of Buddhist practice while stationed there, solely because Kelly seemingly does not want to have to look further afield than Gardner's effects? Granted, I am arguing that some of this material may have come from Gardner's experience, but it is Kelly's inadequate analysis that is at issue here.
Kelly also claims on page 90 that:
Only the first two or three of these eight "ways" make sense as part of the techniques of a magical lodge. Where did Gardner get the rest of them?
This statement is unsupported and is, in fact, untrue. Kelly accepts "1. Meditation and Concentration" and "2. Trance", but questions "3. Rites, Chants, Spells, Runes, Charms, etc."? What else would a "magical lodge" do? Kelly denies the use of "4. Incense, Drugs, Wine, etc." in a valid magical practice. Tell that to the Dionysiacs, the Native American Church, or the shamans of Siberia and the Amazon. Kelly denies the use of "5. The Dance" in a valid magical practice. Tell that to the practitioners of Voudoun, Santeria, and Umbanda, the Sun Dancers and Ghost Dancers of the American West, or the Whirling Dervishes of the East. Kelly denies the use of "6. Blood control & Breath control" in a valid magical practice. Tell that to the Yogis of India, Austin Osman Spare (Spare, 1913, frontispiece & pp. 16-19), or today's Chaos Magicians (Carroll, 1987, pp. 31-35). Kelly denies the use of "7. The Scourge" in a valid magical practice. Tell that to the Shiia Muslims, the Scandinavians (Gander, 1991), Christian ascetics and flagellants, or even the women from the Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii (Fierz-David, 1988, pp. 88-138). Kelly even denies the use of "8. The Great Rite" in a valid magical practice. Tell that to the Tantrics and Vajrayana Buddhists of India and Tibet.
I could also note that I, personally, learned all of these practices as a ritual magician, years before getting involved in Craft practice. Whether or not Gardner grafted them onto the Craft, they certainly are representative of long-existing and worldwide magical traditions.
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