The life of an occultist, whether it is a magician, mystic, or shaman, is probably one of the richest experiences in the world. Knowing, seeing, and coming to an understanding of how certain invisible laws influence our lives, and all life itself, gives us a deeper appreciation and value to what we come into contact with in life.
Working as an occultist, however, takes time and effort. Where others may enjoy leisure time, talking on the internet, or other recreational activities, the occultist must study and perfect their knowledge. Perfection of our knowledge as spiritualist is not about reading books in search of an answer. Reading is an occult art as much as writing is, but this in itself is not the work, save the study of conclusions.
For years, I used to be under the impression that an armchair magician was someone who would never perform a ritual or technique, but just read books and talk about the most impressive occult subjects. That is just part of the story. An armchair magician may be very skilled in certain fields of magic, but cannot adapt to new circumstances and teaching they commit themselves to. They will claim to have abandoned a certain perspective, but deep down inside they will use every opportunity to promote the ideologies that they have learned instead of emptying their cup.
The use of the term “armchair” is often applied to a person engaged in Western Magic, posing as an authority in such matters, but without practical experience. However, I am discovering that the meaning of an armchair magician is not just limited to Western Magic, but also traditions of the East as well. An online version of the Urban Dictionary defines the phrase armchair magician in the following words:
“A person who studies and discuses the arts of magic(k), treating themself as an authority on both the practical applications as well as the histories behind the techniques, with very little (usually none) actual experience in its use. This is a person who has probably read a great deal of literature written by members (or ex-members) of the Golden Dawn and/or a great deal of metaphysical theory (Chaos Magick being a common choice). Generally, these people come in one of two varieties, a: the overly accepting type, typified by the statement, “Well, it should work… in theory” and b: the overly pessemistic type, typified by the statement, “You can’t do THAT!”. Generally, the second type is deemed more annoying, being that they tend to have a highly negative reaction to any concept, theory, or technique that they have not already read about in a book that has been published for more than ten years. There are some, however, who find things the opposite, finding the ridiculous ideas expounded by type a bordering on offensive. (a term generally used amongst Pagans, occultists, and other magic(k)-practicing people)”
Armchair magicians exist, not only in Western Magic, but other aspects of the occult, including Eastern Mysticism. In the Art of Ninzuwu, however, certain steps are taken to protect the culture against such things. In The Ivory Tablets of the Crow, we read:
“Take special care not to change these instructions that I give unto thee by one letter, for in its perfection is its initiation.”
The initiation process in the Ninzuwu Current is eternal. We are told in a previous part of the text that memorization of the prayers and incantations also play a vital role in our initiation:
“They must be remembered for all that which is remembered is alive. If a thing is not remembered it cannot be put into operation. Long before my father and I returned to the land, we learned of fools who read their incantations from books. They were deceived by spirits of the grave and promised many things which never came to pass. The knowledge you possess is the knowledge you remember. If it has not been remembered then it is borrowed, and will be taken away, then searched for again and again.“
Many who seek to gain an understanding of the Art of Ninzuwu never make it pass the first level of initiation because all they can remember is the Soul of Fire incantation, what you remember is the level of your understanding in the Art of Ninzuwu. This would even apply to those who enacted all the initiatory rituals in The Ivory Tablets of the Crow. If they never elevate in what they remember, their travels through the Ivory Tablets will remain on the first level. Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t like to remember or learn anything new. For some people memory is hard to come by, so it is easy to use as an excuse when certain work comes to the forefront. There have been many people who are physically handicapped that overcome such limitations by hard work and effort. Yet, when it comes time to remember incantations, perform meditation, and etc, many people would rather spend the time that could be put into study by surfing the internet and posting their opinions on Facebook, or using some other aspect of social media. There is nothing wrong with the use of these things, except when what we have dedicated ourselves to starts lagging. They have literally become slaves of their own emotions. It is due to such reasons that they can never understand that despite the amount of techniques learned, they are still victims of the same problems, year after year.
Just imagine a person who is overweight putting off exercise, and yet, talking as if they exercise all the time around their friends. Then when they are invited to the gym to workout, they will make every excuse in the world not to do so. Perhaps, they don’t feel so well. Okay such things do occur. Just imagine how their friends feel, however, when they see the same person looking happy-go-lucky, posting all sorts of exciting facts and taking and posting pictures of themselves eating real good foods during the same time that they were invited to workout. This is the life of an armchair magician.
Armchair magicians and mystics do not go through life, purposely thinking of themselves as such. For the most part, their place in the occult world is due to their understanding of life. The main problem comes from not being able to empty one’s cup. What they will do is investigate every occult teaching with a predetermined understanding of the occult and try to merge anything new that they are learning with it. The understanding that the armchair magician has gained is usually an imitation of what they are most impressed by. Other armchair magicians are able to capitalize on this, as they setup businesses, called occult organizations, where the membership is made to feel important based on a particular title they are given. Initiation into such organizations is a joke to say the least.
It is easy to spot out such schemes, as the terms used to describe the membership have already gained quite a bit of popularity in the media and legend. All the pseudo-occult organization has to do is align themselves with such terms and the membership is led to believe that this organization is part of some great legacy. This is how some groups are able to take advantage of the mentally ill. First, it should be acknowledged that individuals seeking entrance into such organizations are looking for an easy way of self-gratification with the least amount of work. After signing a few papers and learning some terminology specific to the said group, they are led to believe that they are on the winning team, even though they have learned nothing new, and due to such, no real transformation has taken place. Usually, the only sincere interest in joining such groups would be to find others of a similar mindset, other people with the same mental-illness. People how join one group after the next, learning a few techniques, but never really internalizing the energies of the work involved. Still, emphasis is placed on a role one has in society, a perfection of a limitation that is surrendered through identification rather than the using hidden sciences for the cultivation of one’s self. Here are a few signs of a person who has been exposed to the Armchair Magician Disease.
Signs of the Armchair Magician Syndrome
Armchair magicians can be spotted out very easily, especially in authentic mystical and occult organizations. Once they join a group they will not focus on learning new material, but talk about who they are as an individual and some of their perspectives that has nothing to do with the information at hand. The ego will always speak boastfully about what it has done, even though nothing has changed is changing in a person’s life, no new perspectives, nothing at all!
The armchair magician will always seek to draw attention to their own person when they are confronted about the teachings of a certain path that they are enlisted in. In their minds, learning something new is a sign of weakness, so they can’t take on that responsibility. The armchair magician is listed among the Sons of Aho is The Ivory Tablets of the Crow:
“The Sons of Aho have betrayed our ways..With their magical arts..But what more are magical books..Than the jurisdiction and procedures..Set down by kings.”
The armchair magician, unknowing to his/her ownself, will not work for any cause where they do not receive validation or honor. It is for this reason that they are quick to betray the group that they were once involved with. Seemingly, once the group shifts its attention towards the greater good, the armchair magician will now remain silent and eventually become an inactive member of the group.
Instead of learning and mastering the material that is presented to them at the grade they are learning on, they are quick to seek information that is reserved for “higher grades.” The logic behind this is just that! Logic! It is purely a logical process of learning different techniques. This is what elevation means in the mind of the armchair magician.
What is the Cure for the Armchair Magician Syndrome?
In cases where such behavior is encountered, nothing can be more suitable than suggesting that one participate in psychiatric counseling. Subscribing to psychiatric counseling doesn’t mean that a person is crazy, as it can help them learn about the psychology of their own minds. It is perhaps good for anyone involved in the occult arts to become briefly acquainted with some of the principles found in psychology, especially if one is working as a healer or spiritualist. This will help in determining the source of some of your own problems and those who may inquire your assistance. We are not talking about acting as a psychologist, for that would put one in harm’s way legally. But, understanding what can be resolved by spiritual means and what really is a form of mental illness.
Another way to assist an individual, who is having issues with Armchair Magician Syndrome, is by encouraging them to pursue the process of self-renewal. The reason why many armchair magicians are plagued with problems is because they have become accustomed to demonstrating the same behavioral traits. What is the definition of insanity again? Doing the same things and expecting different results. They find themselves in because situations because the latch onto the conclusions that they were most impressed by, a certain perspective that never changes, even when they enter different occult schools. Devouring the same knowledge over and over gain is like eating the same foods every day. This doesn’t mean that a person should move from one organization to the next, but not remain in the same perspective they were in before they entered the current organization they now claim to have membership with. The only way this can happen is if they lose the fear of beginning again. The Ivory Tablets of the Crow, states:
“The beginning of every journey is always in this time now. For many years I struggled between the sides of darkness and light.”
When our internal struggle is never in the now, but in trying to impress those in the past and those things existing in the future, the mind enters a worrisome condition when the false ego has taken over the spirit. The best way to help those suffering from the Armchair Magician Syndrome is by the example we set as occultists ourselves. We must have confidence in the path that we walk regardless of how popular it is, even in occult circles. The more we grow and develop, the easier it will be to understand the friendships and experiences that are useful and useless.