Lately I’ve been looking at Demonolatry students and it dawned on me that things just aren’t the same way they were back in the 80’s when I started out. I realized just how much modern students lose now that the master – apprentice relationship between the magus and his/her students only exists for a rare few practicing the artes.
See, not very long ago that’s how Demonolaters learned Daemonic Magick and the practice of Demonolatry. It was a one-on-one experience. It wasn’t necessarily a group thing. It was one teacher who had one student and they worked together much like an intern might work at a company specializing in the line of work he wants to go into. Or how an electrician takes on a student and teaches him his trade.
In general – we (and by we I’m talking about Daemonolatry specifically) don’t do that anymore. Either you’re in a group or you’re solitary. Some people say solitary is the way to go because of group drama. Others swear by groups. Others still learn from people over the Internet. There are merits to all these methods, but there are missing pieces, too.
Back when I was just starting out we didn’t have books about Demonolatry to learn from so you almost couldn’t do it solitary. Sure, you could have had a Daemonic guide and been solitary, but if you wanted the experience of an actual methodology of learning Daemonic magick or Daemonolatry you became an apprentice who studied underneath someone more experienced than you. You were given assignments, as with school, you did said assignments, and you were given verbal or hands on tests. You were also watched over by your teacher as you physically performed the magical exercises. This, of course, required you to be in the same city.
My teacher ran small study groups once a month and I was also at her house every weekend. She was constantly quizzing me and teaching me things just in the conversations we had. She would ask if I’d tried this or that and I would say, “I”ve never tried that!” Her passion for the subject ignited my own and I happily ran home and tried what she suggested and when we got together for coffee a few days later – we would talk about my work and its results. You really did the work and got your hands dirty because if you didn’t – your teacher would likely drop you in favor of a more worthy apprentice. My teacher actually abandoned a lazy apprentice in favor of me, citing that I was more worth her time because I appeared (in my behavior and actions) to really want to learn, whereas the young man I replaced just wanted to sit around and talk about magick – not actually do it. To make sure I was actually doing the work, my teacher, unbeknownst to me, would give me little tests by asking me pointed questions or inviting me over for ritual and asking me to construct the ritual space with no forewarning or invoke the Daemonic force we were working with that night. She was there to correct me if I made a mistake and guide me when I was uncertain. And like I said earlier – she and I did energy work, meditations, and other magickal exercises together. Sometimes it was just us, sometimes it was in a small study group with others.
I think if you talk to anyone who has had the benefit of having face-to-face conversations with elders or more experienced peers, they’ll tell you just how much you learn from that. What you get from that experience can’t be gotten by books or even internet conversations. Sure, some of it could come from solitary work, but sometimes to come to things on our own it would take a great deal longer. With teachers as guides, we sometimes come to realizations faster.
Now don’t take it as I’m down on solitaries. I’m not. The most spiritual growth you’ll likely ever experience will be due to solitary work. I’m also not saying the Daemons themselves aren’t good teachers – they are. But it’s still not the same thing. I’ve been an apprentice, I’ve been in a group, I’ve been solitary (I am most of the time even now), I’ve been the student of a Daemonic mentor/teacher, I’ve had online teachers, so I can attest to the fact that there really is no comparison as all of these methods of learning are distinctly different. I’ve also been the teacher both in person and online. A magician can get a great deal of experience and education from serving as an apprentice – even for a short time. It often makes for a more well rounded, interesting magus (imho).
Of course I also realize the sad reality that pairing students and teachers is another ball of wax as it actually requires teachers who are willing to take on apprentices and perhaps that’s part of the problem. Not to mention it requires being in the same city.
I have very fond memories of my days as an apprentice. It makes me sad to know how few modern Demonolatry students will ever have that opportunity.