What We’ve Lost
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.
I think all the people who want apprentices have them. I have an apprentice. You don’t have one do you?
I don’t have an apprentice and I’m pretty positive I don’t want one. I just don’t have the time or patience required to take on an apprentice. However – I have studied under some masterful Daemonolatry magicians. I give back through my books. That is really the only way I can teach. 🙂
Morgan Drake Eckstein
This is something that I see missing in all the esoteric fields at the moment.
I wonder why. Is it because the masters don’t want to take on students? Or is it because no one wants to actually study and practice magick under the watchful eye of a mentor? Maybe there aren’t enough mentors?
This is a mixed bag for me. Personally, especially during my very first experiences as a practicing magician, I would have LOVED to have an actual mentor. In fact, especially in the field of Demonolatry, I still would. The only problem is, in my area, I am probably one of the only practicing magicians, or Satanists, or Demonolaters who takes the occult seriously.
Most of the occultists in my area are the “let’s wear black and paint our nails black and go LARP on the weekend” kind of occultists. Don’t get me wrong, I love roleplay and playing tabletop games with friends. But magic and Demons are not games, and you will achieve exactly *nothing* from going around treating them as such.
Finding an actual mentor who isn’t some kind of nut or weirdo is a really, really difficult task to achieve, especially if one lives in a smaller community, like me. Hopefully in the years to come, with titles such as My Name is Legion, and others, showcasing the truth about our community, it will become a more feasible option for budding magicians and Demonolaters to find quality mentors, willing to accept apprentices. (If you find one, sign me up :D)
Ultimately the problem is as Martin says. There aren’t enough mentors because there aren’t enough serious people practicing. I don’t think more education is going to help or create more mentors because the sad reality is that most people who reach that point where they would make good mentors have no desire to have students because the students they did have weren’t serious enough. I won’t teach group classes because of lazy students. I only have a student because a good one fell into my lap.
Steph, you were the best apprentice I could have had. It’s too bad more students weren’t like you because otherwise I would have taken on more. Who knows, I suppose it’s possible I could meet another potential apprentice worth my time and effort, but that remains to be seen.
Thanks Selinda! 🙂 I kind of feel the same way.
To be honest I think most people, myself included, wouldn’t make good apprentices when they first become introduced to the occult. At the beginning, everyone *wants* a mentor, and when they start actually practicing do *need* a mentor, but wouldn’t know what to do, or how to appreciate it, if they found one. As in most things, one doesn’t really appreciate something until they don’t have it anymore, or at all, and Demonolater or magical mentors are no exception to that. It takes a certain time of individual strife, of doing it on your own, searching through the books, wading through the “Praise be his name, the All-Knowing, the Tetragrammaton, blabbity blah blah”, until you stumble upon something of real substance, to really appreciate having someone there to direct the path.
That period of time erases ego when true instruction does begin, because the knowing apprentice is happy to have any path at all. Any kind of structure or measure of progression. Frankly, simply having the expectation of success being imposed in a magical context is invaluable. Instead of a prescribed ritual being conducted with the individual hope and desire of success, someone else is there expecting the rite to succeed and instructing on why it didn’t, if that be the case. When one has been around the block once or twice and experienced having to self-analyze and scrutinize personal performance, it would become quite a blessing when someone else is there, a knowing someone, who can give insight or approval.
Awkwardness notwithstanding, I am compelled to ask the question: Is there any practice of working with apprentices remotely, and if so, how would one go about demonstrating the proper level of determination and resolve to warrant consideration?
The biggest issue I see with distance learning, having been a teacher, is that I used to run free online classes. people would do the first lesson or two and then fall off the face of the earth. Then I started charging in hopes students who paid for the classes would be more motivated to actually do the work. Turns out that’s not the case either. I think they were hoping they’d pay, I’d give them some material to read, send them a certificate of completion and nothing else would be required of them. Same thing happened. After a lesson or two was completed – they’d drop off the face of the earth. It seems whenever I expected my students to work – they’d disappear. A friend of mine had a student who was coming to me to ask me my experience with certain rituals and then she was copying and pasting my answers and sending them to my friend (who was the teacher). He got suspicious, we compared notes, and sure thing — she was trying to work her way into a priesthood title without doing any of the work. So, yeah, I think a lot of modern students have kind of screwed themselves out of a distance Demonolatry education because the teachers have been wasting their time on students who really don’t care.
I don’t know anyone who takes on remote apprentices anymore. I know there were people who used to, but most were discouraged by lack of dedication on the part of students.
Unfortunately, I can completely understand where you both are coming from. I’ve had a lot of experience in the “online scene”, and often times it truly does bring out the worst in people. They see the anonymity as grounds to do whatever they please with little real repercussions. It’s a shame that in this, like many other things, the poor form and lack of respect shown by some ruins things for the rest.
But, just so that I can say I have at least let it be known, if anyone is or knows someone willing to take a gamble, I am willing to take on whatever is needed to prove my determination and seriousness. Almost all of my occult endeavors thus far have been solitary experiences, and as I am still relatively new to the Demonolatry world, it would be amazing to actually have some sort of structure and guidance. If someone wants to throw me a chance and see what I do with it, I’d be ever grateful. If not, as I’ve already said, I completely understand why. 😀
I wonder if there is a way to do long distance apprenticeships by making potential students go through an application process and require them to do video homework and written assignments. that way you can see that they’re actually doing the work and not just pretending. Right now the only students we take on are people we’ve known for years.
🙁 From the student perspective… I would love to have a mentor. I would love to have someone take the time to teach me what I might never otherwise learn…even if I studied for a very long time. I read peoples posts on the web forum under classes and students post that such and such came up…or my computer went down…or whatever and I can see that they can’t even make it through ONE five week class. It’s insane. It ruins it for the rest of us who are sitting in our empty temples surrounded by our black candles and holding a book by S. Connolly on our laps and trying to learn on our own. It’s very hard. But, I am thankful that their is at least this much info out there and maybe one day a mentor will fall in my lap or maybe not. But, their really isn’t much else to do but get up, get started, and keep going. I agree with you, it is sad though.
Having a human mentor might be a good idea. It’s kind of odd for me though. I didn’t really want to learn about magick. I was content with devotion and prayer. Then, I get a reading saying “Yours is the path of the magician.” OK, cool. I accept the challenge. It goes on to say that I’d get very little from group work, and to seek my own path. I can do this 😀 King Paymon then says “Now go and do it.” Enough said. However, after reading about what I might be missing as far as the good memories and wonderful, challenging lessons and smile. I hope you guys do keep working with students. I would hate to see demonolatry, not just go underground, but fade away. I’m hopeful that the new students might share their experiences along the path so others might be encouraged. It’s a lonely path sometimes.