One thing I’ve learned over the years is you really can lead horses to water, but you can’t make them drink. This is especially true when it comes to teaching whether you’re training someone for a job or apprenticing a student in magick. Sometimes the only thing you can do is share the information and let the other person take that information and use it to accomplish whatever it is they seek to accomplish.
Now in some instances you can actually show someone something, but after that the ball is in their court. They have to be able to take that information and apply it in a meaningful way that helps them accomplish a task or meet their goals.
I experience this a lot with magick. It dawned on me today just how many 101 books (even my own) only scratch a superficial surface when it comes to numerous magickal and spiritual practices. What gives these practices their depth and dimension are the realizations we have when exploring each topic more thoroughly and applying our foundational knowledge to the practice.
When studying Goetia, for example, I came to such a profound realization about certain things that I was literally mind-blown. I honestly thought I had discovered something new since I’d never seen anyone mention it anywhere.
Sydney J. Harris famously said “Nobody can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own.” Magick is full of moments like this. Of course once you take a step back you realize that this idea is as old as the Gods themselves and other magicians practically spelled it out for you and you were just too ignorant to see what was staring you in the face all along – that self-congratulatory smugness dies a quick death.
My friend Goetic Nick (aptly nicknamed for his extensive work with Goetia) laughed when I shared my revelation. He said, and I have permission to quote him here, “Congratulations. Most people have to have that pointed out to them. That fact that you figured it out on your own speaks volumes.”
But this is a perfect example of how a teacher/guide can only lead the horse to water. Some things can only be learned by drinking.
I can tell you to study this or that and that it relates to this or that, but you really need to put the study to practice and see how it all works together first hand in order to come to these realizations yourself. Never will you experience a more sober moment of clarity than that.
It’s food for thought.