Theory for Magicians: Genre and Magical Practices

I was doing what you do: listening to a podcast episode to see if I should add the whole thing to my feed. The podcast was What Magic is This and the specific episode was with Nicholas Chapel and focused on The Kybalion. Now, I have no real horse in the race of whether The Kybalion is hermetic or not, but every expert in the field agrees it is not. But the conversation about that topic got me to think of something. Here’s how it went:  Chapel said that, while he certainly knows it’s not Hermetic, and can absolutely tell you why, it’s still a difficult task to do, because the field of Hermeticism is so big and wide open now. Historically, there have been a lot of innovations and changes in Hermeticism, and so it is perfectly reasonable to call Agrippa, the Golden Dawn, and the Corpus Hermeticum “Hermetic” even though in some ways none of them look anything like the others. The thing this made me think of is that magicians need to learn something about genre. So here we are, with an entry in my Literature for Magicians series sub-classed as Theory for Magicians: genre theory and the horizons of expectations.

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Reading as Triangulation

You ever wonder how reading actually works? I don’t mean the most fundamental kind of reading — you know, looking a word and knowing what it means. However, there’s actually not much difference between the two kinds of reading. What I do mean is the kind of reading where you finish a poem and you know what it meant — not what it said, but what it meant. I find my students often don’t know the difference. So I’m pretty good at explaining it. I thought it might be interesting to talk about it. At a simple level, the way you read a poem is the way you read a tarot card or a painting or a situation. It’s all about triangulation.

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