Now I don’t mean magickians with a Chaos Magick bend who are using Pokemon, in fact I’m probably more on their side than the group I refer to as Magickal Pokemon Trainers. We’ve all seen them before, they come in all shapes, sizes, and traditions; people who treat spiritual beings, trainings, initiations and similar things, as collector’s items.
I see them a lot in relationship to Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, generally –but not always– by western Newagers who are using/appropriating/incorporating Buddhism into their path. Within Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism there is a ritual called an Abhisheka, translated often as Empowerment, in which a trained Lama implants or awakens the Seed of a specific Boddhisattva. The purpose is (traditionally) to introduce the student to the current of the Boddhisattva or “blessing stream” as my one Lama says, to offer a Seed of their enlightenment to work from, and the Boddhisattva can become your Yidam, a personal figure used in your meditations. It’s a beautiful tradition with a lot of depth and nuance. Unfortunately now it seems like it is a Pokemon game. When I received my Abhisheka to Vajrapani, I was surprised to hear several of the initiates in the temple boasting about past Abhishekas “Well, I’ve received White Tara, Black Tara, Green Tara, and Hayagriva.” “I got Chenrezig, Chakrasamvara, and Padmasambhava.” Is there a benefit of receiving more than one Boddhisattva? Yes, different practices can require different Yidams, but most people who collect aren’t undertaking these other practices (though may take some basic training to brag about later). There is more to it than just getting a Boddhisattva shoved into your brain, and I might argue there is a large aspect of diminishing returns, after a while you can only do so much, no matter how many Boddhisattvas you have placed inside of you.
You see it in the Santeria-Family of religions, people who go about getting multiple crownings and actually go out of their way to receive more from other houses or even traveling to Nigeria to receive more, when really they should only have one, and sometimes the multiple crownings involve Orisha who may not want to be in the same head. I see it in the Newage community a lot, probably more than anywhere else; people who brag about repeated workshops, initiations, trainings, cleansings, guides, healings and such. I see it less with Ceremonial Magickians, we have less of a structure that enables this, but occasionally you’ll come across a magickian whose great accomplishment is summoning all 72 Goetic Demons, or all 49 Heptarchy Angels.
Gotta catch them all, Pokemon!
Back in early High School, when Pokemon first arrived in North America I played it, and enjoyed it. I loved the world, and all the different Pokemon (at that time a mere 151) but was always saddened that I was limited to six. In fact for a good 80% of the game, at least, I used the same six Pokemon. Sure I had 151 (potentially) to choose from, but only six at a time. As I’d battle with specific Pokemon they’d get stronger, so that if I tried to switch to another Pokemon they might not always work, because they are too weak, I don’t have the experience with them, and don’t know how to use them. So I stuck with the same six, and while sometimes there were weak against Pokemon I was battling, usually I could find a way to make them work, and only in the extreme cases would I pick another Pokemon to use because it was far better suited.
Forgive the nostalgia, but I think it makes my point. When you receive a Yidam, they are to be your personal meditation deity; you devote yourself to them to awaken their Seed within you. If you have many Yidams then you probably can’t give any of them the devotion required to really make use of the gift you’ve been given. If every Orisha or Lwa is a relationship, and you have more than you can easily name, then you probably won’t be providing a strong relationship for them, and they can’t provide for you. Magickians whose accomplishment is just summoning all 72 Goetic demons, rarely have much to say accomplishment-wise about what the demons have done. I’ve been using the Goetia for six years now, seriously for four, and in that time I’ve only ever used about a dozen of them, and only five of them I use repeatedly. Why? Because it isn’t about how many Seals I’ve drawn up, how many entities I’ve trapped in my triangle, but it is about the results from them. The five Goetia I’ve used multiple times, I do so because they’ve worked multiple times and I have no need to spread my efforts to a spirit that I don’t have a relationship with if I don’t have to. Why undertake conjuring a new spirit that may not work in the way I need them to, if I don’t have a reason to. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Even from a mundane perspective collecting becomes counter-productive when you become more focused on collecting than the collection. Eventually you’re grasping at so many shining things that you will be unable to enjoy or use anything you’ve already grabbed. The act of collecting becomes a distraction, or an excuse, from actually working and getting things done.
This isn’t to say don’t explore, don’t experiment, don’t try something new, but there is more to these trainings, initiations, and spirits than just the bragging rights of receiving them. It is less about how many Pokemon you collect, and more about how experienced you are with the Pokemon, how strong they are, and how effective they are. Try new things, take the occasional new training or initiation, but realize that isn’t the point or benefit in and of itself. Sometimes you’ll learn something new and useful, sometimes it is new and useless, but if you spend all your time getting initiated and training, and not doing, not living, then you won’t find out what works best for you, who your strongest Pokemon is.