Or Shut Up and Stick It In
Sometimes magickians go out of their way to make things more complicated than they need to be. That in and of itself could be a series of rants, but instead I want to focus on something that happened to me recently. I performed a mo dice reading from a friend, and got Ra-Na, The Dried Up Tree, it’s not a good answer, but the piece of advice was to perform rituals of offering for deceased family and ancestors.
So I explained that things didn’t look good, but he should give offerings to his dead family and ancestors, not to get them to fix it, but to make sure they’re maintained. Hungry ghosts are disruptive ghosts. So we talked a bit and he said something that gave me pause, so I asked and found out he thought I meant family/ancestors as in his past lives. Admittedly sometimes the tradition we work with uses that language-coding, but I had to clarify this time I meant blood family, and actual ancestors, not ancestors as code for past-lives.
“I don’t have any dead family, none of them stuck around.” So I explained one of the models of the soul in several parts which says that the “soul proper” reincarnates, but leaves a shade or remnant behind, an echo that can be animated. My Grandmother died seven years ago, and her soul has moved on, but she still visits me, and I have good conversations at her grave. “I don’t have any connection to my family that is dead.” I explained that it’s not about a connection like that, that’s why some systems of ancestor work uses people who died long before you were born or even parents or grandparents were born, it’s not about a standard idea of familial love, but this idea of supporting your legacy. So even if you didn’t connect in life, or weren’t alive at the same time doesn’t mean you can’t give them offerings, and that they won’t help out. I also explained that offerings to dead family can be made to their current lives, whoever/wherever Grandma is, I can offer her my merit to help out, in the belief that it will benefit her current life.
After a while he responded “So I guess I’m screwed and there is nothing I can do.”
This baffled me. He spent a large portion of our conversation transforming the round peg I offered him into a square peg that no longer fit. I wasn’t asking for a huge change in beliefs, I wasn’t railing against his ideas, I didn’t suggest anything drastic. All I said was to perform an offering to dead family and ancestors, tea and bread by the pictures I know he has up of them. Instead he complicated the issue by trying to force it to match his beliefs “So by family you mean past lives?” “I don’t have any dead family.” “I don’t have any connection to my family that is dead.” “There is nothing I can do.”
Now granted, I hate people who pull, twist, and mixmatch traditions improperly, and appreciate synthesizing beliefs intelligently. On the other hand when you ask for advice, and get clear advice (mo is straightforward there, which is part of why I love it), and you’d rather mangle the advice until it can’t fit or work in your world, then you’re doing something wrong.
Yes I’m picking on a friend a bit here, but I see this a lot. Sometimes life gives you a round peg and a round hole, so shut up and stick it in. Occultists seem to like complicating matters, yes, synthesis is brilliant, but sometimes your attempt at synthesis is more akin to blindfolded jigsaw puzzles.