Esotericism

Esotericism is the study of Life. It is a syncretic approach, meaning it takes what works from anywhere, and refuses nonsense from anywhere. In practice, the esotericist hones their sense of discernment, their sensitivity, their bullshit detectors. The word itself points in the direction taken: inward.

From Ancient Greek ἐσωτερικός (esōterikós, “belonging to an inner circle”), from ἐσωτέρω (esōtérō, “further inside”), comparative of ἔσω (ésō, “within”), from ἐς (es), εἰς (eis, “into”) (the term esoteric referred originally to the secret teachings of Greek philosophers, versus public or exoteric ones). The earliest known example of the word appeared in a satire authored by Lucian of Samosata (c. 125 – after 180). As a satirist, Lucian seems to have been a proponent of ridiculing superstition, religion, the paranormal. It is only fitting, then, that I not take esotericism too seriously.

This is, ultimately, a game to play. Inward, the search begins. The search for that which is not spoken of: for initiates only. But for whom is initiation an option in the first place? And where, now, is the line between the speakable and the unspeakable?

It feels evident to me that any exclusive sect is setting itself up for failure. There simply are not enough interested parties for arbitrary barriers to entry. Right now, 2500 years of teaching are available to anyone with a modicum of motivation. And ultimately, two millenia of texts are useless.

What good will playing out the old rites do now?

Any wisdom gained will only be the wisdom of a dying civilization. Pray to the old new gods. Worship in whatever way makes sense to you, and do not expect your rites to make sense to your children—

Rites and ceremonies are potent tools. From such movements arises gnosis, deeply affecting practitioners and, if devotion is sincere, changing the core of orientation to Life. Ritual holds the power to transform one's own world, and learn about the shared realities. Ceremony alone, however, is hollow. It is neefully directed by conscious control of the individual, otherwise known as will, intent, attention, focus. Without focus, ceremony is void of potency. Some things are certain: honestly performing established scripts leads to results, and the results can profoundly alter experience. Chaos magic is a metaphor, useful for making individual sense of patterns that are too big to hold in the conscious mind. It is an orientation device for mentation, and useful for someone who feels called to power for its own sake. But why bother? If my magical tendencies have nothing to gain from engaging with goetia, hoodoo, ifa, catholicism, or any number of traditional forms, then I best make it up as I go along. Take what serves, leave the rest.

An esoteric approach acknowledges co-creation as an ongoing process. i inhabit the world of my own making, while factors which I do not consciously hold in mind continue to affect actions/decisions/options.

Esoteric approaches are idiosyncratic in practice. Like magic, the theory is meaningless on its own. Study for its own sake is navel-gazing. Overloading intellect with occult words in the hope of spontaneously getting it leads nowhere, not even disillusion. It is necessary to experiment, and to fail. Whatever feels intuitive is a clue. Whatever poses challenges but keeps interest is another. There is much less to learn from other people than expected. Auto-didactics are a key factor. Desire is another. I want transformation. I want learning.