It seems impossible to understand history without understanding Magick

Before this: Discovering Magick seems to require deconstructing biases.

Like many of you, I’m pretty dissatisfied with the Catholic Church these days. Including, I suspect, a great many Catholics.

There are much stronger words than “dissatisfied” that would be appropriate but I’m attempting to be tactful for reasons that will become evident later. There are lots of reasons to feel this way. The fact that the Catholic Church struggles so significantly at reconciliation with populations and individuals harmed by their infrastructure, and many of the people within their systems, seems to imply that the numbers of reasons for us to be dissatisfied with them will only continue to grow.

This is evident to many, yes? I’m not alone in seeing that the perception of the Catholic Church will continue to diminish until something changes? If you disagree I would absolutely love to discuss this with you in whatever way is most comfortable for you. That viewpoint is of significant value to me as I do not share it and it contains information that I don’t have. Information can be copied so I always want information I don’t have.

That’s a great question, me, I’m glad I wrote it so I could answer it. Before I could answer this I needed to spend some time really understanding what has formed my view of the history of the Catholic Church. There are a lot of tropes/memes about history that I’ve held in my mind but never really considered, such as: History is written by the victors.

I understand how that applies to the Catholic Church, so I can form my view of the Catholic Church around an understanding that they will only paint themselves in the best light possible. This is understandable and I say it without judgement. It’s basically the standard behaviour for most people unless they’re fortunate enough to have lived a life that exposed them to the alternative. An obvious and simple solution to the realization that the history of the Catholic Church of likely full of exaggerations or deception is to then reject all of the good they’ve told us about because it’s probably propaganda… and instead highlight the countless instances of grievous harm caused to individuals and communities reported elsewhere. Sound familiar? This is about 30% of the internet right now. 50% here in Canada. Frankly, as a simple assessment of the dominant system of power for a huge part of the world throughout most of recorded history: that actually feels pretty apt.

And then I think about the millions and millions of people who have experienced beautiful Magickal moments of personal growth and formed life-changing connections to each other and the world around them.

How do I reconcile the personal faith of a number of people I know and love with, as an example, the Crusades? (This question doesn’t get answered in this article. In fact the article ends with another question. This is not a satisfying article to read.)

I guess this is important to know before I can understand my view of specific historical events, but that means I first need to understand how have I formed my view of history. Ok.

That last section immediately proved itself to be the wrong question in a way that was delightfully efficient which led to a much more complex inquiry. I tried to think of ways to describe how I formed my view of history and wanted to find a good analogy but I couldn’t find one so here’s 5 sort of different ones. Smash them together if you want and create a back-alley Voltron of word vomit to better understand my views.

The quality decreases as they go on because the later ones have similarities to the first ones and I didn’t want to repeat myself too much. You can fill in the blanks if you want — it’s a fun thought experiment. It also makes it easier for you to engage with this and disagree with me from a shared perspective. At a certain level of inspection and exploration these probably contain incompatibilities.

If history were a forest: I’ve formed opinions about it by walking specific trails, looking at specific trees, or looking at 2D pictures or drawings of the forest. I have a fuzzy idea about the forest beyond my lived experience and that’s far less solid than I think it is. I would more easily die in those parts of the forest if I were suddenly brought there.

If history were a library: I’ll never be able to explore the library the way I could if I were an employee. My opinion of history is most often based on books friends have taken out of the library, some of which I’ve borrowed but most of which they’ve told me about. I have written very little and am unable to understand many of the books in the library because they are in other languages, are complex beyond my ability to understand, or are so culturally different to me that I’m unable to grasp the depth of what is written.

If history were a video game: I’ll never be able to explore history the way I could explore a video game like Skyrim. My opinion of history is most often based on screenshots of the video game rather than gameplay footage, and is almost never the result of an experience like actual gameplay, and it’s almost never based on VR gameplay.

If history were a small business in my community: I understand the day-to-day of running the small business in a way that would prevent catastrophic collapse in the short term if I’m very lucky. I’ve seen enough individual things happen there and I’m familiar enough with the concepts of running a small business to think I know what’s happening, but how it’s budgeted and managed and how items are ordered is completely beyond me.

If history were a multinational corporation: Movies showed me how things worked and the real thing is so fucking complicated that I could never develop a more than superficial understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes and I’d rather just be crawling barefoot through air vents fighting the bad guys like John McClane in Die Hard.

So what is my view of history?

A poorly drawn graph representing history.
I mean it makes sense to me. Feel free to share better versions of this because I’m certain someone else has done this first.

This is problematic. This seems to imply that history is fundamentally unknowable to me? I mean, obviously, this is true… but I’d never run up against it so conclusively before. This is the Great Big Truth of this article.

The implications of the Great Big Truth that history is unknowable to me has profound implications every time I assess my view of a historical event (history doesn’t just mean olden times, it happened a moment ago). It seems to imply that I need to be open to the possibility that everything I think I know about anything is wrong because of information I don’t know about.

To be clear: I don’t hold this view about my personal life and stuff that’s up close to me in a really significant way — I think it’s about understanding that the farther away something is from me the farther I am from the original energy and information of the event.

Energy or information which can be measured or described and does not appear bound to our understanding of science and physics.

… so I’m pretty sure history is Magick under certain circumstances under this definition — The origin of some information we have access to is unknown as a result of the aeons long game of telephone we call culture. I didn’t realize this until I was revising the article near its completion. I need to think about this some more. The remainder of the article will have been revised somewhat to further explore this idea.

How is this Magickal?

Disregarding for now the previous description of history itself being potentially Magickal: let’s focus instead on specific Magickal events. By this I mean times in history when individuals have experienced events which they or others would describe as Magickal.

It’s very important that I maintain an understanding that some people will see the image above as a representation of how I think we view history, agree with it, and still be certain that nothing Magickal has happened in the known, unknown, known-unknown, and unknown-unknown parts of history. This seems to be a constant? I don’t think it will ever change and I suspect a world where it does would be a pretty lousy one. I believe our diversity is a strength.

It’s easy for me to understand the perspective of people who don’t think anything is Magickal. Heck, it’s easy for me to understand that there will be irreconcilable disagreements in how I view the world with lots and lots of people forever. I used to hold a different perspective in this exact case. That’s easy empathy! Having bridged both sides of the divide I can say with confidence that I’m not able to say either side is incorrect.

This probably isn’t particularly useful to a lot of people. Sorry.

I see Magick, I know it, and I’m forming an understanding of it. I can’t prove it though (I haven’t tried yet, and recognize that others have tried and that people have formed opinions about the results of those efforts). It’s also become very evident that my definition of Magick is very different from those of others — some of whom define Magick in ways that are fundamentally incompatible with mine.

So, to be clear: There is a thing that exists which I know to be true but can’t share evidence for because my truth is achieved through an internalized logical process which requires a specific outcome of belief, which many other people believe exists but which some people believe equally strongly that it does not exist.

That wasn’t clear at all. Sorry again.

As an aside: I’m a very secular person. I try to hold the view that the beliefs of others are as important as my own and I also hold the view that you can’t force belief on others, you can only force them to lie about belief. For this reason I believe the only viable path forward for humanity is a secular society. This doesn’t mean I don’t hold a profound sense of wonder for the variety and complexity and beauty of human beliefs, I just try to focus any criticism I may have on the implementation of specific beliefs rather than the belief as a whole or the person who holds the belief.

Ok so how is it Magickal? The incredibly frustrating answer is: History is full of Magick.

There are valid reasons to describe history through a secular lens and attribute all Magickal phenomena to social, psychological, or cultural events. As long as you don’t think Magick is real it’s possible to flatly reject any view of history which includes Magick as a cause of any event. I understand this position because it used to be mine.

I used to think that we had a solid enough understanding of physics and history — our reality and our experiences — to be able to conclusively say that we could understand the nature and predict the future of potential technological development. I was probably wrong. Look at the UAP footage we’re seeing from the United States and read the report: these objects are captured through multiple systems simultaneously and behave in ways which do not adhere to our understanding of the laws of physics.

I’ve changed my view. I now believe that Magick is real and we are under attack.

This is actually really fascinating to me. It gives me a different lens to review history. The image I shared above can now be modified. I probably need to add a whole new circle around each black dot representing my awareness, opinions, and biases from the new perspective. The blue circles would stay the same and then I would draw a 3rd circle representing my full perspective as I abandon old biases and likely adopt new ones. This would need to be done with each perspective I can consider so there’s probably an upper limit of perspectives to consider before my brain leaks out of my ears.

In an abstract “really hard to do in a practical way as a living being in a complex world” sense: comparing these two positions is definitely the best path forward.

The Great Big Truth

It’s impossible for me to understand the lived experience of someone participating in a pagan ritual 2500 years ago, a Christian ritual 700 years ago, a Buddhist ritual 1700 years ago, or really anything else like that, including stuff happening in my neighbourhood right now.

When reviewing history and thinking about historical folks, I don’t have enough information to really empathize with their lived experience so it’s easier for me to ignore their lived experience entirely and simply project my assumptions about their lived experience onto them through the lens of my awareness of their culture and the systems of power which controlled their society. I understand culture and systems of power so if I assume their lives are like my life I’ll assume I understand them. This seems to be a pretty common way to understand people in history in my perspective as a lay-person. I’m certain folks with a formal history background have skills and tools that make this easier for them to navigate. I’ve spent my life as a fairly smart and knowledgeable person projecting onto history in order to understand it as easily as possible and it’s usually felt accurate.

Ok. But what about the Magick that was often a part of their daily lives that isn’t part of mine? This is harder to conceptualize for me when I think about Christians than, say, some neolithic tribe, but when I think hard enough and broadly about it it looks like they both have Magick in their daily lives which existed as part of the cultural, economic and political systems of power that connected them. It wasn’t all Magick or no Magick. It was some Magick.

I considered phrasing the final question of this article in a way intended to promote strong reactions from readers and achieve easier dissemination in our social media ecosystem (as it’s designed): How the fuck is disregarding the lived experience of the vast majority of humans who have ever lived anything but the colonialism of history?

A better way to phrase it: How much of the history of our world, which is my history, do I actually understand if I disagree with the perspectives and opinions of countless people throughout history… despite not having conclusive evidence that their perspectives and opinions were wrong?

I don’t understand how to view my ancestors through a loving lens while flatly rejecting the things they valued. It feels healthiest to me to be open to those values and to engage with them playfully and lovingly and pragmatically… but of course I always feel healthiest when I take that approach to anything.

That doesn’t mean I accept their actions or behaviour as correct or appropriate — note that I’m definitely not saying they’re wrong in their beliefs — but it mostly means I have empathy for their mistakes they way I hope our descendants will have empathy for ours.

We have harmed their future catastrophically. If they can look back at us with love: How is that anything but Magick?

You can hire me and I’ll try to discern complex truths about reality for you:

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