I think the lines here aren’t as clear cut as you make it sound. A hoodoo/conjure/rootwork practitioner making an offering at a cross roads to get something to happen is definitely “influence divine beings that will then do something for you”, as is the traditional witch making an offering to the spirits he works with. In hoodoo, the inclusion of reading Psalms or other Bible verses and the prayers, aren’t there just there for fun. They are there to get God or the Saints (for Catholics) to make the working work. And the use of spirits is strong in all forms of magic that I know of. In all magic, it is rituals, it is art. Are the hoodoo or witchcraft rituals actually different in essence than ceremonial magic, or just in form? My craft is definitely not ceremonial magic, but you would be amazed how easily elements of ceremonial magic integrate in and compare. Of course, I have an easier time working with Jewish Kabbalah than the Golden Dawn material.
His response, which you can read on the entry, seemed quite insulting, but I won’t worry about that. I’m going to address a few points from it here, as he is not interested in dialog or discussion.
As I had just come upon his blog that day, I haven’t read his earlier posts, so, as he implied, I may be missing the background he has set. However, his second statement about not getting the metaphor of them being two almost completely overlapping circles seems a little off the cuff in relation to what he said in the post. In the post, he described the two types of magic he is defining as very distinct in practice, if not in results. I was discussing the way he divided them as type of practice, not in the results.
The main point I was addressing is that he said hoodoo is the first type because it just uses tricks, that it doesn’t matter what you believe. And that the second type is when you try to influence divine entities. In his answer, he says if there’s prayer and these “tricks”, then it is both. Why use hoodoo as the example then? Either he doesn’t know much about hoodoo or he’s saying something I’m not understanding. What’s hoodoo without the prayer? When does hoodoo not try to influence spirits? By his definitions, hoodoo always is both. That sounds like the lines not being clear cut to me. Unless of course his definitions of what is what is wrong.
He says the difference is whether you actively use it for inner alchemical purpose or not. I’m not sure how this statement would relate to hoodoo because I know a lot more about the outer workings than the inner workings. In all the forms of traditional witchcraft I’m familiar with, Feri, 1734, Clan of Tubal Cain, Ced, Cultus Sabbati, and others, the inner alcehmy is the major purpose, but outer changes to the world are done when needed. Does this mean witchcraft is both? Most witches I know would be insulted to be called ceremonial magicians, and most ceremonial magicians I’ve met would take offense at witchcraft being called ceremonial magic.
I do agree with him that no type of magic is less than or greater than any other.
What I really don’t understand is that he uses the term Goetia for the type of magic that he says doesn’t influence spirits. However, everything I’ve ever heard discussed as Goetia involves angels and demons. Why does he choose that term? When I get a chance, I’ll read back in his blog and see if I can figure that out.
Now, at the end of his reply he made it clear that he’s not open to discussion or dialog. He is trying to tell people a specific thing and it is complete and doesn’t need to be discussed.
I, however, believe that we never stop learning, and no idea is ever complete. There is always something else to learn, always a new facet to an idea. Even in mathematics and science, where everything is about hard facts, theories and laws are refined as more is learned. No one knows everything about anything, because there’s always more to learn. And one way to learn is to dialog and discuss it with others. Even if they don’t give us anything, even if that person doesn’t add anything, being questioned helps us to think about things in a new way. The discussion can be a catalyst to refine the idea. Inner alchemy is a process, not a destination.
Maybe I’d be able to help him see something, maybe I wouldn’t. But if you aren’t willing to discuss your idea because you think it is complete, the process ends.