Three Years Later – September 19, 2018
Again, all true.
“It has been three years since you went full whore, things are looking up?” my cretin friend said across the phone line.
“Yes, and all courtesy of a handful of people. Alfred has one the lion’s share of the work with editing and typesetting all of our publications. We’ve done almost thirty publications in three years – a few are still in the pipeline for release. We are behind as life has gotten in the way of our previous ‘one a month’ publishing schedule. We have three major donors who provide one-third of the money needed to make it happen, and about fifty donors for the IHS monthly newsletter. The breakdown is as to be expected: most on the low end, a few on the high end, and a low number in the middle.”
“So now what?” he snorted. I could hear the sounds of labored breathing and work being done in the background.
“Sit down before you drop. I don’t need to hear you breathing heavy,” I said.
He laughed. “OK, I’ve been out here since 7am and it is time for more coffee. I need to get this work shipped out to a customer before noon. Then, if all goes well, I will get an hour of writing in.”
“What are you working on?” I asked, knowing several of the authors he ghost wrote for in the past.
“Girl power shit. You know, vampires are out, witches are in again, and it’s all about being a superhero with a robe and a wand. The pay is good. They don’t make any money on it, but they get to say they ‘wrote’ a book. Of course, the secret dream is that there will be a movie script optioned for six-figures.” He said with a deep laugh having some experience in that arena as well.
I had to laugh too as I pointed out, “In the past, the traditional magus dreamed of being an advisor to the rich and powerful. Now the dream of the modern occultist is to be a media celebrity and technical advisor on a weekly show or movie. Even appearing on documentaries too commonplace anymore, and nearly everyone starts writing fiction after a while. Some of the really good ones skip over that part and go straight to writing scenarios for fantasy role-playing games.”
I could hear some movement in the background and then, “It appears our superhero obsession has come home to roost. I would not want to be a child or even young-adult today. Too much noise all the time. Life has no redo, there is no reset. Even the best and brightest come off as powerfully infantilized even though they are in their ‘30s. Some of the people I know, the one’s pushing retirement but with no savings are looking to move to these new communes. They call them ‘intentional communities,’ but it is just a reinvention of the commune. You have to apply for membership, go through a background check, and be in good health. Even the hippies are getting selective on who they live with. So much for the New Age of peace, love and understanding.”
That was funny.
“So what is the plan?” he belched out.
“Simple. The last three years went well. Thanks to the dedication of a handful of people I have published almost everything I wanted to. I am looking at guest writers for the blog. People who understand the philosophical vision and purpose of the Institute for Hermetic Studies and can reference its publications when writing. The annual conference went wonderfully, so we will continue with that each year in late April or early May. The goal is to grow it to a full two or three day event, but that is going to cost money and thereby require sponsors. You have no idea how much Muladhara Chakra I have to kiss to raise fifteen hundred to three thousand dollars to keep the prices down for attendees. We did very well with the last one, but that was the twentieth anniversary so it was special. Keeping that going every year is going to take some work.
The Church of St. Cyprian the Mage of Antioch is doing well. It has over a half-dozen clergy. Michael is instructing them twice a month via phone conferences. In a year or so I will pass over complete responsibility of the Church to him. This is all to create a new crop of leaders.
That leaves the Institute for Hermetic Studies proper. We have some additional publishing, or rather re-publishing of material in hardcover on the planning board. But it is the actual long term existence that is the question. Do we continue as an entity that sponsors an event or two a year? Or, do we become a real, physical entity with physical resources for people? We talked about this very thing three years ago and there has only been negligible advancement in that direction.”
“That sounds like a question that is bigger than you?” he said with a hint of early morning wisdom.
“Yes, it is.” I replied. “It is also requires more money and time from our volunteers, and with that more volunteers who are donors. It requires passion and persistence for a vision that most of them will never see other than in a photograph. Most of them are like Moses. They will see the ‘promised land’ but never enter.”
“That was almost profound. Try using that as a sales pitch” he said followed by a long drink of lukewarm coffee.
“I will. The biggest and most reoccurring problem is volunteer longevity and paradrama.”
“Paradrama! That’s funny. Did you make that one up?”
“No, I stole it from George Hansen. The average life span is about three to three and a half years. People come in, they are enthusiastic. But they have high expectations of how this or anything will change their lives for the better. Then, after about three or four years something does happen. It just happens it is not what they expected. Then, the drama begins.”
I drank some coffee and continued, “It should not be a surprise. Ritual is after all a mini-drama, a contrived emotional event to create some shift in consciousness. It is inherently unstable and people let it bleed over into their lives, and go from being your best supporter or student to disappearing or worse, becoming antagonist overnight. No reason given, just boom! Now, this is by no means everyone, but it is frequent enough and regular enough in the timing that something is at work here. So, getting and keeping reliable volunteers on a long-term basis is even more difficult when ‘spirituality’ is involved.”
“It is like the problems we have had with the Youtube Channel. Our channel was vandalized with parts of posts being randomly removed making the entire sections impossible to listen to, along with our drop box back-up. Getting some basic responses to emails was impossible. So, time from my life that I will never get back nor will pay for my children’s college, my wife’s retirement, or spend on a vacation is wasted putting back together a channel. No reason for it, just paradrama.”
“There are other examples I could give with personalities, but it all comes down to people having unrealistic expectations from their practices, relationship with me, each other, or the role that volunteering will have in their lives. Esoteric practices, and group work of almost any kind is a hothouse that brings pathology to the surface, but once there, it must be accepted and resolved. That is the real point of conflict – acceptance and resolution – and all success or failure hinges on that point. That is why small groups of a half dozen or so people are best. Even for what we do, it all gets done with about six or so actively producing people at any one time.”
“So few” he mused as he stripped bark from a pile of branches that would be crafted into high-end interior decorations.
“The drama is the poison that kills groups. Drama must be rooted out and destroyed. To do that you need to work only with people who have real lives: real jobs, real relationships, and a real sense of humor about themselves. This notion that esoteric initiations or ordinations somehow make someone a ‘secret agent’ in the cause of ‘human evolution’ is as toxic as the spiritual materialism and narcissism we see in a lot of the so-called ‘holistic’ movements.”
“How then do you kill drama?” he asked whimsically.
“Simple: I ask them, ‘What do you want from your experience as a volunteer?’ Since most have never really thought about it getting it out of the way up front prevents them from moving the goal posts down the road. We both recognize and agree that their goal is achievable and desirable. Then, I make sure what they are offering to do in terms of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of time, talent, and treasure fits into the Institute’s plans.”
“Your problem is you are too accessible” he quipped. “You need to be more distant, mysterious, or simply a curmudgeon. Just don’t try to be hip.”
He continued, “Most of the folks we deal with have no idea what a real teacher is like – be it martial arts, ballet, or esotericism. Some of the stories I heard from real shamans, not like the people I wrote books for, are hilarious. They would throw rocks at you and tell you to go away! Others would insult you if the gift was not big enough! I know one lama that made his millionaire donor wash his underwear as an act of humility. Maybe you should start throwing rocks as these fools, or at least get one of them to wash your laundry. Then only the dedicated will stay.”
With that we both laughed. My friend continued chopping wood, and I went back to carrying my laundry as it was not as if saying ‘thank you’ to the washer was going to make the water run all by itself.
Voice of Hermes – Lessons from the Path