As some of you might know, in many cases, I'm all for "faking it until you make it," to some degree. All of us our beginners at some point, and many of us will be book-taught or classroom-taught on some subject with our first moment of real-life application of said knowledge happening after the beginning of our cerebral-learning period. For example, if I wanted to repair a step on my stairs, I might first read a chapter in a book or an online how-to before I attempt to fix that stair. OR, I might just pull up the cracked/broken step, measure a board, cut it, and nail it where the broken step was WITHOUT consulting a book. I think many of us can agree there are things in life which might be done better WITH INSTRUCTION that can also often be competently done (albeit perhaps not the best done,) without.
So, using the example of the above "bad stair," what if I decided, with little to no woodworking experience, to rip down the whole stairway and replace it with a brand new stairway, made by myself, entirely by making it up in my head and applying my own knowledge of what this looks like by watching Mr NinjaCat's having made stairs and nothing else. (See, I've even seen someone do it before.) I have to be honest here...if I did that, I sure as hell hope none of you would use my stairway...or you'd probably be dead of a broken neck in my basement (the only stairs I can think of in my house that I could pull off or replace without gutting the house.) Sure, I understand to make 2 same size boards run diagonal at the same angle (being the same length,) and cut the same in a stair pattern. I understand where the boards go. I have seen this. However, with no help, I'm sure it would still be deadly. Or at least it would be ill-advised someone use my "Hahaha, I faked being able to be a carpenter long enough to nail this shit together and to my house" stairs.
OK, I know, I know, stairs are not the occult. They are not spellcasting. You want to know what in the sam-hell my stair talk has to do with spells. ;) Well, over the years, I've watched people do the equivalent of trying to do more than build a staircase without ever having done woodwork or carpentry, but even go so far as to comparatively attempt to build a HOUSE without having ever so much as built a spice rack, much less having the knowledge to make a broken lamp fixed in regards to spellwork. Guess what? Your honey jar? That's about as complicated as fixing a single stair, just replacing a board. That's good beginner work. HOWEVER, that super "easy" looking spell you found? To make it work, you better have the skill, or you might hurt yourself and others. :P Yeah, no, you can't just throw in that God or Goddess or spirit from x pantheon that you have a passing fancy for in with this being that you're calling in this spell. No, don't mix Erzulie and Oshun. That's naive and ridiculous. Uh, yeah, no, you've just told me I'm related to Woden and Jesus Christ - don't even cast spells, much less write books (true story, right now the craziest person with the least amount of magical ability possible, who used to tell me the craziest shit about magic that has nothing to do with real magic is right now a published author, and before you say "wasn't that a long time ago?" I assure you it was 4-5 at most that she was saying such nonsense - so make your book purchases carefully, too.) ;)
But humorously ignorant people aside, and obviously spiritually-and-magically-inept newbies trying to overdo it aside, my point here is that it's BETTER for you as a spellcaster to learn how to do the complicated-stuff right, rather than assume you have some natural gift for this type of work and it will all just come to you - you know you're an expert, after all, because you did a single candle spell once. :P I have a natural gift for this type of work and I've been studying the occult for 25 years, which is basically saying since I started going through puberty. I also had an interest in it as a wee one and still, even with my natural gift, I had to put my hours in studying and practicing. I studied, practiced, studied more, practiced more, etc daily for years (and I continue to practice and/or study on a daily basis,) to be where I am now. There is no class that will make you instantly-gifted. There is no such thing as graduating a class and becoming an able spellcaster or worker who could consider him or herself even "intermediate" level at working. There are a few OK classes out there - don't get me wrong - but when I graduated first-year spanish back in the seventh grade, there is no way I'd have been able to speak fluently to people down in Uruguay with my limited Spanish-language skills, and I took that class 5 days a week. How many times do you take your class a week? Is it at least 5 hours of class a week with homework that takes a few hours? Because if it's not, you're not even learning enough to be a first year "magic student" if such things existed. Let that absorb for a bit. :)
Or...let's think on how long it took you to learn arithmetic. Were you capable of doing division on fractions (with no calculator, of course,) by age eight? If not, why? I mean, you'd been learning basic math since at least first grade. Isn't that at least a whole year to learn elementary knowledge? And you were studying for hours a day then, which is more than your magic class you're taking now - you must have had some pretty "advanced" math skills if you had that many hours of learning and your magic class is going to make you advanced in as many hours.
Could you spell several words over ten letters long by age eight? Did you know what to defenestrate is? (It's to throw someone out a window.) If you just learned that now, why? I mean, you've been speaking English all of your fucking life, right (er, let's just pretend you have, heh)? Oh, because they didn't teach you in school? But there are all sorts of places to learn words, so why didn't you know that one? I mean, here you are, an adult, and you don't know all the words in the English language? Why? If you had so many hours to learn them, and whole parts of school were dedicated to broadening your vocabulary, why are you unfamiliar with words like verisimilitude and why do you not know "redundant"* doesn't mean really mean repetitive but superfluous? Because if your magic class can make you an expert or advanced or even an intermediate magician, then years of vocabulary should make you like the English language dictionary, and you should be familiar with what all common words (even commonly misused ones) mean - because if one class makes you an expert, then, why aren't you? ;)
The point I'm trying to make IS NOT that everyone here reading is a meat head. ;) It's actually that regardless of who you are, to become an expert magician, you will PROBABLY need about 10 years of work at least. AT LEAST. No single class is going to change that unless the class is so frequent that it's like taking a college level course, and even then, you'd only be "This Professor's Magic 101" level because magic is such a gigantic topic that you won't be "Ceremonialist 101" or "Hoodoo 101" in almost every case of every class I've seen out there. Your "100-levels" (in the USA 100-200 level courses are your university basic levels for Freshman/1st year and sophomore/2nd year, where you need to take several each year to get to your upper-level learning,) would need to be you taking a few of these classes every day, assuming you had the basics (a grade school k-12 education,) every day for at least the previous 6-7 years before arriving at magic school. Oh, and lets assume you have live time in the altar room with the professor at least weekly, too.
Oh, you didn't have any of that? Oh, it was a thing where someone sent you a mail every week? OK. That's fine. It's a good starting point. But just because you graduated someone's class, that doesn't mean you're even near my level of knowledge or the level of knowledge of several of my peers. You're still a beginner.
Can we agree on that? I know some online teachers won't, but the rest of us? Can we agree that if you study something a lot, you'd at least need a few years studying it and practicing it before anyone even thought you were out of the beginner stage?
I say this because recently I've been getting a lot of this in my inbox: "Hi Ms NinjaCat, I've been practicing spells forever, am an expert and gifted, and I want a giant fix-everything spell. I'm not afraid of calling spirits. I worked with Hecate a few times. Oh, and I like Isis." OK, so you read a few books once? ;) You're not an expert. Readers, can you identify how easy it is to see this person is not an expert?
If you were an expert, you'd know there is no such thing as a giant fix-everything spell. While I can assume you might have worked with some God-heads, I also don't believe you can just splat in some Grecian or Egyptian deities willy-nilly and call that "calling a spirit." If you've ever called an inhuman spirit, and not had a pants-shitting (or nearly-pants-shitting) experience, then you're in for a surprise when you really do call one. If you can control it. If you understand the dangers of that (cuz if you don't, don't call me crying at 3am that something disembodied keeps biting you.) And you've "worked with" Hecate and Isis. Define this to me. Did you do a regular devotional to either? Daily? Weekly? Did you have an altar set up to leave offerings to either? Did you regularly pray to either? What was your relationship with these beings?
If your answer was "None really. I called them using this Llewellyn book to watch over my love mojo on this one case, and in the other to make sure I got this specific job, but I followed the instructions, and my spell worked and stuff."
So, if I go back to the beginning of my article with me trying to build stairs. The person who "read a book" and "called Hecate and Isis" comparatively just ripped the stairwell off, cut some boards kind of right, nailed other boards to them, and now I have a deadly, crooked, creaking, about to fall off and fall-apart staircase. But you're an expert staircase maker, because you read a book once, right? Right. That's what many of you self-professed "experts" (and no, not you real experts, haha,) in my inbox are doing magically. You're inept, you're obviously not an expert, and the worst thing you're doing is faking to yourself that you can do this. No, some light candle spells and a honey jar is not expert work. Throwing in cherries because it "felt right" when cherry bark, and cherries are not at all correspondent to your working is not you being inspired by spirit. It's probably you thinking you're so magical that you fart fairy dust. I'm a pretty magical person - I don't fart fairy dust (unless I eat 2lbs of glitter, and then it looks like fairy dust,) so I'm pretty sure you don't either. I'm psychic, I've studied psychicism, and I can tell made up crap from real experiences...if you haven't ever experienced psychicism or studied it, you do a bad job trying to pretend you have. Like if 5 disembodied voices/beings follow you around 24/7 and you see them 24/7, you might want to consult a psychiatrist, not a psychic.
"Fake it til you make it" is meant for people who are on the precipice of being what they want to be. It doesn't work it for someone who has a high school education and is doing nothing more than dressing as a brain surgeon and telling themselves they are one, and operating on people. Nope, "Fake it til you make it," might apply to the resident learning brain surgery - the one who did years and years of school and study to get there, not to the person who saw a Hollywood movie where people did brain surgery. So "Fake it til you make it" does not make a noob who has done a few honey jars and single candle spells into an expert. Reading a book once won't make you an expert. Taking a class once won't make you an expert. You can't fake that much - you're too ignorant. We all would be too ignorant with so little learning and practice under our belts.
I'm not trying to be discouraging - I want people to learn to cast their own spells, I want them to learn about the occult; - but for goodness' sake, if you're not an expert, don't pretend to be one. It actually makes you less of a moron to admit you're just starting out, or that your skills are novice. It helps you for you to admit to yourself that you still have lots to learn, because then you won't have as many problems that the grossly hubris-tic students of the occult often have (see above, pants-shitting spirit-raising,) when they didn't expect said problems. :P People would rather teach a person who wants to learn, not the pretend know it all (see above, I'm related to Jesus and Woden?? no, that's stupid.) I would rather you start out with "I know nothing. I did a few candle spells once, so I have that much experience under my belt, but when it comes to setting up an altar to a deity, I'm kind of clueless," than pretend to be an expert. It's very visible when you're not. :P
There is no shame in being a beginner. None. We all had to be beginners once. We all had the NOOBIEST NOOB MOMENTS. Right now, any real spellcaster or magician who's the real-deal has more than one "NOOBIEST OF THE NOOB" stories - I know this, because I've exchanged a few, and some of them are downright scary and hilarious at the same time. Now, I understand - if you were 18 and just starting out on your higher education, you'd feel no shame saying "I'm going to college/university to learn meteorology," but if you didn't get that interest until you were 30, would you tell people you were a meteorologist because you're an adult and don't want to be thought of as a novice? I mean, you have no school in it, but you like to watch the weather. Yeah, so you're not a meteorologist...not even close. ;) That's what you're doing when you pretend to be an expert, or even intermediate-, spellcaster and you're not. It shows. You're not faking it til you make it. You're being an assclown. No expert ever got to be an expert by not ever being a beginner. There is no shame in being a beginner. There is no shame in being annoyed that getting past the beginner stage is a longer time-investment and greater effort than you'd hoped. ;) There is no shame in falling on your face because you attempted something a bit more advanced than you were ready for - the shame comes when you don't admit you made the mistake or when you pretend you're some sort of expert that you're not - especially if you then mis-teach others with your NON-expert advice.
So, I guess my long, rambling diatribe is summed up best with be happy to learn, know yourself, and try to avoid putting on airs. If you get to the beginner stage, you'll wow the noobs. If you get to the intermediate stage, you'll wow the beginners. If you get to the advanced stage, you'll wow the intermediates, and if you get to the expert stage, you'll be wowing everyone. It's an earned thing. It takes work to get there. But even the fact that you're investing the time and effort to try to start at the beginning to learn this stuff? That's something to be proud of. If being an expert in anything was so easy to learn, it wouldn't be a valuable thing to be an expert, so be prepared for a long road of study and practice...and start "Faking it til you make it," when you're really close to being able to do whatever, you've put your learning in, you've applied your knowledge, but this is the first time you've PRACTICED something is when to "fake it." However, if you have to look everything up in books, can't tell me 10 uses for just the color of gold in spellcraft off of the top of your head in under 20 seconds, or what Monday is useful for if using days of the week, etc - you're not outside of the beginner, or perhaps even noob, stage. It's just what it is. Sorry if that's disappointing, but anything worth having (including having the "expert" title in a field of knowledge) is something earned through hard work.
Sorry for rambling on and on,
*While some people do use this as being repetitive, suchas "Cat said spell so often, the term became redundant" the actual meaning:
1. surplus to requirements; unnecessary or superfluous
2. verbose or tautological
3. (Business / Industrial Relations & HR Terms) deprived of one's job because it is no longer necessary for efficient operation he has been made redundant
4. (Engineering / General Engineering) (Electronics) (of components, information, etc.) duplicated or added as a precaution against failure, error, etc.
[from Latin redundans overflowing, from redundāre to run back, stream over; see redound]
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