A few years ago I was in college and asked to quickly perform a banishing ritual at a friend’s house. I had been out of “the business” for a while, exploring some other spiritual paths, and the last exorcisms I’d done had been using Christian priesthood authority. This obviously functions very differently than a generic pagan banishing, and now I had to look some things up again. It’s not that I didn’t know what I was doing, it’s that I didn’t know immediately.
My Tibetan astrology teacher once told me that there’s three kinds of astrologers. The best astrologers only need their hand on which to do calculations and that’s it. Middling astrologers need their hand and their lap, meaning essentially their hand for calculations and their lap to hold a single reference book. Poor astrologers need their hand, their lap, and everything all around them. First they do the calculations, but maybe need help with that from texts. Then they find the meanings, and look them up. Then they find the remediations and detailed information, looking all that up. They know it, in that they can do what a layperson cannot, but they don’t know it. Their book knows it.
For a lot of my magical career I have been satisfied to have a lot of very knowledgeable books. I’d read them and familiarize myself, but then, knowing the information in the book, knowing how to use it, I’d feel contented to leave it at that. Who needs to know it, really?
But at the time when I was asked to perform a banishing, I needed to know it, and I didn’t. I’d become lazy and complacent in my learning. I’d substituted knowing about something from knowing something. There’s a distinction between having an experience and having a realization. When you have an experience, it comes and goes. When you have a realization, it becomes a part of you. This is also the case with knowing about something versus knowing something. You can be the best ritualist in the world, but if you can’t perform the ritual without looking it up first, you’re just a technician, not a specialist.
These days, I take things much more seriously. I put in the time to make sure I know things. I am not, yet, the best astrologer, but I am a middling or good one, only using a single reference because I haven’t memorized all the remediations. I strive to get better. I think, whether you’re a professional sorcerer or just a dabbler or somewhere in between, it’s important first to always be a student, always be learning, and to always be striving to really know something, and not just know about it. After you learn something, put it into practice, and every so often, study it again as if you were doing baby’s first LBRP. Your practice, and your knowledge, will improve.
In the professional and paraprofessional world there are usually requirements for CEs – continuing education credits that keep people’s basic skills sharp and supplement them with the newest development in the fields. Respect yourself and your spiritual practice by treating it the same way as you treat your professional work, and pick up a few magical CE’s each year. Consider setting goals for a minimum of “refreshers” on each thing you do. Don’t just run from new topic to new topic, from new skill to new skill, but instead take the time to refresh what you know.
I’ve known about astrological magic for many years, but I am happily enrolling in Al Cummins’ workshop series, hosted by Kepler College. It’s a long overdue refresher on planetary magic since I first studied it as an undergrad, and I’m thankful for the opportunity. I wish you all good luck on your own magical CE’s this year.