Something I’ve been noticing lately in the various internet occult conversations I follow is a certain rigidity. When someone says, “The Demiurge came down into my bedroom last night and told me how to immanentize the eschaton with DMT” or “I evoked Satan and discovered that Goofy is really Jesus Christ,” we roll our eyes. Sure, maybe Goofy really is Jesus in that person’s subjective world, his Unverified Personal Gnosis, but that doesn’t make it so for anyone else. Mistaking UPG for transcendent truth is easy to spot and it’s something magicians are particularly susceptible to when they walk the path of self-transformation. One hopes they are mentally stable enough to avoid getting lost in a solipsistic world of their own creation.
However, sometimes it’s not as easy when the UPG is threaded into a whole spiritual system. For example, you might be a member of a Golden Dawn-ish ceremonial lodge and that might really work for you. Using the Golden Dawn techniques, as an individual on a daily basis and with your brethren, you have called down divine light, experienced higher states of being, worked with the Tree of Life, evoked spirits, balanced the elements, undergone initiation rituals, written articles about the tradition, attained the K&C of your HGA, and learned a lot about Western Esotericism in general and Victorian occult history in particular. That is excellent and one very rewarding way up the mountain we sometimes call the Great Work.
But let’s say you have limited exposure to other spiritual perspectives and / or what you have learned about other systems has come through the stilted word of mouth of your lodge brothers, occult stereotypes, and irresponsibly researched occult books. What then? Then you might start shooting your mouth off about other people’s beliefs, saying, “Yeah, really there’s nothing to the Order of the Shut-Eye. It was a con game established in 1953 by a disgruntled Mason named Dumblebore Wiggins as a money making scheme. Everybody knows that.” Meanwhile, members of the OSE are steadfastly doing the work in their tradition, making it work, and getting a lot out of it. But because you’re so locked into one way of seeing things and believe you have found the TRUTH (i.e. you’re buying into UPG on an institutional level), you can’t allow yourself to accept that more than one perspective can be true simultaneously.
I know it’s a hard thing to deal with when your pet system—the one that has trained you and brought you into the light of its wisdom—says “Yes, my child, we are the keepers of the sacred flame. AND ONLY WE HAVE ACCESS TO TRUE WISDOM” and yet the Dalai Lama seems to know a thing or three and some Satanist on the internet has been saying down-to-earth things that really do make sense and the members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary down at the Baptist Church do something suspiciously like hoodoo in their “candle service” and you can feel the power coming out of there on Sunday morning like ripples in the air.
When you notice such things, you have a choice. You can vehemently deny their reality, saying that those practitioners are either deluded, stupid, charlatans, inept, or all of the above. Or you can take a step past your institutional UPG into a broader universe. It’s up to you. Just don’t be surprised when you wind up spending most of your energy defending your personal gnosis at the expense of being able to learn what other perspectives could teach.