Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fencesitting on Lineage

I am a fencesitter. Often, I can see both sides of an issue, and honestly could care less if one side earns a victory over another. One of the issues that I am a fencesitter about is the subject of lineage and how important it is. This annoys a lot of people.

It does not help that the first question out of my mouth when the subject comes up is: What type of lineage? For some reason, people get annoyed when they are asked to define how they are using the term. My bad childhood and Order background automatically makes me suspect that their definition is a fuzzy one designed to change as rapidly as necessary to defeat all attempts to prove their arguments wrong.

My bad childhood and Order background also kicks in because often people who argue about its importance (or lack thereof) are trying to prove one of two things. Either they are trying to prove that their lineage is better than mine (and that I should listen and obey them without thinking) or they are trying to prove that lineage is completely unimportant and that their brand of wacky is Golden Dawn (and that I should listen and obey them without thinking). Both situations bring out the evil in me---typically in the form of insubordinate laughter.

At this point, both sides of the lineage argument are going to toss bricks at me. Hopefully they are gold bricks with a lemon peel wrapped around them.

So why is it that someone with my experience can still sit on the fence on the importance of lineage? Simple, I do not think that either side has proven their case.

On the lineage is everything side (slight poofing of the stance), one of their claims is that lineage produces better lodges and Orders. This case falls apart when I think about the wreckage I have seen scattered in the wake of those who shouted that they should lead because their lineage was the best. Lineage often is nothing more than an excuse to abuse the members of an Order. And curiously enough, there are times when the person who did the damage had a better lineage than I did.

On the lineage is nothing side (slight poofing of the stance), one of their claims is that having a lineage teaches you nothing about running a lodge, and that any set of symbols used in conjunction with lodgekit can produce an usable esoteric lodge. Furthermore, they claim that in the case of Golden Dawn, the backbone of lineage was broken years ago and is often just a tool for abusing the members of the system. Ironically, this side also has its fair share of wreckage. This side's argument falls apart whenever I notice the wacky ideas that they want me to swallow.

For the record, I have worked with groups with lineage and groups without lineage. And I have experienced rituals with power on both sides...and rituals that had no oomph on both sides.

Ultimately for myself, I know that lineage is not important for a new lodge or Order to form...I have worked with some groups which system was made up the day before they started working as a lodge. I also had the experience of having gone though a ritual and understanding things that I never understood before that were not touched upon during the ritual; but given the lineage claimed, made perfect sense that the initiatory lineage claimed would impart such knowledge (aka "healing a lineage"), along with the additional power my own rituals suddenly had.

Ultimately, I can sit on the fence on this issue because both sides are right, and both sides tend to misuse the argument for their own dubious purposes. Lineage is a tool, and not the end-all of esoteric Orders. Lineage is only important for the working magician if they know how to tap into its power; otherwise they are probably better off without any (this goes for all three types).

1 comment:

Solitary Dawn said...

I always find it amusing when someone claims linage because he shook hands with someone who shook hands with someone who shook hands with someone who made a sandwich for Regardie – or Mathers. I mean, linage has its value, without doubts in the case that it provides you with original documents, non published material, oral tradition etc (as long as that oral tradition is not rather hearsay…). Then it is not that linage gives authority but – maybe reputation, credibility (as for the material that group uses) or similar. Authority does not come from linage anyways. On the other hand there are indeed systems without linage (or ”lesser” linage) which have developed a credible, valuable, coherent, and working system with good and powerful rituals. I se3e nothing wrong in the development of a system (even from scratch) it is is based on knowledge and understanding and produces valuable results. At the end of the day, it may well be that the whole linage discussion already started with the cipher manuscripts – in a way (is that blasphemous)?