Humanity has a raging love affair with traditions. There are traditions for EVERY area of life; cultural, political, religious, social, family, and even personal. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the 21st century or 1st-century society. Traditions are an integral part of EVERY culture EVERYWHERE.
Because traditions are a ubiquitous part of life on this little blue marble we call earth, it is hardly a surprise that the mystically inclined among us place a large stock in magickal traditions. To say that there are many magickal traditions and methodologies doesn’t give an accurate idea of the true number or wide diversity available to someone in search of the “right” one for them.
In my research, I discovered quite a few magickal traditions I had never heard of before. What follows is a TINY sampling of lesser known traditions you may enjoy learning about.
This is an Afro-Brazilian tradition considered by some to be a form of ‘Black Magick.’ In this tradition, there are two primary forces, a group of male gods called Exus and their female counterparts called the Pomba Gira. Although certain elements appear to be adapted or borrowed from Yoruba, Umbanda, and other sources, Quimbanda is a distinct system.
Originating in Japan, Onmyodo borrows from several religions including Buddhism, Taoism, and Shintoism although it has a greater emphasis on esoterica. This tradition is a mix of natural science and Chinese occult philosophy of the five elements; wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.
Every culture has their own magickal methods and so at any given time in human history, there are literally thousands or perhaps even tens of thousands of active traditions being practiced throughout the world.
The following are some popular traditions you may have heard of:
With so many magickal paths to choose from, the question becomes, which is the right one for me? Where do I belong? Many individuals are in search of a magickal practice that ‘feels right’ for them but, despite experimenting with a few, that perfect fit continues to elude them. Has that happened to you? What can we do? The solution may be to start your own personal magickal tradition!
This option is not for everyone but for some people it is a perfect choice. So how does one build their own custom practice? It is not as difficult as you might imagine. Like all traditions, it will start out in one form and gradually evolve over time. As you grow it will grow with you. It is really an organic process but one of the biggest upsides is that it will feel right to you at each stage of your development. As you become an adept magickian your tradition will also have matured into a practice that fits you like a well-tailored suit. Your magick will also be quite powerful.
1) Take a personal inventory of your belief systems, your “power” symbols, your preferences, and everything you are attracted to about magick. I recommend committing this to writing so you can change, delete, and adapt things later on.
2) Nearly ALL long-established traditions borrowed elements rather freely from other belief systems, so when constructing your own feel free to cherry pick whatever appeals to you and discard what doesn’t.
Some folks will object to this process. They may believe that only long-established traditions are valid and frown upon anyone trying to create their own. With all due respect to these people, based on my own personal experience that spans some 50 years, and that of many other magickians I’ve known over the years, a personal, custom-made tradition can be every bit as valid and powerful as one created a thousand years ago. Ultimately, YOU must decide if creating your own tradition serves your needs or not.
3) Collect symbols that appeal to you or that have a visceral or emotional attraction for you regardless of where they come from. Trust your gut and listen to your intuition. It doesn’t matter if you are a Pagan but feel a sense of power from a cross or crucifix. It is the POWER you feel in these objects, not the religious dogma you must look for. If it resonates with you, you can use it. The same holds true of “holy” books, doctrines, mythologies, etc.
4) Every object has a certain energy signature and if you are sensitive to subtle energy you may be able to feel that certain objects will serve you as tools, altar furniture, symbols, focus points, or repositories of power and intentions. Exercise your inner senses and they will become more and more useful.
5) Some magickians feel a need to work with or even worship the spirits and deities. Others have no such need. Only you can know which sort you are.
A magickian, witch, wizard (use whatever label you prefer,) has very wide latitude when bringing entities into their practice. There are certain considerations to take into account when bringing entities together from different traditions (they don’t all get along) but, as a general rule, if they resonate or “speak” to you, or present themselves to you in a way that feels right and proper, you may work with them so long as it serves your purpose.
Note: FYI, you do NOT need to work with entities in order to perform truly powerful magick. Working with such ones is a personal preference. True Magick proceeds from YOU and does not require the “help” of other incorporeal beings – unless you just prefer it. Many people have even devised their own pantheons or used comic-book superheroes or other “fictional” characters as powerful archetypes that, according to these practitioners, interact with them in the same way traditional gods do!
6) As for rituals and procedures, many people imagine that there is a right and a wrong way to do everything. While I won’t make a blanket statement that there is no “wrong way” to practice magick, I WILL say that the procedure that resonates with the individual magickian tends to be most effective for THAT individual.
Know thyself is great advice. If you’re the kind of person who likes very precise rituals with orchestrated movements and prescribed incantations then your tradition should include these ceremonial elements. At the other end of that spectrum, if you prefer to ride the ebb and flow of a magickal working free-form style, your practice may be every bit as effective and powerful as that of the ceremonial magickian. Both methods work, but both methods won’t work for both magickians. Know thyself.
It goes without saying that this post is little more than an introduction to the question of creating your own magickal tradition. There is so much more to say on this topic! Still, it is my hope that people who aren’t drawn to an established tradition will know that they can still live a rich and fulfilling magickal life while practicing their own unique self-made “Craft.”
The road forward is always bright for that man or woman who has the courage to explore the peaks and valleys of their own inner landscape. Carefully concealed there we can find and tap the hidden wisdom and power that is our birthright. There we will find our true selves, our most authentic BEING. There we will know our path, a path no other person can claim. There we are precisely who we were born to be.