In my studies, I have been reading books by my favorite writer of the moment, Donald Tyson, taking in not just what is written in black and white, but also some of what was concealed, not too artfully. To work on the public stage one must give of oneself, so he is blameless. Perhaps there is no choice, no "artful" alternative, when seeking to produce good art. His main objective was philosophical and scholarly, rather than material. He chose a subject which cannot be popular, not today and not even within his lifetime. Such a choice speaks of honesty, and I think that he is very honest and does not lie with self-awareness, although that does not mean he is always right. I have found an instance where he did lie, about a trivial matter, for a good and valid reason, but his ruse was transparent, speaking to his unfamiliarity with the practice. Indeed, the lie cast him in a positive light, because it showed that lying is foreign to his nature.
Little bits of the puzzle come together in my mind, things he alludes to, just touches upon in passing, achieving meaning. I wonder whether it is a kind of magic or mere deduction. Some might prefer the former, I prefer the latter explanation. One thing about Tyson, and he is by no means alone in this, he's a superstitious gentleman. I do not read him in isolation, but by my side are the many works of Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Robert Heinlein, these mighty scientific and literary giants, reproving me for my credulity and harshly criticizing the book in my hands.
Although my criticism could be equally applied to others in the genre, he is my favorite, the most coherent, intelligent, and, ironically enough, respectable, so I single him out, not of negativity but as a kind of compliment, because it is a compliment to receive any attention at all, positive or negative, in our crowded, busy world, where so many people do not even bother with books anymore. I think he granted too much to the spirits, in importance and relevance. One should hold one's own territory with fierce possessiveness. Credulity should be opened just a bit. Too much, and there is the risk of gullibility, of self-deception, or deception by others. Occam's razor and all that. So much of what feeble Man believes is bunkum, wishful thinking, vanity, narcissism, and much of what is written in the occult literature smacks of the grossest OCD and superstitious folly. There is little reason or rationale to offer the time of day. What mind of ancient time could contend with the mighty giants of today? Dee pales before the greatest of our scientists, the noble class that Tyson has no time for. There is a danger as well. By believing, by allowing spirits to consume one's thoughts, a certain power is granted to these entities, whether they be within, as Tyson maintains, or without. Ask first, should I grant belief? What is the objective? What is the cost? There is always a cost.
The King of Cups in his kingdom by the sea built a bridge over the waters of material poverty to the Kingdom of Pentacles, pursuing in his titles the latest fad, be it the Norse fetish or the Necronomicon. Now it is interesting that all his hard-earned knowledge is offered for peanuts. With little expense, one half his age acquires much of what he knows. Is this charity? No, it is the depressing reality of the book market, nothing more than that. Scholarly effort toward the mastery of magic proved to have been of little value in this material world. He does what he can, pursues the avenue that is open to his indisputable skill in words. Writing was not the only avenue to prosperity. His esoteric art assisted in certain acquisitions from time to time. I have two opinions. One, he offers his knowledge to strengthen the practice of magic, because he fears it has decayed in the modern world, and he seeks to reform certain popular errors, nailing his letter to the door like a kind of Martin Luther of the Occult. Two, he wants to be recognized for his attainment. The ego is strong in him, an overriding force in fact, as it must be for any writer in any time. To be recognized, admired, he finds empowering. Everyone wants to be loved, the King of Cups most of all, and in order to be loved, he must be just a bit more agile and industrious than the others that strive, so he advances in his studies, gathers more knowledge, acquires more experience, and seeks with his skill to put it to better use than they.
Like Crowley, he appears obsessed with the dark side. Lilith and the Necronomicon speak for themselves. Lightness and joy, he is not about, but I suppose that is rather inevitable, given our culture and the heavy influence of Christianity with its diametric view of the world. Lilith appears the most disturbing of his books. I do not know why he chose that subject, but perhaps it is due to his focus on the Qaballah, or however one wants to spell it. Why not focus on an angel instead? And why does he accept so much of the Bible literally? In many ways, he is no different than a fundamentalist Christian.
I wonder what his views are about gays. He is always harping on about sexual union between man and woman, and how powerful that is, and never once mentions any other possibilities save spirits, and pretty much quotes ancient homophobes without comment. The ancients speak for him, which is why he quotes them. There is a passage in Ritual Magic where he denigrates shamans as freaks, listing qualities such as epilepsy, homosexuality or mental instability. He would have got on well with the alt-right and may indeed be in bed with them with his Norse runes. Gays he consistently refers to as "homosexuals," citing the classic pretext that the precious word "gay" has been led astray over the course of history. Well, he does know his dictionary, doesn't he? Of course, old and obsolete meanings of words are more important than people's feelings, at least to a misanthrope. At length, Tyson's old time religion and antiquated notions seem threadbare. But that is just as well. No author must be placed upon a pedestal. All reveal their essential humanity before the intense light of scrutiny. Tyson gets sloppy with anything outside his zone of interest.
In "The New Magus," we get the unfiltered Tyson, spouting all his political beliefs, which seem confined to a narrow range of social issues. He seems a fairly typical conservative Catholic and all his opinions can be predicted based on the teachings of the Church, although he would prefer the Church of five hundred years ago to the one of today. That is, he is more conservative than today's conservatives. Also, I doubt he would accept the authority of Pope or priest, because he wants to be the same, and negotiate with the Deity on his own terms without any intermediary, hence his interest in magic. His conservative beliefs are convenient. He looks down on and disapproves of a host of people and practices in today's society (they fill him with "revulsion," he says), which serves to justify his innate misanthropy and dislike of other people. Perhaps if he had been nice to other people, a friend might have taken the time to proofread some of his books, which have a fair sprinkling of grammatical errors. Maybe the "homosexuals" in the publishing business did not take as much time working on Tyson's output, and who can blame them? Tyson likes the Kaballah, but hates the Jew. Basically anything that is an idea, he likes, but the people in the world, he has no use for, regards as sinners, inferior to him and possibly dangerous.
He rejects global warming because, you know, those silly scientists! What do they know, eh? The spirits say everything's O.K., and that's what's important. It is amusing to observe the verbal gymnastics Tyson engages in to explain various occult phenomena throughout the ages, hardly ever conceding an instance to pure human gullibility, delusion and mass hysteria. No, these factors are explained by spirits. I suppose everything, in the end, is explained by spirits. If global warming exists, it is due to spirits. If gays exist, it is because they are possessed or influenced by spirits. That's what causes a gay, apparently. Spirits said so.
Tyson may have been unduly influenced by the ancient and medieval texts he consumed. Spending so many nights in the company of enforcers of the Inquisition, wizards, charlatans, artificers, seers and alchemists from olden days, naturally they exert from beyond the grave an intellectual and emotional influence upon his thoughts, ideas and expressions, reinforcing certain habits and discouraging others. Some of the ones he fills his mind with have the capability to quite overwhelm whatever defenses he can muster.
Perhaps many folk do enter the odd, strange world of serious esoteric studies due to a sort of aversion to the modern, mainstream pathways and to modern people in general. From what I have observed of this author, I think he is not shy, but averse to social interaction unless it has a stated goal in harmony with his immediate needs. He is results-oriented, goal-driven, and would not go to a party just to be with people, because people fail to impress him, about ninety-nine times out of a hundred. Why else scorn the world of man in favor of the world of spirits? I cannot imagine a Tyson that likes people, with rare exceptions, but it is easy to imagine a Tyson with an eye for pelf. As I said before, bits of the puzzle come together. Aye, he would walk into a store, and if it were a big chain store, impersonal and corporate, he would not feel any compunction against helping himself to whatever items he happened to need, and it is within his power, or so he says, to escape detection--such a useful capability.
So one reads Tyson with a grain of salt, because he offers the other side, the Yin to one's Yang, and offers useful observations. I like the way he expresses himself, even if I don't always agree, and his books are worth keeping for their many ideas borne of practical experience. As with any source, one absorbs and improves upon, if one is wise. He encourages the same, and I think his books have the potential to be useful to many different practices. Everyone has their bias, and opinions are the mark of high intelligence. To be without any opinions would be boring, and there is no doubt Tyson wants to sell books and get some Pentacles moving his way. Time to monetize all those years sacrificed to esoteric studies. Magic is useless to get money in any but the most indirect ways. As RuPaul put it, you got to werk.