I have finally got to the last module in the Initiate section and by now, January 2016, there are people all over the world studying the course. While the first section of the course is complete self study, I have had some questions repeatedly asked of me, and so I thought it would be a good idea to put them in a blog post, and thus save me having to answer them repeatedly.
The process of writing the course while people have started studying the first sections of it have also helped me to question some of my approaches and modify them where appropriate, and this process has been helped by various students offering feedback and asking questions. So here are some of the most common questions/answers, and at the end I will do a summary of how the course is evolving.
Questions and answers
1- Meditation - A large amount of questions I have had are in relation to the meditation exercises and practice. Here are the most common questions on meditation:
i- I already do meditation but I do it differently, do I still have to do the apprentice meditation exercises?
Answer: the short answer is yes. The exercises in the early apprentice section are there for two reasons. The first and most obvious is to get people used to regular use of meditation, to learn to sit down, shut up and focus on stillness. The second and most pertinent answer to the question is that the specific meditations pave the way for other things to come. They are like Kindergarten exercises that prepare for work not directly linked to meditation: they are fore runner exercises that prepare the mind in order to work with power.
ii- I am having trouble meditating for a long time because of my work and life commitments. And yet I want to progress through the course, what can I do?
Answer: This can be a tough one for many people as today we often live in a hamster wheel society where we work long hours and then come home to more work with children and family. In an ideal situation, you would have thirty to forty five minutes a day to meditate. We do not always live in that ideal situation, so you have to adjust. There are key things to think about in how you adjust your meditation time to fit with your life. The first key thing is avoidance: we often subconsciously rebel against meditation because of the changes it brings – it is a regular discipline and all discipline is something we will fight against in some way or another. If you are actually just trying to fool yourself that you do not have the time, then spot that, and make time, regardless of how much part of you wants to not do it.
If you really do not have a situation where you can dedicate a good slice of time each day, the break it up across the day. I did this when my children were little: fifteen minutes in the morning, ten minutes when they laid down for a nap, five minutes while sitting on the bus ride to work; you do not have to be always sat before a candle in a quiet room, so long as there is at least one session a day that is before the flame. I used every opportunity I could to meditate, whether it was a waiting room, a street corner on a bench, or in a magical space. Use your common sense and do not fool yourself. The aim is to be able to sit in stillness and silence for around thirty minutes: if you can do that then how you maintain that is up to you. This is your training, you decide upon your own success or failure.
iii- Do I have to use a candle flame, it is distracting.
Answer: yes you do. Working with fire and the flame is a major element of magic, and being able to be still before a flame is a key basic skill that you will need. If it distracts you, get over it: you are an adult, so act like one. If you are so easily distracted, how on earth are you going to cope with the focused holding of inner being contact? As an adept you will need to be able to going into stillness and then vision in a busy street, while walking or talking to someone. This exercise is the very first practice of focus. Everything is in the course for a reason, you cannot cherry pick aspects of serious training.
iv- Do I have to meditate every day.
Answer: in the beginning, yes. Through your apprentice training, a regime of meditation in a schedule that works with your life is very necessary. When things shift in the Initiate section, the method of meditation changes in order to teach you another level of focus. After the apprentice section, how you manage your meditation routine is up to you, but it is highly recommended that you continue some form of daily meditation in order to keep inner and outer balance. When such a discipline is kept up to, if you miss a few days, you will really feel the difference. But to get to that stage, you have to have laid a strong foundation of mediation that in turn brings about subtle but major shifts in how you handle power. Over the years I had approached it in different ways according to what is happening in my life. Again, use your common sense, and don’t fool yourself.
v- The course is so long I feel like I will be ninety before I finish!
This is a common reaction from someone who has never undertaken any form of classical training in something. It is not a quick study course over a year and then you get a fancy badge, it is indeed a long and at times arduous training that will slowly form you in to a solid magical adept. Many of the modules in the apprentice section have exercises or projects that can last a month or more. And this is for good reason: repetition builds ‘muscle’ and accuracy, and also ensures the knowledge becomes ingrained within you. As you move into the Initiate section, you will stand upon that rock of experience and will have more lessons that introduce to you something in a one off exercise. It is your choice at that stage if you wish to practice them regularly or not. Sometimes I advise it, and sometimes I leave you to come to your own conclusions: you get out of this course what you put into it in terms of focus and work. You truly become in charge of your own learning, and also of what level you wish to learn at. Not everyone wants to be a ‘super duper adept’, but they may still wish to study, at a pace they can cope with.
I get a lot of tarot questions in relation to the course, some pertinent and serious questions and some that are, well, dumb or thoughtless, like, would I please talk them through each of their readings personally: oh sure, let me just use the precious little down time I have after a 14 hour day to hold your hand and let you play your useless ‘I need my mammy’ game. I am no-ones’ personal trainer, in this course you have to make your own decisions and learn from them. But there were also questions that people simply needed clarification on and here are some:
i- Do I have to use the Rider Waite deck, as I don’t like it.
Answer: yes you do. And if you don’t like it, suck it up snowflake, it is part of the training. Before you move on to using other decks and the Quareia Magicians deck, you need to first learn the common language of tarot, which is the Rider Waite.
You do not need to study it in depth, or read the volumes of personal psychology tarot books that now proliferate. But you do need to be familiar with the images and the basic meanings as they crop up in the weirdest places in magic. It is also not an easy deck to read with which is good – it will force your inner senses to work a bit harder.
ii- Do I still have to do the tarot lessons as I am already a tarot reader.
Answer: sort of. A tarot reader will have the skills of divination but may not be familiar with the layouts and methods that I use to apply divination in magic. So if you are a tarot reader, read through the lessons, do the layout exercises so that you are familiar with them, and do any of the practical work that is unfamiliar to you, or is something you do not have a strong grasp of. The patterns that appear in the tarot lessons emerge later in the course as magical patterns and understandings of power, so you will need to know them and be able to work with them. For some, this part of the work will add to the skills of a reader rather than replace them
iii- I don’t believe in divination, so can I skip that part of the course.
Answer: and you are doing the course because?
i- I have done occult or magical studies before, can I just skip the course or just do bits and still get recognition?
Answer: No, not if you want proper recognition of your achievement from Quareia, and to be recognised as a Quareia adept. Most magical courses are not as in depth as the Quareia course, nor do they cover such diverse areas of study. Also, most magical schools work from within a specific system, and not with the root techniques themselves. If all you are looking for is recognition, then this is not the course for you. It is akin to doing a university course, and you cannot dip in and out of it and expect to get your recognition at the end. Of course, you are free to do what you wish with the lessons, it is totally up to you, but if you want full recognition, and to be included in the Quareia Fellowship, then you must have successfully completed the whole course.
ii- Do I have to have mentoring to do the Initiate and Adept sections
Answer: no. You can study the whole course on your own if you wish, that is up to you. However, the mentoring ensures you have fully understood the training and you will be tested/challenged by an adept to ensure you have all the correct knowledge and skills. That enables you to be accepted as a Quareia Magician, recognized as such, and to join the Quareia Fellowship.
iii- How much does mentoring cost and what if I cannot afford it
Answer: Mentoring is done on a donation basis, however if you cannot afford any form of donation it will be offered to you for free. The donations are not to charge you, but to help keep Quareia going. It is voluntary donations, and we leave it up to you to decide if you wish to give back.
Just remember that the course work and mentoring work takes up a great deal of time, so that time cannot be used for earning money. But we also understand that for some, even the smallest donation is a major struggle, and we give freely and willingly to ensure that magicians from anywhere in the world, regardless of circumstances, can study and achieve.
We also use some of the donations to purchase books or necessary tools for students who live in countries with very low incomes, or who do not have access to such things.
iv- What exactly is the mentoring, do I get a teacher
Answer: a mentor tracks your progress, challenges you when you are not understanding something, and occasionally offers advice when it is really needed. The main job of a mentor is to ensure you have done everything you are supposed to do. There is no individual teaching, as you should be able to complete the work on your own. But occasionally we all need a bit of guidance, and that is also offered, but to the minimum.
I hope some of these question/answers are useful, and as more questions crop up from students, I will add them to the blog.
I am now coming to the end of the Initiate section and the last module in that section will be various tasks and magical actions that prepare the initiate for the transition to adept training. Originally Initiate Module Ten was listed as being, ‘Understanding the Act of Creation’, but as I got close to writing this module, I realised there was no need for yet more theory – the work necessary had already been covered in previous lessons. Instead, it has been retitled ‘Preparation for Adepthood’.
Some of the work that touches upon the act of creation are woven into the module, but in more practical applications, as it is the deep currents of creation that flow through the adept preparation. It is also a point in the course where it needs to be work that is for the most part practical instead of theory. So the course has been adjusted accordingly. It has taken on a life of its own as it forms, and I am learning to adjust and let it evolve as it is written.
It has been an interesting year, writing the Initiate section, as I go through a re training as I write: I see the work from a different perceptive and learn different layers to the work as I pick it apart and reconstruct it. A valuable if at times frustrating and confounding process: I am right there on the path with the initiates, slogging it out as they too push their shoulder against the boulder.
I have also realised along the way, that books I have recommended for study by other authors have either gone out of print or have become wildly expensive, which is very sad. For the most part they are necessary reference books, and so once I have finished writing the course, I will put together a couple of reference books where the information is specific to magicians, so that the references are made available at a sensible and reasonable price. For those who still cannot buy them, any mentored student who cannot afford them will be given one.
When I started the course, I thought I was agreeing to two years of intensive work, after which I could go on my merry way, and get back into regular life and all the benefits that come with normal living, like a social life, a basic wage, and some down time on my hands. It quickly became clear that eighteen months to two years to complete the course was naive at best. It has been twenty months so far, and I have about another year to go. It feels like I have been writing forever.
What is wonderful that has happened so far is that people from all over the world are engaging with the course, and also finding each other, forging friendships and swapping resources. It is changing how people think about magic, how they approach training both for themselves and others, and it has also triggered debates about how magical knowledge should be imparted. That alone has made it all worth it.
So now I continue on the Path of Hercules, working with Saturn to forge forward with determination and get the adept training in shape. And once that is finished, I think it would be nice to organise a gathering in Britain over a few days, to bring as many students as possible together to celebrate, debate, listen, talk, eat, play and make friends.
I will do a non Quareia blog soon, just to raise my chin above that water and see if the world is still there…. but for now, thanks for reading my blog, and I hope you all have a wonderful new year.
2016 is going to be the year of the fire Monkey, so I will get my mop and bucket ready for the little accidents that may happen.