Thursday, April 3, 2008

Point, line, triangle

It appears that I now have an additional study partner, whom I will henceforth refer to as: DFM (as in daughter's friend's mother). I had casually mentioned to her that I was starting a ritual magic curriculum. She asked a few questions, and I left it at that. About 3 weeks ago, she contacted me to say that she had read the first chapter in the JM Greer book and was completely overwhelmed. As I was feeling a bit lonely in my studying, I invited her over. I cleared off the kitchen table (a feat of magic, all by itself!) and made a pot of tea. We spread out books and notebooks, diagrams, pens and pencils, and had a comfy, chatty time on a rainy cold day.

I may be painting with far too broad a brush, but it is interesting to me to see how people of differing (but still American) backgrounds approach study. Study Partner #1 and I are both Jewish (...Judeo-pagan...Jewitch...), DFM is Catholic in background. SP1 and I stocked up on notebooks and loose paper (and, in my case, a huge package of index cards). DFM bought a hardbound beautiful BOS. Is this because we have been raised to appreciate the process of learning, as opposed to knowing?

The problem for DFM was...she was afraid to make mistakes in her beautiful book. Which was a problem because for the first several weeks, you are trying to make diagrams of the Tree of Life, and it takes many attempts before you get it right. It didn't occur to her that the repeated attempts, the process itself, was the point. Likewise, she didn't "get" the first tarot assignment, which was to go through and look at each card in the deck. She said that she didn't "get anything" from it, as in getting a message or a reading. She didn't realize that the idea was to just look at the cards, really, look at the cards. She didn't fail at it, she was expecting far more than was being asked of her.

So, even though I cannot teach ritual magic, I appear to be a competent teacher of learning. I showed her my spiral bound notebook (complete with mistakes and crossouts), with its pockets filled with computer paper with my TOLs. I showed her how the drawings were all dated, so I could see my progress, and how I noted the radii of each circle, so I could repeat the drawing, or know how much to change the measurements the next time. I showed her my post-it note book marks, so I could find things quickly in the various texts. I showed her my piles of index cards-some with quotes that have become my very own cliff notes version of the secondary reading (Israel Regardie's Tree Of Life). I did point out that I splurged on some things. My notebook may have come from an office supply warehouse, but my ruler and compasses were draughtsman's tools, so I could be assured that my measurements and proportions were correct. Good tools may not guarantee good work, but it makes it much more likely. And, a good tool is much easier to use.

Earlier this week, she emailed me, very excited. Once relieved of the fear of making mistakes, she found the drawing assignment very satisfying, and she had come very close to getting it right. Tomorrow, we will get together again. I am looking forward to it.

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