The Role of Politeness in Pagan Debate

Over the last week, I’ve been asked my opinion a good deal about Richard Dukanté, his hierarchy, and the daemons it contains. I think it’s time that I finally set the record straight, though what I have to say focuses more on politeness in the overall Pagan community in general.

Above all things, I believe in polite discussion is the best mode of debate. Two (or more) people with vastly different opinions should be able to come together and talk about their topic in a straight forward fashion, sticking to the facts of the matter as they see them. These facts will, of course, be warped by their own perceptions, biases, and experiences. They should still remain the facts as each party sees them, unhindered by irrelevant personal insults, name calling, political backstabbing, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Not everyone agrees with me. On the internet in particular, many people seem to prefer discussion with just these kinds of personal touches. It ranges from leaving homophobic, one-word slurs underneath YouTube videos to passive aggressive wishes of good will at the end of novel-length posts of hate. I’ve seen both and everything in-between. Perhaps this is all these people have ever seen to duplicate, but it is just as likely that the anonymity of the internet makes it far easier for them to be a jerk.

Be that as it may, Dukanté is a polarizing figure. People either feel his work is useful to them or utterly fake. There seems to be little in-between. He brings about passionate responses. And, unfortunately, far too many people cannot talk about their differing passions politely. In my opinion, when a debate becomes cyclical—essentially getting nowhere—it’s time to move on. Otherwise, it has trapped you.

I don’t mean this about just Richard Dukanté, but about all breakdowns in communication. Come back to the topic later if it is absolutely necessary for your development and the development of the others involved, but if not… Isn’t the discussion just a waste of time? Yes, discussion can exist for its own sake, and for pleasure alone. I host coffee cauldrons myself, and I like to get together with my friends and gab too. Yet, as a magician, I don’t believe my main focus should be flapping my gums, whether that’s face-to-face or on the internet. It should be on doing and creating, on manifesting my will in the universe—on enacting change some how.

I just don’t see this happening now or in the future with the discussions on Dukanté. In my opinion, they’ve stalled. I’ve been clear I support the statement S. Connolly made here, and that I work with the Dukanté hierarchy as part of my Daemonolatry practice. I also work with the daemons of the Ars Goetia, as well as many others. A daemon (in my opinion) is “a divine intelligence replete with wisdom.” That is a pretty wide definition.

For the record, I will say that I have also spent the month of February 2018 working with one of Dukanté’s most contested daemons, Asafoetida. I knew from the beginning that the information Dukanté had gained from Ascension about her was likely influenced by the plant of the same name. I was and am all right with that. I wanted to see what this daemonic energy would be like to work with specifically because she was so contested. Would my experiences be colored by Dukanté’s scant commentary, or what I knew of the plant? I believe personal experimentation and experience is the best way for me to make sense of Dukanté’s work for myself, as each individual must. I will keep what works and throw out what doesn’t. That is all I am going to advise individuals to do in the future.

I believe people should be allowed to make their own decision, based on the material. Also, as a teacher, I have come to realize that I cannot to do the work for my students. I cannot be with them every step of the way when they are learning a skill. Worse yet, the more hand-holding some get, the more they want. Every magician needs to learn to read over the information in front of them and decide whether or not we need to do more research. They need to be able to determine validity for themselves. It is part of developing discernment.