Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education

R. Michael Fisher
Magical Curricula in the 21st Century
by R. Michael Fisher - Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 04:29 PM

I have recently completed Zach Seibert's continuing ed. 5 wk. course "Magic in the 21st Century: Spiritual Technologies." Treesong, our other CSIIE Associate also took the course, held at John A. Logan College, just outside Carbondale, IL. With some 12 students, Zach presented material that I found fascinating, not being someone who easily sees myself as a "magical" kind of person nor dwells in a magical kind of world of spirits, etc. Zach, since he was pre-teen was already well established in a magical world that made more sense to him then than what the ordinary (non-magical) world is to most everyone. I was impressed with how he approached the course openly, and integrally, and no doubt this is truly a unique offering no one is offering out there. So, keep your eye open for him offering it again, wherever and however he may teach it, including potentially as an online course on our CSIIE site (see his Department of Spiritual Arts & Technologies.

The purposes of Zach's course (module 1 in particular) is to introduce anyone interested into the field of knowledge, and technologies of magic, from across the world and through time. It is a very broad course, not meant as just a historical overview, but one that examines the upsides and downsides of magical practices and philosophies, that also have their politics throughout history. But most of the focus was on each of us finding our own way into potentially building a magical curriculum for ourselves, that was highly adapted to our own prediliction, beliefs, values, and purposes for being in the world. Magic of whatever kind is about bringing change into ourselves and the world. It has its own traditions, ways of bringing about change, if not transformation and transmutation. We didn't have to adopt anyone tradition and its ways. We needed to know something about them, but it was their root commonalities and basics that Zach was teaching and making available, no longer in a secretive protective way, to all people willing to know. And sure, he also had us consider the real reasons, motivations, and ethics of us taking up magic, or furthering our magical practices in the 21st century. I found that gave us a lot of freedom to explore and let our curiosity out. I think it was great because it returned me to my less than scientifically skeptical times in my life, before I got too educated (smile).

Probably the most appealing part of Zach's module 1 course was his classification of magical practices into five major domains (or paradigms): (a) spirit-based, (b) energy-based, (c) psychological-based, (d) information-based, and (e) meta-model-based. The last one being the most integral, in my view, as it stands back from all the other four approaches and synthesizes them and takes what is best from there for specific conditions and purposes and which "match" best for the 21st century integral thinker. That's the kind of magic I suppose I would feel most comfortable and compelled by. I also am very interested in developing a better grasp of information magic, which really intrigued me by the little I heard. What was refreshing to me was to see the wide-diversity of applications and approaches to magic that don't all involve the typical stereotypes I have, and most of us have, especially the skeptics. Anyone who criticizes magic outright, with cheap critiques, is really showing their ignore-ance more than wisdom.

My dream vision for CSIIE is to see Zach, Treesong and I all get our courses together on magic from three different perspectives, with lots of students, and teach courses in the same room or online so that learners can experience our differences in coming to magic, and our similarities. I think that would be the most integral learning one could ask for in this domain of the world of magical goings on.



Re: Magical Curricula in the 21st Century
by Treesong - Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 09:38 PM

Thank you for your post about Zach's Magic in the 21st Century course. It's a good overview of what the course was like and how it relates to your integral perspective. My perspective on the course is similar, although since I do have extensive prior experience operating within a magical paradigm, I do have a few additional points to add.

This course was some of the most foundational material on magic that I've encountered. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, most magical information and training is viewed through the lens of a relatively narrow paradigm, religious tradition, or similar framing influence. Zach's introduction to magic arises from an understanding of Hermeticism that seeks to understand and incorporate the wisdom from many perspectives, much like integral studies. My own magical studies included a great deal of what Zach discussed, but his way of presenting the history and basic concepts of magic was broader yet more integrative. What had previously been picked up here and there through several disparate sources was united into a compelling overarching narrative.

For the most part, I chose to experience this class simply as a student. I took listened, took notes, and filled out my worksheet on the last day of class, all of which I found a genuinely helpful and rewarding experience. Now that I've had a bit of time to reflect, however, I intend to discuss the course further with Zach (and with Michael) from a teacher's perspective, looking for potential opportunities to improve upon what is already a strong offering.