Photos by Magenta
If gatekeeping in magick is about controlling or limiting general access to it, you need to make sure you’re a keymaster in order to get through the gate, right?
But what happens when you step through that gate? Sometimes a gate is not there to keep everyone out. It’s there to ensure only those who should have a key can pass through it.
What does gatekeeping in magick look like?
Magick is not regulated, a practitioner does not have policies to adhere to, no exam or test to pass. Certainly information about magick and how to practice has never been more available than it is now, in the Internet age.
Back in the day gatekeeping in magick was a way of protecting the practitioners and the users of such services. Folk magick was a trade, so gatekeeping protected (usually) women’s ability to make money. Eventually, this became less and less about protecting practitioners and it turned into a form of controlling access to information.
It’s worth noting the context of all of this though. To put it bluntly, in the middle ages when women practiced magick it was bad and “low magick”, but when men practiced, it was for education and “high magick”. Fast forward to modern times and some of today’s well established esoteric systems came straight out of secret membership clubs set up by men.
So gatekeeping about magick was just one more thing to use in order to keep muggles away from it, like the funny handshakes. It was just fashioned out of secret societies and secret clubs.
But if anyone can be self-taught, does this mean there is no gatekeeping in magick anymore?
Modern forms of gatekeeping seem to crop up in conversations involving rules and regulations. Such as when people can practice magick (eg after a certain amount of time or after a certain rite of passage). It almost always crops up around what the right correspondences are, often in the context of ‘correction’ or worse, a refusal to listen to another point of view (this isn’t really about gatekeeping though. This last one is just about being an arse on the Internet).
So it appears that gatekeeping in magick is shifting again, moving away from controlling access to information through funny handshakes and moving towards a new place, where it’s as though anyone can do anything and if something is standing in the way, that’s gatekeeping. If someone chips in with a different view, that’s gatekeeping. If someone wants to protect their intellectual property, that’s gatekeeping….and so on.
So does this mean everyone gets to be a keymaster now?
Well, no. Not exactly.
What gatekeeping in magick is not
Some magick should not be made available to just anyone, and anyone who thinks that a keymaster’s right to be a part of any specific practice exists just because they want it is tantamount to entitlement and privilege. It is absolutely not gatekeeping in magick when it protects a community or culture from those who do not share in that cultural experience and identify or who are not part of that community.
Some magick should not be practiced by anyone who is vulnerable or at risk of exploitation. Anyone handing out keys to the gates just because they’ve been asked for them is irresponsible. It is not gatekeeping the magick when it protects others from harm, exploitation or abuse.
Modern magickal practice is often about owning your magick. Anyone who thinks a keymaster has the right to force the keys on others is just rude. It is not gatekeeping to want to have a different practice to someone else.
Some magick should not be made available to just anyone right off the bat, and anyone who thinks that they deserve a key just because they want one is disrespectful to the teacher. It is not gatekeeping in magick to recognise experience, and to offer to mentor others or be mentored by someone.
What being a gatekeeper is really about
As we said in the beginning, gatekeeping is about controlling or limiting general access to something. Gatekeeping in magick exists to limit participation in the practice but gatekeeping is really all about manipulation. A gatekeeper acts the way they do, usually due to resentment or a fear of losing power. A gatekeeper will seek to exclude others from the decision-making process over choices that impact on them in order to control or to manipulate.
What being a keymaster is all about
If gatekeeping is all about manipulation. So too is key mastery. A keymaster acts the way they do usually due to resentment or a perceived right of access. A keymaster will seek to demand of others in order to control or through manipulation.
At Magenta, we are proud to not be gatekeepers. We do not limit participation in what we do here. We are not afraid to lose our personal power, of course the more people who want to be mentored by us about our magick the better, but people are still free to self-teach because we don’t lay claim to the ideas (well, except one about colours and Maslow but we stand ready to be corrected!). Even though we are teaching a practice, we still actively encourage our Magick Discovered students to create their own practice along the way.
But we’re not keymasters either. We’ve been practicing for over 30 years, and have a bit of experience to share with others but we won’t teach people anything from a closed practice. We also don’t teach what we perceive to be outdated ideas, but equally we won’t demand you buy into our way of thinking. We do not teach certain forms of magick to minors and we credit our teachers and where our magick comes from. Even the science bits.
Absolutely gatekeeping isn’t ok. But neither is keymastery. Both are toxic to magickal people and both have the stink of manipulation, and that’s the bit we object to.
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