By Brother Moloch 969
Copyrighted January 2000-Present
There are many paths in the Occult arts and some of them do overlap into other areas but as a budding practitioner, you should seriously consider making a choice on which path to specialize in.
There are essentially four paths:
1) Hermetic - this is the path of the Ritual Magician who diligently studies his/her art using the Qabala as the basis for studies where the Tree of Life is the master game plan. It's an extremely detailed path & requires MUCH patience. This path's Tarot card is the Hermit.
2) Orphic - this is the path of the stream of consciousness inspired neo-pagan or shaman who allows the Spirits to teach him. It is said that an Initiate can go bare-ass naked into the woods and come back with much knowledge from the Spirits. The magic is free-form and sometimes wild like the Green Man. Many Magical-Religions are Orphic such as Vodu, Santeria or Wicca. This path's Tarot card is the Magician.
3) Mystic - this path is the one of the religious and devotion. The individual following this path may have decided to follow a particular patron or have been called by a Deity. There's much meditation and personal introspection going on as well as setting up a shrine to the Deity in question. The Deity is expected to look out for the Initiate and to fulfill all his needs. The Tarot card is that of the Hierophant or Pope.
4) Sorcery - this path is one where the Initiate is looking out for himself and his personal environment. Spells are cast to help make their own life more enjoyable but care is taken so that the Initiate is not bullying around others. Some refer to this path as being "pure selfishness" and that's not all wrong either. The Tarot card is the Devil.
Any path should fit into one of these dominant headings easily enough. Again some paths will overlap quite a bit. One could for instance reasonably argue that Witchcraft or Santeria would cover almost all these paths and that’s not in-accurate either. The purpose of the labeling of the paths is merely as a convenience factor and a model for you to adjust your desired goals and studies to be aimed at rather than be some sort of empirical labeling system.
Further by defining your path, you give yourself more room to grow as you can specifically target ideas, activities and writings that reflect what it is you wish to learn and grow with.