Thursday, November 17, 2011

MSI Interviews: Greg Kaminsky, Creator, Occult of Personality

Occult of Personality is one of many Internet-based, voice-only interview shows. The differences between this particular show and the other shows are its creator, Greg Kaminsky, the proficient manner in which he conducts his interviews, the Esoteric topics he selects and the high caliber of the guests he interviews. I personally feel he has created the reference standard for others to emulate in the field of Esoteric information dissemination media outlets. He is also quite a character himself and understands what we, as Esotericists, want and need to hear--the word “Occultist” seems stigmatized, which is why I avoid using the term.

Rather than continue my glowing review of both Greg and his show, I will let him use his own words, allowing us to have a small peak into his amazing mind and unique modus operandi.
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1. Can you tell us about what inspired you to create “Occult of Personality” and what you feel sets it apart from other Internet-based shows?

Greg: My desire to create Occult of Personality began with a passion to learn more about ancient civilizations, world religions, symbolism, and the underlying hidden wisdom which they contain, but only convey to those with eyes to see. I was very curious at the time (2005 – 2006) about how these ancient ideas filtered down through the ages and the paths it took, especially in the West. As the internet developed, I began to find more and more material about occultism, Freemasonry, alchemy, and related subjects online. Unfortunately, some of this material was poorly researched, fundamentally flawed philosophically, and distorted esotericism to a degree that it became unrecognizable. I hope that Occult of Personality plays some role in reversing the ignorance and disinformation about these traditions that we all value so much. Additionally, I had lots of questions that I wanted to ask the recognized authorities on these matters. What better way to do that than to interview them? In this way, I have an opportunity to learn about their work, they can publicize it, and the listeners can (hopefully) benefit from the exchange. While it wasn’t initially conceived as a service in promoting the study and practice of esotericism as a legitimate, living, authentic tradition, it’s kind of turned out that way. Strange how that happens, huh? ;-) As for what sets OoP apart, I think there are four factors: (1) Integrity – the show features sincere, authentic guests. Yes they may have books to sell, but they’re also concerned with the Work. The show is supported by the listeners, not advertisers. I’m quite thrilled by that and hope to keep it that way. (2) Authenticity – I personally read and research everything that’s featured on the show. In most cases, I also have some experience with it. I may not be an adept or expert, but I’m not a na├»ve newcomer or dabbler either. I am committed to personally learning about the subjects that the show features. I live this, it isn’t a hobby. I joined an esoteric order in 2006. I was raised as a Master Mason in 2010 and have since joined a Royal Arch Chapter and became a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Freemason. I’ve studied Tarot symbolism, Qabalah, and inner Alchemy and spent many hours practicing. I am passionate about these subjects because my own experience has demonstrated the efficacy of these systems to affect real transformation upon an individual and this entire process is completely natural. (3) Quality – I will not publish sub-par interviews. I want to ensure that each and every show meets my own standards. I put a lot of time into the research, questions, editing the recorded audio and all the post-production work. Every show requires about 40 to 60 hours. Tremendous effort is invested into getting the most informative, interesting, and personal conversations. And (4) Unique Guests – OoP features the most unique, informative, and interesting guests. Just take a look at the Available Shows page on the web site. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I think that’s a pretty amazing list and the recordings they represent have done some good based on the feedback I’ve received. Perhaps the best thing it offers is the opportunity for listeners to hear about different paths and stimulate them to follow one or more.

2. How do you determine who you are going to interview, and have you ever been surprised by something that one of your guests revealed to you during an interview?

Greg: In order to determine who to interview, I rely on intuition. There are a lot of factors really. Do I think listeners want to hear the person? Will they be entertaining and informative (or at least informative)? What’s the value of their work to me and the listeners? Often, I’ve come across someone whose work I find so remarkable that I’ve interviewed them even though they’re relatively unknown outside of a small circle. More than a few times, I’ve thought that many of these guests were just sort of sent my way, if you catch my drift. Of course, I couldn’t prove this in any demonstrable way, but synchronicity is usually a factor. I’m often surprised when a guest shares some very personal details of their life. The example that really stands out for me was Paul Tisdell in episode 45. When I asked him to tell me how he got involved in esoteric study and practice, I wasn’t prepared to hear about his initiation by a discarnate wisdom master. I could try to describe it here, but I can’t do it justice. Please go listen to it if you haven’t already. I promise it’s worth the time. For me, these personal moments are pure gold. It allows us access to the inner worlds of these people and often remarkable stories of such humanity that words fail me. Another moment of revelation was when Timothy Hogan told me that he has been present for the transmutation of metals on more than one occasion. I think this was in the membership section interview. When he said this I just about fell out of my chair because for someone of his stature to admit that is a shock. I want to say that I’ve been extremely fortunate for all the wonderful guests who’ve graced the show and they are the stars of this project.

3. What have you learned about the esoteric community as a whole, since you began producing “Occult of Personality?”

Greg: I realize that OoP covers a wide range of traditions under the umbrella of occultism. However, I don’t really view it as a community, but rather small groups of specialists that may have tangential interests, but are only connected philosophically or in limited nodes. Although I used to believe that esotericism was similar regardless of the form it took, I now believe that this downplays the very relevant differences and distinguishing characteristics of specific traditions. While different systems may use similar practices or symbolism, each is its own tradition and this makes community more an idea than a reality, in my opinion. I do think that this may be changing with movements like Free Illuminism and Vanese McNeill’s Great Network. What else? There are many kind and wonderful people involved in esoteric study and practice. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and talk with many of them. These writers and teachers are a blessing and their work is a service to humanity. But there are also predators. Discernment is often in short supply. Based on my studies, this has likely always been the case. There are true sages and holy persons. If you’re fortunate to encounter one, keep your eyes and ears open. And for each sage there are probably 10 charlatans. You’re more likely to encounter a few of these, so also keep your eyes and ears open. Unfortunately magnetic personalities and con artists prey on those seeking to learn. If it costs a lot of money, then it is not worth the price. Real wisdom and power requires effort and work. It cannot be bought and paid for with currency. Finally, I want to mention that as students and practitioners, we’re all heirs to these traditions that we venerate and it is our work that will perpetuate and grow our traditions, or if we fail, the price is stagnation and ossification.


4. Do you personally use any type of esoteric system(s), and if you do, will you tell our readers about it (them)?

Greg: Yes, I use several. I’m a Freemason. I study and practice various forms of Magick, including Thelema. I am always learning more about Qabalah (including NAEQ, of course). I meditate. I practice inner alchemy and study kundalini response extensively. I have received Points Chauds and engage in various energy practices involving them. I am a Free Illuminist. I practice divination using numerology and Tarot. I have experience studying and practicing Reiki and yoga. Other Eastern modalities that I’ve employed include Dzogchen meditation and the radical non-dualism of Sri Nisargardatta Maharaj. These have all proven effective for me and I believe that if a practitioner is earnest, there is the potential to attain success. There is no substitute for experience and my understanding of these subjects is completely informed by the fact that I don’t just study them. This is my life. Let me clarify. It isn’t simply that I’m involved with numerous esoteric studies and practices and run a podcast with interviews about these subjects. I’m also attending Harvard Extension School as a graduate degree candidate in Medieval Studies. I’m planning on doing my thesis on Western esotericism, of course. I also work at my state’s Grand Lodge of Masons on nights and weekends while I’m going to school. OoP is made by an occultist for other occultists (and dabblers). This is important and I think it comes across in the recordings.

5. What do you think about the current world situation and do your thoughts about it affect the process you use to select guests for your show?

Greg: The world is in crisis, but humanity is becoming more aware of the situation. The Occupy movements across the globe are an indication that some segment of the population has started to awaken to action. There are so many areas which require serious attention that it can be overwhelming. Ultimately, I believe that we should purify our inner world in order to effectively produce true transformation of the outer. Luckily, there are many people out there (like those reading this interview!) already engaged in this work. That does not mean that we should lock ourselves away until we attain the body of light before protesting or working for change in the world. It does mean that a wisdom master is bound to be more effective in changing the world. This was expressed eloquently by Mark Knight in a recent interview. So I think yes, current events do affect the guest selections to some extent. I think Neil Kramer would fit into that category as well, along with Douglas Lain and Scarlet Imprint. Initiates have the opportunity to be beacons of light and broadcast hope in these troubled times. We are trained in the use of will to affect changes in consciousness. This is what we do. Even a small word of encouragement or gesture of support can go further than you may think. Ideally our studies and practices should not be an escape from the world, but rather attune us better to what is really happening, in order that we may act accordingly.

I want to thank Ronnie and all the readers of MSI: Universal Thelemic Gnosticism for this opportunity. I hope you found it worthwhile, and if so, please check out occultofpersonality.net for more fascinating interviews!

“Do What thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the Law. Love Under Will.”

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Excellent responses!

I’m sure you’ll agree that Greg has quite a bit of credibility within a field where few actually do and that his out-of-the-box thinking made his show the reference standard that it is!

Again, Greg can be heard at Occult of Personality, which is also mirrored at the Occult of Personality Facebook page. You can support his endeavor in one or both of two ways; by becoming a member of the site, giving you exclusive access to more high-end media or by making a donation, as Occult of Personality is funded strictly by your donations. MSI encourages everyone to give it a listen to see if you agree with us.

***FULL DISCLOSURE***

I have proudly donated to support Greg’s show, Occult of Personality and MSI has been listed on at least two episodes as a financial contributor/supporter. I personally encourage everyone to do the same. It costs money to produce high quality audio and to promote the site on the Internet; Greg does this out of his own pocket, so every dollar helps.

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