Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
"Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not over much!" (AL III:42)
Often, I am confronted with a conversational dead end with people of various backgrounds on occult and esoteric subjects. Most often, this occurs in conversations about astrology, as that is the most common topic I discuss openly with non-practitioners.
The nature of that dead end, as well intentioned as it may be, is thus: "I respect that you believe in this, but I do not believe in it." For an array of ideas and beliefs for which I may or may not have a good, solid foundation, but simply accept a sensible theory until otherwise challenged or confirmed: Fair enough, I say. No matter the case, I never push the envelope. I'm not out to convince anyone.
But what irks me most about the topics of magick and astrology is that basically, I do not believe, in general. I experiment. I study. I observe. I analyze. I write. I repeat the process. What happens in this process, is that I discard of ideas that are dubious or ineffective and I draw conclusions about ones that I have found significant evidence for. Evidence, in this case, can not even be closely approximate to a materialistic and empirical approach, no: not when dealing with spiritual sciences. Certainly, I may suspend my disbelief in a certain practice or idea until I have duly investigated and experimented with it, but there is no "blind faith" here.
This is all brings me to my major point of contention: Belief vs. Observation.
When I am often able, for instance, to describe accurately the Sun sign or other astrological traits of an individual and later confirm those as correct, it is not because I believed in astrology. It is because I studied it, utilized it practically in magick, and made a lot of observations in the field: the workplace, friendships, relationships, family, television, and so forth. Through intense and repeated application of the spiritual science of astrology, I have concluded to myself beyond the realm of belief and superstition that there is a great deal of truth in the study. It is not infallible, no matter how adept you are with the subject. What sciences are infallible? None. They change upon the same basis that my conclusions change.
Belief implies superstition. There is a marked difference between a suspicious believer in astrology and occult arts, and a diligent and studious practitioner of them, who has license to say, "I have been there, I have done this, I am qualified to speak with a relative level of authority here."
The sometimes unfortunate fact about occultism is that in order to confirm for yourself that there is some truth to be found, you must be willing to take up the study and practice without lust for result (to set out to prove or disprove) and honestly see for yourself. Some individuals are more malleable in that with a detailed analysis of their natal chart, they can at last begin to grasp after all that perhaps there is a bigger, "hidden" picture that they have been unaware of, or denying without cause. In this case, the difference between materialistic, empirical science is where our conclusions differ as well as what types of knowledge we are trying to ascertain; but the the basic mentality of the approach should be very similar in both instances. We are all guilty of bias, of course. What is not so different at all is that all subjects worth studying and understanding take time, patience, diligence, honesty, and application in order to glean some level of reward.
In conclusion, I am reluctant to say that I "know the truth", even if my world view is based upon a more scientific approach to spirituality and occultism than mere belief. It is something more than belief, but something less concrete than indisputable knowledge.
Now, to get others to understand at least this much...
Love is the law, love under will.