The element of Uncertainty has played a significant role in several aspects of my magical development. Specifically regarding results magic, I’ve had great trouble with divination and possession. Reaching an appropriate state for the interpretive act and releasing personal boundaries in the context of invocation require such a light touch with the symbolic gestalt, it causes me nothing but trouble. With practice, I have progressed a great deal with the art of invocation – through the embrace of Uncertainty.
My first successes with invocation and atavistic resurgence occurred while experimenting with chemognosis. These experiments led to varying levels of possession, which I adopted as my gold standard for invocation. Yet, in other ritual contexts, I found I could not approach these states, leaving me with a problem. Excitatory techniques of gnosis, particularly dance and spinning, would bring on a light possession but required a good deal of room and were not appropriate to certain godforms or qualities I wished to work with. Dependence on them also left open-hand magic completely out of the question. Continue reading
Uncertainty has come to play a huge role in my life as of late. The whole process entered my awareness during the Plutonica book-club reading of Quantum Psychology. Together we explored many of the exercises that Robert Anton Wilson collected to help us think, “Maybe…” My meditations and personal work have revolved around the issue of uncertainty, as well as our personal and collective strategies for dealing with it, ever since.
Honestly, I feel uncertain whether I can communicate any of this effectively. The territory began with magic and t’ai chi, leading into my mystical practice. I came to consider the bridge between individual and history, the symbiotic relationship of humanity and the institutions we have created to mediate uncertainty, as a fundamental issue to address for my own growth. Each encounter seems less discrete the closer I listen, yet the overall theme appears in the negative space between them. Continue reading
I’ve been reading Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals, and a passage in the third essay, “What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals?” intrigued me:
…[I]t is certainly best to separate an artist from his work so completely that he cannot be taken as seriously as his work. He is after all merely the presupposition of his work, the womb, the soil, in certain cases the dung and manure, on which and out of which it grows – and consequently, in most cases, something that must be forgotten if the work is to be enjoyed.
Nietzsche is writing specifically about Wagner here, but the sentiment can be positioned to apply to any artist one finds objectionable whose work one might appreciate were their “character” not at odds with an expected ideal. It strikes me that this approach is often taken in regards to Crowley’s works in particular, especially for those who might otherwise be reluctant to dare engaging in the material. Continue reading
Over at Rune Soup Gordon introduced a book game with the following guidelines:
How would you introduce someone to magic using only books? He or she has a month in a lake house and will read whatever you tell them in the exact order that you tell them to. Not even any peeking at other books on the list.
It’s a good game, for the full list of rules and to participate, click here. You can see Gordon’s picks here. I offered my response in the comments section, but I thought I’d share it here too, with a little more about why I chose these books in particular.
My aim was a little different than Gordon’s, I took the game as a chance to create a new magickian from a complete skeptic, not to create a mini-Psyche – that would have been a different list altogether. Perhaps a project for another day.
Without further ado, here’s my list:
1. Twenty Prose Poems, by Charles Baudelaire
This edition contains both the original French and the English translation side by each, providing the reader the opportunity to engage the poems in both language. A great exercise in outside thinking for those not accustomed to reading this way.
The differences found in the language and images evoked between the original and the translation are delightful, even to someone with only a modest appreciation for French (such as myself).
Baudelaire’s an extraordinary poet, and provides a view of the world not normally viewed outside one’s own head. Continue reading
[T]here [is] a type of occultist who believes that it doesn’t matter what you do in magic that “intention is everything”. I am a strong believer in the phrase “the path to hell is paved with good intentions” and think these types of occultists are more dangerous to the experimental magician because everyone thinks that they hold similar, sloppy views.
These occultists often call themselves chaos magicians or repeat Aleister Crowley’s much misunderstood phrase “Do what you will be the whole of the Law,” [sic] as if it gives them a wholesale license to bunk off from doing any work.
– Nick Farrell, “Experimentation as Magical Path”
I’m reading Magick on the Edge, ambitiously subtitled “An Anthology of Experimental Occultism.” The above quote appears in the first essay, which is otherwise quite good at making a decent case for “experimental” magick. (Though isn’t all magick experimental? Isn’t that the point of doing the Work?)
In the context of the essay, Farrell is snidely suggesting that chaos magickians (or magicians, if you prefer) practice magick with no understanding or interest in the theory behind it, cheerily believing that as long as you want “it”, “it” will happen. I hear this expressed online on occasion, but I’m surprised to read such a misguided sentiment expressed so blatantly in print.
“Intent” forms a central part of any magickal working – chaote and otherwise – for without purpose, what’s the point? And I’ll fess up, in chaos magick, the intentions aren’t always “good” in the Wiccan (or even Golden Dawn) sense of the term, but with the experienced practitioner they are never sloppy. Continue reading