Practical magick.

10+ books to a new magickian

By Psyche | April 15, 2013 | Leave a comment

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:

Twenty Prose Poems, by Charles Baudelaire1. 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

Chaos magick: doing what works & more

By Psyche | April 12, 2013 | Leave a comment

[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

Words of the Magi: An interview with Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford

By Cole Tucker | April 10, 2013 | Leave a comment

Last week, Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford of The Baptist’s Head and Open Enlightenment were kind enough to answer several questions I put to them.  I have edited the questions for the sake of brevity and to make myself look less a twit.  Initially only Duncan was had agreed to participate in the interview, leading to a change in tone of my questions.

Duncan and Alan both demonstrate a lot of growth in their thought, and I believe many points I touch on rely on legacy material. I hope you enjoy.

CT: Did you formulate the Core Practice techniques immediately after attaining the Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel [K&C], or did it follow your successful crossing of the Abyss?

ALAN: I attained the K&C using a free-form ritual technique, but I came to develop a simpler method based on Father Thomas Keating’s Centered Prayer as I persisted in invoking the HGA through the years.

CT:The bare-bones Core Practice described in Alan’s essay bears a strong family resemblance to vipassana meditation. Duncan has mentioned a long-standing interest in Buddhism. In your work, each of you pay homage to Daniel Ingram and his fantastic work. At what point did you pick up the links between wisdom traditions and decide to adopt vipassana into your regular practice?

ALAN: I’ve never adopted vipassana as part of my regular practice, although it was during my crossing of the abyss that I came to realise the same process was described by the Therevada progress of insight model. Later, I discovered the same process described in the Ten Zen Ox-Herding Pictures, the alchemical process, and many other traditions.

DUNCAN: My chaos magical training demanded regular meditation practice, but I’d fallen out with Buddhism ten years beforehand and had not practised since then. I discovered Ingram’s work on the Internet and found it absolutely awesome. Suddenly so much dropped into place that had been missing from my engagement with Buddhism a decade earlier. Chaos magic had instilled in me the realization that you can ‘just do stuff’, and the practice of magic in general had laid the groundwork for understanding how reality is malleable and constructed from the mind. Ingram’s mastery of vipassana was daunting at first, not least because of the intense sensations of envy it aroused in me. But everyone is crap at meditation in the beginning. If you keep at it and do it properly, you make progress. The largest part of my practice has been straight-up dry vipassana. It was Alan who took up Ingram’s work and showed me the links between it and the other maps of enlightenment, including the A.’.A.’. / Tree of Life model. The realization that the aim of magic is the same as enlightenment I owe to Alan. Continue reading


By Hakim Bey | April 6, 2013 | Leave a comment

CHAOS NEVER DIED. Primordial uncarved block, sole worshipful monster, inert & spontaneous, more ultraviolet than any mythology (like the shadows before Babylon), the original undifferentiated oneness-of-being still radiates serene as the black pennants of Assassins, random & perpetually intoxicated.

Chaos comes before all principles of order & entropy, it’s neither a god nor a maggot, its idiotic desires encompass & define every possible choreography, all meaningless aethers & phlogistons: its masks are crystallizations of its own facelessness, like clouds.

Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew a beard. Continue reading

Magickal Correspondences and Social Values

By Brendan Myers | March 29, 2013 | Leave a comment

A spiritual path is, among other things, a way of seeing the world. That is to say, a spiritual path is a way of understanding or interpreting our relationships with the many things, events, people, and places in the world.  In most cases, the path will be expressed or configured by a logic of correspondences. In accord with this logic, the appearance of a certain animal, or plant, or weather event, or whatever, signifies realities beyond itself. Similarly, every spiritual path will have meditations, rituals, techniques, practices, and so on, designed to help the practitioner recognise those signs and read the messages they convey. The co-ordinates of the correspondences will vary in accord with language, culture, climate, geography, and other factors. They can grow ever more complicated and intricate, in order to accommodate an ever growing range of things and events in an ever-changing world.  The associations of the four classical elements to cardinal directions, colours, ritual objects, seasons of the year, times of day, and so on, are well known examples. Yet the logic of correspondence can appear in things as simple as children’s rhymes. The game of counting crows: “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy”, and so on, is also a logic of magical correspondences.

This isn’t big news to those who study religion, and certainly not new to anyone who studies occultism or esoterica. But there is at least one set of correspondences that tend not to be mentioned very often, even though it is staring us all in the face. Implicit in every logic of correspondence there is also a logic of ethics. Very few writers in occultism and esoterica draw much attention to the ethical dimension of the correspondences. I find this surprising since, that dimension appears everywhere. The Tarot deck names three of the four Classical Virtues in its major arcana: Strength (a.k.a. Courage), Justice, and Temperance. Only Prudence is missing: but perhaps prudence is implied in the figures of the Emperor and Empress, the enlightened rulers of a just and prosperous society. For that matter, the Tarot includes teachers of ethics, such as the Heirophant and the High Priestess, and it offers models of knowledgeable and enlightened people, such as the Empress, and the Hermit. And it offers in the figure of the Fool the seeker himself, who like each of us, once in a while, may think himself wise, but knows not how he is about to step off a cliff. (Of course, the Tarot also offers a teacher in the form of that other fellow, fifteenth in line for the throne. But even this guy implies the very ethical concepts he appears to subvert.) The minor arcana can be read as the model of a well ordered feudal society, with its kings and queens at the top, its nobility in the knights and pages, and in the numbered cards its population of farm workers, craftspeople, artists, merchants, soldiers, and village idiots. Continue reading

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