I have had some interesting conversations with some insightful magicians, discussing the phenomenon of the dark night of the soul, and the feelings of desolation, despair and deep depression which can occur to anyone who is following the initiatory path of magick. There seems to be consensus that all magicians at some point retire from the world (and, in a sense, renounce it) to undergo the mystical rigors of the dark night of the soul while seeking union with the One.
Strangely, I seem to be one of the few who takes issue with this. I think that it has more to do with a mystical approach to the godhead than a magical approach, and there are also the issues of chronic or situational depression, isolation and despair that have really nothing to do with spiritual ascension. In clinical depression, removing oneself from the world is a common symptom, and strong feelings are often replaced with a feeling of numbness, stasis or apathy.
The real question then, is whether or not mystics and magicians experience the iconic dark night of the soul in the same way. Continue reading
This question also came in via our newsletter, where we ask, what’s the one thing you’re struggling with in your practice?
If I have to list one thing that I was struggling with, I would probably have to list discipline (or focus). Life is hectic and there is tremendous amount of info coming down the pike to sort through every day.
This is something I can definitely relate to — I’m sure most of us can! Life gets busy, whether with school, work, kids, personal projects or all of the above — it can be difficult to carve out time to practice.
But it’s simple really, all you have to do is, you know, do it.
Easy peasy, right? You get excited, pumped, start getting really into it. You do all the things. You’re great! Centred, perfect, at the top of the world!
Until…you slip. And feel crappy because you feel like you can’t cut it, and beat yourself up over it. Which leads to avoidance. Which leads to more failure.
Aleister Crowley said that 90% of Thelema is self-discipline, and that applies to magical practice too. Here are a few things to think about to help you maintain momentum:
“Clear off your desk,” she said.
I was in the office of my college newspaper finishing up an article. Earlier that day, my friend attended a poetry reading where I read a sonnet I had specifically written for her. She held a copy of it now.
My editor returned earlier than expected and caught us doing a different kind of work at my desk.
It was then I realized that I could seduce with a sonnet. That I didn’t want to be someone else’s muse. And that Yeats was right—writing was indeed a form of magick. I wanted to be the magician. Continue reading
The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets: Tradition and Craft, by Claude Lecouteux
Inner Traditions, 264 pp. (incl. appendices, notes, bibliography, and index), 2014
The first part of The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets goes into the traditions related to amulets and the natural magic thereof, and also examines the tension between established Christianity and the long-standing tradition of magick, especially of the apotropaic (evil averting) sort. One is strongly reminded of the generations of priestly execrations of goddess worship in the Bible, which similarly told us how long the practices persisted, and some details of them which we would not otherwise have had.
The priests inveighing against these charms were particularly intent on discouraging the use of magical characters (alphabetic or sigilic writing that conveys spiritual power). They sometimes waxed poetic: “The demon slithers in the characters like the serpent beneath the flowers.” This ties nicely into his statement that “the unknown always inspires the Church with fear.”
Lecouteux summarizes part of this history thus: “Implicit in the background are notions of natural, licit magic and illicit black magic,” ((p. 30)) after giving one of many examples of a churchman condemning the talismanic art as being an implicit pact with a demon, a pattern which, as he points out, is “commonly repeated throughout the sixteenth century.” What this means to me is that the Faustian current which arose in early modern magick didn’t just appear without help. Apparently, it is as possible to call an egregore into being by constant execration as by constant evocation! Continue reading
Check out this video of the Carl Jung and John Constantine ritual performed by Ian Cat Vincent & co in Liverpool last year, in honour of the stage adaptation of Robert Anton Wilson‘s Cosmic Trigger.
Lupa’s most recent book is Plant and Fungus Totems, and in this article for Llewellyn, she explains why she looks beyond the animal kingdom and what lessons these totems can teach us.
Want to get rich? Here are three ways, and, oh, do these things too. Continue reading