I was first introduced to the subject by some English bloke on IRC in a random Wiccan chatroom who later, through a series of unlikely circumstances, became my partner. He introduced names I’d never heard of before: Austin Osman Spare, Peter J Carroll, Robert Anton Wilson – people with three names writing weird and wonderful things. 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
Uncle Ramsey’s Little Book of Demons: The Positive Advantages of the Personification of Life’s Problems, by Ramsey Dukes
Aeon Books, 1904658091, 256 pp. (including notes), 2005
It is odd to review a book that tells me “If you enjoyed this book, keep it secret and deny any knowledge of it.” In this book Uncle Ramsey sets forth to help the reader cope with problems in everyday life, by understanding and interacting with the demons that lurk beneath and inside all forms of reality. Demons are living in our cars and photocopiers, friends and lovers, and perhaps most importantly inside of our self. The most frustrating or brilliant move (or both) that Uncle Ramsey made in this book was not dealing with the nature of the demon, are they real in some animistic sense, are they external projections from a troubled mind, are they purely mental constructs never extending past the confines of our skull, are they collective energies built by a hundred united thoughts, or all they all of these, or something else? Continue reading
Liber Malorum: Children of the Apple, edited by Sean Scullion
PagAnarchy Press, 9780955798405, 523 pp., 2008
This is a compilation work. There are twenty three authors and over 70 contributions. I’m sure it will be difficult for some people to read, since it is a true Discordian book. And, of course, Discordians are notoriously difficult to pigeon-hole. Continue reading