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
Spiral Nature often receives letters from our readers looking for more information on certain subjects, or sometimes even for a place to begin. This query came in via our newsletter:
At this point, my main struggle is how to know when you are ready for spellcraft. I focus on the outcome, meditate on the process needed for the result, proceed accordingly, and then don’t see any results in a timely manner. I don’t expect instantaneous results, but I do expect to see results within a month. I do not accept that no result is an answer in itself so what must I do to ensure the outcome?
–Ready or Not
Well, Ready or Not, it depends, but ultimately, I would say that if you’re asking this question, you’re probably ready. Continue reading
There are some books that are required reading for the dedicated student, and this list represents my top five books dedicated to chaos magick – books that defined chaos magick as a distinct field of study and practice.
1. Liber Null & Psychonaut: An Introduction to Chaos Magic, by Peter Carroll
Liber Null, first published in the late 1970s by Ray Sherwin, is the handbook for the Illuminates of Thanteros, the first group dedicated to chaos magick. The IOT was conceived of as a new kind of order based on meritocracy, and Liber Null serves as an introductory text to what was then a new approach to magickal practice.
New Falcon published Liber Null and Psychonaut together in 1987. Psychonaut expands upon themes raised in Liber Null, and contains the much maligned pseudo-scientific approach to catastrophe theory, but it does have its moments, defining and reframing magickal theories for a new generation of occultists. 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
An interview with Fenwick Kaidevis Rysen, chatting about altered states of consciousness, enlightenment, and his theories on integral magick.
Fenwick Kaidevis Rysen is the creator and maintainer of the website the Chaos Matrix (now a historical archive of version 6.0), and is working on his first book, tentatively titled Integral Magick.
The interview took place the evening of April 18th, 2006.
Psyche: Could you describe your path?
Fenwick Kaidevis Rysen: I started out, up until age 17, as a very strict scientific rationalist who left open the possibility of parapsychological and psychic phenomenon. After I woke up out of that, I spent a long time studying magick, first elementalism and then chaos magick; from there, Discordianism.
P: What sparked the change?
FRK: Ah, that was a specific event. I was in Sacramento on August 9th, 1994, and shortly after noon I walked into a small new-agey gift shop in Old Town called … Damnit, I’m blanking on the name. Anyhow, in the shop I found a book about runes that appealed to my interest in Viking history, and a pewter pendant that called to me for some unknown reason. Continue reading