Saturday, July 2, 2022

Temporal Model of Magic and Gods of Time


In my forthcoming book, “Talismanic Magic for Witches” I talk about a new magical model that I recently discovered that explains the magical efficacy of what I call the talismanic equation. There are basically two parts to this consideration. The first part promotes the idea that the best and most stable talismanic force is one that combines both a planetary intelligence or archetype with an element. The second part is that incorporating the attribute of time through the use of the planetary day, hour and the astrological auspices of associated transits occurring when the magic is to be performed places that working into a more powerful disposition than if one were to ignore time altogether.

The first part is based on the concept that a mind and body joined together has greater utility than a mind without a body, or a body without a mind. In talismanic magic, the mind part is the planetary intelligence and the body part is the element energy, and when joined together creates a self-sustaining magical field. You can, of course, work planetary magic without adding an element to it, but there is something special about the energy and the intelligence when combining the two together.

A talismanic field that consists of both a planet and an element represents a kind of magical force that is intelligent (guided) and empowered (embodied) to a specific purpose. Such a magical force is radiant, and, I might add, perpetual. A planetary intelligence attached to a godhead archetype and fused within an element envelope that is continually charging it will continue to radiate its magical effect practically forever, or for as long as the talisman is maintained. Thus, talismanic magic is unlike any of other form of magic.

To ground and preserve this perpetually charged and active magical force, it is projected into a metallic body that is inscribed with symbols and sigils denoting the qualities and authorities (spirits) used to generate it. The importance of using a metallic body for containing the talismanic artifact is to ensure its longevity, since other material containers would be subject to the ablative effect of time and use. As long as the owner of the talisman maintains a mental link with the talisman, it will continue to operate perpetually. A talisman can be destroyed by destroying the base in which it resides and disbursing its energy, and it can become dormant if lost or unused for a period of many months. A dormant talisman can be easily awakened when merely summoned and focused within a consecrated space.  

Talismans can be created through a process of either active or passive magical actions. The active magical process incorporates a star polygon, such as a hexagram or a septagram. It uses the same methodology that is used to generate an element using a pentagram. Drawing the lines of force of a star polygon will produce the energy and intelligence of a specific planet or zodiacal sign. This can done at any time such a field is needed in a magical operation.

The passive methodology relies strictly on the astrological auspices of a given event to invoke and thereby focus that quality on an object or person. It teaches that merely exposing and invoking a celestial quality at the right time will suffice to complete a magical operation. An elective astrological chart is often required, along with the use of the planetary day and hour. Using the active magical approach overrides the necessity for predetermining the astrological auspices and selecting the best time, and many people work planetary magic using this approach. The passive approach has its benefits, and some would argue that it is superior, since it incorporates the omens and portends of a successful outcome. However, it requires more than a working knowledge of astrology and it is locked into a specific time and location to take advantage of a celestial event, thereby limiting when the working can be performed.

A magical  rule to consider whenever approaching magic that uses celestial objects, such as planets, is that there is a greater impact and long-term effect to be gained in the magical working when the factor of time is considered for such a working. When I am referring to time, I am, of course, referring to the event of the working, when it is performed, where and under what conditions. There is an important archetypal factor at play when the ritual magician incorporates time into a working. Not only are there the symbolic auspices at play, such as the planetary day, hour and associated astrological transits that link into the operator’s natal chart, but there are also the nature and qualities of the deity of time itself. There is also a magical model called the temporal model of magic that is also at play as we shall see later.

Planetary magic is more effective when the planet is combined with an element, to produce a matrix of twenty-eight empowered spiritual intelligences. However, some folks can just work planetary magic without combining the planets with elements and produce an effective method of magical workings. Similarly, a ritual magician can use a star polygon to generate a planetary force and summon the angel or archangel for a working whenever needed and set that working to make a change in the physical world.

Yet this kind of magic is no different than performing an elemental working or an evocation. It is a single event that seeks to produce a very specific outcome. Using a planetary force and its associated angel or archangel might have different qualities than performing other kinds of magic, but it is really no different than just summoning an angel or archangel to help one successfully materialize an objective. All of these methods of magic require mundane steps to help the working to produce the desired results, and the more extensive these steps, the more likely the outcome.

It can been seen that combining a planet with an element would likely produce a more effective outcome because it generates a talismanic field that is constantly working, day and night, practically forever. Since the talisman is constantly working on an objective, there would be less mundane steps needed to ensure a successful outcome. Additionally, if the event of generating that talismanic field is governed by a careful selection of astrological auspices and incorporating the planetary hour or day into the elected date of the working then the effect of that working will likely require even less or no mundane steps to ensure success. Combining these three magical actions together, active generation of the planetary quality, empowering it with a base element and performing the working at the most auspicious time will produce a magical artifact that will be superior to using any other methodology.

You can imagine what could be possible if a ritual magician constructed, generated and charged a series of talismans, each to handle a specific aspect of his or her life, and arrayed them altogether in a sacred place in the home. It would be like creating a “charmed” life for the individual, where misfortune is blunted or even avoided, and good fortune amplified. Creating such a treasure of talismans operating in one’s life would certainly obviate the need for working any other kind of magic, at least for material gain and the blessings of good fortune. This would certainly put someone into the place where they could focus on working magic to expand their knowledge and quench their curiosity while the talismans would handle all of the material based concerns. Not only is this a possibility, but it is one that I have crafted for myself, and so far, it is working and greatly aiding me at all times.

What makes this kind of talismanic magic so potent is the underlying powers and effects of the archetypes, myths and the deity of time itself. It is called the temporal model of magic, and it is one that we should pay close attention to whenever we work any kind of magic.

The temporal model of magic is succinctly stated that when a ritual is performed, that moment in time becomes profoundly significant and auspicious. It places an indelible mark upon the operator’s time line. The more important that ritual working is then the greater its significance and auspiciousness. This event of magic becomes similar to the event of divination, or the event of casting an astrological chart. That event, in of itself, causes a change, whether imperceptible or profound, in the life of the operator. This is because the event triggers the layered occult symbology that is part of our cultural collective, and this causes a transformation of consciousness for everyone connected to that event.

Therefore, it would be highly prudent for a ritual magician to recognize the temporal model of magic working in their practice and to be mindful of the astrological auspices operating when choosing the moment or event of a magical working. The connection to elective astrology or even horary astrology should be evident when considering the efficacy of choosing the optimal time and place to perform an important magical working. There are reasons for this opinion that go far beyond the astrological auspices of a given moment.

The core of the temporal model of magic is the Deity of time itself, known in some circles as Chronos (not be confused with Kronos, the father of Zeus). Chronos is the Greek word for time, but as a Deity, he did not have a shrine nor was he part of the civic state religious cult. Chronos was given an important role in the writings of an early Presocratic philosopher Pherecydes, who was a contemporary of Pythagoras (6th century CE). For the perspective of magic, Chronos is considered a lintel deity who symbolizes both the beginning and end, and the gateway that leads from the past into the future. He is, therefore, similar to other lintel deities, such as the Roman Janus, Herne, Eris, Saturnus, and Laverna, or the Persian God Zervan, to mention a few. He is both the Lord of Misrule and the embodiment of the Celestial Order of continual change.

Such a deity represents the mystery and the magic of the greater potential of change, and the spark of fate or destiny that can be generated for the benefit of the magical operator. It is necessary, then, to give homage to this mysterious and multiform godhead so as to aid a specific magical working, especially a celestial working that incorporates astrological auspices. A simple rule to understand about this kind of magic is that the more the operator knows about the moment and event of the celestial operation, and the greater the focus on performing this act at the best or most auspicious time will ensure that the results will be in accordance with the magician’s objective. It would seem, therefore, that time and the temporal model of magic can help a magical working, or any kind of magical operation, to be more effective and profoundly meaningful.

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Strange and Sinister Qualities of Otherness


“And now for something completely different.” - Monty Python

Otherness and the stigma of being defined as “other” is a way of classifying something or someone as not being normal, acceptable or not belonging to the group. It is also a quality of the preternatural or paranormal experiences that can accompany magical or mystical activity. This dual semantic meaning represents two very different perspectives - one based on prejudice and the other based on wonder and awe, yet they are linked in some very interesting ways.

When the connotation of otherness is applied to a group of people who are different in some manner (often superficially) then what is occurring is a form of racism, ethnic exclusion or bigotry. It is a process of dehumanizing a group of people to allow its antagonists to behave with extreme prejudice without any accompanying guilt or doubt. When a group is dehumanized then it is easy to denigrate and persecute them, justifying and even making a virtue out of the collective cruelty and evil perpetrated against them. It is a way of justifying prejudice and excusing antipathy for what is truly an overall lack of compassion and empathy.

Not everyone is capable of allowing prejudice to guide their actions towards a group of people who seem different, but some seem particularly disposed toward this mind-set. It is a simple solution to a very complex social phenomena, that social diversity and multiplicity is responsible for personal failings. It is also motivated by the fear and loathing of the unknown, and an intolerance towards anything that is different than what is accepted as right and, supposedly, good. It is, in fact, a propensity for those whose political affiliations are conservative and whose religious perspectives are highly sectarian and inflexible.

Through my many years of practicing Witchcraft and being engaged with the outlying pagan and occult communities, I have seen both a tendency of inclusion and also, oddly, exclusion. When I have gone to pagan gatherings I have found that there is typically a small minority of black people in attendance, and in some gatherings, I saw none. While this community has, for the most part, been inclusive, accepting individuals and groups that would find a tolerant community in which to belong nearly impossible for them, there are other groups who are not so accepting. I recall a group of wonderful young gothic Satanists who were treated in a prejudicial manner at one pagan gathering (they had to leave early), and I also witnessed a “women’s only” private gathering turn away transgender women as not “true” women. These are problems within our group, but with such a socially diverse population of people who consider themselves members, it is my hope that such exclusions will become more rare or even nonexistent.

What I can say is that for the most part, pagan and occult communities are inclusive and accepting because all of them have experienced the sting of prejudice, rejection and even persecution. These people know what it is like to be excluded, mocked, and socially ostracized, so they should be sensitive and self-aware about being that way themselves. Witches and Pagans are the paragon of otherness, and they passionately love and celebrate it, much to the dismay of those who believe that the White, Saxon, Protestant way of life represents the only thing good in American culture. There are so many fascinating things happening when different cultures, races and ethnicity meet and peacefully interact and create a new way of seeing and loving the world. That is the operation of human diversity in action, and I have seen it as a great goodness, and a powerful, positive cultural process. It can and it should be a guiding principle for all Witches, Pagans and occultists in general.

Then there is the “otherness” that marks a paranormal experience. That kind of “other” is not represented by any identifiable group and it is not a reaction based on prejudice or bigotry. It is not the stigmatizing of an individual or a group, since it is the direct experience with phenomena that is unknowable and inexplicable. For those people who cannot accept diversity and cannot face something that is incapable of being neatly defined or classified, encountering the domain of the paranormal represents the height of fear and rejection within them. They will either flee the source of such phenomenon or they will reject and disbelieve it, pretending that it doesn’t exist. If they are religiously conservative they will readily define it as evil and associate it with the Devil. To many Witches and Pagans, the experience of paranormal activity is the very thing that they seek to verify their belief in the efficacy of magic and the incursion of Spirit into the material world.

All religious individuals who experience the paranormal phenomena of Spirit in the context of religious activity will define that experience as an affirmation of their belief and as a foundation for their faith. When such experiences occur outside of a religious context then they will be likely defined as being malefic and diabolical, an uncalled for spiritual sign, or a mere coincidence. This process of defining such an experience will depend on the person’s religious orientation, whether they are a conservative monotheist, an open minded religionist, a polytheist or an atheist.

A Witch, Pagan or occultist will see such a phenomena as a very positive sign, and in fact, they might be more open to observing such experiences as a normal part of their existence, therefore, experiencing them often and pervasively. I would have to classify myself in that category, since I have seen a lot paranormal phenomenon occur often in my daily life. Am I hallucinating or deluded?  Not at all. I am just sensitively aware of my environment and open to the wonder that is the world not filtered by rigid assumptions and beliefs. That is the most important key to engaging with and being immersed in paranormal phenomena, to be open, sensitive and aware. Having developed this kind of mind-set over the passage of many years, I find that such occurrences happen often and frequently - making them not so paranormal after all. All you have to do is to look for them with an open mind and a heightened sensitivity and they will be readily perceived.

Some paranormal experiences are just curious occurrences that get my attention, as I go about my daily business. They might be a bit odd, certainly curious, but not exceptionally so. However, when working ritual magic, meditation or just being aware to a heightened degree, there are times when such phenomena cause my spine to tingle, the hair on the back of my neck to stand up and my senses to switch into a different mode of perception, one that I associate with the reception and sense of the magic in the world. I can truly say that I live for those moments, and they have made some of my more memorable magical experiences powerful and deeply meaningful. It is times like these when I know that the magic is working and that I have entered a kind of spiritual twilight zone where thought becomes form and form becomes thought, the nexus of all conscious being. It is also the place where I meet and socialize in my mind with various spirits, deities, angels, demons, fairies, and the ghosts of human ancestors. It is also place, a domain of spirit, and the roads that lead to it and through it are the ghostly roads of arcane knowledge. There are powers and energies there, buried treasures, and there are brilliant lights and a Stygian darkness overall. It is, in fact, a total and complete personification of the paranormal “other” that fuels both magic and mysticism, and gives life to all religious beliefs and practices.

This is the “other” that represents the mysteries and magic of our world, and it is to be embraced and celebrated. We can only encounter this domain if we have removed our prejudices, fear, and denial and instead we have become fully open and aware. It also requires a heightened sensitivity that can be developed through the arts of meditation, breath-control, trance, contemplation and some years of steadfast practice. Using psychotropic substances can help in the short term, but only meditation will make that sensitivity a uniform and permanent part of one’s perceptual awareness. Engaging in practices that manipulate the symbolic world, such as ritual magic, will be the final piece in this transformation of conscious awareness. These practices represent the means to obtaining an awareness of the paranormal world that resides and pervades our mundane world. All we have to do is consistently engage in them, the rest will follow as that practice matures and becomes a kind of second nature.

Now that you know that “otherness” is something to embrace, it should eliminate from your mind any kind of prejudice against that which is different, abnormal or paranormal. This is, of course, the required state for perfecting the art of ritual magic.

Frater Barrabbas   

Monday, May 23, 2022

Pandemic Isolation and Gifts of Writing

Over the course of three years I have not posted very many articles to my blog, and this was due to a couple things that happened to me. The first is that I came off a work-related dismal project that destroyed my profession self-esteem and then by being demoted to my old job, trying to rebuild my reputation and bolster my confidence. It was a difficult time, starting in the last quarter of 2017 and finally ending in the end of 2019. I had paid for work-related relocation from Minnesota to Richmond, Virginia and was stiffed by my company, who broke their promise to compensate me for that move. I proved to myself once again why corporate cultures and the managers that preach it are not to be trusted. As far as work is concerned, “To thine own self be true.”

There were amazing coincidences and magical happenings during that time, all without me working any magical rituals at all. What I had set in motion in June 2017 had helped me to overcome a career disaster and turn it into a providential gain. During that time I was working sometimes every day beyond eight hours without much of break, and I was getting to the final stages of burnout, which has a lower threshold for someone my age. What happened to me was a kind of intervention that saved me and my career. The irony was that getting demoted set me up for a future promotion that helped me to completely reinvent myself professionally.

I believe that this kismet occurred because of the time and effort that I had invested in creating a talismanic magical machine. It helped me sell an oversized house, move across the country and establish myself in a new environment. What catastrophes I endured ended up benefiting me greatly, and I believe that the magic I had set in motion on the Summer Solstice night of 2017 made it all possible. Granted, there were mundane actions that I took to mitigate the disaster that I endured, but overall, I was very fortunate not to lose my job and reputation while having relocated to a town where the job market was unknown to me. All of that action in my life took me away from writing articles, books or working ritual magic. What little time I had was spent either reading, studying or meditating. I had to travel a lot for my job, and the novelty of that feature in my life soon wore off.

The next thing that happened in my life was the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. I was already relocated, no longer traveling, telecommuting and resigned to my demotion when this terrible calamity struck the whole world. What it did to me, a man in his late sixties with allergies, was to shut me up in my house. I then traveled only when necessary and then, locally, shied away from appearing in public and infrequently saw the few friends that I had made. There wasn’t a lot to do and I don’t like being idle, so I wrote two books from the period of early 2020 through early 2022.

I have crafted a book titled “Elemental Powers for Witches” (already out in December 2021) and another one titled “Talismanic Magic for Witches” (out in February 2023). Both books required quite a bit of research and writing, and between that, my job and my relationship, there was little time for anything else. I will do a write up on these two books, but I wanted to let you know what I was busily doing during this period of the Great Pandemic.

You can see that I was not idle as far as writing is concerned, but from a magical perspective, outside of continuing effects of the talismanic machine that I previously built, not much else has happened. I would like to get back into a magical ritual practice and a regular practice of meditation. I would like to attend a Zen Buddhist retreat somewhere, and I would like the pandemic to transition to an endemic occurrence of coronavirus strains no more risky than the flu. I get a flu shot every autumn, and I could see getting a  coronavirus shot every autumn as well.

Another thing that I need to do is to get to know my local Witchcraft and Pagan community. I am unknown to that community, and there is much I would like to share, teach and collaborate with others of like mind. I greatly miss having the social dimension in my life, but the pandemic cut off my exploration of the community, and I am hoping to renew that exploration sometime later this year.

Anyway, I have also taken up writing blog articles, so you will start seeing some on a regular basis. I will try to post some interesting ideas and things that I discovered in my extensive period of study and research. I am also going to write yet a fourth book in the “For Witches” series, and this one will be about Witchcraft based theurgy, or what I call advanced liturgical magical practices. I will want to bounce some ideas off of my reading public before I commit them to my writings and judgment of my acquisitions editor.

Bright Blessings -

Frater Barrabbas  

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Truth or Lies and Magic

 To believe in the efficacy of magic and to practice it is also to be accused of possessing or believing in a fantasy world that doesn’t bear the scrutiny of science or logic. However, as someone who believes and practices ritual magic, and who has done this for decades, I find that such a simplistic approach does not take into account that human nature has an emotional and romantic dimension to it that cannot be dispelled by logic or empirical science. While the concepts of spirits, deities, energies and paranormal qualities can be shown to be attributes of the conscious mind itself, and its cultural collective, occult practitioners have typically had to deal with the cognitive dissonance of living in the post modern world and practicing rites that would be better understood from the perspective of the middle ages or the early renaissance. Still, these are all phenomena that are a part of the emotional, irrational and artistic, creative mind-set, neither invalid nor subject to scientific testing.

What this means is that a practitioner of ritual magic can live in the post modern world and also work with deities, spirits, energies and seemingly paranormal perceptions without dooming their ability to objectively deal with the world and function in a rational and logical manner. Practitioners of magic do not reject the world of science, logic and academia as some might think. Instead they extend their world-view, beliefs and perceptions to include other possibilities and perceptions based on their experiences, realizing that magic and its various attributes are part of the phenomenon of individual and collective consciousness. In other words, the world-view of science and the rational liberal arts are the foundation to understanding and practicing the arts of magic and the philosophy of occultism. Beliefs are tested by experience and by peer review so that they might retain a high degree of sane rationality. When this balance between belief, experience and factual knowledge break down then all sorts of crazy ideas, conspiracies and forms of outlandish self-glorification can and do occur. It starts one down a slippery slope that can lead to a form of complete social dislocation and even temporary madness.

We engage with our ritual magical practices with our feet firmly planted in the world of occult philosophy, science and the liberal arts, taking a rational and balanced pathway that is guided by a certain degree of skepticism, objectivity and input from our peers. Using this approach, we keep ourselves from acquiring a world view that is wholly divorced from facts, logic and rational thinking. This is not say that I am promoting an approach to magic that excludes imagination, creativity, artistry, vision and emotional aspiration, in fact these are critical components for practicing ritual magic. What I am promoting is a healthy balance between occultism and its practices and an objective world-view based on facts. So we can practice what Dion Fortune referred to so many decades ago as “Sane Occultism.”

This brings me to the point of my article. I am presently observing my nation torn apart by divisive and delusional beliefs and opinions that have absolutely no basis in facts. Of course, even the media inspired perception of a social division in our country is likely a form of sensational hyperbole, but it is occurring within a group of people on the far right of the political spectrum, leaving those of us in the center and the left scratching our heads and trying to understand what is happening to some people. I had thought that my beliefs and practices would be subject to derision and disdain, but actually, I seem to be very rational and sane compared to these folks even if I practice magic and talk to spirits and deities. One would think that I was the odd-ball individual promoting and practicing a system of dubious and nefarious behaviors. Yet compared to these folks, I am the paragon of sanity and rationality.

In our troubled times, facts are no longer seen as the foundation of knowledge. What appears to be important these day are emotionally driven opinions that do not require any kind of rational analysis or scrutiny. Logic and critical thinking are given up for emotionally satisfying platitudes, politically toxic propaganda and view-points based on a fantasy world-view. This disease of the mind is affecting a small percentage of our nation’s population, but they are driven and given currency but media companies that seem to be only interested in making money and not reporting the news in a factual manner.

I am, of course, referring to Fox News, but they are just one of many right-wing media organizations that are spewing a form of poisonous propaganda that is endangering our democratic institutions. The conservative political mind sees the slowly changing demographic of our nation, where white Christian Protestants are becoming a minority in a very racially and culturally diverse country, as a kind of existential threat. The only solution in such minds is to suppress the rights and civic privileges of those who are not of the white race in favor of those who are, and thereby establish a kind of racial and religious apartheid backed up by a political authoritarian regime that would replace our democratic republic.

I can tell you right now that in such a regime people like me would not only lose our rights, but also our freedoms. I would be part of the unruly crowd that would find itself in concentration or reeducation camps, if not outright exterminated. I might be a white northern European man, but I am certainly not the right kind of white person because I am not at all Christian. I would imagine in such a nightmarish world that many others of my fellow Witches, Pagans and various other occultists would find ourselves zealously persecuted. We would be joined in our imprisonment by blacks, non-white Hispanics, Jews and people of color. Since I have written articles and published books, I would be one of those targeted and unable to hide in the anonymous crowd of white faces.

Of course, this kind of extreme outcome is not very likely to happen, since the majority of Americans have a tendency to rebuke authority and to be largely contrarian and nearly ungovernable as a people. I doubt that if obvious and threatening moves were made to deconstruct our democracy and to install a religious and racial based tyranny that the majority of the people of my country would not take that change without a very forceful backlash and inspired moral outrage. Such a perceived civil war would be over quickly if it even had the chance to start. What we are seeing today is the balance tilted to the far right, and our social and political world is due for a swing to the political left that is coming soon. That is, certainly, my fervent hope.
The phenomena that we are witnessing is the gullibility, foolishness and cognitively biased perceptions of a small percentage of our population who are misled and misinformed by money grubbing media companies and cynically calculating politicians. As this process continues to spiral to ever greater confabulations there is a corresponding increased incidence of deadly violence perpetrated by right-wing gun toting fanatics and their fellow paramilitary cultists. What was once fringe racism and bigotry is now become the main-stream through the efforts of conservative pundits, soulless and power-hungry politicians and certain oligarchs who wish to transform our nation into a society of servants and a wealthy master class. None of that will likely happen, but in the process there will be people killed, insurrections and civil disorder. I believe that it ultimately will give birth to a more just, diverse and tolerant society since many of these intolerant conservative activists are members of the older generations. Those who believe and actively support racism and bigotry are on the wrong side of history, and that they, too, will be diminished and disappear over time.

So what does this have to do with the practice of magic? I have outlined a phenomenon that is happening now. It is a terrible object lesson of what happens to individuals and groups when critical thinking is rejected over emotional-cognitive bias and paranoid delusions. We are meant to be challenged at all levels, and we should try to meet those challenges with as high a degree of objectivity, alacrity, critical thinking and even some helpful peer review. If right-wing nut-cases got to talk to their relatives and community members who did not share their beliefs, and actually listened to them, noting that there are differences of opinion without a deviation from objective facts then they would probably have to loosen their rigid perspectives and realize that they are surrounded by people with a diversity of beliefs, but who share a common humanity. It is my hope that such a reconciliation does finally occur, but at times it seems like a forlorn one.

As ritual magicians and occultists, we must always walk a balanced pathway so we do not succumb to fantastical beliefs that have no basis in facts whatsoever. We see the various news outlets pushing right-wing fever dreams and we can observe what happens when people start believing in outright lies and propaganda over facts based on our shared social reality. This is something that we need to passionately avoid so as to embrace the unifying quality of empathy and compassion in all that we do. We are, after all, human beings, but that does not mean that we need to dispose of our common sense in order to obtain the temporary security of the mind-set of a cult.

Frater Barrabbas

Monday, February 17, 2020

Money Magic vs. Inequality

Perhaps one of the oldest types of sorcery in material-based magic is the body of spells and rituals for achieving some kind of economic increase, whether for modest and most needed fortunes or for massive windfalls. Money magic is as old as love spells and curses, and it is often predicated by chance and probability. Those who engage in such forms of magic are typically lower middle class or the poor, but even staunchly middle class folks find themselves working money magic. Usually, a magician seeking a modest monetary increase will focus on strategic changes, such as getting a new job with better pay, taking advantage of opportunities that arise or just trying to bend the probabilities for personal advantage.

These kinds of modest money magic have a greater chance of occurring because they are more probable than purchasing a winning lottery ticket or discovering a massive load of hidden treasure. A magician seeks to acquire the positive charms of good luck and good fortune and thereby eliminate blockages or the downward spiral of misfortune, which some call bad luck. This is what can be expected from successful money magic. It can also be said that self confident individuals are more prone to having good luck than those who lack self confidence. These are the typical victims who seem prone to having misfortune or bad luck, and money magic, properly applied, can greatly aid them.

However, for the middle class magicians or even poor practitioners, there is a limit to what money magic can do for one’s economic situation. Outside of the very rare windfall or “Black Swan” occurrence, nearly all money magic can be compared to fighting a life threatening disease like cancer; whatever successes occur do not reverse the ultimate condition of mortality. This is because the economic system to which we are all engaged is rigged against nearly all of us except for the very wealthy, and that Capitalism has a built-in bias towards oligarchies. That means that whatever good fortune comes to an individual, whether practicing magic to make it happen or not, over time the money will flow away from nearly everyone and accumulate for just a few individuals. The economic system of Capitalism is mathematically set against most of us, and in the end, succeeding generations will have far less opportunities than the previous generations.  Inheritances will diminish and dry up leaving only the oligarchist with any real wealth. That is the reality in today’s market economy, and unless something dramatically changes, it will be our economic fate. Magic cannot either address this situation or in any wise rectify it.

If you think that my pronouncement sounds defeatist and unrealistic then a recent article published in the magazine Scientific American might change your mind. This article was written by Bruce M. Boghosian, who is a noted mathematician. He has worked with the mathematical model called the ‘Extended Yard Sale Model of Asset Exchange’ and has shown that even a completely level playing field where individuals start with the same assets and the transactions that gain or lose money are determined purely by chance, ultimately one individual will acquire all of the assets originally held equally by the members of the experimental set in the beginning of the test. You can find his paper on this model here. Of course, a very simple version of this model is something that many gamers discover when playing Monopoly. Each potential transaction is guided by chance, although players can influence the outcome somewhat by using a form of shrewd judgment. Yet in the end of each game it is mostly chance that determines the winner and often it allows for a different winner each time the game is played, which is why it has been so popular over the decades. The winner ends up accumulating all of the money and assets in the game, unless the other players concede defeat, which has the same result.  

Of course, there is no level playing field, transactions of gain and loss are not based on pure chance, and we don’t start out with the same assets. So, the leverage of those who have massive wealth is even greater. This causes the financial model to skew or distort even more to such an extent that inequality accelerates. Where the ability for the masses to attain some degree of economic mobility dwindles as more individuals possess smaller shares of capital compared to the wealthy few. This is how this system works today, and it has worked in this manner ever since people began the economic game of bartering and selling. There are always winners and losers over time, and most of the players ultimately lose to a small group or even a single individual. Capitalism, unimpaired by any other mechanism for control and redistribution, will ultimately create oligarchies.

I won’t go into the details of Mr. Boghosian’s article, but his basic premise that economic inequality is inevitable, particularly if the economic system has built in biases that would give advantage to those who already have substantial wealth, with tax breaks, tax havens, credit opportunities, political contacts and laws that specifically favor them, is correct. It is interesting to note that the current inequality in our nation began to increase rapidly during the Reagan presidency and that despite certain attempts by Democratic presidents, such as Clinton and Obama, the pace of inequality has increased.

Republicans are probably mostly to blame for the legislation and tax breaks that have helped economic inequality explode over the past three decades, but they are not the only party that has done the bidding of the rich and powerful. This why we need the federal government to intervene in our current crisis of inequality and make some changes to our unequal system of taxation, and to put into place mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth. We also need to remove the advantages and influences that wealthy patrons have placed on the government, where the donor class is able to have undue influence on the politicians at all levels of the local, state and federal bureaucracy.

Perhaps the greatest magic that magicians could undertake would be to help nearly everyone who isn’t part of the 1% richest in the nation and project their magic into influencing politicians to roll back the laws aiding inequality by instituting a wealth tax, higher capital gains taxes, higher income taxes on the very upper strata of income, and to put into place a universal basic income commensurate with individual wealth and income.

Could you imagine what it would be like if most of the people in the country had a guaranteed basic income that would cover the basic needs of life? Having a job would be voluntary, and there could be many more artists, poets, community organizers, teachers, home healthcare providers and people just helping other people without having to worry about being financially self-sufficient. This nation would change dramatically overnight, and I believe this change would be positive, constructive, and it would alleviate the stresses of poverty and overwork. I could even imagine some people turning their hand to studying and practicing magic full time without ever having to perform money magic.

Since I have had to put my retirement on hold because I need the income and I am not yet ready to let those opportunities go, I have spent far more time working my day job than working magic, reading occult books, writing and researching. I do a lot more work that gives me less joy and happiness than having a well rounded life consisting of friends, family, a social life, and just plain having fun. Instead, I am working week after week and on many weekends, wistfully dreaming about what I could do with my time if I didn’t have to ceaselessly work in the corporate world to earn my bread and board.

So, if we want to work money magic and make a real change not only for ourselves but for all of the middle class and poor then lets work magic together to cause a class based economic revolution. There are more of us than the wealthy oligarchs, so all we need to do is to vote and to voice our demands in a powerful and peaceful manner. Like Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi, we can change our world if we unite in solidarity and demand a better and fairer out come to our lives. Because if we don’t unite and force the government to change the economic system imposed on us and give us a level playing field then we will become the new servant class, and no amount of magic will save any of us from that fate.
Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Mending Cartesian Duality in Magical Practices

Recently, my good and wise friend, Scott Stenwick, wrote an article (found here) that took issue with what I stated in my previous article about two of the religious and spiritual objectives in the training of a ritual magician. These have to do with establishing a magical persona and erecting a temporary and artificial boundary between the material world and the magical and spiritual world. He stated that such contrivances are unnecessary and could lead to establishing a kind of unresolvable Cartesian duality. I wanted to reply to his critique, but my point is that, overall, the way we approach magic has a lot to do with our education and life experience. There are different ways of obtaining the same results, but that the methods that I outlined in my article are just as valid and important as what he outlined in his article. However, I need to explain why this methodology has an importance and a relevancy to me. It also it depends on one’s life experience and this is something that I didn’t mention in my previous article. You can either adopt these practices or not, depending on your needs and your life history.

How You Approach Magic is Shaped by Your Life History

One of the most important things that I can state about learning to master magic is that how one goes about it says as much about one’s starting conditions and state of mind as it does anything else. When I talk about learning magic, as I have in my most recent article (found here), I am, of course, talking from my own personal experience. What I said in that article is not to be confused with any kind of dictates - none of it is carved in stone as it were. They are suggestions, but they are based on perspectives that I believe and use. I didn’t write that explicitly in my article, but I did assume that there were multiple paths. I particularly emphasized the one path where someone has not been initiated into a magical tradition nor adopted a traditional religion. It is the one path to where I addressed the three specific religious and spiritual objectives. That wasn’t clearly stated, but I would like to introduce it now to clarify what I said and to whom.

There are common steps or stages that one undergoes when we examine what nearly everyone has done to become a magician, but there are differences between each person’s path that represent their unique approach. A person who has grown up and lives in a social condition where magic is considered diabolical at one extreme or a complete fantasy and a sign of mental incompetence at the other extreme will pursue magic differently than someone whose social condition is one of neutrality towards the same subjects. Also, when a person is initiated into a magical tradition that has a specific religious teaching, the pathway that he or she follows will be different. Still, many people today who are getting into the study and practice of magic have opted to determine their own path outside of any tradition, and these are the individuals for which my article was written.

All of these starting points will produce a somewhat different magical path and process, but the one that I have identified with in my article is the independent solitary practitioner who has to deal with the social consequences of practicing magic without a tradition or a body of students and teachers to help mitigate those struggles.

What I am saying is that someone who was alone and exposed to a considerable amount of cognitive dissonance regarding the practice of magic or occultism in general is going to undergo a different process and pathway to achieve a mastery of magic than someone who has none, or someone who has the backing of a tradition. If learning to successfully perform magic and to study occultism is a constant struggle against the opinions and expectations of one’s family and social world then the individual who is so engaged with that struggle may have to adopt a more drastic agenda of mental and spiritual practices in order to be successful. The path of achieving magical mastery then becomes also a struggle against one’s family and social circle, not to mention the educational, governmental and religious institutions that one has to pass through in order to be materially successful.

The path that I took to learn how to successfully practice magic was a struggle against my parents, my peers, and the social forces that were operating at that time. I also didn’t have any tradition available for me to join, so I was practically alone in my activities. My father represented a kind of extreme materialistic rejection of anything that was otherworldly, especially religion. He was a forceful man who believed that all religions were based on lies and deliberate deceit, so his opinion of occultism, magic and witchcraft was derisive and ridiculing. He made it a point to try and force me to drop all of my teenage attractions and interests in the paranormal, magic and the occult. He strongly believed that to adopt such beliefs was to show an extreme mental weakness and to begin a path that could only lead to failure and mental illness. I recall that at one point, he gathered together my books, magical tools and tarot cards and put them in the trash. I was lucky enough to retrieve them, but that action on his part certainly had a powerful impact on me.

While the early 1970's represented a time when young people were exploring the occult and alternative traditions of spirituality. It was also a time when fundamentalist Christianity first began to be a part of the popular culture, ironically becoming a counter movement to the counter culture. It produced Jesus freaks, young Republicans and other young fanatical Christians not associated with any mainstream church. For some reason these kids found me to be a threat to their beliefs and practices, and they singled me out for ostracization. 

Many kids who engaged in studying the occult, magic and eastern forms of spirituality did so in a very superficial manner, and by the 1980's, these fads had largely disappeared, became mainstream or went underground. Even so, while in school, my involvement in witchcraft, magic and the occult were either derided by some or condemned by others who were engaging with the new wave of fundamentalism. Some kids thought it was cool, but nearly all of them thought that I took it way too seriously.

A stint in the U. S. Navy made my occult and witchcraft predilections seem even more strange, dysfunctional and at odds with expected military behavior and beliefs. I think that being in the Navy, even for a short time, probably challenged my beliefs to the very extreme, since by having them, I was declared to be unfit for service and given a discharge. The psychiatrists who interviewed me told me that I needed some serious psychological counseling and perhaps even spending some time in an institution. They told me that I was a delusional psychotic. You can imagine what kind of impact these events had on me, and the fact that when I returned to my family I was considered a shameful failure by my father, a military man. He worried about me and told me that I needed to drop my occult proclivities or risk living my life in and out of institutions. I almost started to believe that I was psychotic, but my own stubborn adherence to sane occultism and my comforting magical practices said otherwise.

As you can see, my struggle to achieve a mastery of the art of magic had a lot of factors going against it. The probabilities were low that I would continue pursuing my beliefs. If I had been made of weaker stuff, I would probably have given it all up so that I could be more effective in my pursuit of material self-sufficiency. Looking back on my life history, I believe that part of how I teach and also work magic has been powerfully impacted by my life history. Sometimes I wonder if my approach to magic would have been different if I had not had so much resistance back when I was growing up and trying to learn magic and witchcraft. What if I had been born and raised in a family that would have either accepted occultism as valid or would have considered it as a non-issue? My father still ridicules my beliefs and practices even after all of these years and in order to have peace between us, we choose not to talk about it.

Therefore, as part of my magical education, and having to deal with a lot of cognitive dissonance, I had to create and adopt a magical persona in order for me to step outside of myself and not be distracted by the low self-esteem that I had as a kid who was abused and ridiculed by my father, estranged by my childhood friends and peers, and oppressed by the societal institutions that I had to pass through on my way to adulthood. Additionally, I had to adopt a mind-set that saw the world of magic, occultism and witchcraft as not governed by science and therefore, incapable of being judged by the social consensus. This was the age of Carl Sagan, who stated that the occult, magic and witchcraft were superstitions that our culture was better off without. Others, including my father, would repeat this message to me, over and over.

I learned to establish a psychic boundary between the “normal” and materialistically based mundane world and the world of magic. When I performed the ritual to consecrate my sacred space, it was to functionally create a boundary between the sacred and profane, so for a while I did occupy two different worlds when I practiced magic. Even so, I have always attempted to merge them together, although initially I was not very successful. I had to deal with so many other folks who negatively judged me as either a nut-case or as an unwitting dupe of Satan. By the way, establishing such a boundary in which to worship the God and Goddess of Witchcraft and also to practice magic is a fundamental part of practicing Modern Witchcraft. This distinction makes Witchcraft magic different than the practice of ceremonial magic (based on the Golden Dawn paradigm).

My use of creating sacred space and establishing a delineated domain for working magic and worshiping my deities was similar to a practice that patients suffering from trauma typically utilize, and that is making a “safe place” or an oasis to shelter one from trauma induced anxiety attacks. While I am not certain that what I had undergone was in any way close to becoming afflicted by PTSD, the means of dealing with the abuse heaped on me by my father, my peers and the associated cognitive dissonance that I experienced could be similar to that adopted by someone afflicted by trauma. When I performed the circle consecration rite I felt as though I had entered a pure and rarified sanctuary where all of my beliefs and practices were empowered and true. This artifice might not be necessary for someone who had experienced neither mental and physical parental abuse nor rejection by society and one’s peer group, yet it was also the standard operating procedure for those who were practicing some variant of Modern Witchcraft. It had the same effect on me as a safe place would to a person suffering from trauma and it was for me a place of love, peace and even joy, where the rules of magic, the domain of spirits and gods reigned supreme. 

Another thing that I had to do was to perceive myself as having a direct connection to my deities that allowed me to assume them in the drawing down rite and to perform magic in that assumed mental state. This is a particular technique that I developed very early in my magical practices. Having a magical persona helped give me the ability to identify as a godhead without blowing up my ego, since it was me as the witch and magician who was temporarily assuming the deity instead of the low self-esteem and inadequate person that I was outside of the magic circle.

It was hard initially to think of myself as anyone special or capable in the material world, and my steps to achieve material self-sufficiency were adversely impacted by a series of failures. Yet I persevered on all fronts and was able to achieve both my material as well as magical and occult goals. It was a struggle, but often I was the obstacle that had to be altered in order to make progress. In time a lot of my psychological defects were resolved and my sharp edges were smoothed down. I became educated, intelligent and capable, but it was a long and hard struggle. Nothing was easy for me, even though I was probably a bit smarter than some people I knew who thought themselves superior. Yet one of the factors that helped me was my boundless optimism in the face of all adversity, and also my powerful child-like imagination that I never outgrew. These were the seeds of my magical process that when nourished, grew and thrived.

As far as adopting traditions is concerned, becoming an initiated Alexandrian Witch was a watershed event for me. I had been practicing witchcraft and magic for around five years before I found a coven and requested to be initiated. Yet my practices were stunted, self absorbed and not yielding the kind of success that I had hoped for. Once I was initiated and given a lot of classes and started studying far better sources of magical lore, my magical practice profoundly changed for the better. It was like being handed the key to the mysteries and gaining an effusion of self-empowerment that was astonishing.

I know that adopting traditions are not particularly vogue these days, and getting a classical occult education is perceived as being a boring waste of time; but for me the advantages were enormous. I was given a traditional platform to work with, and from that platform, I was able to build all of the rites and ordeals that I use today. All I needed was to be initiated, empowered and exposed to a group of practitioners who helped me to clarify what I had been doing, and also, to receive a peer review of my work and to adjust it accordingly. Had I not received this initiation then my progress would have been a lot slower. Still, I believe that I would have gotten to the same place, although lacking in some critical areas of my current development.

So, what I underwent in my personal history has shaped how I practice magic and how I would teach someone to master it. When I have taught individuals how to work magic, I have shared with them the techniques that I myself have used, and they can either use them to the degree that I did to achieve my goals, or they can mitigate these practices in order to adjust them to their own personal history. I have never had someone reject certain rituals or practices based on their personal preferences or principles; but I have had discussions about tailoring these practices to the individual practitioner. In fact, what I have said and continue to say is that each magician must create their own magical system in order to make the magic that they practice a living part of their being.

Revisiting the Religious Objectives and Healing Cartesian Duality

Getting back to what Scott wrote and critiqued regarding my previous article, the two points that he had a problem with were part of the religious and spiritual objectives. I think that Scott and I approach magic in a similar manner, but it does differ when it comes down to the religious components of our magical systems. I was taught a form of magic based on Modern Witchcraft, and he adopted a Thelemic approach to the Golden Dawn system of ceremonial magic. They are quite distinct from each other, although I did borrow some elements from the basic GD rites, my approach is singularly different.

When a person is initiated into one of the traditions of modern witchcraft based on the Gardnerian model, that person assumes a magical and witch-based persona that is kept secret from the outside world. When the circle consecration rite is performed, the individuals within it also assume their witchcraft personas so that they are revealed to the deities, spirits and powers of the dread lords in their true sacred form. They might also be robed or garbed in some fashion, or they might be naked as a sign of complete trust, freedom and openness. In this environment they worship their deities and practice magic. They are separate from the mundane world, existing for the moment in the sacred safe place given to them by their gods. Yet this basic and fundamental state is the basis to the two objectives that I stated in my article.

The first objective is to elevate the self-image so a person is able to establish the credible belief and confidence that he or she can perform magical rituals that produce effective results. In this fashion a person assumes and becomes the persona of a magician with all of its associated practices and expectations. This means that the individual undergoes some kind of change or basic transformation that allows for paranormal phenomenon to occur, and it colors the way that he or she perceives themselves and the world around them.”

The second objective is to establish an artificial boundary between a world that is defined by magic and one that is defined as commonplace or mundane. In the material world, which is effectively defined by science, magic doesn’t have any factual basis, but in the world defined by magic, there are subjective powers and forces that can indeed cause the magician and his or her world to change, however modestly or profoundly, in accordance with their will. This boundary starts with the self as defined by magic and continues to define the practices, beliefs and the magical equipment as being set aside from the material world in order to be part of the magical world view.

Both of these objectives are achieved when a witch is initiated in a magic circle that is opened to the deities and empowered with the cone of power. If a person would seek to emulate this state and mode of practice without being initiated into a Pagan or Wiccan tradition (or any tradition) then building the rites to performing these operations stated above on a regular schedule would cause an initiation-like transformative process to occur, but perhaps not as dramatic or as quick. It would meet the basic objects for working magic as determined by the traditions of magical witchcraft.

As the practitioner would also engage in developing a specialized religious cult with themselves as the prelate and congregation, and within that cult, perform the godhead assumption of the principal deity then the third objective would be realized over time. Here it is quoted.

The third objective is to define the self as a spiritual being residing in a world defined by spirits, magical energies and exemplars of consciousness not defined by science or the material world view. This is, of course, an internal process that also causes an ongoing transformation of consciousness, where the alternate magical definition of the self becomes a principle part of the functioning of that world. This process also gives the magician a kind of authority and spiritual backing to perform magic, unleash metaphorical powers (that might be subtle but actual powers associated with consciousness) and to engage with disembodied entities of variously defined mythical, symbolical  and metaphysical existence. The self also assumes a mythical, symbolical and metaphysical existence as well, so it might engage with these entities and acquire and project paranormal forces and symbolic powers.”

I wrote these objectives with the non-initiate and independent magical practitioner in mind, and I based it on what I went through when I first developed my magical system and even later, when I was initiated as a Witch, so many years ago. It has remained the core part of my practices ever since, and it has been useful as well as empowering. I see no reason to either omit it or amend my own practices because it introduces duality into my magical work. I have found it to be integral to my magical process.

Now the question will be whether or not I have unwittingly established a troubling duality in what I am doing in my magical practice, and does this limit what I can do in the material world. My answer would have to be a negative. Since adopting this methodology more than four decades in the past, I have not only been able to transform and develop myself as a human being but I have also been able to continue to grow and maximize my potential in the material world. I may not be wealthy, but I am comfortably well-off, at least for now. A lot of this had to do with my magical workings, although it would be difficult for me to attribute everything I have achieved to magic. Some of it was incidental or even accidental, and to bend fate to explain everything as a product of my magic is probably, in my opinion, taking this approach too far. Not everyone would agree with this opinion, of course, but that is how I see my life and my reality.

However, there is one magical process that I discussed in my article that shows, if it is practiced as part of the one’s magical discipline, how all dualities of self and world, spirit and matter, life and death, can be merged and unified into one single reality, process and beingness. That is the practice of ordeal magic that I refer to as theurgy. The process of theurgy probably starts early in one’s magical career as one attempts to bridge the magical and mundane worlds, and it ends with the merging of self and not-self into the unity of all being. What I say about theurgy in my article is very much the universal medicine to all that plagues and afflicts humanity, and that is all of the disappointments, thwarted ambitions and lost opportunities that happen to nearly everyone. There are also nullifying conflicts, unresolvable issues and the occurrences of accidents and catastrophes. No magician is immune to these occurrences, and in fact, all living things succumb to death and defeat eventually. Even so, theurgy can address them and over time, resolve them, and that includes the ultimate ordeal, death itself.

So while it is likely that the beginning magician, following my methods for performing magic, might encounter some Cartesian duality, it will not last long. Being continually exposed to sacred magic and the domain of spirits and gods has a natural healing process built into it. They will also experience the processes of unity and the healing of duality that is accelerated through theurgy. When I teach someone magic and share with them the lore that I use, I also encourage them to undergo magical ordeals, even from the very first stages of their magical training. This process is built into the magical order that I helped to develop - the Order of the Gnostic Star. That is the way that the methods of theurgy are adopted by magicians practicing my system of magic. It is also how, over time, that process will cause the various dualities of practice and perception to be healed and brought into union. It isn’t guaranteed, but a continual practice using this methodology will start making that happen very quickly.

Finally, the way that Scott and I work magic is both similar yet also very different. They are based not only on two distinct traditions, but also two very different personalities and two different life histories. Neither method is the definitive one, and whichever one a student might adopt has to do with their life experience, how they perceive ritual magic, whether they belong to a tradition or to none at all, and their basic personality. You couldn’t find two different personalities when examining Scott and myself, so our corresponding magical systems would be expected to be different as well. We have many points in common, but there are differences, too. It is up to students to choose a path that matches their basic beliefs and personalities. Some will like Scott’s scientific and practical approach to magic, and some will want something that incorporates poetry, drama and theater. Scott seems like a scientist to me, and I am more like an artist.

My message to the student, choose ye well, then do your will.  

Frater Barrabbas

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Where to Start Out With Magic

It’s been quite a while since I posted a really large article that is full of useful and interesting information. Now that things are starting to become more settled in my life, I can have more time to engage in my pastime, which is writing long articles to my erstwhile readers. I know that I have probably lost part of my audience, but hopefully word of mouth will spread the news that I am once again in the writing mode and imparting what I hope will be helpful advice to both the beginner and the accomplished practitioner. So, I present you here with this newly minted article. Although some of the information has been stated in previous articles, it represents how I perceive the magical world and its process at this time and place. Also, Happy Solstice!

The Teacher is a “Dick”

There is an old adage that “everyone has to start somewhere” and it is quite adequately applied to the art and mastery of ritual magick. Whenever I read about someone making light of another magician’s methodologies on social media, particularly if it is someone who has just recently started on the magical path, it does irritate me. There is no one single correct way to practice or study magic, but there are some basic approaches one can take to ensure a balanced and purposeful progress.

However, I think that shaming or ridiculing someone for practicing magic in a certain way or for possessing certain supposedly unenlightened beliefs about technical matters is despicable, small minded and contemptuous. I leave the arguments for the bigger issues, such as whether one’s belief about the world and their place in it is inclusive or exclusive, whether one is spiritually egalitarian or spiritually fascist. It does make a profound difference in the magic that one performs, but that is for other articles and considerations - this one is just about that humble place where all magicians start out and where they might end up if they persist.

I will state that those of us who have been working magic for many years need to use a certain amount of compassion when interacting with those who have recently begun their path. As I have stated, everyone has to start somewhere, and I have proof that some of the ideas that even I have followed and promoted, from my earliest days to recently, have been found to be wanting or even just plain wrong. Yes, I admit it, I have made mistakes. I have held ideas and opinions that later turned out to be wrong. When confronted by this knowledge, I have decided to change my ideas and opinions instead of perpetuating my errors.

Discovering mistakes and discarding out-dated perspectives is just a part of the natural progression of magical growth; but the worst thing an experienced practitioner can do is to either mock or make light of someone else’s beliefs or methodologies. This is because arrogantly making light of someone not only hurts the one being corrected, but it make others less likely to listen to what that supposed teacher might have to say in the future.

Who wants to trust someone who treats the less experienced seekers that he meets on social media as idiots or humiliates and traumatizes them, thus quelling their spirit of inquiry? I say to the beginning student that when an experienced practitioner treats you with contempt and acts like a “dick” just move on and ignore them. Whatever constructive things they might have taught you will be lost due to no fault of your own, but because the said “teacher” is too ego-bound and narcissistic to be trusted with imparting unbiased knowledge or lore. 

Let me give you an example. If I am talking to someone who has either used or is still using the Simon version of the “Necronomicon” as their grimoire of choice, I would neither mock them nor deride them for making this choice. I would understand it as just one of the easily accessible tools on the way to an evolving practice of magic. Regardless of the fact that the Necronomicon is a recently fabricated grimoire first promoted as the most dreadfully potent magical tome by the horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, I would refrain from mocking that person or deriding them for their supposed poor choice in magical sources.

I have observed, over time, others using the Simon Necronomicon and obtaining good results, and I even toyed with it a bit when it first came out years ago. If such youthful magicians would ask my opinion about the use of this grimoire, I would tell them that there are better sources of lore; but I wouldn’t insult them for pursuing this line of work. The mere fact that they are trying to find their way and developing their own practice of ritual magic has my utmost respect and admiration - even more so if they continue with that path and evolve to the point of using more sophisticated lore. This is a path that I myself walked decades ago.

I try to treat anyone I meet on the path of magic with a certain amount of respect and dignity for their personal work, feelings and perceptions; knowing that they are trying to make this grand old art-form function for themselves, and that such work is both honorable and an important part of their own personal spiritual path. This makes me listen and think first before trying to insert myself in someone else’s magical business in order to correct methodologies that appear to me to be based on spurious and specious ideas about magic.

Anyone who practices their art for very long learns about these things and discards poor or weak forms for stronger and better ones. However, there are those who seem to persist for a long time in pursuing their follies and who am I to stop them? What I try to avoid is acting like a dick and judging other people’s ways of working magic. I have come to this perspective, unfortunately, rather recently, since like other authors, I have felt the need to correct the vices and erroneous perceptions of others without having first done that work on myself. Yes, I too have behaved like a dick to beginning students in the past, but hopefully I have long since mended my ways.

Now that I have been deeply exposed to Zen Buddhism, I am less prone to being judgmental and more open to accepting other people’s opinions whether I agree with them or not. Mindfulness has helped me curb some of my arrogance and certainties, and made me more thoughtful and observant. This is something that should happen to all experienced and knowledgeable practitioners, in my opinion. Still, there are facts and truth out there, and not all opinions are gold.

Learning Magic is Like a Living Tree

I have discussed previously what I think is likely the most basic progression for the attainment and mastery of magic, but I find that it warrants repetition from time to time. You can find one of my earlier articles here and there, but I will endeavor not to repeat myself and not refer to any specific magical tradition or organization, including my own - something that I haven’t done in previous articles. You can envision the path of mastering magic like a living tree that has five basic branches, and I would call that tree the “Process.” The five branches represent the basic five areas of study and practice. I am breaking it down into five branches since that will simplify our discussion, but a more realistic appraisal of adopting a magical regimen is that it ends up affecting everything that a person does, whether magical or mundane.

Here are the five branches.

1. Self Mastery - meditation, yoga, concentration, contemplation, mindfulness, occult studies, diet and regular exercise (body and mind)
2. Divination - Tarot, Astrology, I-Ching, Geomancy, clairvoyance (scrying), dice or coins (knuckle bones), pendulum, dowsing
3. Religious or Spiritual Practices - calendric rites and practices, offerings, fasting, feasts, sacralization (making sacraments), invocation, godhead assumption, communion
4. Strategic performance of magical rituals and ceremonies - praxis - this branch can be broken into a number of different and similar practices - more about that later in this article
5. Magical discipline - periodic, repetitious practices and regular, consistent work

In addition to these five branches there is also the consideration of whether one engages in magic using a traditional regimen (typically associated with some magical organization), an eclectic (or chaotic) regimen or a reconstructionist regimen. Each methodology is somewhat different and has its own kind of approach, training and expectations - each one has its own virtues and limitations. I will briefly discuss these as well.

First of all let us look more closely at these five branches and seek to carefully define them, since they will be (hopefully) repeated in whichever regimen or path that one chooses.

Self Mastery

Self mastery is one of the more important branches, since this where the magical work has its core and baseline. A magician must be able to discipline his or her mind, so performing regular exercises to affect this end is mandatory. This would include the variations of meditation, concentration, contemplation, bodily exercises, such as yogic stretching and stress removal, the body scan and the practice of mindfulness, but it would also include those studies, disciplines and exercises that would strengthen one’s ability to think in a manner that is logical and discerning. Critical thinking is as important to the practice of magic as it is to the practice of science. Also, it is important for the student magician to read, study and also to write. Keeping some kind of record or magical diary will become ever more important as the magician engages in a more complicated and technical ordeal-style of magical workings.

Additionally, studying a wide range of topics would also be important, including history, anthropology, psychology, biology, neuroscience, astronomy, philosophy, art, religion, various occult topics such as the Qabalah, astrology, western and eastern mythology, symbology, the divination arts, eastern and western mysticism, and the practice of magic throughout the world and throughout history. Once could also study chemistry, alchemy, physics, mathematics, and any number of dead and living languages, such as Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Coptic, or Italian, French and German. There are no limits to the training and education of a magician. Leave no stone unturned is a good adage.

Divination Practices

Included with studies and practices of the mind are the techniques and exercises that assist the student in widening their world by enhancing the native psychic abilities of clairvoyance and clairaudience. Being able to see visions of the hidden worlds, and to hear the spoken words of disembodied beings as well as of the deities is a very important talent that the magician must develop in some manner or to some degree. To assist this development are various tools, such as magic mirrors and scrying stones, Tarot cards, I-Ching coins, dousing rods and pendulums, rune stones, geomancy sticks, dice (knuckle bones or even many sided dice), and numerous other obscure methods for channeling subtle and psychic communications.

Divination assists the magician in determining the nature of the unseen and unseeable worlds of spirit, to communicate with spirits and deities and to intuit secret or hidden things in the past, present or the future. It helps him or her to project their senses beyond the ordinary world and into the domain of spiritual consciousness. This is a form of the magician’s spirit vision, or even as a kind of astral projection, which a trained and experienced magician will develop as a sixth sense to help him or her to engage with entities and topological domains that exist within the nearly limitless space of consciousness. Divination is an important key to that world.

In addition to psychic methods of divination is the practice of astrology and astronomy, which is very important to the practice of magic. Whereas divination properly seeks to peer beyond the veil and engage with unseen entities in their world and to understand the binding connection between the spirit and material worlds (past, present and future), astrology reveals the symbolic environment and the inner forces that are at play throughout both worlds. Astrology tells the magician about his or her own basic symbolic nature, why something happened in the past and also what might potentially occur in the future. It tells the magician when to act and what he or she can expect from any given magical or mundane action. Psychic divination functions as the magician’s eyes and ears, and astrology is the magician’s watch and calendar.

Religious or Spiritual Practices

A magician, above all, functions as a priest or priestess of his or her own religious cult. That religious cult may be wholly immersed in a traditional religion or it may be completely separate and distinct - a thing unto itself. Religious or spiritual practices are an important activity in the practice of ritual magic because it establishes a deep and strong relationship between the operator and the domain of spirits and magic. It also establishes the foundation for the belief and expectation in working ritual magic, and it elevates the spiritual dimension of individual practitioners, making them capable of working effective magical rituals that can actually change them internally and alter their material circumstances. Without this kind of condition and capability an individual would find it difficult to perform magical rites with any degree of success.

If the magician uses a traditional religion as his or her spiritual foundation then he or she must adhere, within reason, to the tenets of that tradition. If a ritual magician is a practicing Christian, or even a Catholic, then he or she must deal with the accompanying cognitive dissonance of performing what would be considered prescribed or even prohibited practices and beliefs. (A worse case scenario would be for the magician to secretly function as an active apostate to that religious tradition, i.e., a Satanist.)

Taking a more loosely defined adherence to a religious tradition makes the most sense when practicing magic within a religion, or choosing a religion that is more esoteric, occultic or progressively inclined. In the previous epoch magicians incorporated the services of a priest to consecrate magical tools, talismans and vestments, or they were able to supply that capability themselves because they had the authority to sacralize objects. However, a magician who either operates outside of a traditional religion or who has organized his or her own religious cult and who functions as a prelate within that sect has the best of all options in the practice of ritual magick. They can do it themselves based on their own religious authority.

Religious and spiritual practices have a few objectives that become the repertoire of a basic practice of ritual magic. 

The first objective is to elevate the self-image so a person is able to establish the credible belief and confidence that he or she can perform magical rituals that produce effective results. In this fashion a person assumes and becomes the persona of a magician with all of its associated practices and expectations. This means that the individual undergoes some kind of change or basic transformation that allows for paranormal phenomenon to occur, and it colors the way that he or she perceives themselves and the world around them. Self development of a particular kind, such as meditation practices, yoga and breath-control can help to build a foundation; but at some point the erstwhile magician must adopt the persona of a practicing magician.

The second objective is to establish an artificial boundary between a world that is defined by magic and one that is defined as commonplace or mundane. In the material world, which is effectively defined by science, magic doesn’t have any factual basis, but in the world defined by magic, there are subjective powers and forces that can indeed cause the magician and his or her world to change, however modestly or profoundly, in accordance with their will. This boundary starts with the self as defined by magic and continues to define the practices, beliefs and the magical equipment as being set aside from the material world in order to be part of the magical world view.

The third objective is to define the self as a spiritual being residing in a world defined by spirits, magical energies and exemplars of consciousness not defined by science or the material world view. This is, of course, an internal process that also causes an ongoing transformation of consciousness, where the alternate magical definition of the self becomes a principle part of the functioning of that world. This process also gives the magician a kind of authority and spiritual backing to perform magic, unleash metaphorical powers (that might be subtle but actual powers associated with consciousness) and to engage with disembodied entities of variously defined mythical, symbolical  and metaphysical existence. The self also assumes a mythical, symbolical and metaphysical existence as well, so it might engage with these entities and acquire and project paranormal forces and symbolic powers.

Magic as a phenomenon occupies a place in the mind defined by the phrase “As If” that represents a kind of metaphysical and fantasy based mental operation. It can be qualified as an internal process of using symbols, metaphors, myths, and occult predicates to cause actual physical phenomena to occur in addition to the expansion and amplification of individual and collective consciousness. The metaphorical “As If” is the foundation for all of the humanities, the qualities and elements of human culture, and even the definitions, expectations, beliefs and operations of individuals, collective groups and organizations. It is, as a phrase, the basis to what it means to be a functioning and conscious human being. That fulcrum of human consciousness, the assumption of reality that exists as the essence of our being, is something that is usually accepted and not typically challenged by individuals within human cultures and collectives. It is challenged and even overcome by the efforts of artists, musicians, poets, theologians, magicians and madmen. Magicians use this foundational premise to build their practice and belief system of magic, and the religious and spiritual practices they employ make it subjectively realized.

There are five basic routines that a magician performs in order to incorporate religious practices and beliefs into his or her magical practice. These are devotion, invocation, godhead assumption, communion (sacralization) and adopting a quasi religious discipline. These practices assist the magician in meeting the three basic objectives and building up a magical practice based on the full immersion of the magician within the world of spirit and magic. This work, over time, makes him or her an effective channel and arbiter of those two worlds as they merge back into one.

All of these operations are performed not only for the benefit of disembodied entities residing in the conscious continuum of spirit, but also for the benefit of the magician’s self as an exemplar of that domain. In the cult of the magician, it is the magician himself that is the face and the embodiment of the preeminent spirit, thereby making him or her, a deity. Therefore, these practices not only establish a deep relationship between the magician and various entities and powers within the domain of spirit, but it also establishes a powerful relationship between the magician and his or her self defined as a spirit. It is a form of self-worship and self-love that acts as the core or center of the religious cult of the magician. Yet a self defined as a deity is not an amplification of the magician’s mundane ego. Through the power of “As If” it becomes an alternative self that is wholly spiritual and residing fully within the world of spirit and magic.

That alternative magical and spiritual self has had a long history in the practice of magic, and it could be considered a kind of facsimile of the magician, with the caveat that it is a wholly spiritual being. Some of the names for such an entity have been Holy Guardian Angel, familiar spirit, higher self, headless or bornless one, genius, etc. Some will no doubt dispute this comparison as being an over simplification, yet in the practice of modern ritual magic, the most intimate spirit is the self defined as a deity regardless of its other possible comparisons. (I have discussed this at length in my book “Spirit Conjuring for Witches” which I recommend.)

Devotion - these are the practices that identify and establish a relationship between various entities, whether they are deities, demigods, angels, demons, aerial spirits, earth-based spirits or chthonic spirits. They consist of making offerings and maintaining a kind of attentive quid pro quo relationship with those entities that form an integral part of the magician’s religious and spiritual world. Offerings can consist of any combination of food and drink, incense, candle light, poetic words, songs and music. These offerings are given exclusively to the spirits and are not shared with other humans. Included in these offerings are devotions that are focused on the magician as deity, who naturally receives a slightly greater share of this attention, as part of the self-love, self-worship and self-devotion associated with the cult. The reason for self-devotion is that the self as deity represents the lynch-pin for one’s practice of ritual magick.

Invocation - this is the summoning or calling of various aligned spirits to appear and attend the magician. The invocation can also include ringing a bell or striking a gong, playing a flute, singing, clapping hands, or using specific kinds of recorded music to get the attention of the entity so invoked. The invocation can be spoken in appropriate languages (preferably dead) or various barbarous words of power and mystery (verba ignota). The invocation can be to any entity or a group of entities, deities or local spirits, and it serves to verbally objectify the relationship between the summoner and the summoned as well as establish the authorities and credentials of the magician doing the calling. A proper invocation is used on regular and periodic basis to reflexively maintain the connections between the magician and his or her chosen aligned spirits.

Godhead Assumption - this is one of the most important rites that a ritual magician can perform. It is used to maintain the all-important connection between the magician and his or her self as deity. Since I define ritual magic as the mechanism of performing magical operations while under the assumption of a deity then it would follow that regularly performing the godhead assumption rite of the self as deity is a preeminent spiritual practice. This rite represents a varied degree of godhead immersion, from complete conscious immersion and assumption to lesser degrees of immersion, where the magician is still functioning as his magical self partially distinct from his self as deity.

If the magician is not a religious polytheist then this rite would be replaced with periodic immersions in a pious religious practice and deep devotion to a single Deity, as in the case of a monotheistic faith. A godhead assumption would then be more like a scaled down variation of the Abramelin operation, and many of the old grimoires discuss a period of piety and deep devotion that is required before performing a magical operation. (However, Catholic Priests are believed to assume the spiritual persona of Christ while performing the consecration of the host and wine during mass, so it might be possible to perform a degree of that assumption in a Christian practice.)

Communion (sacralization) - once the godhead assumption is established then objects that are used in magic can be blessed and charged with the power and authority of that deity, a process called consecration. It is a method of materializing the power and being of a spirit through the magical operation of contagion. This is a very old practice where a duly elected priest or representative of the deity blesses and sets apart some material thing for purely spiritual purposes. Communion is primarily used to establish a material link between the celebrant, congregants (if there are any) and the focused deity, whether that deity is one that is traditional or a hybridized representation of the magician. This is where salt, water, wine or ale, bread or meat are consecrated for shared consumption. It is where vestments, tools and talismans are charged, oils, perfumes and ointments empowered, and places and individuals are sanctified and blessed.

While the godhead assumption and invocation are used to contact and assume a spiritual entity, the communion rite is where that assumed entity uses its powers and authorities to make plain material objects into sacred substances and magical relics. The more elaborate variation of this rite is the magical mass that is used to facilitate godhead assumption, produce sacramental substances, empower and sacralize a location for the performance of magic, and charge and bless magical instruments. It can also be used to bless and heal individuals or groups of certain physical or psychological maladies. In the system of ritual magic that I perform, the magical mass is the fundamental and core rite that is used for all major workings.

Religious Discipline - this is the ordered and regulated practice of the above four activities (as well as the other practices that a magician adopts) to forge a calendric cycle of religious activity, an important part of the personal cult of the magician. A religious and magical calendar overlays the mundane calendar with spiritual and magical definitions thereby qualifying the secular hours and days of the year. It marks some days as being intrinsically more important than others for magical work.

This calendric cycle is typically based on the diurnal cycle of the day and night defined by planetary hours, the monthly passage of the moon through its phases and the annual passage of the sun through its seasonal changes. The days of the week are also based on the seven planets of the ancients (like the planetary hours) and measures the progression of the moon through its endless phases. The lunar cycle is best represented by what is known in astrology as the lunation cycle, where the phases of the moon are broken up into eight divisions. A lunar cycle is very important to most forms of magical work, and that work is scheduled based on the lunar stages of the lunation cycle. The solar cycle is best represented by the solstices and equinoxes and also by the mid-points between each season representing the high point for each of the four seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter. The solar cycle can be conceptualized as a revolving wheel of the year with eight spokes, which was a basis of the older polytheistic religious liturgical calendars in antiquity and later appropriated (and greatly simplified) for modern Witches and Pagans.

Many religious calendars are loosely based on this basic structure, although traditional religions also offer commemorative celebrations and other historically styled sacred days. Magicians have used these dates in their calendric cycles to represent days that are special and considered auspicious for magical operations, and a calendric cycle is still very important to magical work because it seeks to sacralize time itself. In fact the Catholic liturgical calendar, along with the hourly liturgical office, was used by magicians in the middle ages and the Renaissance as part of the magical religious discipline incorporated by ceremonial magicians.

Strategic Performance of Rituals and Ceremonies

Having adopted a religious discipline, the magician must also practice ritual magic in a periodic and regular manner, developing over time a magical discipline. A magician should perform the categories of self-development (particularly meditation work), divination and religious practices to build a foundation for magical work. However, that work becomes an evolving process of acquiring ever more complex, deep and engaging ritual lore. This is also true of the other practices as well. A magician begins with simple magical workings and evolves to ever greater magical operations. The focus and objective of these magical operations also changes and evolves over time as well. A magician starting out typically focuses on his or her basic needs, such as material and social objectives like money, career, assisting the healing process (or healing others), opening or building relationships, expanding personal influence, gaining valuable self-knowledge and ultimately, complete self mastery.

A magician learns through the accumulation of successes and failures, both magical and mundane. He or she also discovers that some things cannot be changed or avoided, and that accidents can and do happen. Magic is something that the magician can only learn through practice, and like any skill, the more practice he or she engages in will make the magician more skilled and capable. Various books and materials can help and become sources for creative appropriation or traditional adoption. Practicing a lot of magic over time ultimately begins to change the magician in many ways. Although subtle at first, the power of magic most profoundly impacts the inner being and self of the magician, causing him or her to become ever more magical and spiritual while maintaining an effective grasp and command of the material world, the path of true self-mastery.

The steps that a magician takes in order to master the art of magic can vary, and it might also depend on whether the magician belongs to a magical tradition or is a self-determined and eclectic practitioner. However, these are the steps that I believe represent the process by which a magician masters his or her art.

1. Basic magic (also known as Low Magic), spell work (single or complex objectives), developing a magical practice, using basic tropes to acquire material goods and expanding one’s material opportunities, sigil magic, hoodoo, folk magic spells (poppet, composites of herbs, minerals, stones, human/animal artifacts, etc.), divination based insights, uncrossing and bending causal probabilities. Oddly enough, basic magic is never completely discarded until one achieves the higher levels of consciousness and it is no longer relevant.

2. Elemental magic - working with the energy structures of magic, magical energy projection, basic spirit conjuration, basic deity workings, four-fold, eight-fold and sixteen-fold magical structures; working with earth spirits and spirits of place or location. Advanced sigil magic (connected to elemental energy work) and the use of charged/consecrated tools, talismans, herbs, elixirs, relics, medicines and stones (magical lapidary). Elemental magic is an extension of basic magic, and they share many of the same basic beliefs and practices.

3. Planetary and Astrological magic - working with the planetary and astrological signs, symbols, qualities, planetary intelligences and spirits, angels, archangels, olympian spirits, and planetary deities. Talismanic magic is one the primary focuses of this kind of magic, and building, charging and consecrating planetary relics is its practice. The magician uses passive or active techniques to astrologically charge planetary or astrological talismans. The magician may also employ various spirits as agents to do the same kind of work, or to use a combination of talismans and spirits. When adding the 7 planets, 12 zodiacal signs and the 4 elements (along with a unitary sign) to produce the 22/24 magical pathways of the Tree of Life model, a comprehensive system of magical work is realized that links this magic to that of the unified collective known as the Qabalah. The magician can also join the elemental, planetary and zodiacal symbolism with that of the Tarot, thereby producing a comprehensive system of magic based on the extensive symbology of the lesser and greater arcana of the Tarot. This methodology ties together divination and magic into a seamless whole.

4. Magical Evocation magic - working with the various spirit hierarchies for the purpose of engaging, summoning and projecting into the material world the intelligences, authorities and powers of various spirits. Traditional methods, such as those described in the grimmoires of the previous epoch, as well as appropriating and even inventing new systems and methods for conjuring spirits and establishing a mechanism for them to directly impact the material world to fulfill the objectives set in motion by the ritual magician is the focus of this work.

Included with these workings is an eschatology based on the shamanic conception of three spirit worlds connected to the material world through a series of warded and elevated gateways (protected by a gateway guardian) and spirit pathways (ghost paths) that crisscross between the levels of the worlds of spirit and corresponding worlds of mankind. The magician strives to learn to sense, feel, see and hear the subtle phenomena of the domain of spirits and the entities that reside therein. The focus of this work combines the religious cult of the magician with his or her magical work to build a inner shrine of consisting of evoked and activated spirits that emanate from the magician’s sacral core (temple complex) and projected through the material world at large. This is the basis of the magical work known as the Art of Armadel.

This kind of magic also requires the ability of the magician to phase shift consciousness so as to allow him or her to enter into and return from conscious voyages within that domain of spirit in order to engage, parley and establish relationships with all of the various the spirits active in that world. Religious practices are key to building up a hierarchy of spiritual alignments and maintaining them throughout the practice of this magic.

5. Qabalistic magic - this system of magic is focused on building an organized and structured arrangement for all of the symbols and elements of magic and thereby producing a unified series of tables (correspondences) and hierarchical lists thereby relating everything to everything else. Adding the symbology of the elements, planets, the zodiac and the Tarot and tying them to the enumeration of an alphabet, where letters are associated with numbers and when they are added up they correspond to occult and magical symbols, produces a system where sacred text becomes a powerful symbolic magical expression.

The foundation of Qabalistic magic and its associated occult practices is the power and potency of sacred writings, representing the sacred literary basis of a religious magical tradition where words originate matter - thought becomes form, and form establishes substance. This relationship between words (thoughts) and form (matter) is depicted as a model where a number based hierarchical topology represents waves of creative emanations, starting from the most unitary essence and ultimately producing the various evolving layers resulting in the gross formulation of all physical forms. It is represented by a comprehensive symbolic model (such as the Tree of Life) that builds up a unified system of metaphysics and symbolism. As an eschatology, it contains all of the religious, mystical and magical elements and gives them a cause, a structural location and an ultimate resolution or destiny.

The source of all magical structures and symbology are to be found in the sacred writings associated with the baseline religious tradition (Hebrew - Tenach, Greek - New Testament, Arabic - Quran, Sanscrit - Vedas, Coptic - Gnostic writings, English - Book of the Law, etc.), and the different forms of letter to number correspondences produces the web and weave of a spiritualized material world. Perceiving and operating magically and mystically through a sacralized world view is the principle objective for Qabalistic magic. Once it is fully realized and actualized, the magician can symbolically manipulate any material or spiritual element within it to cause changes to occur in the material world. Such an actualized model allows for a direct correspondence between symbolic and actual physical representations through the power of this system and its associated mapping.

6. Theurgic magic - this system of magic concentrates on the transformation of an individual being where he or she becomes the vessel and instrument of the focus of the all-pervading intrinsic godhead infusing the world of consciousness that is also wholly imbued with matter. The purpose of theurgy is to repair the mind-body split and to eliminate duality within normal conscious existence, therefore making it a permanent state. The work of theurgy is to elevate the mind so that higher forms of consciousness (such as various unitary and mystical states) are merged into the mundane state of being. This causes all of the differences between godhead and individual consciousness to be slowly erased.

Theurgic magic consists of magical workings that challenge the essential self definition so that it might be expanded to include the non-dual state of god-consciousness; it is where the transcendental becomes materialized into the magician’s existential reality. These are the kinds of workings that an adept fully engages in, but only when the five other areas of magical expertise are fulfilled in some manner or form. Therefore, the magician has passed through the five elements of a magical practice and has mastered the material and religious domains of his or her existence and has achieved the full awakening of his or her conscious being.

The practical magical workings that are typically part of Theurgic magic are intense and life-challenging transformative ordeals that permanently alter and reshape the conscious being of the individual. Representative ordeals that could be used in this methodology of magic would consist of the rites and practices associated with the Abramelin working, the Bornless One invocation working, the Portae Lucis working, and any number of other types of workings that attempt to realize the transformed self as godhead. Such workings, when performed serially at ever greater degrees of conscious evolution, along with rigorous religious and mystical practices, would ultimately produce a completely awakened or enlightened individual who would possess a heightened state of non-dual conscious awareness. While the other five levels could take several years or decades to master, theurgy takes a lifetime to master, that is if one is even able to ever master it in a lifetime. Few have managed to accomplish that objective.

7. Thaumaturgic magic - if one has wholly assumed the godhead and resides in that unitary cross-roads of fully awakened divine and mundane consciousness, then each and every material action or change affected by that being would in essence be a paranormal occurrence of profound world changing transformations. It could also be something that is even beyond the conscious awareness of normal human beings. Those who have achieved total enlightenment have said that it is both fundamentally important and also, unimportant. That it has changed the one who has undergone it is indisputable, but it typically doesn’t alter one’s immediate life circumstances nor change those bystanders who are unable to either witness or realize it. One who has achieved this degree of self-mastery is still a human being living a simple but exemplary mortal life in the material world, but when an enlightened individual seeks to change the world then it becomes changed forever.

Perhaps the greatest significant decision that a fully enlightened being will make is to decide whether or not to make any changes in the world at all. He or she who has attained this level of conscious evolution will have to determine if the world even needs changing. An enlightened being may decide to communicate this knowledge to a small elect group to preserve its integral message, and that group might then communicate it to the world. He or she might also decide not to attempt such a communication, for whatever reason, and live the life of a recluse. While many forms of magic, from the most simple to the most advanced, seek to change the material world to conform to the magician’s will, it is only the impact of the unitary godhead consciousness that can thoroughly change the world that we live in.

Our history has within it many singular individuals, both great and humble, who achieved a higher evolved consciousness and sought to use that exalted insight to change the world for the good. All spiritual masters, avatars, or arhats, have achieved this state, and many, such as the Buddha, have used it as a fulcrum upon which to change the world. That kind of compassionate, altruistic and self-denying act to change the world so as to alleviate world suffering and bring people together would be considered the truest form of thaumaturgy. I also believe that our nation could use some of that enlightened teaching (dharma) and thaumaturgic magic right about now to bind the wounds of our apparent political division and heal ourselves of the maladies of delusion and dissolution.

Magical Discipline and the Mystical Process

A magical discipline is nothing more or less than the regular and consistent practice of self-mastery (meditation), divination, religious practices, and magical practices, bringing all of these activities into a seamless whole that represents the foundation of activities with which a ritual magician engages. A magical discipline changes over time, and sometimes it is a very busy regimen, particularly when it is first established. Over time, however, due to the nature of the changes in one’s life and a complex existence in the post modern world, a magical discipline may become less active, or even temporarily dormant. This is particularly true when a magician has practiced for many years and has built a fine-tuned magical discipline, and then he or she experiences some major life change that overwhelms, temporarily, those regular and periodic practices. Life is complex, and most people have careers and family that they have to balance with their magical work. It is seldom that a magician only lives for the practice of magic, and in some ways I would consider that to be unhealthy. Without a social life and a presence in the community at large, a magician will have little or no effect on the world around them, and that internal changes could easily be forms of delusion rather than any kind of conscious evolution.

Therefore, it is important to build up a magical discipline early in one’s magical practice, and to develop positive and constructive habits so that the various levels of a discipline are worked in a balanced manner. However, over time, a discipline will change, sometimes becoming deeply internalized so that it is a continual but silently occurring process without any external actions or manifestations.

It is at these times that something else is taking up the magician’s time, such as work, family, relationships, dealing with the birth, sickness or death of someone close to him or her. Such occurrences end up absorbing all of the available time and emotional resources that a magician has to spare. Life happens, but it is also the duty of the magician to find the time and place to re-establish the magical discipline, even if it means doing only a few things at sporadic times for a while. An established and internalized discipline has a life of it’s own, and the psyche of the magician will continue to engage in a magical process even when he or she is otherwise engaged. Whether a magician is avidly practicing or has a period of dormancy, the establishing of a discipline early on will help see him or her through this time of busyness or time of stillness.

This brings us to discuss that other phenomenon in magic that I have called the “process.” It is actually a kind of mystical occurrence because it represents the psychic foundation of the magician. This is the magician’s conscious being as it occurs at a specific time and in a specific place. Once affected by the establishment of a magical discipline, a person’s internal psychic being begins to undergo a process of conscious evolution. It might even occur without one realizing it, but over time, the “process,” as I call it, starts to impact the self, causing a practicing ritual magician to experience a greater degree of transcendental states and a gradual self-awakening.

Visions and dreams seem to occupy one for a while, but over time, these clear up to reveal the world as it really is, instead of how one imagines it to be. In other words, we begin to awaken from our constant illusory dream-state. We begin to see ourselves as we truly are and the world around us as it truly is. We see those around us and the circumstances of their lives and we fully understand what is really happening. Nothing is embellished to the awakened magician, and all delusion is finally dead.

That event, if it does occur, is part of a very long process; but as the self becomes ever more awakened it leads one to have many more moments of self discovery and profound realization. In fact these discoveries begin to drive the magician’s ambition, determining his or her active direction for research and the kind of magic that he or she will employ.

Seekers are driven by their discoveries and realizations, which in turn push them to research, build and perform new magical workings that unleash even greater discoveries and realizations. It is a circular process, or in fact, an evolving spiral that begins at the most basic level of existence and branches out to the most abstract and transcendental. It is the “process” that pushes us to consciously evolve, to seek, to know, to dare, and then attempt to communicate what has been discovered. The mystical process is the heart of magic, so I have given it the metaphorical place as the veritable trunk of the magical tree that is the magician’s practice. 

Tradition vs. Eclecticism

There are many magical traditions in the world today, and some of them are quite valid, others, not so much. A magical tradition will supposedly have all of the lore and all of the answers to the questions that any student might have in order for them to ultimately achieve their highest degree possible within that organization. That is the stated ideal of a tradition. However, my experience is that even the most comprehensive tradition will only help one achieve the magical expertise associated with the five levels of a magical practice. To achieve the next two higher levels would require a magician to work completely outside of any tradition, since those pathways are obscure and highly individuated.

Where a tradition has its benefits is to be found in the social organization and the collective of individuals practicing at all levels of its teachings. A social group of beginners, initiates, and adepts who practice their art together on a regular basis would be a tremendous gift to the beginning student, since it would help him or her establish their magical discipline and kick-start the mystical process within their psyche. Establishing ingrained habits within the practices of self-mastery, divination, religious practices and magical practices would be an ideal goal for a group of practicing magicians operating within a tradition. However, there are other potential pitfalls that could make such a sodality a barrier to higher achievements.

There are traditional magical organizations that are run by a strict member-based hierarchy with a static curriculum, and some of these can claim a pedigree of decades if not centuries. Other types of organizations are reconstructions of ancient traditions, such as the Kemitic (Ancient Egyptian), Greek, Roman, Hellenistic (Neoplatonism), Celtic, or the like. All of these traditions were at some point in time created by either some individual or group, or reconstructed using various archaeological texts or artifacts (and creatively filling in the questionable parts), but the point is that there is no single organization that can accurately boast of having an unbroken pedigree going back to antiquity. They are all built up at some point, and most of them rather recently.

My opinion is that any organization, whatever its source or history as long as it is run in a democratic manner with rotating leadership positions, will be an optimal place to start. Those organizations that are less democratic could still be useful and helpful as long as there are checks and balances of some kind in the operating by-laws. On the other end of the spectrum there are some groups that are run as some kind of tin-horn dictatorship (benign or not) with a hardened, fixed hierarchy, no checks and balances and a static lore, and these are to be avoided at all costs. Whatever the value of their supposed lore or the impressive historical lineage they might claim, a hardened and inflexible hierarchy is a bad organizational structure. I would also advise the student to avoid any group who claims to be directed by some secretive inner organization, such as ascended masters or master adepts, since it is much more likely that they are fraudulent and obscuring their ugly exploitation behind some lofty mystical edifice. Any organization that cannot function as a democracy with checks and balances in its by-laws should be shunned, since it is likely that they are engaged in social malpractice that will not benefit the beginner or the newly joined experienced initiate.   

Groups of magicians, however advanced and benign, are after all just people. They bring their virtues and flaws to bear within the group, and if any of the more flawed among them become leaders or teachers then the whole group will suffer or even collapse. While it is good to have a peer group to look over your ideas, read over your magical diaries and inspect your rites and tools and give you constructive criticism about what you are doing, it can also become a situation where you are vulnerable to being exploited by others whose motivation and purpose is neither objective nor compassionate.

I have experienced all too often the criticism of other magicians whose passive aggressive actions hid their true desire to hurt or thwart me in some manner. I have learned over time to make certain that the final arbiter of any criticism or instruction that I receive is my own. Since I am not very open to being put in a subservient role by sooth-sayers or fake masters, I have made myself a poor candidate for any traditional organization that operates within a static hierarchy. This is probably why I have been mostly a self-made magician, although I have been influenced by the opinions, discoveries and shared insights made by others, whether by other authors, family, friends or magical colleagues.

This leads me to discuss the other possibility direction, and that is to approach the study of magic without recourse to a traditional magical organization. This is a more difficult path to trod, and even when going solo, it is important to cultivate others on the magical path and to be able to achieve a certain amount of peer review. Socializing with other magicians is a good thing to do, but it doesn’t mean that you have to join a group and then jump through the hoops that they have determined are important, just so you can find out later that what they were doing is not where you wanted to go. Self determination has many rewards but also many pitfalls. Still, as long as you maintain contacts with other magicians to avoid the obstacles of treading an insular path, then going it alone will neither lead you astray nor cause you to become self-deluded. Magic only makes people crazy who were already crazy to begin with.
I have written up this article based on what I have done myself. It does, more or less, agree with what other traditional magical groups have determined is the basic regimen of course study and practice. Additionally, there is a massive wealth of information about the practice of magic, both in books and also on the internet. We live in a time of an overwhelming volume of information about the theory and practice of ritual magick, and all it requires is a desire and a will to seek out this information and to apply it in a structured, ordered, rational and regular manner. The expectation would be that you should do this for a period of several years just to develop a magical discipline and to energize your own mystical process. If you follow your magical discipline and your mystical process then you will find your own way within the myriad of possible life paths without having to give up your integrity and self-determination to some organization or group.

Frater Barrabbas