The discourse of the Pagan Bubble

Paganbubble On the wild hunt blog, Teo Bishop posted about living in a Pagan Bubble, and mentioned his concern when he realized his step dad didn't understand what he was writing about when he read his blogs. I thought it was an interesting post, because it highlighted how a specialized community can have a discourse that doesn't allow just anyone access into the community. Such discourses exist not just in Religion or spirituality, but also in academic disciplines, subcultures, and any other type of community that is created. And much like Teo, I had a similar experience once where my mother told me she'd bought one of my books and read it and found that she didn't understand it.

A while back I wrote a post about discourse and the self-secret language that people develop and learn when they want to enter into a specific community. While I recognize the concern that Teo feels about the discourse and resulting Pagan Bubble that appears, I'd argue that such a bubble is an inevitable conclusion of entering into any specialized community. There is a level of discourse, of specialized language, that needs to be learned in order to effectively enter into the community. And I think this is a good thing in the sense that such a discourse encourages a certain level of knowledge and experience, while also providing people a shared sense of communal identity.

At the same time I recognize Teo's concern that such a discourse ultimately creates an insular community, where people are isolated because they aren't able to relate to others. There is a need to have a dialogue between communities, an inter-faith dialogue in the case of Paganism and other types of spiritual beliefs, and as such we can't become too insular. Plus if we do live in such a bubble we cut ourselves off from inspiration. My own solution to this has been to cultivate an interest in a wide variety of disciplines and some other discourse communities, which in turn provides me perspectives outside of the Pagan Bubble. For example being a small business owner provides access to a different discourse community, which has intersections with a variety of other discourse communities as well.

I think the way to pop the Pagan Bubble is to simply be involved in the world around you, and in interests that aren't always Pagan-centric. Indeed I think if I spent all my time focused on being around pagans, I'd find some of the insularity and limitation that Teo is concerned about, if only because exposure to one perspectives limits us to a rather myopic view of the universe.

Self-secret language and patterns of reality

In Darwin's Pharmacy, the author points out the following: "I want to suggest that trip reports are fundamentally scripts, what I have called elsewhere rhetorical software: linguistic, visual, musical, and narrative sequences whose function resides less in their "meaning" than in their capacity to be repeated and help generate patterns of response. They are part of the psychonautic apparatus and not a supplement to it. They are compositions that suggest, but do not exhaust what one may very well become in contact with entheogens." There are three things that interest me about this quote. One of those things is the concept of self-secret language, which I've written about before. Self-secret language is the discourse of a given community and it is language that is only understood when you've had enough experiences that allow you to understand the various terminology being used, and enables you to contribute to the community you are seeking entrance to.

What stands out to me about the quote above is that another function of self-secret language and its various artifacts is that people do need to be able to repeat them and use them to generate responses. You see this in academia, where mastering the academic language is an initiation in its own right, with the expectation being that you'll be able to successfully replicate the language and use it to generate your own responses to other artifacts in the academic field you are in. Self-secret language, when used in this way, protects the discourse from the uninitiated, while also qualifying who is initiated. The downside of such an approach is that it can also cause stagnation. This is one of the reasons academia tends to be conservative in its approach. It's also why you see a similar conservative approach in a lot of occult traditions. The traditions are preserved and the uninitiated are kept out, but the tradition progresses slowly and views potential changes as a threat, and responds accordingly.

The second thing which interests me about the quote is the concept of generating patterns of response. I've explained that above, in terms of self-secret language, but lets consider as well that a pattern of response also leads to a pattern of reality. The response is the confirmation of a discourse, but it is also what is used to discover patterns of reality that support the discourse and may even be used to generate those patterns of reality. A pattern of response sets up an expectation for what will be manifested as reality and trains the people involved to look for that reality and/or manifest it through their own actions.

There is also an ontological element that interests me about the quote, specifically the use of the word become, which is an ontological shift from one state of being to this case in reference to entheogens, but it can also be applied to magical work, or really any kind of work that involves some kind of identity shift. I'd argue that self-secret language, i.e. discourse is an example of an identity shift. A person must adopt the discourse of a given discipline, and that adoption includes a fundamental change in identity, a becoming of something new through the mastery of the discourse.

And what do I really mean by all the above...It's an example of self-secret language in and of itself, a discourse analysis provided by my own experiences in academia and tempered by my interests in ontological shifts and magical work.

What's your magical language?

What's your magical language? What terms do you use to describe and define your magical workings? This post is prompted by Mike Sententia's writings about etheric software. What I've recognized is that he's drawn on software programming terminology to help describe his approach to magic. I've seen him draw on some other discourses as well, most notably from the medical community. For that matter I also draw on different terminology that's not traditionally occult oriented to help explain my approaches to magic. Whether its linguistics or culture studies or something else, the different discourses I've had access to influence my explanations about magic to other people, as well as how I construct magical workings.

What disciplines do you draw on? What terminology do you use to explain and define magic, both for yourself, and others? It's a good idea to look at those questions and do some work with them. The language we use can simultaneously open us to possibilities we hadn't considered, even as it also limits us by nature of how it frames our model and application of magic.

One of the reasons I've diversified my reading and exposure to a variety of disciplines is to keep myself open to new ideas and challenge the models I rely on. While a model can provide a useful explanation, it also creates tunnel vision that funnels our acceptance of a given situation into specific lines of inquiry that rule out anything that doesn't fit the model. The terminology we use needs to be carefully examined for not only what it allows us to explains, but also how it can limit our explanations.

Language is powerful, and often times we don't realize how powerful it can truly be. The reason a person can nitpick a definition speaks to the power of language, because a definition defines a person's perception of reality about what its defining. Testing your terminology makes you aware of how it can help you and allows you to critically examine where its failing you.

Book Review: The Wealth Magick Workbook (Affiliate Link) by Dave Lee

This is probably the best book on wealth magic I've found, mainly because the author does such a good job of differentiating between what wealth is and what money is. His approach, consequently shows the shortcomings of enchanting for money without really understanding how that money will apply to your overall sense of wealth. He provides some excellent exercises, which I highly recommend doing. I only wish the wealth section of the book preceded the money magic section, but overall its an excellent book for anyone who wants to do wealth magic.

5 out of 5

The problem with esoteric terminology

So often one of the problems I notice within occult culture is a tendency to couch problems and situations and everything else into esoteric terminology, as if by doing so, it will somehow make everything seem more cool. As you can probably guess, I'm not a fan of using obscure terminology needlessly. Back in my tech writer days, I found that if you wanted to practically explain how to use a product or technology or program, you had to use language that everyone could understand. You rarely used obscure terminology unless you really needed to. To apply this to magic, I find that relying on esoteric language often just confuses the issue. Sure you can use elemental or different types of energies to handle a situation, but really what does that mean? Don't get me wrong, I work with elemental energies, entities, etc., but at some point I've got to be able to translate all of that to how I live my life and how it effects my life, and doing that usually involves moving away from the esoteric language to the everyday language. For example, instead of coming up with some made up term to describe internal work, I just use the phrase internal work. If people don't get what you are trying to explain, it's probably because you're too invested in using language they could care less about. And how we use language is a magical act sometimes, so if we acknowledge that, it's wise to use language that is going to have the most significant effect on the target audience we want to reach. This applies as much to yourself as it applies to other people, because you are always your audience.


Sometimes it interests me how people will respond to a word. Having read Defining Reality by Edward Schiappa, I know how loaded a word or definition can be, especially when you factor in the agency that informs the use of the word. You really can't be too careful when a word is used, because of how much power that word can have...word as a virus Burroughs might say. *******

In other news, the Spider Goddess of time has seen fit to manifest two of the things I asked her to manifest and there's definite progression on number 3 as well. I won't say more until later.

Bits and Pieces

I finished reading Language, Thought and Reality by Benjamin Lee Whorf and waltzed right into Defining Reality by Edward Schiappa. Whorf's work was interesting and makes me wonder how much Burroughs might have read or if Burroughs came to similar conclusions about language independently. Defining Reality, by Schiappa, is a favorite book of mine and is a logical extension of Whorf's work and argument that language shapes our conceptions of reality. A definition describes agency, and can be an attempt to control the conceptualization of reality. *********

I've been thinking lately that the more a person exposes him/her self to a particular meme, the more desensitizied s/he becomes to that particular meme. Initially the meme is quite pervasive and powerful, but later it becomes boring, something all too often encountered. You begin to realize that you've been there again and again and again. What makes a meme live? The value and meaning associated with it, but desensitization can take the meaning out of a meme, make it part of the background. Eventually it fades away, the lustre lost in the glow of new memes or simply the lack of meaning a person finds in all those crazy memes. At some point a meme without meaning is a person without water. Dehydrated and dying. Memes only have value when they are provided meaning...even if that meaning is as simple as fulfilling a desire such as hunger or sex.

Article, Review of Magic Power Language Symbol and some thoughts on the occult culture

Taking the Path of Least Resistance in Magic has been posted by the good folks of the Right Where You are Sitting Now Podcast. I'll be writing more articles for them in the near future and look forward to continuing to work with them. I think they're a really good crew of people. Book Review Magic Power Language Symbol by Patrick Dunn

Overall, I was fairly impressed by this book. I think Dunn does an excellent job of explaining a lot of the theories behind language and magic, as well as showing how theories can be made into practice. He explores concepts of gematria, glossalia, metaphor, semiotics and much more and in the process makes all the concepts approachable and easy to understand. In fact, I think that's the strength of this book. It's written so that anyone can pick up the book, read about the concepts, and put them into practice, though at least in the case of gematria, readers will probably need to have a decent familiarity with Quabala.

I also liked his explanation of the semiotic web and the Defixio. In both cases he not only explains the theory, but also provides personal anecdotes and suggestions for how the reader can incorporate those practices into his/her work. I think his latest book is a good introduction to linguistics and magic, and he provides the reader some other works to explore once they finish his work.

I did have two minor issues which made this book a four out of five for me. The fourth appendix of the book has a bunch of practical exercises for the book. It seems odd that the exercises are placed at the end of the book, instead of incorporated into the book. I'm not sure if that a decision of the publisher or the author. The other issue is that while he does cover a lot of the connection between linguistics and magic, he doesn't cover much of the contemporary work occurring with linguistics or magic. He dedicates only a small section to the contemporary work. That said, this a good primer for linguistics and magic and how the two disciplines can be brought together. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in branching outward from more conventional approaches to magic.

Some Thoughts on Occult Culture

I was at Conflux this weekend. I had a good time, but while there I did a lot of thinking about occult culture and my own place in it. I've written in this blog, previously about my disillusionment with the occult culture, and yet I can't really say I'm disillusioned with occult culture overall. I think what it really comes down to is that I don't really feel I fit in with certain aspects of the occult culture...the aspects focused more on spectacle and image and performance. That's actually one reason I might not do Esozone again. While I'm looking forward to presenting my workshop there as well as meeting up with some people, I look at the program and I honestly wonder how much of what I'm teaching really fits with the overall theme. It's not that my work isn't focused on the other tomorrow...rather it's that I don't really relate well to the culture that has sprung up around esozone. I recognize it's occult culture of some sorts...I'm just not sure it's my occult culture.

But I've also been recognizing that there is an occult culture out there that I identify with and lately I've been starting to reach out to that occult culture. Not surprisingly who I'm reaching out to are people who have similar feelings of disenchantment with the direction occultism seems to be going in. They want something different, something more substantial, while also something that isn't so rooted in the past that it can't evolve. Lupa's suggested I try and find people I can work with who could develop some system or tradition...I don't know though...I'm mixed about that and yet I'm not...because I have a vision in just has to be with the right kind of person involved and I'm very picky with people, for a lot of reasons, which essentially boil down to being burned too many times by people I expected otherwise of. To work with someone in person would involve a lot of trust on my part (as well as theirs). Do I think it could happen? Yes...I know it can, because I actually am working with two different people closely, but it still comes down to finding the right fit, and if something actually develops in my immediate environment it will be with a small group of people initially.

And then too, I've increasingly been getting involved with other subcultures and the more time I spend in them, the more convinced I am that something really has to change with occult culture overall. It's not that these other cultures are better's just that there's something happening in them that I don't see as much in occult culture...what I see in other subcultures is less insularity, more communication and networking, more looking our for each other and supporting each other. The other day, a person who wanted to come to esozone and needed a place to crash and posted about it on an occult forum got no responses. I finally messaged her, because I really didn't want to see someone not taken care of...I wanted I suppose to reach out to this person looking for community and provide something of that to her. I suppose what I'm looking for is something of a tribe of sorts, or a system wherein we look out for each other. Lupa and I, have opened our doors a fair amount to occultists coming through Portland. I expect this will continue...I believe in hospitality, plus it's always good to get a chance to talk shop.

I have a vision of an occult culture and I think it's possible to make it real. The non-fiction line of Immanion Press is part of that vision made manifest...and it's time for more of that vision to be realized.

Several experiments in linguistic magic

Since starting to read Magic Power Language Symbol by Patrick Dunn, I've decided to try out a couple of his techniques, particularly the Semiotic Web and the Defixio technique, albeit with my own variations. The semiotic web technique is actually similar to my space/time sigil web technique. The essential difference is that you create two webs. One web is filled with the negative feelings, thoughts etc you might have about a situation. The other web is filled with conscious answers to those negative thoughts and feelings. I decided to try this technique out in regards to some negative thoughts and feelings that I was dealing within regards to my current job search. I wrote job hunt at the center of the web and then wrote all the negatives out. I then wrote job hunt again and all the conscious realizations I had about those negatives. I then took the two webs upstairs and called the Dehara into a circle and did a ritual to Agave the Dehar of banishment (and to me, also creativity, cause he's a dehar of fire and I associate fire with creativity). I took the negative web and burned it, and ended up having to slap some of the fire out, which put me into an altered state of mind quickly. I then meditated on the positive web, picturing it in my mind and integrating it into my altered consciousness. When that was done I thanked Agave by taking the ashes outside and offering them to him. I'm already noticed a more positive frame of mind about all my activities. I liked this technique. I plan on seeing how I can expand and improve on it...already have a couple ideas in mind for how this technique could be adapted for some space/time workings.

The Defixio technique involves writing out a statement of purpose and then offering it to the gods. I decided to try this, but offer it to the goddess Portlandia. I wrote my statement out and then put in the recycling bin, because Portlandia cares about recycling, and also because I want the message to become part of the natural cycle. I don't know how often I would use this technique, but it also could have some creative applications depending on which deity you worked with and how said deity wants you to deposit the defixio.

In thinking about these exercises, something which stands out to me is that there is a lot of room for creative touches, and we also have to remember to be creative. This is true for any technique or process...and by creative I really mean making a technique or process into you own process...into something that is personalized and works for you because it has an efficacy designed in the personalization of the technique. Personalization, to me, is a process of experimentation, and also a process of improvement. How do I make this process fit into my practice? How can I improve on it so it's even more effective for me. Granted, there's some techniques, which seem to be done just as is, but with writing you can be creative and that's why language is such an important tool of's open-ended and writ large with possibilities.

Some further thoughts on language and magic

Something I've been mulling over and discussing with a few friends is how concepts and practices of magic could be written about with as little jargon as possible. I recently just finished reading Aaron Hoopes book: Breathe Smart, where he does an excellent job of demystifying how to breathe. Instead of relying on far eastern terms and descriptions he boils the concepts down to fairly plain English, so that any person, regardless of background could pick up his book and read it and do the practices. I find that interesting and important, because I think that if the discipline of magic is to continue to progress or evolve, making it less jargon heavy as well as explaining the benefits of it will be a necessary step. While the fairly obvious use of language is to communicate, another less obvious use is the ability to obsfucate language, to utilize jargon so that only certain people with access to a discipline's discourse can understand essence creating an elitism through language. You see this a lot in academia. Those who cannot master the discourse are weeded out. It doesn't necessarily mean a professor is smarter...s/he just knows how to jump through the hoops for that particular discipline and is very specialized.

On the one hand, I think this can be necessary with occult practices. My book are intentionally written to be a bit harder to read...I consider it a protection mechanism, in that it insures that if a person doesn't understand what I'm writing about s/he can't hurt him or herself. On the other hand, I also think being able to write about certain practices and techniques without jargon can be a useful exercise for a writer and also useful for helping people understand the benefits of particular practices. For instance, learning how to breathe properly doesn't have to be very is, in fact, very relevant to each person's life. My point is that while there can be some value to jargon and technical terms, there is equal value in finding ways to write about a practice so that anyone could do it. I think language can provide the means to do that, but it also involves unlearning the jargon and to soem degree the expected discourse.

A book update

The radio show on language and its connection to reality is now up. But that isn't what I'm really excited about today. For the first time in...a while, I've been going through the material for my next book. I have three appendices and Eight partial chapters. I'll be adding some material in today and also taking what I have and deciding what fits into my upcoming workshop at esozone, Which will focus on the intersection between neuroscience and magic.

For me writing is a very particular process. I'm one of those people who won't write a book until I know I have enough research and experimentation done to justify putting a book out there. It always feels good when I can finally get to the moment where I can say: Yes I'm ready to write. I'm not there, but I'm much closer and the fact I can add more notes to the growing mass of book I want to write has me in good spirits about the development of not only the book, but most importantly the techniques and process I'm developing.

I do consider writing to be a magical process, and one of the more potent techniques a person can use. We see it put to good (or bad) uses every day. I've used writing to steer the direction of my life as well as imprint on myself actions I can take to manifest particualr goals. I've used collages to bring people into my life and set the tone for specific months. I think writing and language will always be an essential tool and expression of people. I don't forsee that changing anytime soon, and hope it never will change.

Book Reviews and a meditation on Emptiness

Book Reviews: Grammar for the Soul by Lawrence Weinstein While not a typical book that one might associate with spiritual techniques, this book proved rather intriguing because the author examines how punctuation, tenses, clauses, passivity, etc is used in language to communicate and also empower an individual. As someone who consistently is interested in exploring the connection between language and spiritual techniques, I also found this book useful for considering how I could not only improve my writing, but also improve the efficacy of my magical workings when it came to using language.

Each chapter is only a few pages long, but the author manages to include a lot of information as well as samples for how grammar can be used to empower and communicate, as well as create personal change. The author's narrative is friendly and approachable. I didn't feel lost in a sea of grammar rules. If anything, I felt that I could easily navigate grammar's laws and use them to my benefit, both for my writing and my sense of self.

If I have one quibble with this book, it's that the author didn't include exercises for the reader. While the examples he used were illustrative of how to improve one's writing skills as well as how to use writing to effect personal change, the lack of exercises can keep the reader from realizing the book's full potential, unless they are already active writers. That said, I'd give this book a 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: The Mind and the Brain by Jeffery Schwartz and Sharon Begley

This book was probably the most fascinating book I read about neuroscience and that's saying something since I find all of them fascinating. In this book the author explains neuroplasticity and how it continues to work in the brains of an adult as well as a child. The author also reviews many of the neuroscience experiments and projects done by various people as well as how those projects have confirmed the efficacy of mindful practices in controlling our habits and thoughts.

What I found really fascinating was how the author's work with OCD patients help them overcome that affliction by learning how to rewire the thought patterns. Equally interesting is the focus on how we can deliberately change our brains not only to heal, but also to continue sharpening our skills. For people interested in the intersection of neuroscience and magic, this book is a must read. 5 out 5


A Meditation on Emptiness

Last night, while at the Deacon X fetish event, I again felt myself feeling empty...I think it was a continuing realization that with everything going on there, I had a sense of loneliness, a sense of not feeling satisfied...a realization, again, that this emptiness is not something that can be cured by the presence of anyone person...that it is something that can be ignored or sometimes not felt, but it is still a fundamental part of life. I felt a moment of anger and frustration...part of me wanted to walk out and just keep walking...but instead of doing that I sat down, and start a Taoist breathing meditation, opening myself up to that feeling of emptiness, accepting it. As I breathed I circulated my energy into that feeling of emptiness and felt my emotions swirl into the energy until I felt very calm. And I felt the emptiness reach out and start teaching me something I could do with the circulating energy to not only calm myself, but direct the emptiness I felt. I directed it into my hands, which I would later put to good use at said event ;)

Still what I came away with is that emptiness can be worked with...not just felt but worked with, which will make the oncoming elemental year very interesting indeed.

Some thoughts on Linguistics and Magic, An interview with Sequential Tart, and Radio Show Reminder

Whew! That is one long title, isn't it? Interview With Sequential Tart

I was interviewed recently by Sequential Tart about Magic and the Self. I discuss some of my previously published works, but also some of my on-going work in identity and magic.

Some thoughts on Linguistics and Magic

I recently picked up Magic, Power, Language, Symbol by Patrick Dunn. I haven't cracked it open yet, but I'm looking forward to reading it, because one of my many interests in magical practice is the combination of it with Linguistics, as I've amply demonstrated in Space/Time Magic, Inner Alchemy, and Multi-Media Magic. It should come as no surprise to readers that my next book project will likely include something on language and identity in relationship to magic. The reason I'm not reading Dunn's book quite yet is that I'm currently reading a little book called Grammar for the Soul by Lawrence Weinstein. I'm already impressed by this book and the author has inspired me to read up on Benjamin Whorf's contributions to Linguistics. In this book, the author looks at how punctuation can be used to evoke emotional states of empowerment and personal change. A colon, for instance, can be used to get noticed by people. And you know...he's right so far. As I've read this book, I've found myself nodding in agreement and underlining passages...and thinking...I've seen this focus on punctuation in multimodality before, but never phrased in such an elegant way. What pleases me the most about this book is that the author looks at how the placement of words, phrases, and punctuation can make all the difference in the mood evoked by that word and punctation's not NLP, but it is a study of the power of the word.

I think linguistics is one of those disciplines that magicians should start studying on day one of their magical practice. Because so much magical practice revolves around the almighty word, it makes sense that we should focus on the discipline that already studies how the word is used. One of my favorite authors, William S. Burroughs experimented frequently with the power of the word and how it could be used to shape reality. My own experiments with words have always proven to be fruitful: I even evoked my wife into my life using a collage and have occasionally evoked other people as well. Now that's magic at work!

I've always felt that writing is one of the most powerful mediums of magic. It conveys more than information. It conveys emotion, virtual environments, memes, concepts, viruses and so much more...and it's something we can experiment with fairly easily once you know the rules.

Radio Show Reminder

My next show will be today, September 9th at 8Pm Pacific standard time.

Subject : Change your Re-Action to Action!

Summary: Sometimes, whether we intend to nor not, we sabotage ourselves with our reactions. A reaction is a pattern of belief or emotion that causes us to act in a particular way. In this show, I will show how you can change your limiting beliefs and reactions into actions that help you manifest your imagination into reality.

Listeners can call into the show at: (646) 652-2830