The Latest episode is now available to listen to...and we got a caller. This episode focused on exploring why certain personalities are so prevalent in the occult community, while others are not as well as how that fame can impact the evolution of magic. I'll be doing another episode in two weeks at 3pm PST time as a review of the Esoteric Book Convention, which I'll be going to next weekend.
Today Bill Whitcomb and I recorded our first podcast radio show for Experimental Magic: Is Magic still Relevant. I've attached a player on the side bar of the blog, but you can also click the link and listen to it as well. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Experimental-Magic/va/2009/08/16/is-magic-relevant-to-modern-times
I've been continuing to read up on and pursue the Qigong energy work and breathing practices I've been learning. I'm contemplating adding Tai chi to the mix, and not the Tai chi you think of being done in the park , but the traditional martial form of Tai chi, which while still soft, emphasizes the use of the five elements as part of the martial form of Tai chi. One of the local members of GEM is connected to someone who teaches it from that perspective. For me, it would be an excellent opportunity to start incorporating moving meditation and martial arts into my meditation practice, which has intensified even more as I continue my emptiness working. The moving meditation would add an additional layer to my work, as it would incorporate my body even more into the meditation, while also challenging me to get more into the integral energetic workings that I'm starting to experience more of, as I continue the current meditative work. As is, a lot of the energy work I'm doing is continuing to allow me to get to the core of my emotional responses, reactions, and triggers. The work isn't easy (as you'll get to read tomorrow evening when I post my latest elemental emptiness update), but it is worthwhile. I feel more at peace with myself and others than I ever have, and whilst I am still very much experiencing some tumultuous times, I am also finding my responses are changing, which makes those times easier to navigate through.
I have to admit I haven't posted as much lately about my spiritual work as I have in the past. Then again, I also haven't been writing nearly as many articles or a book on my spiritual work either. Some of this is because I'm going through an intensely personal time of change and development in my spiritual path. Some of it is simply because I'm in the process of researching a really big project...Every time I think I've taken a step forward, I find more information I need to research and experiment with (but there is an end in sight). Some of it is reflective of changes occurring in my life, specifically my focus on building and running my own business and pursuing being self-employed full-time, and some of it is simply experiencing the moment without having to catalogue it as much.
Still, I will say that I am actively working on a co-written project with Bill Whitcomb, have another possible co-written project with Vince Stevens, which is just about finished with the outlining stage, and yes I also do have my big solo project which is still being heavily researched (and will, when finished, providing what I hope will be a radical change in how people understand magic). And in the meantime, you've got this blog with the occasional updates I offer.
I'm pleased to say that we now have copies of the Magician's Reflection by Bill Whitcomb and the Pop Culture Grimoire anthology, edited by Me available. If you've pre-ordered, we'll have copies out to you by Monday at the latest. Needless to say I'm very happy these books are out.
I'm copy editing a book for Immanion Press called Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: A Troubleshooter's Guide to Magic by A'Miketh, and I'm really impressed by what I'm reading, because this guy has managed to explain some complex concepts in fairly approachable language, and more importantly he's cleared stated the value and need for doing external work before getting into all of the flashy external magical work. And I have a lot of respect for that. I was chatting with Bill Whitcomb earlier tonight about how change occurs in society, and we both agreed that change takes a long time to occur when it's done right, because the best way that change occurs is through changing the internal reality of yourself and modeling that change to others. It's not nearly as dramatic or active as trying to protest political rallies or trying to throw a revolution because you dislike what other people are doing. It's a much slower form or change...it takes time and some effort to create change in yourself that brings you to healthier patterns of behavior and communication.
But I would take that kind of change over the change of a revolution, because a revolution inevitably only replaces the previous oppressors with the people revolting against them. That is to say in a revolution the only thing that changes are the people in charge. What doesn't change is how those people treat other people, because for a revolution to usually be successful, it is violent...and that same violence twists the people who beget it, so that they become what they hate, because having overthrown a previous government, they quickly begin to fear that the same will happen to them. The French revolution and the Bolshevik revolution and revolutions in China (both in the early and mid twentieth century), and to a lesser extent the American revolution are good examples of this process, where change is promised and a government is overthrown and ultimately what replaces it is more of the oppression that the revolutionaries claimed they fought against. This incidentally is one of the reasons I'm skeptical about the so-called good intentions of the activists...I see them as just another form of political extremism and should that extremism replace what we currently have, I don't believe it will be any better than what it replaces.
I favor instead a revolution that comes from within a person...a fervent desire to change the self, to recognize that to change the world around us, we must first be willing to take responsibility for our own actions and thoughts. Instead of blaming others for the woes of the worlds, we should take responsibility for ourselves and what we can change...our attitudes about others, our actions toward the environment we live in and do it in a manner where we model how we want the world to change, but without trying to force that change down everyone's throat. I imagine that may sound idealistic, but in copy-editing this book and reading this person's thoughts on how to create a system of mindful awareness and internal change mechanisms in western practices of occultism, I see more than idealism...I see a methodology and practice that can make it happen, but ultimately requires a voluntary to make it occur. I turned to Taoist and Buddhist breathing and meditation techniques to develop a system for internal work that was also mixed with Western techniques for pathworking, but in reading some of Dunlap's ideas, I also see some hope for Western occultism developing some of those same internal practices without having to borrow as much from Eastern practices.
It seems to me that when a culture or society doesn't have a system of some sorts for developing reflective and consciousness awareness of emotions and reactions and triggers, it is very hard for that society to change. And really, for this kind of internal work to really bear results, you need everyone in society doing the work...not just some monks in a mountain hideaway. This is why I hope such practices will continue to become more prevalent in this culture...so that people can really be aware of what sets them off and work on deprogramming the bad triggers, while also figuring out who they really want to be and how they want to manifest that to each other and the world at large. I think if such practices were more prevalent there would be much less violence, much more cooperation, and also much more of a sense of connection to and with each other as well as an awareness of the responsibility we have to each other, to ourselves and to the environment we live in, aka, to the entirety of this Earth and universe.
Yesterday I did my first radio show, You can listen to it here. I'll be doing another on Tuesday at 8 pm pacific time on how to dissolve blockages. Earlier today I was interviewed by Al Anderson for the Ascending Way show. You can listen to the interview here.
I also sent off the finished version of Bill Whitcomb's The Magician's Reflection and the anthology The Pop Culture Grimoire: A Pop Culture Magic Anthology. So overall a busy day and I'm working on an article as well for a magazine.
I'm also reading (among other books) Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman. You might recalled I mentioned Ekman's work with FAC - Facial Action Coding. So far I've found this book fascinating and engaging, not the least because the writing style is definitely not as dry as what is usually found in scientific writing. One point he makes is that we don't feel emotional about everything. I found this interesting, because it is rather easily to believe that one is always feeling emotion, and yet I know I experience times where about the only emotion I could be feeling would be consider calmness...I've never really thought though it was possible not to feel an emotion. I'm not sure if I agree with his conjecture and he does note that some scientists disagree with him, arguing instead that what we feel is too slight to register in an overt manner. It's something I'll have to mindfully observe.
He also identifies nine paths to generating emotion, though thus far he's only written about one, in which we sense that something is about to effect are sense of well-being. I'll be curious to see what the other routes are.
His work is fascinating and relevant to the internal work I've discussed as well as to the blending of neuroscience and magic. I consider emotions to be an integral component to magical workings, given how much they motivate our actions it stands to reason that they play a similar role in the practice of magic. They are a basic component to life, but an essential one as well.
I have a few more books to read, just a few...and then the research will be done.
We're continuing to be very busy at Immanion Press/Megalithica Books We are quite pleased to announce that we are now taking preorders for the new, revised and updated edition of The Magician's Reflection by Bill Whitcomb! This sequel to his popular The Magician's Companion has been out of print for several years; however, it's due for release in late September (and should arrive just in time for esoZone, where the author will be a featured guest). In addition to revisions and updates, Bill has added some extra material that's never been published before. Not only is The Magician's Reflection an excellent source for symbols in magic, but it gives in-depth information on archetypes, as well as serving as a thorough, practical guide to creating your own symbol set. Click here to reserve a signed copy of this indispensable resource today! EDIT: Technoccult just put up an interview with Bill Whitcomb about psychotronics.
Something Bill Whitcomb turned me on to recently is Facial Action Coding (FACS). It's a coding system that attempts to taxonimize human facial expressions (just imagine the correspondence charts with that!). For me this is interesting, because I see some related threads in the neuroscience works I've been reading in terms of how facial expressions have been used in experiments with emotions. Add in, what I consider to be some potential for magical work via the usage of facial expressions, in terms of invocations or for identity work and FACS could have some pretty cool applications. Now what's really interesting though is when you can combine posture and gesture into something like FACS. To some degree we do this already on an automatic level, but of course my interest is on a conscious level...and we can thank Pascal Beverly Randolph for some suggestions toward that. In his book Sexual Magic, he discusses a concept called Posism, which is a method where you use body language, gestures, and postures as a way of embodying a concept or emotion you want to work with magically. You can see some of his stage magician background with this technique, but I'd be interested in finding out if he was influenced by 18th century rhetoric schools which taught rhetoricians poses and gestures that could be used to evoke emotional responses from their audiences.
For Posism to work the magician creates a mental state which s/he associates with the gesture. The idea is that the gesture then creates the thought, which in turn acts as an influence on both the magician and the environment around hir. Sounds an awful lot like NLP anchoring, doesn't it? Actually you can probably base some of the influence of ritual poses in Western Magic on Yoga, but also PBR's Posism techniques.
In anycase, Posism, combined with NLP techniques and FAC might provide some intriguing possibilities in terms of creating different emotional states and other altered states of consciousness through the use of body posture, gesture, facial expression, and of course anchoring. I don't know enough about FACS yet, but I've started using Posism and NLP for certain engagements and it's proving helpful...so when I learn more I'll be sure to update.