Advanced books: Is there a market for them?

Recently Carl Weshke, the owner of Llewellyn books put up a call for readers, asking them to email him about advanced books, i.e. what they wanted Llewellyn to publish that would constitute advanced material. Oddly enough, Donald Michael Kraig had recently written an article in New Worlds Magazine (A Llewellyn magazine), which seems to contradict with Carl is looking for in advanced magic. In Donald's article, he suggests instead that it's not deeper books, but broader books which are more important, and that there's no such thing as advanced material. I disagree with the sentiments of the latter article. I believe that it is possible to write and publish advanced books on magic and find an audience for them, but it strikes me as odd that there is such a fundamental disconnect, or rather contradiction at work within a publisher that wants to publish advanced works, but also discourages the concept. Granted, it could be argued that DMK doesn't speak for Llewellyn, as opposed to Carl Weshke, but he is an editor there, as well as an author. Then too, there's the question of whether Llewellyn ultimately can publish advanced books. Their focus is on trying to reach the broadest demographic, which is impossible to do with an advanced book. An advanced book is for a smaller audience and will generally utilize discourse that is focused toward that audience. The goal isn't to sell books to as many people as possible, but rather to meet a specific market's need, which necessarily limits the number of people who will buy the book.

Finally, The wildhunt as weighed in on this issue, as well as commentators. The sentiment there seems to be that the focus on advanced magic and esoteric technologies is too limited, with not enough focus on advanced pagan spirituality and theology and philosophy. While I think their is a point to be made for the lack of advanced books on those subjects, I also think it's important to find a way to bring some practical applications to those topics. Thus a book on advanced spirituality or theology could still include some form of practical exercises or magical work that integrates the concepts into the person's life. Then too there are publishers such as Asphodel press who do in fact offer a venue for publishing books on advanced spirituality, etc. The difference is asphodel isn't a big publisher, with access to big box book stores, while Llewellyn is...and perhaps that's where some of the discontent from some authors is, because presumably those big box book stores will sell lots of their books...but let me just say that any book of an advanced topic generally will not sell well in big box stores. The audience has to be reached through different means, through personal interaction, but also through recognizing that your audience probably won't go to Barnes and Nobles to buy a book on advanced magic.

As someone who helps publish intermediate and advanced books on magic, and spiritual practices, what I find time and again is that the sales are not driven by big bookstores, but by knowing the audience and recognizing it's not a large target demographic. And that's okay. It works, because the people who do buy the books usually end up being loyal and continuing to support the publisher, while also spreading word of mouth to other people. The market success is based on knowing what the audience wants, and also accepting that what is wanted doesn't need to sell in large numbers to be a success (though I'll never complain if large numbers sell). The bottom line isn't what's important. It's the value the audience places in the material and also the author's voice being fully listened and allowed to show through in the books that are written.

Neuro-sorcery pt 1

Readers of my book Inner Alchemy will recall that some of my experimental work focused on working with neurotransmitters as entities. I've lately been reading a book called the User's Guide to the Brain by John Ratey. In one section, he focuses on Attention and the functions in the brain related to it. He suggests that a cause for ADHD (and to some degree depression) is lower then normal levels of dopamine, serotonin, and Endorphins in the nucleus accumbens, which is the reward center of the brain. People who have lower levels of these neurotransmitters will tend to be more focused on extreme behaviors apparently so they can get the rewards they want, and less able to focus on taks that don't seem to have more obvious rewards in sight. I found this rather intriguing and it presents an opportunity to further some of my work with neurotransmitters. My thought is that if a person has ADHD, but knew how to work with a neurotransmitter entity or several of them, the person could work with the entities to produce more of the neurotransmitters and regulate the ADHD. This kind of magical work could be done as a supplement to medicine being taken or done by itself.

I made contact with dopamine today, and will be contacting the other NT's soon. While I've never been diagnosed with ADHD, it would still be useful to work with the NT's to see if in fact, in working with that part of the brain, it's possible to focus the attention better.

I'll be writing more about this as events progress.

Dancing with Dehara

In the late nineties, I picked up the original Wraeththu series and had my life changed by it. I knew right after I read it that I would meet Storm Constantine. I couldn't tell you why I knew (at that time), but I knew it had to happen. Shortly after, I did in fact make contact with her online and we started talking about magic and Wraeththu. I remember telling her that I felt called to meet her. Only later did I realize that Thiede, one of the characters of the series had facilitated that. Thiede is the Aghama, the central god head of the Wraeththu universe and also the master of space/time (and yes an inspiration for Space/Time Magic). It wasn't that surprising that he decided to reach out and tap us both to work together. He wanted something more than just a fantasy series from Storm. I worked with the Deharan system of magic for a few years...it was only when I moved to Seattle that the work slackened off. After moving to Portland though, I recently got pinged by Thiede..."Well what's keeping you from doing the work? I want you to start working through the caste systems in the first book and the get back to work on what I had you working on before".

Over the last couple of weeks, I've started integrating Dehara back into my life. I finished up the first two castes of Ara and Neoma and I'm about to do Byrnie again. I've felt as if some of the wheels in my head have been freshly cleaned and regreased by the work. And each time I've called the Dehara, I've felt their presence, sharp, strong. And I wonder how I could forget that.

Seems like Storm and other people have been pinged as well. It's as if a signal went off and everyone raised their heads, blinked at each other and got back to work. In my case, some very necessary internal work has had to occur, before I could go further with this particular system of magic.

A lot of my internal alchemy, sex magic, and space/time magic work  has been inspired by Wraeththu. The internal work I've been doing is reflective of some of the path work that goes into the first six castes of Dehara, which are very much focused on self-knowledge and recognition of how a person approaches reality. Once a person recognizes that, s/he also recognizes how the magical work done can effect reality. The magician is trained, in this system, to cultivate the internal in order to effect the external, while also appreciating that the external necessarily not only corresponds to the internal, but also effects how thei nternal responds...it's a cycle.

The other night I did a purification ritual, calling the Dehara into my own, purifying certain tools, rebuilding relationships with them and sharing breath...exchanging essence for essence. I'm dancing with the Dehara again. I'll be sure to post updates as the work continues.