Jason Miller

Are pop culture entities real?

In a recent blog post Jason wrote about Post Chaos Magic (sounds like Post modernism) he argues that fictional or pop culture entities don't have the same effect as more traditional gods, demons, entities, etc. He notes the following:

Some chaos magicians have claimed that in the modern, largely secular world, a figure like Superman receives more collective belief than a pagan deity like Mars, thus making comic book or pop culture characters even more viable for magic than traditional gods and spirits. Even if we accept that it is belief, rather than the object of belief, that holds the power to magic, this thinking confuses attention with belief. Attention and belief are not the same thing, there is a different quality to the experience all around.

Now I want to first issue a caveat. I have not ever identified as a chaos magician. I've always identified as an experimental magician (which is its own path).  I mention that because in my book Pop Culture Magick I made similar arguments to what is mentioned above. I have, however, distinguished between attention and belief. In my book, I acknowledged that attention was not the same as belief and that while a pop culture entity might get lots of attention what made it an effective force was the actual belief the practitioner had in its existence and abilities. And not just belief in the entity for the course of a ritual, but actual, honest to goodness belief that lasts longer than a moment.

Back in the late 1990s I had the privilege of connecting with Storm Constantine, author of the Wraeththu series. We've continued our contact over the years (In fact I co-run Immanion Press with her). We both worked on the Dehara system, which is a system of magic based on contact with "fictional" entities from the Wraeththu series. As we developed this system, other people got involved and what stood out to me was that none of us treated the entities as fictional entities, but rather as genuine spirits we'd contacted. To this day I continue to work with the Dehara as do other people who've chosen to believe in them and form a relationship with them. The impact the Dehara have had on my life has been just as real as the impact my work with with the Goetia or other more traditional entities has been.

Jason rightly points out that one of the core issues of Chaos Magic (and for that matter some forms of ceremonial magic) is a tendency to treat spiritual entities as psychological extensions of ourselves. But to me what has always made pop culture magic a viable magic is the ability to genuinely believe and interact with entities that may not date back to Ancient Greek or Celtic cultures, but nonetheless have a real and viable presence, provided the magician is willing to explore that presence. I think that what has stopped many magicians from doing so is a combination of the psychological model of magic and embarrassment about considering the possibility of forming a spiritual relationship with a pop culture entity. After all the Pagan/occult community can be fairly harsh with those people deemed fluffy, as I can attest to from my own experiences. Yet as someone who unashamedly does work with pop culture entities from a spiritual perspective, all I can really say is: Such relationships really can be as effective provided you invest them in as equally as you expect the entity to.

I will note that there is a difference when you're working with a pop culture entity in a manner that is driven more by getting a specific result as opposed to forming an ongoing relationship with it. I've certainly done that kind of work as well and while useful it's not quite the same as when you develop an ongoing spiritual relationship with an entity.



The Obsession with Banishments

Both Jason Miller and RJ Stewart discuss the obsession with banishment that is prevalent in Western Occultism. RJ notes that you can't really exclude anything from your circle as long as you have some trace of it or fear of it within you, which makes sense, because holding onto any such feeling is essentially an invitation in. I do banishing, but I don't do it as an everyday magical activity. There's a specific time and place for banishing and knowing what to banish is equally as important as when to banish.

For example, I have done banishing rituals for people I wanted to move on from in my life. They weren't in my life any more, but I was holding onto the memories, which wasn't healthy. In most cases, I was holding onto a lot of pain and anger toward those people and I didn't feel there was any other resolution. So the banishing served as a way for me to resolve those feelings and let go of the memories I was holding on to justify the feelings. Since doing the banishment I haven't really thought of those people or the memories.

When I clean my house, I use the cleaning activity as a banishment ritual, but in my daily work I want to connect with the various spiritual allies I work and since I've developed a relationship of trust with them its important to me that they are present in my space. They are as much a part of my life as anything else and to banish everyday would be to tell them they are not welcome.


Value and Wealth

Jason recently posted a blog about value and wealth. He basically did an exercise that looked at the value of what he wanted to buy vs the price of what he wanted to buy vs the value of what he could put that money toward. It's a good exercise to do and its something I'm familiar with from Your Money or Your Life (affiliate link).  In that book, one of the exercises has you look at the real value of what you are purchasing vs the amount of money and the amount of time spent earning that money. And much like Jason's exercise, what it really does is force you to look closely at your relationship with money and how you are spending it.

So you might wonder why I'm writing about that on here. Wealth magic is an ongoing interest of mine, and I think to really apply magic to wealth in any substantial way you really have to understand money and its relationship with your life, as well as the value you ascribe to a given purchase. An unexamined relationship with money will find people buying anything that catches their interest, while also accruing a mountain of debt. If you want to do magic for a specific result, you've got to understand what that result will really look like in your life, and be prepared to handle any consequences that are associated with it.

This is why people who win the lottery typically end up spending their way through the money they won. They played to win, but they weren't prepared for the consequences of winning and likely they didn't really examine their relationship with money. So they win the money and they get deluged by relatives and friends who suddenly care (as long as the money flows) and they also have vague ideas on how to spend the money. I'll buy that Porsche I always wanted or pay off the house, or whatever else. Rarely do I see anything about investing the money when I hear stories about someone winning the lottery.

Money magic tends to have a similar effect. the focus is on getting the money, but once you have the money what do you do? Doing magic to get money may work, but having it is another reality and one that most people seem ill-prepared for. The question then is this: What is my relationship with money and what do I want to do with it, both now and in the future? Knowing the answer can help you figure out if you can really handle more money and if you really understand the value of what you are trying to get with that money.

An important part of magical work is the relationship. Looking at your relationship with money and knowing what you want to change with it can help you do wealth magic more effectively than just trying to get money. It's that internal ingredient that is needed to effectively integrate a force into your life, whether that force is money, love, power, or something else altogether. Can you handle the consequences? Is the value worth it and do you know what you'll do with the result, once you've got it.

Where psychology fits into magic

Jason recently posted about some of his thoughts on where psychology fits into magic. He and I share a similar opinion about the perspective of treating magic as just a psychological phenomenon, but I agree with the point he makes: There is a place for psychology within magic. In Magical Identity, I discuss different psychological methodologies and how they can be applied for magical work, especially for internal work.

One of the areas that I personally feel is neglected far too much by magicians is internal work, i.e. working with your internal values, beliefs, attitudes, and dysfunctional issues. Meditation is one method for doing internal work and when it's combined with psychology, it can be truly dynamic. I've made some amazing breakthroughs using meditation as well as working with a therapist, and applying psychological perspectives to my work, which in turn has allowed me to achieve greater clarity and focus in my life, making the living of it much, much easier. I've actually found that the need to do more overt acts decreases when you do internal work.

Before I did internal work and underwent therapy, I was a mess. I could practice magic as effectively as any of them, but my use of magic was mostly reactive, used to solve a crisis or problem, but with little thought put toward understanding my role in that crisis or problem. Choosing to do internal work freed me from a lot of unhealthy behaviors and provided me the opportunity to become much more proactive and focused in my magical work.

Aside from that psychology can provide a useful avenue of exploration in terms of understanding your magical process and how specific techniques work. It's fair to say that my background in social sciences informs my magical process and some of that background is related to psychology. Where I make a key distinction is recognizing the limitations of using psychology to describe magic. It's a different discipline and where there are insights, there are also limitations.



Playing in someone else's sandbox

As I've been taking the Strategic Sorcery course, something that has stood out to me is how essentially I'm learning the Jason Miller way of doing magic. This isn't a bad thing per se, because it's fairly clear that how he approaches magic works. Some of it brings back some memories of my early days, especially when I did basic hermetic rituals to the letter everyday, and there are activities we are doing where I know I have my own version of how I do it, and instead I'm choosing to do it via the way the course has laid it out, because the whole point of taking a course like this is learning from the person teaching the course. In fact, I'm really valuing this experience because if it teaches me nothing else, it teaches me not to take for granted how I practice magic or how other people practice it. By doing some practices the way someone else would do them, it forces me to really examine how I approach my magical work and pushes me to be a better magician.

At the same time, I am getting some ideas for how to structure my own courses. I already have the groundwork laid out for one course. I just need to finish writing it up (which should be a bit easier now that MI is out of the way). But what I'm realizing is that this process of developing online classes doesn't have to be nearly as complicated as I made it out to be. Playing in someone else's sandbox can teach you quite a lot, if you are open to it.


Strategic Sorcery Report: Lesson 0

I just did Lesson 0. Without going into the specific mechanics of the ritual, which I can't share here, what I will share is that when I intoned the word and vowels and looked into the symbol, I came to a place where I saw lines of force and felt the presence of other people, all of them pouring their energy into a central space, and yet conversely all of them being filled by that energy. I felt myself touched by that energy and then felt the connection strengthen as I continued with the ritual. Even now I can still feel this connection and I recognize I have chosen to intentionally connect with something which embodies the Strategic Sorcery course, but also embodies the collective efforts of everyone who has taken the course. I am filled with a sense of respect and admiration for those other people, and a desire to contribute my own effort, to pay it forward to others who take the course.

Why I'm taking the Strategic Sorcery course

Last night I signed up for Jason Miller's Strategic Sorcery course. I've heard about his course for a while and I've seen a few cases where its clear people applied the work to their lives and made some changes. Now you might wonder, "Taylor you are making changes to your life with magic, and you've developed a variety of practical systems that work. Why are you taking the class?" You're absolutely correct. I have developed a few different systems, detailed in my own books and my approach to magic is practical and I regularly get measurable results. But just because I've done all that doesn't mean I've stopped learning. One of the primary reasons I write books is to educate myself about what I'm writing about. The process of writing and developing the magical practices is how I learn about something that interests. But as I write about in my Holistic Business Coaching blog, I'm also a firm believer in learning from other people. For the most part, with my magical practice, I've self-educated myself, and my prior experiences with mentors is one I don't care to try and repeat, but taking a class is different. It's purposely set up to provide guidance, but also freedom to learn, without necessarily having someone try and constrict your creativity. At least that's my feeling on classes. So I figure taking this class is a good opportunity to learn from someone else, improve my skills further, and become a better magician.

When you rest on your laurels is when you stagnate. Challenging yourself to grow is an integral part of living life and improving your craft. I do it with my business coaching, and I do it with my magical practice.

I have another reason I'm taking this class. I'm in the process of developing my own course work for magicians. It focuses on the process of magic. I have no idea how to set it up though. I don't want to copy Jason, but I want to get a sense of how someone creates and sets up a class. So it's a case of not just learning magic from someone, but also learning a bit about how they do business. If you want to be good at something, then learn from someone who is already doing it.

Jason Miller's blog moved to a new site

Dear Readers of Strategic Sorcery, As most of you know, Strategic Sorcery mysteriously disappeared on the evening of Wednesday, January 19th. The blog was not locked or cancelled by blogger intentionally, nor does it appear to be a deliberate hack. It is a glitch that is effecting about 50 other blogs.

Strategic Sorcery will now be hosted at my own website. The new address is http://www.inominandum.com/blog/

Please take a moment and update your links and follow me at the new site.

A big thanks go out to the owner of this blog for helping me get the message out.  Thank you readers who have written in concerned about the situation. I am awed and gladdened by your support.

Thank you,

Jason Miller (Inominandum)