experimental magic

Magic on The Edge 2.0 call for Papers

Magic on the Edge 2.0 is an anthology of experimental occultism, testing the cutting edges of magical practice to reveal intriguing experiments and new ideas, to push the future of magical practice forward and provide further inspiration for other practitioners. It is edited by Taylor Ellwood, the managing non-fiction editor of Immanion Press. It is a sequel to Magick on the Edge, which was published in 2006 by Immanion Press We are looking for articles 3k to 6k words in length on topics that can include the following:

  • Innovative explorations of magical traditions
  • Experimental techniques with contemporary disciplines such as space/time magic, internal alchemy, laboratory alchemy, ceremonial magic, neoshamanism, etc.,
  • Creative meditation practices
  • Unconventional approaches to ceremonial magic and other traditional practices of magic
  • The blending of art or science with magic.
  • Each article needs to include a practical exercise for readers
  • Got an idea? Run it by me and I'll give you feedback (see contact info below).

The deadline for articles has been pushed back to October 15th. We are looking to publish this anthology in 2013.

For more information or questions contact Taylor

Black magic reputation

When I first moved up to State college, I had a reputation as a "black magician" This was admittedly part of my own branding that I'd done in high school to get people to leave me alone, but it surprised that this branding followed me to a place, where I knew almost no one. You have to remember that this was 1996, so even the internet was being used, it wasn't the same as it is today or will be in the future. But there was a lot of e-listservs, basically email newsgroups. Regardless of how that particular bit of branding got spread, the reality was that when I came to State College, I had to deal with it, both when I encountered the College pagan group and when I encountered the locals. I remember with the locals that there were a couple of guys my age who wanted to learn how to practice magic. They were part of the music scene and what you could think of as hippies, or rainbows. There was this woman they both knew. She was a Dianic Wiccan and she told them men couldn't practice magic. So when I came around and they found out I did, she promptly labeled me as a black magician, because she didn't want men practicing magic. It struck me as juvenile, but it was telling just how influential she was because then some of the locals either avoided me or started acting rather careful around me.

I never had a good relationship with the locals as a result, and similarly my relationship with the pagans at the collage group was not a good one. Some of it was me...I was young and brash, and lacked a lot in those essential social skills that can make life much easier. And some of it was them. So it goes. I also found I didn't have a lot in common. Most pagans or magic practitioners I encountered weren't doing hermetic magic or experimenting. There wasn't a lot to talk about.

So I turned more toward the internet, joining e-lists including the infamous Zee-list, as well as lists about Demonolatry and ceremonial magic. I have and had an insatiable hunger for learning and I wanted to learn as much as I could. I also wanted to share ideas with people and I hoped I'd find a more receptive audience online than I'd found in person.

Even with that said, I did find a few people to work with in person. They were people who were just as interested in experimenting as I was. We would get together and share ideas and then try experiments out and talk about results. Then I'd share those experiments with the different e-lists online and see what others had to say. I did this from the late nineties to the early 2000s and it was a period of my life where I really stretched my wings, and began to look outside hermeticism, Golden Dawn ceremony, and neoshamanism to other forms of ceremonial magic and to Tantra and chaos magic, while also beginning to explore themes of pop culture and different applications of hard science to magical work.

Those years were interesting years in other ways. I lived with a drug dealer for the better part of a year (I didn't find out he was a drug dealer until a couple of months in), then lived in a sober house for a year (Not because I drank, but because I was straight edge back then and wanted to be in an environment where others felt the same way), and then lived with friends, before finally moving on to a Masters degree at Clarion University. Those years taught me a lot about magic, people, and how I interacted with all of it. I learned some hard lessons, but I the most important lesson I learned was to never let anyone discourage my creativity or belief in myself. It's a lesson I've held to every single day since those times and its served me in good stead.



Why and when I first started Experimenting with Magic

I've told this story a couple of times, but its one that's pivotal to my magical practice and life. I was 18, when I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 depression, otherwise known as manic depression. My family on my mother's side had a predisposition toward depression and I had spent a good part of my life depressed, as much by life circumstances as by genetic predisposition. I knew that such a disorder usually brought with it medication and I was very reluctant to use medication because I didn't want to deal with the said effects. I decided to look toward magic for a solution. I already did daily practice, which included some form of meditation, so that helped quite a bit. Even to this day I still meditate every day, in part because of the mental health, but those benefits alone weren't enough.

It wasn't until I was 20, and now living in State College, Pa, while attending college that I found the solution to my problem. I was reading Hands of Light by Barbara Ann Brennan and Programming the Human Bo-Computer by John Lilly. Brennan talked about Lilly's concepts at length and included an exercise where you could travel into your body as a cell. I thought it intriguing and used the technique to travel to my brain. I then made some adjustments to the reuptake cycle for my serotonin production. This adjustment slowed down the absorption of serotonin, which in turn stabilized the electro-chemistry of my brain. This experiment also started my fascination with neuroscience and magic, which I still pursue to this day.

That experiment taught me to look beyond the conventional perspectives that were available in magical works, but also to look beyond such perspectives within any discipline or tradition. I realized that conventional thinking would always blind people to alternative routes and possible solutions, and that sticking with it would have had me on medication for something that I ultimately could treat through my own methods. I've continued to refine and develop techniques based off that initial working, in large part because I don't believe people should have to suffer because of a biological or genetic predisposition. I do think its important people consult with a doctor or psychiatrist, but I also think there's nothing wrong with trying to find your own answer to the problem, so long as that answer doesn't harm anyone else.

That initial experiment inspired me to start exploring other aspects of magic with an eye toward meshing that magical work with other disciplines. I explored elemental magic with an eye toward applying it to DNA, as an example. Nothing was too outlandish or impossible for me...and even to this day that's still the case. Some people have and likely always will dismiss this as being too open or being flaky, but I think the profound results to the quality of my life speaks much more eloquently than anything else. It's better to pursue your ideas, and your path, than let others tell you how to do it.

My high school years

I practiced magic for the majority of my high school years. I've already touched on how I first began studying magic and my first teacher. After what happened with him, I realized that I needed to look toward books and my own experiences to teach myself magic. I had a couple of friends who practiced, but all of them were in the same place I was...little to no experience. And I was the most focused of the bunch. I hungered for magic in a way the others did not, because for me magic was about empowerment, whereas for them it was more of a novel interest. In high school, I was one of the weird, unpopular kids, and that brought with it all the bullying and negative attention that arises. It probably didn't help that I purposely chose to stand out, but it also didn't help that I was a relative newcomer and as such didn't fit in with already well-established cliques. For me, magic was a way to empower myself, both in terms of doing an activity I was really good at, and in terms of doing an activity that intimidated others and sometimes caused them to back away from me. I was labeled a black magician and I'll admit I purposely chose to embrace that label. Ironically it was a label that would follow me into college.

I never got into Wicca. It was popular, and a lot of people practiced it, but I didn't care for it or the practices or the Wiccan rede. In truth, I felt it was too popular. I wanted to explore the more obscure practices and techniques (which still holds true to this day). What I found in the books on Wicca and encountered in the people who labeled themselves as such was more of a religious focus. I didn't want religion, already getting more than enough of it from my mother. I also didn't care for what I thought of as a narrowness in the Wiccans I met. I heard too much about what you couldn't do and I found that when such naysaying was going on, it was happening because people didn't want you looking into something. So I looked into what they didn't want me to look into.

In those years, I didn't experiment with magic for the most part. Instead I read the books and did the exercises faithfully, just trying to learn them. My studies focused on a combination of neoshamanism, elemental hermeticism, and Golden Dawn Ceremonial Magic, along with Crowley's Thelemic works. (yes you read that). I hadn't heard of chaos magic, or of the works of other magicians. For the most part, I understood magic to be a very formal, ritualistic activity. I knew I didn't have most of the tools, so I made do with what I had, but I did my best to faithfully replicate ceremonies and rituals. The neoshamanism was what taught me flexibility and a very practical, technique oriented approach to magic. It also introduced me to a lot of visualization exercises. The ceremonial work introduced me to discipline, vocalization, and planted the seed of my process oriented approach to magic (Ceremonial magic is very much a process).

There was one experiment I did however, and it was done because I knew it could work and that the benefits would outrank any consequences attached to it. Also I took and still take a very traditional perspective on body fluids, understanding them to be a conveyance of the power of the person. And also understanding that the land has power.

I lived in York, Pa at the time and there was this place called Reymeyer's Hollow. It was a cursed place, cursed by the magician who was murdered by another magician. It's a place where the air seems to stand still, where there's always something menacing...visiting it at night brings this sense of menace out even more and people will tell you they can see spirits there. It's a nexus of power.

One night I traveled there with a friend and I did an evocation of each of the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, and an evocation of spirit. I had a knife I used for ceremonial work and I took that knife and cut my right upper arm. It was a deep cut. I gave each of the elementals my blood in exchange for their essence and swore a pact of alliance with them. I'll admit, I got the idea from reading the Elric series by Michael Moorcock, but I also got it in part from some of the books on elemental hermeticism. From the beginning I understood that working with the spirits was best done as a collaboration. My reason for doing this working was that I wanted direct access to the elemental energies. I got that direct access with the ritual I did. It changed me profoundly, and changed my understanding of magic as well. It's fair to say that my concept of the elemental balancing ritual came in part from doing this working. It changed how I experienced the world and how I experienced magic. It changed how I interacted with the land.

It wasn't until College that I began to really experiment with magic, but that first experience taught me I could and inspired me to start thinking outside what the books were telling me.

I stand on the outside looking in

I've never really felt that I've fit in with the Occult or Pagan communities. I hold some rather unorthodox views including a vehement dislike of Aleister Crowley's influence on occultism. I've also managed to get into some heated arguments about my practice of magic (specifically pop culture magic) on at least one podcast, where they felt compelled to argue that because what I practiced was partially based on pop culture, it wasn't as valid as more "traditional" perspectives of magic. My writing has been called chaos magic for dummies and I've been told it hasn't broken much ground by people who have as much admitted they don't really practice magic (that one still boggles me). I maintain I'm not a chaos magician. I'm an experimental magician. Chaos magic is  just one of many systems I've drawn on, and not even the most significant, but I guess when you don't do anything that's considered traditional, its get lumped in as chaos magic. Regardless if it isn't traditional, you will get flak for it, or be ignored...

I get my books published by a small independent press, that I co-own, in part because I don't trust large publishers who seem more interested in the bottom line and in the broadest possible audience than in anything I might have to write. I've built the non-fiction line of Immanion Press based on the belief and idea that there is an audience for niche and advanced topics. It's something I continue to hold to and as a result we've been able to publish books and anthologies that likely would never be published otherwise.

I'm saying all this because I am a contrary person and I don't regret any of it. I'm saying this because fitting in isn't all that important. I fully acknowledge my responsibility for not fitting in...because it's a choice.

I stand on the outside looking in. I have stood on the outside looking in many, many times during my life, and in many different communities.I stand on the outside and I welcome it because of the perspectives it has brought me. I welcome it because being outside the mainstream of a subculture or culture can take you some interesting places and can cause you to challenge what is accepted in a way that forces whatever is accepted to really examine itself.

I don't know that I will ever fit in to the pagan or occult communities. I'm grateful that I have, over the years, gained some recognition from people who have found real value in my work. There is something very humbling about hearing someone tell you that you've inspired his/her's magical practice and even life choices. It makes you realize that you can have a positive effect on people's lives.

I have always advocated that people should challenge authority, and should go their own way. My entire life has been about going my own way, even though going my own way hasn't involved taking the obvious routes of rebellion that some occultists take. I've had many people try and discourage my vision for my life. "That book will never get published" or "your reinventing the wheel" or "Your not hardcore enough" or any number of other things. I've always maintained they're wrong and I'm right...because when it applies to my life, the only person who can really make a judgment call on if what I'm doing is right or wrong is me. The people who have tried to discourage me are people who just don't get it...they don't get that you don't need to fit in with what everyone else is doing. You just need to be who you want to be...and let that manifest in your choices. You also have to accept the consequences, like some of the ones I mentioned above. You have to accept that you won't fit in, that you will be disliked and that what's more important is your vision. Life isn't about pleasing everyone...it's about being true to yourself so you can also be true to the people who really matter.

I stand on the outside looking in...It's a pretty damn good view, if I say so myself.

Book Review Earth Light (Affiliate Link) by R. J. Stewart

This book is a continuation of Underworld Initiation. In this book Stewart presents further refinements to his system as well as explaining and presenting information about the faery and how they can be worked with. The pathworkings he provides are useful for exploring the tradition further. I'll admit that my main interest is in the techniques and I found these to be solid and very helpful for some of my ongoing work. I highly recommend this book.

Upcoming Neurotransmitter Entity Class

On May11th I'll be teaching the Neurotransmitter Entity class, and we'll be meeting for 3 weeks via a teleclass to learn about how to work with Neurotransmitters and other aspects of the human body. It should be an exciting class and if you haven't signed up yet, I invite you to, as it's an opportunity to explore your relationship with your body from a different angle. I find the body to be a universe all its own, complete with mysteries. This class provides techniques that can help you start to unravel the mysteries of that universe and develop an entirely new relationship with your body. Most importantly it's an opportunity to have some experimenting with magic and seeing what you can learn about yourself in the process. If you haven't signed up already, click on the link above, or this one here and RSVP for the class. The cost is $60, and what you'll get is a free chapter of Inner Alchemy and a free chapter of my upcoming book Neuro-Space/Time Magic, as well as recordings of our class and access to a members only site.


Further thoughts on theme music and magic

When I think about theme music, I think of how I can graft a particular song to an emotional mood and then use that song to inspire emotional energy I can use for my magical or business work. Not just any song will do. For instance, I'm listening to DJ Soulslinger while I write this. It's good music, but it doesn't pitch an emotional response in me, so while I enjoy listening to it, I wouldn't use it as a theme. The song has to be something that resonates on an emotional level, something that gets you to feel something, and something that you can sing within your own head, when you can't listen to it. And the emotional response needs to be something you can actually use. If a song makes you feel depressed and you can't find a magical use for it, then it's not a theme song. It might be a song you listen to when you feel down, but a theme song is a call to action, a call to make a change. Now if you can use that song as a way to channel your feelings of depression then it could be a theme song.

Your song doesn't need to have words either. I love the score to Dynasty Tactics 2 and can hum it and find inspiration from it. I've used that score in magical work, as a way to charge my energy. There's no words, but the sounds are enough to invoke an emotional response and that's enough to make it work.

It really comes down to finding music that makes your soul sing and consequently stirs the very power within you necessary to make magic happen. Different music can and does embody different themes. What I would use for a wealth magic working would differ from what I'd use for a love magic working. So long s you can identify a theme that a song fits...use it. You don't need to listen to it to invoke the theme. Just sing it and let it carry your emotions into the magical work you'll be doing.

Definitions and Personalizing Magic

One of my passions, when it comes to magic, is really about personalizing it to fit the circumstances of your life and what you draw inspiration from. When I learned ceremonial magic, I realized that to make it really effective, I had to personalize it, fit it to my style and understanding of the world. Thus Pop Culture Magic came about, a direct answer to how I could personalize magic to fit my cultural background and interests. Recently on the Magical Experiments page on Facebook, I asked what pop culture others drew inspiration from. One person found the Justice League to be an effective pantheon, while another person drew on the Circle of Magi  series. Another mentioned the Dune series, and another mentioned the Invisibles series. All of these people found inspiration from non-traditional sources and yet clearly those examples worked for them.

Magic really needs to be about personalization, which is why I always urge that people develop their own definitions, while also learning from other people's definitions and explanations about magic. The ability to draw on your own understanding of magic and to personalize what you do magically is what makes magic work so effectively. Learn the foundations of magic...learn how others do what they do, but then challenge that in your own work and don't let others gainsay you from doing so. You can only know your limits, if you are truly willing to experiment and test what you've learned by personalizing to fit your understanding of your place in the world and universe and how you move that place, and move all else to create perfect alignment with your desired change. That truly only happens when you challenge what you've learned with experiences and make the knowledge your own through experiental doing!

Banishing people

Over time, I have found it occasionally necessary to do a banishment working to banish people from my life. I've found that continuing to tolerate their influence, energy, or presence in my life makes me unhappy and so instead of continuing to compromise the overall value and happiness in my life, it's easier to just banish the people. When I talk about banishing someone, I'm not talking about harming the person. While I may not like the person and may not want him/her in my life, I also don't want the person harmed. I just want him/her gone. For me, its not a matter of harming, so much as removing something that no longer belongs in my life. I wish them the best (even the people I don't like), but I don't need to continue to put up with them.

There are several techniques I've developed for this purpose. One is to create a sigil web and include in it all the people, experiences, events, etc that I currently have in my life. The ones I want to keep, I strengthen and the ones I want to banish, I cut out of the web. I then burn their symbols and put the ash on the road. I don't want it on the ground I live, since that would invite them back into my life.

The other technique is somewhat similar, but also different Instead of creating a web, I create a sigil for the person I no longer want in my life. I put in that sigil all the feelings I have about the person. Then I burn the sigil take it off property. By putting the emotions I feel toward the person into the sigil, I'm able to free myself of an feelings I have toward that person. This is a good technique to use for someone you don't like.

I think its healthy to banish people from your life. You can't and won't necessarily be friends with everyone and it's important to maintain your boundaries and protect yourself from undesirable influences. Banishing allows you to do that and also allows you to ground yourself.

Weather magic on a dial

When Kat and I were driving back from Bend recently we both focused on doing a bit of weather magic to help us get through Mt. Hood before the weather got cold enough to turn rain into sleet or snow, and wet roads into ice. I made an observation to Kat that it'd be interesting to attach an association link to the cool/heat dial for your car's air conditioning/heating. When you adjusted the dial, you'd metaphysically adjust the weather as well. By creating an association with the dial, you'd also automate part of the process involved in doing weather magic. It was, as I mentioned, an observation, but its those kind of observations that come to me that lead to some kind of experimentation to see if the observation can be implemented into a practical magical working. I'd note that such a dial could not "control" weather per se, but rather would be used to work with specific weather possibilities, such as strengthening the possibility that the weather would stay at a specific temperature or increasing the possibility of rain (or decreasing). Weather magic, much as with magic in general, is all about working with possibilities and influencing the outcome that a specific possibility will become an actual reality.

Book reviews

The Octavo (affiliate link) by Peter Carroll

Reading the Octavo is kind of a rehash of some of Peter Carroll's other ideas, but at the same time is a clear extension of where he has developed those ideas to a level of sophistication that mathematically proves his points. The Octavo isn't an easy read, and I recommend doing some research into the technical jargon that Carroll uses, but underneath the jargon the reader will find a concise explanation of specific magical concepts and how those magical concepts fit into our particular universe. It's worth a read, especially for the magician who is focused on practical magical work.

Four out of five.

The Process of Magic

Magic is a process. Strip away all the religious trappings, esoteric terminology, and ceremonial tools and what you have is a process that people use to turn possibility into reality. Understanding this process is all you really need to successfully do magic. Everything else is icing on the cake, and yet, as I'll show that icing is the expression of the process of magic for each person. Your Definition of Magic: The most fundamental principle of the process is the definition of magic that is applied to it. That definition is a description and explanation of magic and its place in your life. Many magicians will rely on the definition that someone else came up with for magic, most notably Aleister Crowley's definition, but I would urge my readers to develop your own definition of magic, instead of relying on someone else's. I've discussed definitions and their relationship to magic at some length in Multi-Media Magic and Neuro-Space Time Magic, but I'll discuss them again in this book to illustrate why it is useful to develop your own definitions instead of relying on someone else's.

Results:  We are told not to lust for specific results, and yet if magic is to be effective, we need to know the specific result we are shooting for. This means we need to clearly define what it is we want our magical activity to achieve. Knowing your result doesn't mean you lust for it, but it does provide direction for the magical process you are engaged in and indicates whether or not your magical process is working. A result is the expression and embodiment of your magical process, and it is also an indicator of what you can improve on with your magical process. If you haven't achieved the specific result you wanted, then you need to look at your magical process and make changes to what you are doing. A result, positive or negative, will always provide you information about your magical process and what you need to do to improve on it.

What activities are you doing?: A process is comprised of the activities you are doing to realize that process. Each process has steps that a person performs, so in planning your magical process out, it's a good idea to look at what steps you are taking. If there's a particular order to the steps, then arrange them in that order so that you can look at your process and/or zoom in on a specific step. Knowing the steps you will take to realize a process can help you answer several other questions.

Why are you doing it?: You may be able to answer this question by looking at the desired result you want to achieve, but chances are that while a specific result will contain one reason why you are doing the magical process, it won't provide all reasons. It's good to spend some thinking about why you need to do a particular magical process. What are your motivations for doing it? How will it help you improve your life (or the lives of others)? What need it doing this process fulfilling for you?

How does it work?: How does your process work? Answering this question is essential to understanding what happens when it doesn't work as well as what you'll change about it. You should be able to describe in detail what every tool does, what every gesture or word contributes to your magical work. If you can't explain it, then why include it? Even the role of a deity or an entity should be something you can explain. How your process work, how the steps you do provide you the ability to turn a possibility into reality is something the magician should know. When you know how your process works, it will always work. And when you know how it works you can always improve on it.

Where/when: For some people this will be an important part of their magical process. They might choose to do magic at a particular time of day or week or month. I personally don't think it's that relevant, but remember what I said about your definition of magic. Your process of magic is one that is personalized. If the time of day and where you do something is relevant to your process then include it in your process.

There are some other variables we should also consider that aren't traditionally considered part of the magical process, but nonetheless should be considered because they are very relevant to the practitioner. The practitioner is a key component of the magical process and if we don't consider these variables, then we ignore how we are influenced by them to our own detriment. The beliefs and values that a practitioner has is derived from these variables. Being able to examine these variables will help the practitioner understand how the magical process is allowing him/her to express those beliefs and values or determine if there is a conflict of interest. If there is a conflict of interest, it is suggested that the practitioner go back to the drawing board to build a magical process that accounts for these variables.

Culture: Your cultural background and interests will inform your magical process. What you identify as your culture is an influence that affects what magical forces you'll work with. If you're a Celtic reconstructionist, then you'll want to draw on that cultural information for your magical process. Or if you're like me and you find pop culture to be interesting, then you will want to use pop culture icons as part of your magical work.

Ethics/Morals: If you follow an ethical code, then you will need to consider that code in your magical process. Likewise if you have particular morals that you follow, those will need to be considered. Trying to do a magical process that goes against your ethics or morals will always fail. If you're someone who tends to take a shades of grey approach to life, then you'll likely be able to find reasons that will justify doing the magical process, but I'd still look at that part of your process very carefully.

Ideology: Ideology is another factor to consider, particularly as it pertains to types of magic. If you identify as an anarchist, trying to do some form of money magic will likely be harder to pull off given how linked money is to the structures that the anarchist might oppose. Your ideology can also be a religious belief system and as such that particular system will need to be considered when performing magic.

What would you include that I haven't included? What would you exclude that I've included?

What information do you draw on for your magical work?

I recently posted a couple of comments on invocation via Twitter and what I do to do a successful invocation. Someone else responded and mentioned how using Astrological information can be useful. I agree it can be useful, but I also admitted that I never used that information in my workings. Some people will use astrological and planetary information because that's part of what they need for doing magic. And other people will draw on other information. When I do an invocation, I don't always stick with traditional entities. I look for an emotional connection, a feeling of resonance, and attributes and characteristics that I can imitate and adopt. I suppose in some ways that my approach is derived more from observation and a desire to fit what I perceive is the mental and physical state of what I'm going to invoke. I've always found this information to be highly useful and effective for my workings.

The information you draw on for your magical work needs to be information that you understand and resonate with. I don't know a lot about astrology, so drawing on that information wouldn't work, unless I spent some time learning about it and integrating that information into how I do magic. On the other hand, I'm an avid student of human behavior and pop culture and find it easy to work with that information in my magical work.

The ability to personalize your magical workings is essential for really getting the most out of magical practice. This means that while you do make time to learn how others have approached magic, in order to develop a sound foundation, you also experiment with integrating other interests into your magical work, to make it more effective for you.

Book Review: Rebel Buddha (affiliate link) by Dzogchen Ponlop

Rebel Buddha is a guide to finding Buddha within you, as well as exploring the concept of the Rebel Buddha, which is the voice of your waking self reaching out to challenge you. The essays in this book explore Buddhism from a philosophical/lifestyle approach as opposed to a religious approach. I found that I really got a lot out of such an approach, because the author doesn't use a lot of esoteric language. He strips Buddhism down to its core, and in the process asks the reader to do the same with him/herself. This is a book you'll read multiple times and you'll get something new out of it each time.

Karmic Traces and Dream Work

I've been continuing to do the Tibetan Dream Yoga each night and I've found that I've been more aware of my dreams as a result. In the book I read on Tibetan Dream Yoga the author talked about karmic traces, which are essentially patterns, behaviors, attachments, etc. The karmic traces are something we all have and they show up in our reactions and they also show up in our dreams. The dreams I've been having have been ones where I've been aware I'm dreaming. But what I've also been aware of is he karmic traces that have shown up in my dreams. I've had dreams about prior relationships, or occurrences that happened during the day and throughout the dream I've been aware of how what's really being shown to me is the karmic traces, the attachments to certain outcomes and behaviors. And when I awake with this insight, it's lead to deeper internal work that's helped me continue to dissolve and release the karmic traces.

Consistently doing these practices leads to greater awareness of how you can continue to imprint these karmic traces in your dreams, as well as how your dreams can be used to help you resolve and work through them. In each dream, I've been able to see in the dream how my role in a situation has been sustaining karmic traces in my life. This awareness is helping me to target my internal work so that I can continue to dissolve the karmic traces and change my identity in the process. It is a very freeing process.

Simplify your magic

I recently had someone contact me about a situation that was bothering her and she wanted some advice. I ended up telling her to revisit the situation in her memory and re-live the memory, but in the process change her actions. She asked if it was really that simple. And yeah it really is that simple. Some people have this idea about magic, that it needs to be complicated, and you have to have the right robes and ceremonial gear, etc., and for those people that might be the case, but I prefer simplifying my approach to magic. To me simplifying magic means being able to look at the magical operation and determine what is actually needed to accomplish it. Then look at everything else that's included and ask what role it serves. For some people what is needed will differ. For example the ceremonial magician may very well need to have all the ceremonial tools because using them puts him/her into the headspace to perform the magic.

For me, what I typically need is to be able to apply creative processes to my magical work. This is why painting and writing and drawing play a large role in my practical magical processes. I also rely on internal work and meditation, but I I find that utilizing a creative approach simplifies my magical work.

It all comes down to customization and being able to create a methodology that fits your identity and how you express yourself. The methodology does need to conform to the rules of magic, so it's not that you want to go and make up something, but when you have a solid foundation, it's worthwhile to experiment and see how you can personalize and simplify your magical work. It'll be much more effective for you if its something you can apply to yourself and it fits how you express yourself.

My holiday special

If you're shopping for that magician in your life, or just for yourself, the following holiday deal is on until winter solstice. Buy three books from me and get a fourth one free. You can find a list of my books here. Also I'm still taking sign-ups for my class, so if you're interested in spending a year learning magic from yours truly, consider taking the Magical Experiments class. I promise it'll be a challenging and interesting year. I do take payment plans.

Most of all, have safe and happy holidays. I know I will.

Magic and the Scientific Method

I was recently asked on Twitter the following question: Can magickal ritual stand up to scrutiny of scientific method? My response was: Not unless science accepts that magic is a subjective experience.

Let's unpack that statement. In my opinion, and from reading a variety of books, it seems that some magicians try to scientifically "prove" the existence of magic, Goetic demons etc., or if they are disillusioned by trying to be a magician, give it up and argue it doesn't exist, or its all in our heads.

While I certainly appreciate that science can offer some criticisms and even principles about magic, I would argue that magic as practice and process isn't as straightforward as science is. People customize magical practices a lot. Certainly I've done that, in part because I've found that sticking with what others have done hasn't worked for me as well as it might for them. I've found that I've been able to achieve consistent results that tell me magic is real, and other people who've tried my  processes have also achieved results. Nonetheless, I've also noted that when those same people customize the process to fit their own understanding of the universe, it seems to be more efficacious, and my thought on that is that what makes magic what it is, has less to do with replicating an overt process, and more to do with understanding the process from an internal perspective. In other words, it's not so much about objective, as it is about subjectivity, and more specifically the subject's relationship with him/herself, others, and the universe at large.

Whereas with science the idea seems to be that you follow a set process in order to replicate results, and if you deviate from that process, it's no longer considered to be science. This isn't to say that some degree of customization and creativity doesn't occur in science, but even when it does, its rigorously tested by many people, doing the same process in order to determine the validity of said process.

It could be argued that ritual provides the same kind of rigor, or that the variety of books written with spells and techniques demonstrates processes that if followed show the "science" of magic. The problem however is that what people look for in this kind of situation is irrefutable, objective proof. So if I do an evocation of a Goetic Demon, but no one sees it, people will argue its not real, that there is no objective proof to demonstrate it's existence. Yet, I don't know that such a criteria really applies to beings that very may well have objective existence, albeit in a different dimension. And more importantly, if we are looking for proof, then the results speak more tangibly than anything else to the efficacy of the process.

In my own work with entities and with magic in general what I've found to be so compelling about magic and why I continue to practice it is that it doesn't just solve some problems or generate results. It provides me an explanation of the universe, my place in it, and how I can utilize magic to make changes to that agreement. And in that sense, what makes it work isn't just a process but a choice, my choice, to believe...

Not very objective and scientific perhaps, but given how often magic has worked in my life, my belief in it works for me, and my understanding of the processes used also works. And I think that's more important than trying to prove it to everyone else.

Update on Bune Working

I'd posted a little while back about a group working with Bune, a Goetic demon. Since working with Bune, it's been interesting to note results that have been achieved. My friend Bill ended up staying hired at his current job, while my partner Kat landed a full time position with a job she wanted. I've been finding inspiration in a new business direction, one that I think will be more authentic for me, while one of the other participants has also been exploring starting a business and finding some creative direction in it, after the working. There are many people I know who've practiced magic in the past and then stopped, disillusioned because they didn't get some kind of result they wanted, but I often wonder how much of that is a reflection on them as opposed to the magic or whatever they were working with. In working with Bune, clear expectations of what actions we needed to take were expressed in order to solicit his help. Not following through on those actions would show our unwillingness to take on any other steps that were more practically oriented toward manifesting our collective desires.

I'm reminded of a saying: "God helps those who helps themselves" Which I translate to this: Declare your intention to the universe and then start making it happen, so that the universe can align your declaration with your actions. Seems pretty simple, but I think some people conceive of magic as a kind of cure-all technology. I'll do the magic and that alone will be enough. But Magic doesn't really work that way. It's a way to communicate with the universe at large, or rather with your place in the universe at large, but communication is just one step of the process for making changes. The mundane actions we undertake are a confirmation of our own willingness to follow through.

In working with Bune, I'm struck also by the simple reality that what makes my work with him so real isn't a physical manifestation of him appearing in all of his glory, but rather a profound recognition that what makes my work with him or any other entity so powerful is my CHOICE to believe in those entities and allow for their objective existence. And my proof is found in working my process and in the results that occur as a result of following through in actions and in belief.