occultism

An example of a long running magical working and how its shaping my life

I wanted to share an example of a long running magical working I’m doing and how its shaping my life. I think its a good example that illustrates the value of long term workings and shows how they can proactively enhance and improve your life.

The working is the Sphere of Art, which I first learned about a few years ago, from R. J. Stewart. I began working with the Sphere actively when I started memorizing the chants in the fall of 2017. I chose to memorize the chants because I felt it would help me integrate the sphere into my memory, and consequently embody it. This is also the practice recommended by R.J. Memorizing the chants also served to introduce me to the archangels associated with each chant. This allowed me to get to know them further and paved the way for the actual work of the sphere. When you memorize the chants you condition your mind, body, and spirit to become open to the sphere and how it will interact with you.

The role of wealth magic in proactive life design

Part of my approach to proactive life design includes the integration of wealth magic into the creation of my life. If you’re going to plan your life proactively, I think wealth magic has to be part of that plan, because you need to look at how you’ll take care of yourself over the span of your life. Developing an approach to wealth magic necessarily also involves developing an understanding of wealth itself, so I’m going to take a moment and define wealth.

When I think of wealth, I approach it from a holistic perspective. Your wealth is partially derived from your financial well-being, but it is also comprised of your health, happiness and contentment, and your ability to attend to all of the above. As such a person’s wealth issues will never wholly be solved by money alone, though money will always a play a role in how a person sustains their wealth.

Inner Alchemy of Life is now available

Inner_Alchemy_of_Life_small.jpg

Inner Alchemy of Life is a guide to the life within your body and teaches you how to spiritually connect and work with that life. Taylor Ellwood shares the practical magic techniques he developed for bio-hacking your body and working with neurotransmitters and microbial life of the body as spiritual allies that can help you enhance your health and overall quality of life.In this book you'll learn real magic techniques including:

  • How to create your own alphabet of desire to work with the spirits of the body.

  • How to use meditation to change the biochemistry of your body.

  • How to improve your body's health by working with the spirits of the body.

  • How to make life style changes using neurotransmitters.

Inner Alchemy of Life allows you to access the sacred mysteries of your body and develop a conscious and alchemical relationship with the life that exists within you and makes your own life possible. Transform your connection with your body with the Inner Alchemy of Life.

The Sacred Cow of Science

I've written before about the tendency for some occultists to value science over magic and their attempts to apply the scientific method to magic, to the point, where they end up disillusioned with magic, because it doesn't really conform to science (nor was it ever meant to). This passage, I think explains part of the problem as well:

An all too common perception of science is that it deals in authoritative facts - truths that are immutably recorded in peer-reviewed journals and blessed by academia. In actuality, science is a method of inquiry that generates theories. Theories are forms of metaphors that explain a body of data, although scientists often may shy away from admitting the metaphoric quality. Metaphors are rarely perfect and almost always leave a lot of room for interpretation. theories are updated, hopefully on a regular basis, to best fit the map of the world we operate from.

From Brain Magick (Affiliate link) by Phil Farber

There is a perception that science deals in authoritative facts, because of how the scientific method works, but what people forget is that the method accepts that there is no fact...it's all theory, which means it could be changed down the line with new discoveries. As Farber puts it theories are used to explain and interpret data. And that's really what science boils down to...a way to explain data based on repeated practices that seem to verify a consistent outcome.

Magic doesn't work that way. I can give you a technique I've done and you can do it and get consistent results, but you can also modify that technique to get better results that fit your personality, nature, etc. Magic is personalized, and that's what makes it work. We have techniques, we have foundational principles, but when it comes down to it, magic is much more of a personal experience.

Trying to fit magic into science doesn't work so well because of that personalization. I favor the opposite. Take scientific principles and concepts and fit them into your magical work, without trying to make magic fit those scientific principles and concepts. Science is about laws, rules, and until proven otherwise those laws and rules are what people rely upon to understand the world. Magic is about breaking and bending rules. It's about making possibilities happen even if those possibilities don't exactly align with scientific principles.

There's nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from scientific principles and practices, but the magician should never allow those principles and practices to dictate how s/he practices magic. Keep yourself open to the possibilities and use that to create opportunities!

Belonging and Occult groups

I've never belonged to an occult group, and only briefly considered joining two, before I determined that I'd rather just pursue my own path. But recently on Facebook someone revived the Zee List and for a time I participated on that list way back when and it was interesting to observe how different people responded to the revival of the list in a different forum. The desire to belong is a current that seems to run strong in general in occultism and the forms it takes, whether it's a virtual community such as the Zee list or the more formal organizations such as the OTO or Golden Dawn. The desire to belong isn't the only reason someone will join an occult group, but I think it's fair to say it's a major reason people join. It's not a bad reason to join either, but it is an interesting one, because so much of the occult memes about being on the fringe. At the same time, it's natural that people will want to group together based on similar interests.

I never joined an occult group or lodge because I've always preferred my independence. Even with the zee list, which was never a formal group, it was more about sharing experiments, than actually being part of the group. My experiences with occult lodges in passing has been mostly negative, but I'm always open to the idea that someday I could change my mind.  But I don't think belonging to an occult group is an absolute essential. It's something many occultists do, but its equally possible to focus on your own studies or getting together with friends to discuss experiments without necessarily making it into a group organization.

Does magic still have a role in Paganism?

I've never really identified myself as a Pagan. I think of myself as an occultist, when it comes to my spirituality, and I'd have to say that what primarily defines my spirituality is my practice of magic. To my perspective and experience with Pagans, there's been a tendency to treat magic as a religious practice. It's not a primary concern, and as such it hasn't surprised me when I see blog entries such as this one, which shows the deepening awareness that some pagans are turning away from magic. I think the reason for that is due to a desire to be perceived as a legitimate religion, and because magic always carries a stigma with it, some pagans want to divest themselves of it, and embrace more traditional religious trappings. Then too, the traditionalism that grips a lot of Pagan practices strikes me as similar to the fundamentalism that I've encountered in Christianity. I've encountered pagan fundamentalism at various times and usually it's been a reaction to magical practices that didn't toe the traditional line of thought and inquiry.

It seems to me there is a definite subcultural difference between occultists and pagans, as it applies to magic's place in spirituality, and for that matter experimentation with magic. When there is drive by some pagans to remove magic altogether from the equation, it seems like their also taking an essential part of Paganism out as well. But then again, are they really if magic is more of a secondary concern in paganism?

I couldn't imagine a life without magic or magical practices. For me, my spirituality is my magical practice, with all that entails. I've always identified as a magician and an occultist as opposed to a pagan, because of my own negative experiences with pagans. While the majority of experiences have actually been good, the experiences where pagans tried to naysay my approach and practice of magic have been experiences that demonstrated that what's really important is not the label so much as the practice, but that people will use your practice to label you and if they don't like what they see, they will attack it.

Does magic still have a role in paganism? It's up to the pagans who practice it to make a case for it. I hope they do, because I think getting rid of magic is getting rid of part of what has made different pagan traditions what they are.

What's missing from academic inquiries into magic

I'm currently reading A Cognitive Theory of Magic (affiliate link) by Jesper Sorenson and the Anthropology of Magic (affiliate link) by Susan Greenwood. So far, they are fascinating reads, but in looking over their bibliography I find myself annoyed because in their effort to comment on magic the only sources they have pulled from are academic sources, and they have not even done a complete survey of that body of literature. But most importantly they have not also drawn on what occultists actually have to say about magic. Greenwood, being an actual practitioner, has no real excuse for not doing this, but Sorenson also doesn't have an excuse because he hasn't even drawn on contemporary academic examinations of magic. Actually neither of them have, instead drawing on the academic work of scholars from the early to  late twentieth century. Certainly it's good they are drawing on those sources, but both authors have done something I see occur in a lot of academic work on magic, namely limited themselves in drawing on very specific sources, while ignoring others. It's an academic tactic I'm familiar from my own days in the institution and paradoxically there's also this cry to be "rigorous" and thorough in drawing on available sources.

However even looking at the academic works of people who practice magic, we see more of a focus on pagan academic studies than occult or esoteric studies. And while that is still a good development, the pagan focus as it pertains to magic is more of a religious approach and less of a practical approach.

The aforementioned authors are focused on discussing the practical application of magic and where it fits into civilization, or lack thereof, but there's always this curious lack of inquiry into the actual occult texts that are available. I've seen it in other academic texts as well. There's lots of commentary on what other academics had to say about magic, but little to no commentary on what occultists might have to say on the subject. To claim authority in defining magic there necessarily needs to be familiarity with the entire field of study, which means drawing on a wide variety of sources that aren't academic, but also involves doing a thorough reading of the available academic literature. I'd like to see more of that kind of rigor in academic works on magic.

Continual shifts in my philosophy of magic

My philosophy and overall approach to magic has shifted  a lot in this last year in particular, but even in preceding years before this. It has become less about overt rituals and sigilization and other more visible techniques of magic and has moved into a quieter and more subtle practice, even as my studies and experiments have moved more toward a deeper end of the pool. The exploration of the concepts of identity and their relationship to magic has necessitated a very different approach, because its rooted much more in what I would consider the core of a person. It's not about fixing a situation or getting a job, so much as its about making changes at a deeper level of being, which when realized, changes the surface layer very quickly, because the changes have been building up and moving through the various layers of identity and personality to imprint themselves on the embodiment of selves I manifest in this life. I'm continuing to move further and further away from traditional concepts and definitions of magic. While to most, magic may be the art and science of causing change to manifest according to the will, that definition feels inadequate to me, and pretty much always has. But even the definitions of magic that I do have respect for...there's something missing. The last few years, with the continued internal work has continually shown me that. The more I read outside of the occult books, the more I recognize perspectives that could contribute to much to magical experimentation and process that are mostly ignored because they don't fit within the occult paradigm perse.

I don't identify with the mutant occulture movement. I don't identify with the chaos magician, the ceremonial magician, or any of the other labels. I don't identify with the occult culture. My time spent studying and learning the various perspectives and approaches to magic provided me a useful process and way of examining my relationship with the universe, but it wasn't until I actively started looking external to traditional occultism that I began to develop an appreciation for taking a more detailed look at the microcosm, and how I did or didn't impact that microcosm, or how it effected me in turn. The original impulse for getting into magic was to claim some form of empowerment by getting involved in it. That impulse has changed to a more introspective approach. Empowerment can be found in a variety of outlets, but what then is empowerment? What does it really mean to "have" power? And do we really have any of that? And where does it really come from?

If Magic is a process for change where is it most effective to enable that change? And beside the overt change in the world as a result of practicing magic, what is the more subtle change, if any which occurs? I think about these questions more than I used to, especially as I continue to research and explore alternate perspectives and beliefs involving a person as a change agent. I'm questioning my spirituality, my beliefs, and my identity, because in the questioning I'm finding myself visiting places I never thought to go before...but where it'll go, I'm not sure. And that seems to be a good thing...not knowing where it'll go, what will develop as a result. That's been the emptiness working for me...but its also the rest of my workings as well. It's moved out of experimentation for experimentation's sake and into experimentation for as a journey and evolution.

Follow-up to my post about my disillusionment with the Occult Scene

I've been watching with some interest just how much traffic my post about my disillusionment with the occult scene has generated. It even got linked by Chas Clifton, a pagan blogger and academic. He summarized that post as, " Aleister Crowley's legacy still poses problems for occultists -- especially when they take Internet "life" as equivalent to a "scene." Unfortunately that summary misses the point of that post entirely. I can understand, however, why he might think this was an issue with Crowley's legacy (such as it is) given my previous posts about Crowley on this blog. However Crowley is just a symptom of the problem, albeit to my mind, one of the originating symptoms. My original issue with Crowley essentially boils down to this: If after seventy years since his death, Crowley still represents the pinnacle of occultism, then occultism as a discipline hasn't advanced at all, which then brings up the question as to why any of us even bother practicing magic at all, if all we're trying to do is emulate him. Mind you, I don't believe all of us are trying to emulate him, but my original issue with Crowley was spurred on by seeing this person talked about so much, with so very little attention seemingly given to other occult authors or other original perspectives that weren't necessarily overtly influenced by him, to the point that some of these occult authors are only, in recent times, being rediscovered (Franz Bardon particularly comes to mind, though I can think of a number of others).

But after re-reading some of Crowley's work, I came to realize that my issue with Crowley was just a symptom of a deeper problem. I could see that Crowley had some valid points to make, even if the end I felt that while what he wrote could be insightful, I still don't believe its as influential as some people would argue. Before I get into any arguments with people who disagree, I'll just accept that yes he obviously has a lot of influence on you and your practice of magic. However, in re-reading his work I still don't find it very illuminating or graceful or any of the other things you think about it (so let's agree to disagree about that).

But this brings me to the problem I now see Crowley as a symptom of. Crowley's image, his notoriety is to me symbolic of the problem I perceive with the occult scene. I honestly wonder if people would find his work as influential if he didn't also have that bad boy image that he has. In other words, I think that the image has overtaken the content. And given that there are no other occult authors that really have that kind of notoriety, a further question I find myself asking is, "If another occult author had that kind of notoriety, would people read his works in the same way...would the image influence how the content was perceived?" Now someone might say, "Hey it's not fair that you assume that Crowley's image influences my reading of his content." Yes it may not be fair, but it is a valid consideration to bear in mind. Does Crowley's image overtake, overshadow, and consequently influence how his work is read and/or practiced? Is Crowley the best role model of a magician that we have? Should he be a role model for us? But it doesn't end with Crowley. The problem here is how much is the occult scene invested in image opposed to content (and who decides what is image and what is content?)?

When I talk about the occult scene, I'm not just talking about Crowley and I'm certainly not just talking about the internet occult scene. The Zee list was an excellent example of what I considered to be part of this image problem I've talked about, because on the zee list what you really had occurring was a lot of chest beating and posturing over who was the uber occultist of them all. What didn't occur was a lot of sharing of ideas or experiments. Some of that occurred, but most of the time you had flame wars erupting...and to a lesser degree this also occurred on other e-lists. I can't say if it's occurred in recent times, because I'm not on any of the e-lists I used to be on. I stayed off them when I realized that any experiments or work I was going to do would probably be best shared with only a select group of people.

So dear reader, at this point, you might ask, "So why are you feeling disillusioned?" And my response: "Is occultism as a culture about image or content or is there a good balance for both?" I think of Generation Hex, the anthology edited by Jason Louv as an example of what I'm asking about. Because on one hand it represents a snapshot in the lives of certain people and their pursuit and practice of magic, and on the other hand it also represents a method for marketing the practice of magic as something cool people can do. It's a cultural text that offers us insight into why people decided magic was relevant to them as a practice and as way of connecting with other people, etc, but it's a statement of how magic could (should?) be perceived.

And then too my disillusionment about occultism comes down to: "What does doing all of this stuff really do for me? How is this really changing my life?" I have no doubt magic has changed my life and changed it for the better, but in considering questions such as those, I also consider the role of occultism as a culture and as a practice in my life. Is the practice of magic just a practice that allows people to connect socially or culturally? Is the practice of magic an elaborate social schema for interaction with certain types of people? Or is there more? I can point to my own experiments and say yes there has been more than just a connection on social or cultural level. But when I look at occultism as a whole, as a culture, I'm asking, what are we practicing magic for? What is the purpose for practicing magic? How does this practice benefit us as individuals, as a cultural group, or humanity, or the Earth, or the universe? What is the significance, if anything...or is it just image in the end?

And to be clear I'm not commenting on the practices of others or your choice to be influenced by Crowley or whatever else as a way of dismissing it. To quote a tried and true maxim of chaos magic, "Whatever works for you" I'm really commenting on all of this for myself, as a way of looking at how I situate my practice of magic into my life, and into my interactions with the occult community and culture. I'm seeking answers to my questions, because those answers will really shape the direction my spiritual path goes into, as well as how and if I continue to take part in the occult community. Posting it here is the opportunity to articulate my feelings and concerns, to get some distance from them, to come back with a different perspective down the line. What answers I get, which could come from commentary that others offer, still are answers I have to find on my own. I suppose you could my disillusionment my spiritual mid life crisis. It's not necessarily a dark night of the soul, but it certainly is something to me...and that's just fine, because it means something is happening.