Magic

The Place of Ecstasy in Magic

I was recently reading Stealing Fire, which is a book that explores states of ecstasy and how people are harnessing those states deliberately. If I have one complaint about the book its that they never really touch on ecstasy shows up in magical practices, but it got me to thinking about the place of ecstasy in magic and why ecstatic states of being are so important to magical work.

I’d argue that any altered state of consciousness can be lumped under ecstasy of some sort because what seems to be a defining characteristic of ecstasy is an the experience of altered consciousness. And ecstasy of some type seems to be essential to magical practices, because what ecstasy necessarily provides us is the suspension of the everyday conscious mind with its attendant disbelief. I think of an ecstatic state as a state where your perception of possibilities and reality is intertwined, where your awareness of past, present and future combines to create a singular moment where you are, and you can connect a desired possibility and provide it a path toward manifestation. An ecstatic state of consciousness is a state of flow.

How to pick your pop culture for pop culture magic

I’ve recently started playing a game called in Inquisitor-Martyr, set in the Warhammer 40k universe, which a is a dystopic universe where humanity has access to advanced technology, but also a medieval mindset about technology. At the same time, humanity is beset by various alien menaces and the forces of chaos. I enjoy the game, but I would never create a pop culture magic working or system based off the Warhammer universe.

In this article, I want to share some thoughts on how to pick your pop culture for pop culture magic and also demonstrate why a viable option for pop culture magic may not be ideal, for other reasons. At the same time I’m going to compare and contrast the 40k universe with that of Kingdom Hearts (for purposes of pop culture magic), which is on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to pop culture based off fantasy.

How Embodiment connects you to your environment

The majority of my current magical experimentation is on experiential embodiment, which is focused on entering into a conscious relationship with the body, as opposed to merely inhabiting it and treating it as an object. Yet what I’m finding with this work is that it’s not merely helping me continue to collaborate with my body as a living universe in its own right, but also connecting me more intimately with the environment and world I live in, as well as with the fellow living beings I share this space with.

I’m reading the Spell of the Sensuous and Processmind and both books explore how connecting with your body also opens you up to connect with your environment. What both authors recognize is that the choice to be sensually and experientially present with your body necessarily also opens you up to becoming present with the space you are interacting with in your everyday life. Embodiment teaches us not to take for granted the world we live in or the bodies we are fortunate enough to have access to.

Art as active magic

Art is one of the techniques I use for working with magic. A painting or sculpture can be used to help embody and express a magical concept or provide a “home” of sorts for an entity or spirit. But art can also be used to set up your environment for magical work, or it can become a shrine and altar to the spirits you’re working with. It’s these latter two aspects I want to explore, as well as share a few examples of my own art employed for this purpose.

At the same time I also want to explore something else that I feel underpins the two points above: Art is an active collaborator in your magical work. I mention this because I think that other than the act of creating art, art is typically considered to be passive. And what I mean by that is that you see art on a wall and appreciate it, but its just there, in the background, or is it?

Liminal Space and experiential magic

I’ve started re-reading the Spell of the Sensuous, which is one of those books I’d make mandatory for any magician. In the book the author notes that the magician’s place is on the edge of society, mediating both the human community and the community of nature and spirits that the magician connects with. This role is essential and the magician maintains it in order to connect with the wild, with the spirits and as a result bring about equilibrium in the human community.

The author shares this contextual definition based on his experiences in SE Asia, and so I found myself asking if what he defined as the magician’s place is applicable to Western society. And I think it is. Not the least perhaps because I’ve always seen myself on the edge and that I prefer to live in hard to find places that have a connection to nature, but just as importantly because I think that regardless of where you live, its necessary to find a way to connect with the larger world around you, and with what awaits in that world, both in terms of life and spirit.

Experience and the art of magic

If process is the methodology of magic, experience is the art of magic.

When I talk about experience, I’m talking about engaging your magical work on a sensorial level, opening yourself to the subtle nuances of magic as it expresses itself in your life.

Experiential aspects of magic can happen during ritual workings. In fact a lot of magical workings are purposely designed to engage the magician sensually in order to alter the consciousness and prepare the magician for the spiritual workings, but ritual is just one example of experiential work in magic.

Assumptions, Desire and Doubt in in Magical Practice

Lately I’ve had a few other magicians express doubts about their magical work and when they tell me they feel doubt they feel as if expressing that doubt is somehow bad and makes them less of a magician. I actually find it to be refreshing and see it as a good thing to express and feel. Having some doubt is healthy and is what keeps us grounded when it comes to magic and life. The danger of not entertaining some doubts is that you can make assumptions about your magical work that you aren’t verifying. Doubt is what helps us do our due diligence and check against what we’re doing and how its aligning with the experiences we’re having.

I find that where a magician can start making assumptions is when they don’t entertain any doubt. Certainly I have sometimes made assumptions instead of critically questioning what I was experiencing. A good example of this would be when a situation seems to resolve in your favor, with everything lining up the way you would expect it to when you’ve done a magical working…but you haven’t done a magical working.

Magic for Experience vs Magic for Results

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between magic done for the sake of experience and magic done for the sake of results. I don’t think either type of magic necessarily better than the other, but I think the underlying purpose for doing the magical work is significantly different and worth recognizing because it also informs your own motivations for why you’re doing magic.

I’ll admit that a lot of my thought around this topic is driven by my own magical experiences and experiments of late, which have driven more by a desire for the experience than for a specific outcome. Practicing magic for the sake of experience I find is changing my perspective on magic. Before I get into that further though let’s briefly define and clarify what magic for results and magic for experience looks like.

How I use dreams for my creative work

One of the ways I’ve been cultivating my creativity has involved using lucid dreams to discover what I should write about, both for fiction and nonfiction. In order to have lucid dreams I’ve found it helpful to change some of my sleep patterns, just enough so I can remember my dreams and still get enough sleep for my health.

If I get a full night of sleep I usually need 7 hours. When I’m doing dream work, I aim for getting around 6 hours of sleep. I find that if I only sleep 6 hours, I wake up around the time that I’m having vivid dreams and can remember those dreams. If I have a journal on hand, then I can write the dream down.

How to maintain a consistent magical practice

One of the topics that comes up frequently when I talk with other magicians is the challenges they have around doing a consistent practice of magic. They want a consistent practice of magic, they start to do it, but then the consistent practice falls away. They may have done the practice for multiple weeks in a row, but suddenly they stop.

It’s a frustrating experience when you are trying to develop a consistent practice and you’re doing well with it and then suddenly you aren’t. You can feel like a failure, like you aren’t really a magician, because you can’t seem to stick with a practice. And when you feel that way it can discourage you from even trying to practice magic.

How to Ground yourself after doing deep work

Whenever I’ve come home from a festival or a weekend intensive or wrapped up an intense working, I find that one of the challenges I’ve face is how do I come back from that intense experience. After all I’ve stepped away from my mundane life for a period of time and experienced something outside the norm…and now I have to go back.

Chances are that if you’ve practiced magic for any length of time you’ve had this experience too. And the question is how do you come back from that and go back to your normal life? It sometimes feels like culture shock when you try to go back to the regular routines of life because where you were spiritually, mentally, and physically was so different and going back to your regular life is a shock.

How to define and enhance the power source of magical workings

The other day I had someone ask me how you could go about giving more power to a spell or ritual. It's not an unusual question, because of one key word: Power. How do we put more oomph, more power into our magical workings? I think a better question to ask though is do we even need more power in order to get a desired result? Along with that, let's also ask what the best source of power ought to be for what we're doing with our magical workings.

On the surface more power seems like the ideal response. Not getting what you want? Throw more power into it. That'll tip the momentum in your favor. But in my experience brute power rarely does the trick and the reason is because power, in and of itself, isn't enough to get what you want, if you understand what all that power is going to.

Are the 4 quarter Archangels the same as the Guardians of the Watchtowers?

I was recently asked if the Guardians of the watchtowers are the same as Archangels. The reason I was asked is because a lot of Magicians call angels to their circle or the Guardians of the watchtowers. It's a good question to ask, and since I've been doing my own work around the archangels of the quarters, I thought I would answer it.

The short answer is that the Archangels aren't the same as the Guardians of the watchtowers. They are each their own distinctive set of beings. Frater Barrabbas has an excellent book out about this very topic called Spirit Conjuring for Witches: Magical Evocation Simplified (Affiliate link), where he explores this topic in depth.

Why magic for your self isn't always effective

I was asked by someone why magic he was doing for himself was less effective. He told me that that until recently the magic done for himself had worked fine, but that then suddenly became less effective. He wondered if it was because he had put a shield up or if the magic was less effective because it as an attempt to avoid self sabotage. Finally he asked what could be done when your magic seemed less effective.

I don't know the specifics of what he was trying to do with his magical work, but some thoughts did come to mind, based on my own experiences and helping other people diagnose issues they are having with their magical practice. I find that when a person isn't getting a result or their magic is less effective, its usually because they are self-sabotaging in some way. They may not really want what they think they want. Or they may not feel they are worthy of what they want. Additionally there may be some internal resistance because what they want goes against some moral or ethical code.

How to understand magic intellectually and spiritually

The other day on the Magical Experiments Facebook page, a commenter summed up his challenge with magic by sharing, "I'm trying to find an intellectual understanding along with a spiritual understanding of it without losing myself to it."

I think this is a challenge many people experience on their journey with magic as a spiritual practice. We can try to define magic as a set of practical techniques or describe it as a way to exercise our will, but at a certain point, in my experience, you move beyond such definitions when you recognize that magic moves and shapes the practitioner as much as the practitioner seeks to move and shape it.

Sometimes you just have to let go

Recently I binge watched the last season of 12 Monkeys and as a result I had this dream of a time paradox I was trying to solve and every time I thought I solved it, it would change and I would try to solve it again. Finally I came to a point where I realized it couldn't be solved and that the only solution was to let go. Yet it was such a hard decision, because letting go went counter to everything telling me I could solve this time paradox. But the longer I kept trying to solve something the harder it was.

So eventually I let go. I stopped trying to solve the time paradox, the problem, and just moved on. And when I did that, the dream ended. The stress went away. The problem was solved.

How to break your magical workings into steps

When I look at a given magical ritual or working or spell I can break it down into steps. It may not be written that way, but realistically a magic spell or ritual is a set of step by step instructions that you are using for the purposes of doing some type of spiritual work. And when you approach you own magical work that way and organize it into specific steps it can help you get perspective on what you're doing and start seeing the underlying process of magic.

The Process of Magic is now Available

My newest book, The Process of Magic: A Guide to How Magic Works is now available.

The Process of Magic was originally a class I taught I took the 26 lessons, plus some bonus material and converted it into a book.

In The Process of Magic, we explore how magic works and what you can do to improve your magical workings as a result. I also show you how to troubleshoot existing magical workings. The goal of the book is to help you create a stable foundation for your magical practice.