I don't care about Teo Bishop's Spiritual Choices (and Neither Should You)

Teo There's been a lot of uproar over Teo Bishop's realization that he's felt a calling back to Jesus Christ. Some people are upset because he's posted about this decision on Pagan blogs, while other people defend him doing so and feel it's important that he posts about his recent coming back to Jesus, especially given that he's been interviewed in the most recent issue of Witches and Pagans. And then there's me. I don't care about Teo Bishops' spiritual choices and I don't think anyone else should either. They are his choices and I feel that a person's spiritual choice is ultimately a private matter, something that can really only be known by the person and the spiritual forces s/he works with. I know, I know, Teo blogs about his spirituality (so do I for that matter). But while a blog post can describe a person's journey, it can't really speak to all of the moments the person experiences, or what s/he does with those experiences.

I have no doubt Teo will continue blogging about his spiritual journey and I'm fine with that. Let his voice be read by the people who want to read it and find it to be valuable. I'm relatively certain that just as with any other writer Teo will find his audience or they will find him and that what will really matter is what that audience offers each other. The rest of us will move on and life will continue.

I don't think it's such a big deal really. Here's this guy and he's having some spiritual realizations which are causing him to move toward what he feels called to. We all have them. I think the only reason this is a big deal is because Teo has a bit of fame (outside of being Pagan) and so people are upset because this person who has a bit of fame might suddenly not be Pagan anymore. Let's ask the honest and tough question everyone seems to be avoiding: Would you really care so much about Teo's conversion if he didn't have some fame attached? I know that must make me sound terribly, terribly cynical, but really, why are people getting so bent out of shape because someone shares that he's going through a spiritual change? Maybe it has nothing to do with his fame, but the thing is, I never heard of Teo Bishop until a year and change ago. Before then, as far as I knew he didn't exist. Then suddenly he pops up and this is partially so important because he's already a public figure and that just might make Paganism look better as a result. So now he's going through some spiritual changes and people are upset (in my opinion) because this person is A BNP and a public figure in other venues outside Paganism.

I don't care about Teo's spiritual choices, or yours for that matter. Believe what you want, practice it how you want. As long as you aren't hurting people I don't have a problem with it. I also don't think we need to make a big deal about it. Mind your own business, live your life...you get the idea and that's all I have to say on the subject of Teo Bishop and his changing spirituality.

Multiversal Tone

The hypnotic movement of the music,the sashay that calls for a steady shuffle as you and I move in time we create this altered reality a place of eyes, your eyes staring into mine mine staring into yours Your soul baring its truth to me showing all your possible timelines realities unfolding as you say, "Here I am in all my multiversal glory." You are everything and nothing Your eyes are eight arrowed stars that portray entropy The music swirls, stings, rattles its not just a sound its an experience shaking the very boundaries of the bodies engaged in this dance of robotic, synchronized movements back and forth, back and forth all is bliss, all is bliss Reveal yourself to me and I'll show you a new reality in my own eyes as I unveil my secret self displaying the glories of my true nature the celestial nature of my tone I bring to the universe perfect sound joining other perfect sounds we create this harmony gears in clocks, the ticking of time the movement of space Here we are you and I.

An infinity of possibilities

Multi-angled eyesstare into an infinity of possibilities absorbed in the flow of time acting on space unrealized possibilities folding into realities not are own as well fall into shimmering waves of existential bliss The angles of the angels reveals place, purpose, function, What are they but what they identify with? The angles of the demons reveals place, purpose, function The angles of the gods reveals place, purpose, function And what do you reveal child of light and shadow? You represent possibilities outside such fixed identities laughing chaos that reveals there's so much more than just form, function, place, or purpose I cannot be more than what I am is only reserved for those beings that have chosen that their function, form, place, and purpose have more importance than the opportunity to change and grow. You are that you are, I am that I am, the Breath of the universe ripples through your life and you reveal in that moment the glory of your multi-angled eyes... You'll pick and choose and turn possibilities into realities and we'll dance in those realities even as we look into the infinity of all things and none.

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.

A day of ritual work

Right now Portland is experiencing an unexpected snow storm, which has pretty much shut down the ability to travel in the city. I'm not one to spend my time idly, however. So I decided to do some ritual workings today and have another I'll be joining astrally later tonight for the solstice. I first decided to the second invocation of Atem from Meta-Magick: The Book of Atem by Phil Farber. In the second invocation you create a magical circle in which you anchor specific attributes of attention, passion, fitting, trance, language, and making into the formation of the circle. These attributes are used to form the entity of ATEM. By anchoring the attributes into a physical space, the magician not only creates ATEM, but also utilizes a physical space for Atem and the associated entities of the attributes to reside in. It's a clever approach. I like how it ultimately utilizes the physical environment of the person to create a space where ATEM resides, strengthening the connection it has with the person working with it.

I also did another space/time Tarot invocation of my future self, as well as the evocation of Thiede, Purson, the spider goddess of time, and Xah. I've thought about the role those entities have in this type of working. Thiede is my Space/Time guardian spirit, Purson is finder of potential, and the spider goddess is the weaver of those possibilities into reality. Xah, as my personal Daemon, is both the future self I invoke and also the fox spirit that walks alongside me whenever I walk the silver strands of the web of time. With this working I did my invocation and evocations and then invoked Xah, entering into a trance wherein I could interface with all of the entities while letting my future self shuffle the cards of the second deck. It felt odd to shuffle the cards and yet be in a trance...the movement was much less directed, so the shufflking continued for a while...It actually helped increase the trance. The working itself showed me the steps I needed to take...a lot of it being confirmation of some situations in my life...so I think for the meantime, I'll likely hold back on doing further space/time tarot work until those situations are fully taken care of.

Tonight, I'm going to take a ritual bath and use music, chanting, and trance work to synch in with the solstice working...and enjoy relaxing in the comfort of my home while doing it.

Elemental Love Work month 12

I wrote this poem on Thursday, in my live journal. I'm reposting it here, because it depicts part of the conclusion to the elemental Love work. The connection is what we want silver strands that glisten by the star light, whispering promises from the vibrations of the space/time wind The core opens to reveal the secret heart of the universe a path lit up by red lines of force the flames of the fox fire beckoning, and luring on those eager hunters of desire

Hourglass eyes witness the illusion of time, The spiderweb, wet with dew, promises a non linear story Truth, truth, truth...

Whirling fan over the light, a very tired person looks up spreads his arms, and journeys into the iridescent glow of promise. I see all possibilities in the quantum sea everything could, is, was, will do, but will any of it become?

I am also Empty...Reach in and pull the last out Everything is stripped away...she took me on she gave me surfeit her hand gentle on my cheek, while the other rips everything out.

Your illusions are gone, now what?

Now what indeed. It's month 12...The end of the year long elemental love work...The end of my working with Babalon, the sacred whore, the scarlet woman, she who takes on all, but demands the sacrifice of your illusions. Babalon has thoroughly fucked me this last year. At times she had been a gentle lover, at other times a demanding bitch. One hand has caressed me as a lover, while the other has ripped my heart out. And through it all, her scarlet eyes have looked into mine, holding me steady, urging me on, demanding the best from me.

I wouldn't recommend the element of love to just anyone. I think this year's work has been by far the most intense and demanding of all my magical workings. You have to be ready to sacrifice it all on the altar of love to experience the truths you will inevitably find about yourself, and if you get anything back, count yourself blessed, and recognize you also earned it.

This last month has been one of nostalgia, regret, and healing. I remember a year ago, I remember how desperate I was, how much I knew I needed to change, my patterns of love had grown very toxic indeed. I was a toxic bloom, everything on the surface, ready to be popped. I remember meeting a priestess of Babalon, and a relationship that didn't work out and being told, "This elemental love work has left bruises on my heart, your wife's heart, and your heart. Will it be worth it?" I remember bad communication on my part, an unwillingness to really be open or intimate and my journey throughout this year to learn how to do that, how to really open up, how to be vulnerable, how to be honest despite the fear. Honesty with others, but most importantly honesty with myself about my desires, my fears, and what has motivated so many of  my choices.

I remember other situations, other people, all the lies I told to myself, ripped away. And I remember a couple nights with Lupa, where I really opened up, where I told her things I had not told her or anyone else. I remember being honest with her in a way I have never been with anyone, and despite my fears, despite the ingrained responses and reactions that said to just hold it all in, to protect myself by never saying a thing...I spoke...I told her, I laid myself out and let her see the real me. And she accepted me...she showed me LOVE, even as Babalon has Shown me LOVE.

A couple weeks ago, I felt the weight of these regrets...My mind wandered through the past year, through the lessons earned, the people touched, the bruises left, especially the bruise in myself. And I felt Babalon stir beside me. She gave me a gentle look and parted the folds of my flesh, to the heart underneath, and instead of seizing it in her hand as she often has, she gently touched it, touched the bruise of my regrets, and she said,

"It's time to let this go. You've learned what you needed to from this. Let it go, so you can move on and let other people into your life and into your love when you're ready. You've learned the lessons I needed to teach you and I will always be here to remind you of them, and also support you as you continue your journey."

And she took those regrets away...the physical pain I felt in the hollow of my chest left me.

This last Monday, I was talking with Wes Unruh about language, magic, semiotics, and we got around to talking about Babalon and male magicians. He said that he didn't think a male magician came into his full power until he'd had an encounter with Babalon. He told me of his own experiences and mentioned that for about a year after his working with Babalon ended he had focused on the element of emptiness and on rebuilding himself...and I found great comfort in this, because it's another confirmation I made the right choices, and I'm on the right path.

I was asked earlier this year, if this elemental love work would be worth the bruises, and the pain. And my answer is yes. It is worth all the pain caused, all the pain felt. It is worth the pain I caused as well as the pain I felt. It's not that I wanted to cause that pain. It's not that I felt a secret delight. No...That pain is part of the process of life, of how you learn. I made mistakes, I came face to face with the reality of the effects of those mistakes. The regret I felt for the pain I caused was something that's haunted me for this last half year. And yet, that pain, for me, for them has the potential for growth. It's what we choose to make it...and so Babalon showed me I could let go, move on, heal...

Last year, I said to Lupa, I said to others, "All of the relationships I'm in now will be changed if I do this working." And everything changed for those relationships. Every single relationship I was involved in on a romantic level is now gone, accept the relationship with my wife, which has ended up stronger than ever before because we worked through our problems with each other and came to a deeper, more intimate relationship than any I've ever had, except for one. It's taken a lot of work and honesty on our parts, but here we stand together, stronger than ever...

And that one relationship which is deeper and more intimate...that's the relationship I have with myself. This year has forced me to know myself as I never did before, and this next year will take me even further, but I'm ready for that plunge. Babalon has shown me not just the truth of LOVE, but also that of Strength. The strength to forgive, the strength to let go, the strength to love, and the strength to learn. She showed me my strength, even as she took away all the delusions I'd told myself.

Babalon told me it would get harder before it got easier, and she was right. It got really hard somedays to wake up and face the reality of my motivations, my desires, my love or lack thereof. In April, when I walked around, desperately unhappy, desperate to fill something in me and instead walked home and told Lupa about my emptiness, about how empty I sometimes feel, that's when I started to really learn from this year's elemental working...that's when I came face to face with the underlying motivation for so much of my unhealthy behaviors. That's when I realized just how much my feeling of emptiness had so often motivated my choices to try and find something to fill it, instead of choosing to feel it. And now that I know that feeling...now I'm ready to accept it, to move into it and everything it has to teach me.

On Friday, I had some of my hair cut. Babalon spoke to me in a moment of shared love and lust, in a moment of ritual, a finishing touch. That night, Lupa massaged me, talked with me, reconnected with me about our love, about what we find so important and she cut my hair, part of my payment to Babalon. Below is a poem I wrote about Friday:

"You've still got to pay up the last bit for this year of companionship I gave you" She told me.

Her long black hair framed her face, cascading down her frame, hiding her body, leaving only the oval of her face her red eyes staring into mine a doorway into the abyss an invitation into Emptiness

As we fucked with wild abandon her hands touched my long hair and she said,

"Perhaps some of this... Cut some of it for me and also for the next element Cut it as an offering when you pass through the gateway within me and within you The gateway to the heart of the universe"

As we came to crescendo, She and I, My goddess of desire, her beast to ride, I felt myself swallowed into her. She whispered,

"Conjunctio, The joining of forces Your principle joined to mine, In combination we create the alchemical wedding Your sacrifice opens the gate that your seed might be consumed and you reborn in my dark womb of Emptiness Your potential realized in the joining of everything and nothing."

Later my body massaged with hands of gentle love and care, my hair brushed out, the scissors snap some is taken away "Taking a little, so a lot can grow back, so you can realize your potential" Caressed, loved, forgiven, your hands know my body I fall into the light of the quantum sea out of reality, into everything

Everything I am falling back to potential, In her hands I lay, in her womb I will be sacrificed The gateway is open, Conjunctio achieved Emptiness beckons It's a promise of potential I'll take.

"Your last price is paid, Your coin is accepted the gate is open, fly free my love fly free

When you come back reborn anew, you will really know me and my name.

And I whisper,

"Babalon, Great goddess, Sacred whore, scarlet woman, take me, take me, take my sacrifice and show me the door to conjunctio, show me the door to emptiness zero and one, everything and none, where potential awaits to sculpt, to show, to provide the pathway to the heart of the universe to the silver webs of time, and the purple halls of space"

And she rips away from me the last shred of illusion Her hand caresses my cheek one last time, her tears touch my face, She kisses my lips one last time, to steal my last breath Great Babalon has destroyed me.

And now... I'm free to arise. Elemental Emptiness show me the way, through the door

I am here, I am there I am everywhere, everywhen, all things and none, a whisper on the wind, the caress of a hand on your chin all realities within my eyes, I am reborn into emptiness... I am reborn to realize my potential.

Today, Saturday, I finished the Love working. I went upstairs, with the painting of the seal of Babalon, The beast dagger, the candle with her visage gracing it. I lit the sacred candle in my temple. I dedicated two posters of the mythos of Babalon as told by Oryelle Defenestate-Bascule to Her. I burned a bit of my cut off hair in the flame of the candle. I cut her seal into my flesh, her name into my skin with the tip of the dagger, tracing so delicately upon my skin the imprint of this goddess...

I sang her praise, I thanked her for her gifts, and then I asked her to take me through the portal to emptiness. I fucked her one last time, giving her my seed and then I was taken in hand by the entity who represents emptiness...But that story will not be told until Tuesday, when the dedication ritual is finished.

Farewell Babalon, sacred Goddess and sacred whore, my lover and destroyer.

The lyric below is from the song Here's to You by Lisbeth Scott. I removed a couple words, that aren't relevant to me, to this year's working...but the lyrics of this song, the song itself is a fitting end to the love working and the beginning of the work on the element of Emptiness:

Here's to you... Rest forever and ever... The last and final moment is yours. Agony's your triumph.

Here's to you, Rest forever here in our hearts. The last and final moment is yours. Agony's your triumph.

On the value of Inner Alchemy

I'm copy editing a book for Immanion Press called Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: A Troubleshooter's Guide to Magic by A'Miketh, and I'm really impressed by what I'm reading, because this guy has managed to explain some complex concepts in fairly approachable language, and more importantly he's cleared stated the value and need for doing external work before getting into all of the flashy external magical work. And I have a lot of respect for that. I was chatting with Bill Whitcomb earlier tonight about how change occurs in society, and we both agreed that change takes a long time to occur when it's done right, because the best way that change occurs is through changing the internal reality of yourself and modeling that change to others. It's not nearly as dramatic or active as trying to protest political rallies or trying to throw a revolution because you dislike what other people are doing. It's a much slower form or change...it takes time and some effort to create change in yourself that brings you to healthier patterns of behavior and communication.

But I would take that kind of change over the change of a revolution, because a revolution inevitably only replaces the previous oppressors with the people revolting against them. That is to say in a revolution the only thing that changes are the people in charge. What doesn't change is how those people treat other people, because for a revolution to usually be successful, it is violent...and that same violence twists the people who beget it, so that they become what they hate, because having overthrown a previous government, they quickly begin to fear that the same will happen to them. The French revolution and the Bolshevik revolution and revolutions in China (both in the early and mid twentieth century), and to a lesser extent the American revolution are good examples of this process, where change is promised and a government is overthrown and ultimately what replaces it is more of the oppression that the revolutionaries claimed they fought against. This incidentally is one of the reasons I'm skeptical about the so-called good intentions of the activists...I see them as just another form of political extremism and should that extremism replace what we currently have, I don't believe it will be any better than what it replaces.

I favor instead a revolution that comes from within a person...a fervent desire to change the self, to recognize that to change the world around us, we must first be willing to take responsibility for our own actions and thoughts. Instead of blaming others for the woes of the worlds, we should take responsibility for ourselves and what we can change...our attitudes about others, our actions toward the environment we live in and do it in a manner where we model how we want the world to change, but without trying to force that change down everyone's throat. I imagine that may sound idealistic, but in copy-editing this book and reading this person's thoughts on how to create a system of mindful awareness and internal change mechanisms in western practices of occultism, I see more than idealism...I see a methodology and practice that can make it happen, but ultimately requires a voluntary to make it occur. I turned to Taoist and Buddhist breathing and meditation techniques to develop a system for internal work that was also mixed with Western techniques for pathworking, but in reading some of Dunlap's ideas, I also see some hope for Western occultism developing some of those same internal practices without having to borrow as much from Eastern practices.

It seems to me that when a culture or society doesn't have a system of some sorts for developing reflective and consciousness awareness of emotions and reactions and triggers, it is very hard for that society to change. And really, for this kind of internal work to really bear results, you need everyone in society doing the work...not just some monks in a mountain hideaway. This is why I hope such practices will continue to become more prevalent in this culture...so that people can really be aware of what sets them off and work on deprogramming the bad triggers, while also figuring out who they really want to be and how they want to manifest that to each other and the world at large. I think if such practices were more prevalent there would be much less violence, much more cooperation, and also much more of a sense of connection to and with each other as well as an awareness of the responsibility we have to each other, to ourselves and to the environment we live in, aka, to the entirety of this Earth and universe.

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.

My disillusionment with the occult scene

My disillusionment with the occult scene started eight years ago. I remember the incident vividly. I was telling my mentor, a magician who was a member of TOPY about some ideas I had about pop culture and magic, when he stuffily told me that my ideas weren't real magic. I was pretty shocked to be honest. I'd never had anyone just up and tell me that (of course until I lived in State college, PA I hadn't really encountered too many occultists or pagans). I'd had a belief that occultists were open-minded people, always experimenting, always trying new ideas out. It was a fairly naive belief, in retrospect. In later years, on the zee list and other e-lists, I saw a lot of squabbling and flamewars occur. I saw people discourage other people's creativity and experiments. I took a year and a half off from the online occult scene for that reason, deciding to just do my own thing. Eventually when I did rejoin it, I'd founded my own e-lists for my own purposes and made sure I picked people who I could work with. I remember with some fondness my timemachines e-list which I ran for several years. The focus on space/time magic was exhilarating because people were focused on learning and experimenting. There was nothing remotely discouraging about the sharing of ideas, no attempts to put people down or tell them what they couldn't do. I always found that kind of atmosphere conducive to magical work.

The last few years have seen a lot of changes in my life, and with it a continuing growth of disillusionment about occultism and what it represents. Occasionally I feel that I'm an old-fashioned curmudgeon when I look at what I perceive as a culture of image, of marketing the occult world in a particular way that to me all too often seems to focus more on the act of rebellion and less on the potential of magic. Occasionally, I look around and wonder, "What happened?"But then I also ask myself, "How much of this disillusionment is just your expectations?"

And really in many ways that's what disillusionment boils down to. It is the refutation of your expectations, the realization that you have placed expectations on something or someone...and suddenly the scales fall away and what you see may not match up with the reality you imagined...and what you see about yourself and how you've looked at a situation through blinders may also be very revealing. Any subculture goes through changes and the occult subculture is no different. How a person adapts to those changes or doesn't determines how much participation that person might have in the community down the line

Over the last few months I've withdrawn myself from a lot of the occult community happenings. Some of that has been the elemental love working and the demands it's placed on me in terms of really digesting what I'm learning about love, and myself. Some of it has been evaluating what my place is in the occult community, what I have to offer it, and whether what I offer is of any real value to the subculture. Some of it has been exploring life in different directions and perceptions that until now I hadn't thought to travel in.

In recently challenging the sacred cow of Crowley on this blog, I found the opportunity to really look at what one of my issues with occultism has been, namely the focus on the image over the reality. Because if there's one thing that Crowley represents, it is the image of the occultist that he created in both his actions and words. In some ways that notoriety has played in his favor, but in other ways, I have to wonder if he'd look at it as such a beneficial thing. It doesn't matter beyond the fact that people need symbols and so will gravitate toward those symbols. Crowley has moved beyond the role of the magician and assumed the role of an icon and a symbol for occultism, in particular Thelema. In truth my recent posts about Crowley showed me that it is very hard, if not impossible to separate the icon of Crowley from Crowley's writing.

That same issue is spared for just about any other writer of the occult. Most writers of the occult never achieve the notoriety Crowley had. The focus on their works is less about the image and more about the reality of what they were trying to do. It's a subtle distinction, but an important one to make in considering where occultism as a subculture is going. It's one I've considered carefully the last few months as I've withdrawn from the occult scene (Beyond what I post here). Is occultism about the image, about the appearance of a certain style or operating a certain way, wearing certain clothes, uttering certain catch phrases, in short fitting into an idealized image of occultism? Or is occultism about what we do, how we do it, how it can be used to change lives, help each other grow, and learn about the inner workings of the universe?

I've been pondering these two questions for years...and in some ways my work with identity is informed by my ponderings about these two questions...because identity is informed both by what we do and how we are perceived by others and ourselves...the content and the image.

In taking a step back from the occult scene and considering the different questions I have mentioned here, I've also been considering my disillusionment...the role my expectations play in that disillusionment, but also the recognition of the questions I'm asking and the answers I'm steadily working toward. I have no answers...and yet I have the longing to connect with others in finding those answers. In working magically with two different people lately, intimately working with them, challenging and being challenged, I'm struck by just how good it can be to have people to work with, to talk with, to share with your spirituality, your journey, even as they share there own.  And maybe that's an answer itself to me...and a cause all its own for that disillusionment I've felt. It's all too easy after all to get wrapped up in your journey that you forget to look around and enjoy perceive the journey of others. And isn't that, in it's own way, a form of judgment, of valuing certain things, without appreciating what really is available to a person? Yes...it can be.

With some distance perspective changes, just as a subculture changes...what results then?

Magic and Role Models

The Occult and Role Models Humans are social creatures, and we inevitably seek people to model our behavior off of. Magicians and mystics are no different.

My experience with the occult, from some early Robert Anton Wilson, Jung, and general mysticism, has largely been from Taoist sources. Interested in meditation, Chi work, and philosophy, it was a natural for me - and Taoist lore has a rich source of colorful tales, characters, and practitioners. My experiences, thus, are a mixture of Western psychology, and an Eastern mysticism containing everything from mental exercises to tales of drunken poets.

Taoism of course provides a lot of fascinating role models, from legendary to more contemporary figures - writers, magicians, scribes, humor writers, and more. There's an emphasis on people who pass on teachings, advise others, find teachers, and so on. Role models are, in short, a part of it's tradition, from the mystics to the doctrinaire religious teachings.

However, this influence on me was not something I noticed until lately, and considering how I would look at legendary figures and modern translators as role models led to me asking the question about role models for other occultists.

At least in my experience, I find little consideration given to role models in occultism. People certainly have them, as noted it's human nature, but I rarely see it discussed. However occult practice involves creating change, it involves symbol and association, and thus I'd say the role models an occultism choses are of paramount importance to what one achieves.

As discussed here on this blog, not everyone is exactly thrilled with Aleister Crowley. I give him his due, but I do consider him to be overrated merely because his reputation seems to be far more than deserved. However, I'd ask another question - how many people is he a role model to, and is he a good choice? I'd say he was smart - but I wouldn't want to be a copy of him.

Or for that matter other mystics - Phil Hine, Grant Morrison, David Lee, Isaac Bonnewitz, and so on - how many people out there are basing their lives on them? How many, for that matter, know it?

If you're an occultist, ask yourself who your role model is - and you can be sure you probably have one or two or more, even if you don't like to think you do. Why did you pick them? Are they a good choice? Are you living up to them? Are you exceeding them?

Examining one's occult role models lets you understand yourself, your choices, and what you become.

That, of course, is a major part of magic.

- Vince Stevens

Some occult authors to look into

In my last post about Julius Evola's works, one of my commenters asked if I'd include a list of lesser known occult authors that people might consider looking into. So here's a small (and not complete) list of occult authors that I personally think people should read. Note that I'm not including Crowley's work or any work derived from Crowley, as obviously they are already very well known. I want to focus on the authors people may not know about.

So the list:

Franz Bardon. He only wrote three books on magic (not counting the fictional book Frabato the magician): Initiation into Hermetics, Evocation, and The Key to the True Quaballah. I've only read the first two at this point, but I'd suggest both as excellent books that detail how hermetics work without the usual flowery language or focus on obsfucation.

Julius Evola. He wrote a number of books, some of which were political commentaries, and some of which were occult works. His political commentaries would be far right/fascist works, which I'm sure would upset some of the more activism/leftist oriented occultists I know, but might be a good read precisely because they represent a different perspective than is usually found in occult activism. The books on magic Tantra: the Yoga of Power and Introduction to Magic are useful books to read. He does an excellent job of presenting an accurate perspective of Tantra and what I've read so far in Introduction to Magic is also an excellent work. He's written other books on the occult, some of which are in print, some of which are not. I haven't read them as yet, but most of them either focus on sex magic or hermeticism, and I'm sure are worth getting. They are on my amazon wishlist.

William G. Gray is another writer who presents some excellent works on both quabalah and ceremonial Magic. One of my favorite books is Modern Ritual Methods, but Inner Traditions of Magic is also good as is his books focused on quabalah: Ladders of Light, The Talking Tree, and Quabalistic Concepts. Recently some of his books have gone back into print, so now would be a good time to pick them up.

On a side note, Gray and Evola's works are some of the few occult works I'd consider spending money at this point, in part because what they write about are advanced concepts, and also because of the thoroughness of what they write about.

Kaostar by Francis Breakspear looks to be an intriguing work...and I'd also recommend the Art of Memetics by Edward Wilson and Wes Unruh for contemporary perspectives on magic.

To get an alternate take on demonology, check out books on Demonolatry by S. Connolly and J. Thorp They provide an alternate take which is useful to read, and will provide some intriguing perspectives in that area.

Jan Fries is an intriguing author who offers up different perspectives on chaos magic, seith workings, runic workings and even a perspective on celtic. I've read several of his works and found them to be insightful.

Dale Pendell offers a trilogy called pharmakon...not overtly occult, it still is some useful works to read.

There's more authors I could refer to...many, many different authors on a variety of topics ranging from Far Eastern energy work and mysticism to alchemy, but what I mentioned here is a good start to expanding the foundation of knowledge a person has as well as getting different perspectives on occult practices.

Revisiting well worn trails

I'm starting to read Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus by Julius Evola and the UR group. It's my first time reading this book, but not my first time reading Evola's work. I first encountered Evola's work when I read his book on Tantra: The Yoga of Power. I find Evola's writing to be intriguing, if hard to read, which is to be expected given that the original language was Italian (and thus translated into English) and it was written in the Early Twentieth century. I find it's important to acknowledge those two points, because I'm not just reading a work on magic from a different culture, but also from a different time period, and in my experience a time period has it's own culture as well, which informs the context of what is being read or worked with. I think Julius Evola is one of those magicians who often is not known about or read by many contemporary occultists, likely because many people just don't know what to read from the early to mid twentieth century beyond the usual Golden Dawn or Crowley material. So you might wonder where the title revisiting well worn trails comes from and that is due to the content of the book, which is focused on Hermeticism and western ceremonial magic.  For me, while reading this book will definitely get me in touch with some new ideas or perspectives, it's also revisiting trails I've been on before and will walk on again.

Another work I'm reading is The places that scare you by Pema Chodron, which is again a revisiting of a Buddhist perspective to a lot of the internal work I'm currently doing for myself. I have no doubt that the internal work will intersect with the work I do in the book by Evola. As above so below, as within, so without.

It's a continuing journey on well-worn trails.

"Sometimes Magic is like a Bad Acid Trip"

"Sometimes magic is like a bad acid trip" solis93 said to me yesterday as we were talking on the phone about editing, Hermeticism, and magic in general. Yes, yes in fact magic as a spiritual path, as a mystic path, is sometimes like a bad acid trip. I'm not talking about service to any gods here either. I know some people believe that's hard work, but what I'm talking about is a whole different ballgame, because in the end the Gods themselves will hold us back if they can. They have power, and yet they are, in the Eastern conception of them, bound by that very power, attached to what they represent, and what they mean, and so that power becomes weakness for them, because they can never move beyond what they are. They can never transcend the state they are in. Service to them, while useful, ultimately is designed to free people of them, because it exposes the limitations of the very power the gods have. Do I speak blasphemy to some of you? So be it. Blasphemy it may be, in the end, and yet we are all on journeys that are journeys for us to walk the path we walk and so the gods becomes tools, becomes servants to us, much like a king becomes a servant...He has power, but also obligation, and service...he is never free, he can never not be king. No one will let him retire. He has to die to free himself, and that death, while a transformation, nonetheless is the ending of any lessons he could learn. The same is true of the gods. Until they die, they are never free of the service. Even when they hold you in service to them, still they exist in a more profound slavery to you! For, in the end, unwittingly perhaps, or perhaps with conscious awareness, they are really instructing you on your path, providing you the means to move on...to transcend, to transform. And so even in service to them, you are ultimately in service to yourself, to the HGA, to the highest self, to omnil, 0 and 1, all things and none, Kia, nothingness and everything, that which is so profound about yourself that should you reach it, you will look back at the bad acid trip and laugh, because it was just a small step in a long journey. The gods serve you even as you serve them, like an infinity sign, bound together in a continuing cycle of suffering and desire...it will never end, unless you move further up the spiral, and yet to move up is to submit, to be destroyed and then created again, rising like the phoenix from the ashes, even as the ashes form the alchemical seed of transformation that moves you profoundly across the universe.

When I talk about magic, in this context, I'm not talking about just obtaining a result. I'm talking about doing the internal work, about doing service to yourself and others by doing this work. When I meditate and I delve inward, I'm on a path of discovery...not to destroy the ego, but to help the ego...not get rid of the self, but give the self different perspectives, free the self of the behaviors that hold the self back. This is work that is humbling because it shows you so much about yourself and the insignificance of it all. And yet in that insignificance is significance...0 and 1, The seed. And from the seed, and the roots, in the internal depths, arises the plant, the power, the path, the flowering of life, unfolding, revealing, creating the external to match the internal so that the internal can learn from the external...no dualism here...we all come together and we all fall apart. In the moment we experience identity, we experience every variation thereof and from that find profound patterns that reveals the secrets of no-thing.

The internal work is the highest test of the self, the test of your identity, your transcendence, that who you are. The methods we use to do that internal work, whether through meditation, through ceremonial magic, through any of it really, are all designed to teach us, to help us learn. But this no denial of the body, or desires, but rather an embrace of them, a coming to a healthy place with them, a recognition of where they fit within us, and how they teach us. To deny them is to provide more suffering than we had before...but to accept them, define boundaries for them, even as we submit, is to come to understanding.

Through understanding arises opportunity...growth...Eheieh