book review

Divine Union

The Dance of the Day is sponsored by the song of the Night,The Twilight times are when the courts meet and share a moment of respect urging each other on in their chosen duties longing for the next moment when they meet exchanging brief pleasantries in an exhausted daze before resuming the festivities that move the natural rhythm of life.

You and I find glimpses of the divine gathering in our eyes when we look at each other in a moment of connection that is both empowering and vulnerable within you I see the secrets of the universe revealed in a moment of ecstasy that is less about doing and trying to reach an outcome and more about being just being with you without expectation without need just perfection in that moment of union and bliss

We see the coming of the day, the departure of the night the spirits of the air drifting lazily over the solid sentinels of the Earth The spirits of water splashing to touch daringly, fleetingly the sandy toes of the Earth The spirits of fire lighting up a plume of creativity and destruction promises of oblivion wrapped in promises of warmth.

In each others' eyes we see all the spirits, the fey, demons, angels, and deities parade before us, promising something that is intangible the rise of the Kundalini serpent fills us with a quiet heat spreading through every part of us in your eyes I see life and death, everything and nothing all possibilities and none

This is divine union not having, not doing being, just being.

Book Reviews

Ghost Story (affiliate Link) by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files is one of my favorite Occult detective series. I think its the best out there and this novel continues to show why I do. Butcher crafts a story with surprising plot twists, while exploring the afterlife in a manner that reveals that even when Dresden dies, he hasn't left behind his triumphs or his follies. If you haven't read the rest of the series, start with Stormfront...otherwise pick this one up and enjoy!

Power within the Land (Affiliate Link) by R.J. Stewart

In this book, R. J. Stewart explores concepts of time as well as working with the spirits of the land and how all of that fits into the underworld tradition, and how it fits into doing work to heal the land and our connection to it. The exercises are useful for demonstrating how to work with all of these elements, but what I found even more useful was his detailed explanation of working with the spirits and how it applied to his tradition.

pop culture magic and magical traditions

An intellectual interpretation of a symbol is by no means identical to experiencing the energy embodied by the symbol, particularly when the interpretation involves offhand alterations of basic meaning in respect or relevant words that should describe the subject matter accurately...a magical image, by way of contrast, may or may not have similar attributes to any specific psychological archetype, which persists in the innerworlds or shared imagination for immense periods of time.

From The Underworld Initiation (Affiliate link) by R. J. Stewart

This is an interesting quote from Stewart and one I found useful for understanding Pop Culture Magic from a different perspective. I've never favored the psychological approach to magic, and neither does Stewart. He discusses the concept of inner worlds, which are worlds accessed through specific media such as story, myth, or song. The characters in myths, stories, and song are symbolic, but also represent an energetic connection to the inner world that a person can use to bring meaningful change into his/her life. Stewart explains the following about inner worlds:

Many Innerworlds are intentional structures built through group visualization, linked to specific life-energies. They are given their stability not only by the beings that occupy them, but by the active co-operation of humans...Most of the Innerworlds that we can enter are reflections of patterns that appear, or have appeared, or will appear, in our outer world. Some act as matrices for creative energies, which mould the generation of the outer world, both social and environmental.

This concept can be applied to pop culture. Grant Morrison's The Invisibles explores it in terms of using the characters to reveal the inner world of London, but also to examine the Beatles, especially John Lennon, as a viable contact to a type of godhead that again allows another way to contact the Hidden London. You can also see it with other pop culture and even corporate culture. Storm Constantine and I have worked with this concept via the Wraeththu series, and I've also used it with the Harry Potter universe. Imagination is the key to the gate, and helps bring to life the characters that people interact with. It also brings to life the world those characters inhabit.

Pop Culture can present viable inner worlds that the magician can explore. The reason they are viable is because they are part of the cultural consciousness, and are supported by people interacting with them. Thus Harry Potter, as an example, is a viable Inner World that can be worked with in part because so many people already have invested some belief into it, and also because the characters have become real for people. They may not be real in the same sense as you and I are, but on some level they exist and when people interact with them, they are also able to interact with the meanings associated with the characters. Their is intentional visualization associated with such worlds, even if that intentional visualization is only to interact with those worlds via one's imagination.

The logo for a corporation can also be a gatekeeper to the inner world of that corporation. Corporations can have an inner world, in part because of the investment of the people that work in them and by the consumers, and even by the people and other corporations who are against a corporation. Such interactions are a form of intentional visualization that is sustained by the commercials and brand activity, as well as by how people participate in the corporations. They can be worked with on a magical level, though caution should be applied. A corporation is always out to get more from you than it is willing to give in return.

A magical tradition might not look at pop culture as a viable representation or means of magical work, but the methodology of a magical tradition can be applied to pop culture and it'll work, because pop culture, and even corporate culture are to some degree formulaic. The themes we find in older cultural traditions can be found in newer culture as well, and such themes can be used to provide a meaningful structure for an inner world to be worked with. Identifying such themes can take some research, but they aren't hard to find, precisely because they are formulaic. One might then question why even look to pop culture and in my experience it comes down to what is relevant to a person and will help him/her learn and grow. If Harry Potter is more relevant to someone, it doesn't make it less magical as a result.

Book Review: The Underworld Initiation (Affiliate link) by R. J. Stewart

This is an interesting book that examines the concepts of symbolic meaning and archetypes from a non-psychological stance, while showing the weaknesses in the psychological model of magic. Stewart presents a solid methodology of magical practice that can be applied to the examples he provides, but can also be applied to any story or myth that a person finds meaningful. I highly recommend this book for its solid approach to magical theory and practice.

Credibility, causality, and magic

When I think about causality and magic, one realization I have is that trying to make the causality of magic credible is really trying to apply a different model of thinking that may not fit magic. Magic doesn't really operate on Scientific laws of cause and effect. It has its own rules, and those rules involve a different angle and take on causality, as magic applies to it. Trying to fit magic into some box or hole of another discipline isn't useful, if you are strictly applying that discipline to magic as an explanation of it. It can be useful to draw on concepts and practices from other disciplines in your magical work, but that's a different post altogether. Wanting magic to fit some kind of scientific, rational explanation is really taking the wonder out of magic, in my opinion. Even in my own work of defining magic, I've never really tried to fit it into another discipline, so much as I've tried to explore my own experience of it. And when I think about it, magic is really about experiences. Yes it can be a technology, and an art, etc., but its more than that. It's experiences and its stepping into a frame of mind that is willing to accept those experiences and find meaning where most people wouldn't. It's not about credibility in the standard sense of the word, because such ideas of credibility are based off specific disciplines that try to structure the experience of the world in very specific ways, different from magic And to be fair, magic also is about structuring experience in a very specific way.

My point is this: Trying to approach the causality of magic in terms of credibility as derived from other disciplines doesn't work too well, because there's a predisposition to view magic as some kind of primitive activity done by people who don't know any better.

We do know better however. We know that magic works and we can even explain how it works, but the explanation we provide won't necessarily fit within the accepted perspectives of other disciplines. Nor does it need to. If the result occurs consistently, the process works and that's all the credibility you need. The causality is involved in the process and your understanding of that process is a large part of the causality of magic, and how it's bringing desired change into your life.

Book Review: The Emerald Tablet (Affiliate link) by Dennis William Hauck

This book provides a good explanation of the seven stages of alchemy and how they can be applied to a person via psychology. The author does have a tendency to mix in some inaccurate history and also tries to connect alchemy to UFOS, but even with those flaws, this is still a useful book for someone wanting to learn about alchemy and begin applying some of the concepts to his/her life. I recommend it primarily for the explanation of the seven stages of alchemy, which you can apply to your life via your own internal work.

Use what you got

Use what you got. That's one of my mantras when it comes to magical work, and what it means is use everything at your disposal that helps you accomplish your goal. If you feel fear or worry about a situation where you need a result, then use that worry and fear to push for the result. Don't suppress it, or try and clear it away. That will make those emotions stronger and will also tell reality you don't want the result. Make it part of your process, part of the equation that helps you accomplish your goal. Make those emotions your friends, helping you achieve your result, bringing you success because you've used them to write large the possibility that will be the new reality, the new you. Use what you got, because what you have is always a resource. It only becomes a problem if you make it a problem. Knowing how to take your unease and make it your ally is really about learning how to hold on to yourself in the face of resistance and discover what it is you truly value and desire. In knowing that you can make informed choices, and practice magic that is effective because everything you have is turned toward making it work.

Use what you got, because it is what you have...Use all the discord, every thought, every emotion, every fear, worry, and whisper...make it your own, make it your success.

Book Review: Advanced Magick for Beginners (affiliate link) by Alan Chapman

As I read this book, what I found myself thinking was that while I found the exercises useful and some of the author's points salient to what he was trying to teach, there was also an odd mixture of push button magic (we don't need to know how it works) and traditional perspectives, which actually in a way fits, but also reveals what I'd consider problematic about this book. There's a tendency to stick with tried and true in occultism and this book fits that tendency. The decrying of asking how magic works fits with the traditional perspectives the author takes toward evocation and other practices and ironically defeats his criticisms of occult culture, because he ends up embodying what he is critiquing.

Is it a good book? I'd say there is some useful information here, and that an occultist will benefit from exploring the ideas. At the same time, what would be the most useful exercise for this book (and really any other book in general) is to question everything the author says, and also don't buy the push button, we don't need to know how it works model. If we don't need to know why it works, why write a book on the subject?

A Space and Time poem

The aligning of space and timeinto each other as separate elements yet conjoined by human perception as one element

In sacred space I move to the mysteries of time that show me paths to navigate from one space to the next

Each space is a node that represents person, place, or event Each strand of time is a movement a tempo, a change to the status quo

Time is the change of movements Space is the grounding of place The perception of time is the awareness of movement in your life taking you somewhen and somewhere

Sacred space is dilation of time to a slow crawl that space my be savored that energy is raised that specific change is programmed into the pacing of time that then moves back to its usual speed moving us to our next space.

Book Review: The Anthropology of Magic (Affiliate Link) by Susan Greenwood

This is one of the better academic texts on magic out there. The author draws both on academic texts and her own experiences as a magic practitioner to knowledgeably discuss magic and how it is treated in the Anthropological field, while successfully arguing that magic represents a different, but equally valid way of understanding the world. If I have one complaint its that the author doesn't draw on actual occult texts. However she does interview magic practitioners and shares her own experiences as well. This is a good book to have, whether you're an academic or an occultist.

4.5 out of 5

Excitatory Actions and Magic

Excitatory actions are the second basic type of action that a magician can use to induce an altered state of mind. Excitatory actions involve hyperstimulating yourself through activity. A runner's high is an example of an excitatory action. The adrenalin caused by the running helps to stimulate euphoric state for the runner, which in turn can allow him/her to ignore more pain and tiredness. The benefit of doing excitatory actions is that they can help you achieve an altered state of mind in a relatively quick and easy fashion. However, it's also worth noting that some excitatory activities don't leave you with as much control. For some people that can be preferable, but it also has its own dangers. Below are some examples of Excitatory Actions: Running, Weight Lifting, & other Exercises: I mentioned the example of the runner's high earlier, but you can also experience such a high with other exercises. Exercising long enough will push the person into an altered state of mind that can be used to focus on a magical activity. I used to do a series of exercises that I would use for my daily practice, to help me exercise my body, while also using the exercise as a purging/purification from whatever issues I was dealing with at the time. It was definitely effective in both regards.

Dancing: Dancing, especially combined with some kind of repetitive, rhythmic music can be used to induce an altered state of mind. I've also witnessed cases where a person would wear an animal skin and do a dance to the animal in order to create a trance state where she connected with the animal spirit. Dancing is particularly effective as a way to invoke the spirit, allowing it to possess your body and move it through dance. A person can just let themselves go in the movement and then invoke the spirit to allow it to take over.

Entheogens: Entheogens are foreign substances used for the purpose of inducing an altered state of conscious. Alcohol is an entheogen as are drugs, both legal and illegal. While these substances definitely work, it's worthwhile to be cautious in employing them, both in terms of avoiding addiction and also avoiding overreliance on them for achieving altered states of consciousness. If you are going to use them, make sure you have someone on hand who can watch over you and keep notes.

Video Games: I include video games, because of the sensory stimulation, and also because played long enough they can cause altered states of consciousness. I've used video games for sigil work and know of one case where a person used a game to help him coordinate his physical exercise. He created a character that represented him and used that character to model the changes he wanted to accomplish with his exercise. It seemed to work rather well. Video games can be addictive, so it's important to employ some caution in utilizing them for magical work. There are cases, particularly in South Korea, where people have killed themselves because they focused on playing games to the exclusion of anything else.

Yoga, Tai Chi, etc: Yoga, Tai Chi, and related activities uses specific postures and motions to achieve an altered state of consciousness. Some movement is slow, some fast, all of it is used to create a hyper aware state of the movement. Moving meditation is an example of a hyper aware state. The focus is on doing the movements and using them to meditate in the process. This kind of movement is different from dancing, because the movement is far more controlled and focused. Moving meditation can be quite useful for both internal and external magical work. The movements can be thought of as aligning the magician with a particular goal or purpose, with each movement directing the magician toward that goal. The focus on movement is ideal for also focusing on the goal, and incorporating the purposeful movement into the achievement of the goal is useful because the movements condition the magician to pursue actions that will bring the goal about. Doing the moving meditation every day conditions the mind and body of the magician to achieve the goals s/he invests into the movements.

BDSM: BDSM involves using pain, either physical or emotional, to create an altered state of mind. It can also involve using sensuality and arousal for the same purposes. For some people a need to submit or dominate will also be part of what puts them into an altered state of mind. In BDSM, you can encounter cases where some use of sensory deprivation is involved, but it's usually done for the purposes of enhancing other senses. The end goal is to create an altered state, which along with the ritualistic aspects of BDSM, makes it ideal for magical workings.

Sex: Sex has been used for magical purposes for a long time. Tantra and Taoism include sexual practices that can be used for magical purposes, and Western magical traditions also have sex magic practices. Whether a person is masturbating or is have sex with a partner or partners, sex can be used as an excitatory action. It does take some discipline and focused will to effectively use sex for magical purposes, and many people who think they are doing sex magic usually aren't, especially if they end up focusing on the pleasure to the exclusion of the specific purpose they are supposed to be focused on.

Excitatory actions are useful for achieving an altered state of consciousness quickly. A person can get caught up in the feeling and sensations and use that to put them into the proper mental space to pursue magical work. But the magician shouldn't focus solely on using these types of activities. A good balance of inhibitory and excitatory actions is wise to cultivate. I've known people who tend to rely exclusively on excitatory actions for their magical work, and what I've found is they tend to be more strung out and find it hard to do meaningful internal work. That said, excitatory actions are especially useful for doing magical work that is focused on the world around the magician. Since such actions already involve raising energy, the magician can easily direct that raised energy toward the specific problem or goal that s/he is using magic to achieve. As I mentioned above with moving meditation, the magician can imprint on him/herself specific goals s/he wants to achieve by using excitatory actions. The actions will reinforce what the magician wants to achieve by fully conditioning both the body and mind to seek to achieve those goals.

Anything I missed? What would you include or add to this information?

Book Review: Practice of Magic (Affiliate Link) by Draja Mickaharic

This is an excellent book for both beginners and advanced practitioners. I was impressed by the clarity of thought and focus, as well as the author's definition of magic. I was also impressed by his willingness to critique Crowley's thoughts and ideas, which is always refreshing to see. The author also provides some useful exercises that can help the magician enhance his/her own practice. What is most evident from reading this book is that the author has done the work.

5 out of 5

Results and their role in the magical process

We always get results. We don't always get the results we want. In magic, we are told not to lust for results, but conversely we look to results to prove that magic is effective, and that our magical process works. The reason we are told not to lust for results is because if we do, the obsession we put toward that desired result removes the obtainment of it from us. And I think there's some truth to that reason. I've known people who've become obsessive and let that obsession consume them, which has stopped them from recognizing opportunities that were coming their way. At the same time, you need to know what result you want to achieve in order to create a magical process that will (ideally) get you that result. It is also helpful to be as specific as possible in defining and describing the result. A vague description of a desired result isn't very helpful or useful. For example, if your result is: "I want a job", that's fairly vague. On the other hand if you state: "I want a teaching position, where I make at least 60,000 a year and have opportunities to advance in my school district.", then you have a more specific result that you are aiming for.

Principles of Magic

Developing a specific result allows you to develop a specific magical process to help you achieve that result. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you define your result:

1. What is the result I want?

2. What are additional details I can include to make the result more specific? Additional details should include anything that you would consider important or helpful.

3. Why do I want this result? How will it benefit my life to achieve this result?

4. Is there any part of this desired result that I don't agree with or feel resistant toward? If there is part of me that feels resistant to it, why do I feel that way?

5. How will I feel once the result is achieved? What will I do with the result?

All of these questions can help you not only develop a specific result, but also determine if it's a result that you can achieve. If you discover that there is resistance toward the result, it's a good idea to spend some time looking at the reasons for that resistance, to determine if the result is something you really want.

Would you include any other questions? If so what would you include?



Phenylalanine and Epinephrine - Taylor's Report

Phenylalanine: Appeared as an Emperor. He explained that he provides information and instructions to other neurotransmitters. He's one of the more common NT's and can cross the blood-brain barrier. He showed me a network and his role in that network was that of an overseer of sorts. Epinephrine otherwise known as Adrenaline appeared as a yellow cloud with flashing eyes. He explained how he stimulated the body, and how pain and other sensations could activate him and help him activate the body to handle whatever needed to be experienced.

My partner Kat also had some intriguing experiences. She's going to start posting on here as well.

Book Review: Sorcerer's Stone by Dennis Hauck

This is an excellent beginner primer to Western Alchemy and its tenets. The author does a good job of presenting and explaining the symbolism of Western Alchemy, and the relationship of the planetary and elemental energies to alchemy. More importantly, he emphasizes the importance of doing internal work and explains how Western Alchemy can be used for internal work. This is an excellent starter book for anyone who wants to learn about the fundamental basics of alchemy.

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Endorphin is a guy in a jogging suit. The symbol he gave me is a fleshknot that has a tripod base, with each part of the tripod rising to twist around the other two parts. He causes pleasure, notable in runner high, but also in meditation and experiencing something new, but he also opens doors of possibility. At the same time endorphin warns about being overused because it can cause addiction. The sensation of endorphin is a tingling feeling...and also a feeling of flow. Book Review: Taoist Yoga by Charles Luk

I found this book to be an insightful read into Taoist internal alchemy, however I'd also say that anyone reading it needs to have at least a couple years experience to even begin to get the concepts discussed. What I found was that the book provided greater clarity about some of the different exercises I'd already done, but I also realized that if I didn't already have experience with those exercises, I probably wouldn't get what the author was discussing. It's a useful book to have for an intermediate to advanced Taoist meditation practitioner. 5 out 5

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Melatonin and Tryptophan

Melatonin always appears as a dark skinned woman. she's the polar opposite of serotonin, but also  does similar activities in terms of balancing the neurochemistry of the body as well as a person's emotional moods. She's also helpful in cases of insomnia. She and serotonin can be worked with simultaneously in order to help with situations such as insomnia, where there might be too much serotonin and not enough melatonin or in cases of waking up, where serotonin can be upped while melatonin is decreased.

Tryptophan appears to me as a pregnant sleeping Empress. She aids in Digestion and is consequently a force for change in neurochemistry. People may wish to work with her to get help with digestion issues or sleep issues.

Book Review: The Sorcerer's Secrets by Jason Miller

In this book, the author presents practical ideas and strategies for people who are just starting out in their magical practice. This isn't a 101 book, but its safe to say it's a 102 book that also offers some insights to magicians with more experience. What I appreciate the most is that the author takes the time to focus on considerations such as finances and explains that while magic can help, it's also important to learn practical mundane skills.

I also appreciate the author's choice to draw on a wide variety of sources that fall outside the traditional bibliography usually found in books. The author illustrates the importance of developing a well-rounded strategy by exposing readers to alternative sources.

There are two reasons this book gets a four instead of a five, however. One reason is because the author doesn't address the value of doing internal work as a practical and strategic solution. while knowing how to do practical magic to solve a problem is important, being able to identify your participation in the problem and making changes is even more important, and more practical. The other reason is that while the author does draw on non-traditional sources, he doesn't address the topic of innovation and how it can be used to develop practical magic.

All that said, this is an excellent book to read, and one I'd recommend to someone just starting out.

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The illusion of control

I've been doing some internal work lately and one of the issues that has arisen has been about control, specifically the control a person has in his/her imagination vs the control s/he has in reality. If a person feels that s/he has no control over circumstances in his/her life, there can be, sometimes, a tendency to utilize imagination to create scenarios where a person has complete control, but when you replicate those scenarios in life, you find out you actually don't have that much control. I'm one of those people who's had that realization at times, and when this happens its usually a good indicator that I'm reacting against the lack of control I felt I was dealing with. Problem being that even when I acted out the scenario I still didn't have control and if anything it was emphasized how little control I had, in regards to myself. I recognized this particular pattern of behavior recently when I started examining how I've used imagination to provide a feeling of control as it pertains to my sexual identity. And I've realized that this issue goes to the core of my sexual identity, back to when I was raped, because I had no control then. It's replicated itself in the relationships I've been in, but until now I never fully acknowledged how much my tendency to fantasize has come about as a direct result of my initial experience, and a desire to have control as a safety mechanism to protect me from having such an experience again.

Yet no fantasy can really replace life or the experience of it...and there's much less control in the experience of life, and under the right circumstances much less need as well for such control. In fact, it seems to me that the need for control is a result of the lack of self-control a person has (something which is his/her own responsibility), though it can also arise from a situation where a person was made to feel s/he had no control. As I continue to do my internal work and take responsibility for the different dysfunctions of my own life, I find that I need less control of anything else, because I have control of my responses and as long as I have that, then control of anything else ceases to matter. Or rather, more to the point, by taking control of my choices and actions, I can choose how to handle situations and be grounded in that, regardless of how things turn out. In the end the only control you do have is that which you exert over your actions, and your ability to consequently navigate through situations by understanding what you can choose to contribute or not to them.

What do you think?

Book Review: Wonders of the Natural Mind by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

I highly recommend this book as an excellent introduction to the Bon tradition of Tibet. In this book the author explains what the Bon tradition is and how it differs from Buddhist beliefs and practices. The author explores in depth the foundational beliefs and practices of the Bon tradition while also explaining how they can be meaningfully applied to the life of the practitioner. What I like is that its also clear that this tradition has its own perspective on emptiness, which I found useful for getting a new perspective on it. Overall, I recommend this book for anyone serious about doing internal work.

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Short notes

A Note about Definitions and Meaning My post about definitions could easily also apply to the word models. The word models is used a lot in magic theory. There is the spiritual model, the psychological model, the model for this or the model for that. But I don't think definitions are really models. I do think models are metaphors that attempt to categorize magic, whereas I think definitions are less about categorization and more about making meaning, or maybe even making connection through meaning. You can't really have connection if some kind of meaning isn't involved and definitions are all about meaning, the establishment of it as the way to understand what's around and within.

A Note about Immanion Press

I'm still involved in Immanion Press. At one point, in the winter, I gave some serious thought to leaving Immanion Press as the managing editor and heading for the hills as it were, but then the divorce happened and I figured that was a big enough change in my life. The purpose of Immanion Press, as it applies to occult books, is to publish the books other publishers won't touch and/or reprint what's out of print. And I think we've published some great books by some great authors and I hope we continue to.

What isn't realized, I think, is that for all intents and purposes Immanion Press is volunteer run. I don't really get paid for doing the editing, layout, or managing of other editors. It's a lot of work and it's mostly a labor of love, save on those occasions when it can become a labor of hate.

I won't be at the Esoteric Book Conference this year representing Immanion Press. Lupa will be there, and you can buy books from the press through her. I have mixed feelings on how much I will represent the esoteric book line in the future, since I no longer do any of the distribution for it, beyond my own books. I'll still do the managing editor part, but I figure it's time to focus on myself a bit more, which includes finishing some writing I've been working on, so I actually have a justifiable reason to show up at a conference.

Review of Sacred Kink by Lee Harrington

What I most enjoyed about this book was Lee's efforts to provide detailed information about each path and create a framework for people from multiple belief systems to engage in the incorporation of kink to their spirituality. Lee's expertise as both a sex educator and spiritual teacher shows through in this book time and time again. He provides excellent examples and also useful definitions for understanding each path. I found a lot in this book that I know I can apply to my own spiritual practices and I think anyone else would find a similar treasure trough.

5 out of 5

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Book Reviews

Beyond Culture by Edward T. Hall I've always found Hall's books to be interesting and relevant to my life from business to spirituality and this book has lived up to that same expectation. In this book Hall, discusses inter-cultural communication patterns and raises up concerns about the tendency to focus toward using external resources as opposed to examining and utilizing internal, behavior skills. I find this relevant in an age where more than ever the focus is on using technology to communicate, with all the inherent problems that brings, especially when relying on text only to interact. This is a useful book for exploring cross cultural communication and examining the increasing role of technology in communication.

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Laban for All by Jean Newlove and John Daley

I was thoroughly impressed with this book. The authors did a thorough job of explaining the system of Laban and its relevance to dance, but also bringing it down to the level of an utter novice, such as myself. They also provided detailed descriptions of exercises that are easy to follow and do and quite rewarding. Where this book really shines however, is in the theory of movement that Laban created around space and time and other elements he deemed significant to truly understanding the body. I feel, as a result of doing the exercises, that I have a much closer relationship to my body and a much keener appreciation of movement.

5 out of 5.

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Managing Depression with Qigong by Frances Gaik

The author presents some useful evidence to prove that Qigong works to manage depression. What I would've liked even more was integration of Qigong exercises into the book. There was an appendix with some exercises, but it felt like the exercises were incorporated as more of an afterthought than anything else. This is a useful book for people who wish to make a case for alternative health practices, but isn't as geared to the lay person as I would have hoped.

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3 out of 5

The Taoist Soul Body by Mantak Chia

In this book Chia presents an advanced technique for Taoist inner alchemical work. While overall the information is good and in-depth, there are times were its clear Chia recycled content from previous books in order to fill out the book. Also some of the instructions are a bit more vague than they should be given the type of work involved. That said, if you've learned previous techniques it won't be hard to puzzle out what he means. The main thing to avoid is visualizing the work. You need to really experience it, and that's where the vagueness of the instructions is less than helpful. The technique in this book is worth reading and can be very helpful for body purification and health.

4 out of 5

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Radio show and book review

On Sunday at 4:30pm PST - 7:30 EST, I'll be doing the sex magic radio show with a guest co-host. We'll be discussing the practical aspects of sex magic, but also examining the balance between pleasure and practicality. Review of Spiritual Cleansing by Draja Mickaharic

This book isn't explicitly for the magical practitioner, so much as its for a lay person, but nonetheless I was impressed by the thorough attention to detail and focus that the author provided. The author covered a variety of techniques and its fair to say that even experienced magicians could get a lot out of this book. What I liked the most was that it was very easy to follow the instructions provided. I'd recommend this book to any practitioner as a resource guide for magical and psychic cleansing techniques.

5 out of 5

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Update on experimental work

I've been continuing to integrate Laban into my morning daily moving meditation. The body movements take up the focus of the thoughts, and a rhythm is created, out of time, out of the tightly monitored world, into a place where all that matters is the rhythm of movement and the stretching of the body. My spatial and kinesthetic awareness of my body and how it moves has changed in what I would consider to be subtle ways. There's more awareness of my core and how each movement comes from the core than there was before. The benefit, beyond feeling healthier, is a sense of being more in touch with my body, and more able to connect with it for that deeper meditative work. I've also been continuing to work with the time strand editing technique, using it edit different connections to places, people, and situations and I'm seeing some changes in that direction, with the connections I have. I haven't applied it as much as I could to business interactions, but I will give it a try and see what happens.

Review of Magical Techniques by Draja Mickaharic

I just discovered this author's works recently and already I'm impressed by the depth and breadth of his writing as well as his attention to detail. Magical Techniques provides information on lesser known magical practices and tools that can be used by the magician to aid and enhance his/her workings. From his chapter on how to make chalk, to how to use feathers, to magic with orgone accumulators, there's something for everyone. He also provides some good anecdotes, both his own and of other people and how they used the different tools he discussed. This book is a definite must for the practical magician.

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5 out of 5

Building up sexual energy in Sex magic

When you read most books on Western sex magic, one of the discoveries you make is that there's a lot of focus on polarities, with a belief that men embody the active principle and women embody the passive principle. In other words, the women are supposed to lay there passively, while the man generates and directs the sex magical activity. Personally, I don't really buy into polarity model or the belief that a man has to be the active principle and the woman has to be the passive principle. But something I've experimented with has involved being the passive partner...not even so much in terms of physical activity but rather in terms of supplying the sexual energy that is then directed by my partner. But the word passive is actually misleading, because I'm still playing an active's just that I'm not directing the energy toward the goal we've decided to focus on. So what is my role then in sex magic?

I use Taoist breathing techniques, while I'm having sex. I use the breathing techniques as a method for circulating my internal awareness, chi, energy, etc. So when I'm doing sex magic, I'm basically circulating the energy between myself and my partner, building it up again and again as I continue the breathing and other activities. She takes the built up energy and focuses it on the goal. She's in the director's role, if you will, but my own role is far from passive...I'm not directing the energy, but I build it up, so it can then be directed by my partner.

In my approach I suppose both people (or more) are engaged in some activity. There's no real polarity at work. If anything, it moves past such labels as male or female into a place where what matters is what each person is doing with the sexual energy. There's collaboration involved, really, because each person needs to know what the other(s) are doing, in order to play his/her part effectively. And this approach, this attitude, this perspective works well for me. We do the sex magic, we get the ball rolling and life changes.

Magic Experiments Radio show re-started

I've re-started the magical experiments radio show. In this show I discuss process and magic with my occasional co-host and magical partner Kat. I'll be doing these radio shows about once every 2 weeks, so keep an ear out for them.

Book Review: The Secret Pulse of Time by Stefan Klein

The Secret Pulse of Time is a very interesting book that looks at time from a number of angles, most notably cultural and neuroscience angles. I found it to be a refreshing read because it didn't focus on the conventional approach, which is usually physics, but actually delved into other disciplines and there take on time. The author also provided some excellent examples to back up what he was discussing. I found some of his thoughts on information overload particularly relevant, especially with the advent of social media. I highly recommend this book.

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Sex magic, grounding, and body work

Last night I got into a conversation with a friend of mine who does a fair amount of work in the sacred sexuality scene. We discussed, among other things, a tendency for many sex magic workers to not use proper grounding or shielding because they wanted to let all the sensations in. We noted, in the end, that it seemed more about the sex and less about the magic. Today a post I read prompted me to think how easy it is to separate sex from actually sitting with the body, and why that in itself may also be an issue for ungroundedness and too much focus on sensation. I find with sex magic that there is a very real difference between sex magic and sex. I'll be the first to admit I love sex. I enjoy sex for the sensations and pleasure and the opportunity to please someone. And sex for sensation's sake is great. I love having great sex and focusing on the sensation.

Sex magic, OTOH, is different. It's a deliberate choice to raise spiritual energies, work with entities, do energy work with partner(s), and do a variety of other activities that ultimately are focused on some kind of magical work. And while there are many sensations to be experienced, focusing on the sensations is actually a distraction from the magic. I find that sex magic practitioners that focus on the sensation generally tend to be very scattered. I probably wouldn't work with them precisely because of that.

This isn't to say that sensation can't be used as a tool for sex magic, for it certainly can. I find BDSM useful for that reason, because I can actually have the person I'm topping take all those sensations and focus them into a journey/experience that produces the desired change. And even plain ol' vanilla sex sensations can be used for the same purposes, provided the people understand that it's not so much about feeling the sensation as it is about directing it.

When sensation becomes the reason to do sex magic, it isn't sex magic. It's just sex with a superficial layer of spirituality dashed on top as a way of adding a spiritual dimension to it. There have been and are plenty of gurus who in fact have done just that in order to get laid.

When I go into a sex magic situation, while I may enjoy the sex, it isn't the primary reason for being in that situation. The primary reason is to raise energy using sex and do something transformative with it. At the same time, I know that at some point the magic will finish up and I need to ground myself. Also throughout the experience, I need to use the appropriate shielding and energy work techniques to not only focus what I'm doing, but not introduce any undesirable energy into the working, no matter how good it might feel at the time.

Now let's bring this back to the body. Another I've noted is that many people use sex to escape sitting with the body. The sensations experienced during sex don't necessarily put you in touch with your body, so much as allow you to escape from really being with it. Why? Because sex is really about experiencing an altered state of mind and body. While the pleasure and sensations can actually be used to put you in touch with your body, they can also be used to as a distraction from your body.

I find that the body, when it comes to sex magic, and even sex in general, is both one of the greatest distractions, in terms of sensation, and also one of the greatest tools for grounding yourself. Using breath work during sex, for example, can help you focus on the magical work, but can also help you get rooted in your body so that you fully feel it, both during and after sex.

Sex alone won't help you feel comfortable with your body, though it may help some. Ultimately what helps for embracing the body is learning to sit with it and experience all of it, the pains and pleasures, the changes that result as you age, and also getting into some kind of physical activity, besides sex, that gets you out of your head and into your body. I've found that becoming comfortable with your body really enhances everything you do, because you are intimately aware of how your body responds to your surroundings. It grounds you and makes you more aware of the present.

Review of Cosmic Fusion by Mantak Chia

I found this book to be useful in terms of understanding Chia's approach to Taoist inner alchemy work and integrating more of the practices into my own work. At the same time, it seemed like this was just a much more convoluted version of the Fusion of the five element techniques, with a lot of extra and somewhat unnecessary steps included. I found that I needed to boil away a lot of the extra steps and once I did so still was able to achieve the desired and expected results for doing this practice. I'm not sure the material presented in this book warranted an entirely new book. It's still useful material and worth learning in order to refine your inner alchemical work.

3.5 out of 5

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Changes to the website

You may have noticed that over the last month I've changed the Magical Experiments blog into the the Magical Experiments website. These changes have partially arisen due to changing life circumstances and also because I'm getting more active again in my magical work. I've changed the wordpress theme for the site, to reflect these changes. I'm now offering Tarot readings. I use the Elemental Hexagon Deck, which uses the periodic table.Check out the page on Tarot readings to learn more.

I'm also offering tele-classes. The first one will be on Inner Alchemy and is an eight week course where I'll be teaching some of the methods and practices I've developed for doing internal work, as well as also teaching some Taoist breathing practices. To learn more about this class visit the classes pages.

I'm excited about the future of my own practices. Work continues apace on the new book, and I've also got a few other projects I'll be revealing at some point. I thank all of you for your support.

Review of Malice by Chris Wooding

I was intrigued with the title and layout of this book from the start, but once I started reading it, I couldn't stop turning the pages to find out what would happen. The inclusion of the comics format also really enhanced the story and drew me in further. I'm really impressed with this author's work. while it's written for young teens, adults who enjoy fantasy and SF will also like reading it. I'm already looking forward to the next book and enthusiastically recommend this one to anyone who wants to read an engrossing story.

Review of The Hidden Brain

Review of The Hidden Brain by Shankar Vedantam Proponents of mindfulness and conscious intent may be disappointed when they read this book and realize just how much our unconscious dictates and influences our decisions. The author isn't afraid to tackle tough issues, such as how the hidden brain influences people's thinking about racial and gender issues, as well as how the group mind can actually harm you as opposed to help you. I found this to be a fascinating read because the author presents some compelling evidence that supports his claim and shows just how much the unconscious effects everyday life and decisions. I recommend this book as a refreshing and eye-opening perspective on how we make decisions.

5 out of 5

Review of the Eight-Circuit Brain

Review of the Eight-Circuit Brain: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body by Antero Alli With this book, the Eight-Circuit Model has turned into a practical system can be meaningfully applied to making changes in one's life. The previous books on the subject, while providing a good diagnostic perspective, never really moved beyond that. Antero incorporates a lot of physical activities into the eight-circuit mode, which removes it from the purely abstract conceptual realm and creates a workable system that can be used for successful internal work and change. The author is clear and concise in his explanations and the exercises are easy to follow through on. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

5 out of 5