Archive for the Magick Category

Magick By Trial & Error: Jack-of-All-Trades

Posted in Investigations, Magick, Paranormal on April 12, 2021 by Occult Detective

Really crunched for time today, so I’ll be brief, offering up a little food for thought.

As an extension of last week’s piece on the mutability of magick, I thought I should briefly explain how I have approached things in the past.

In my field, you have to be a sort of jack-of-all-trades. It pays to be knowledgeable in a wide variety of traditions. You have to be able to differentiate Santeria from Voudon from Hoodoo and the like. You need to be able to discern from ceremonial magic to all the varying degrees of left-hand pathwork, from all sides of the magical coin, and as many religions as you can squeeze into the gray matter between your ears. And once you muddy the waters with all the self-styled combinations that solitaries or isolated groups might cook up and cobble together, well, an investigators work is, at the very least, never boring.

Paranormal investigators often enter into situations that they’re ill-equipped to handle. They may be atheist, agnostic, Christian, Pagan, or what have you, but the crux of the situation is, if you go into an investigation close-minded, you’re libel to set yourself up for a world of hurt.

It really does pay to do your homework. You can have the sanctity of your own faith or magical practice, but you need to be open to the many and varied paths that are out there. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. — Sun Tzu

I’ll revisit this when I have more than a ten minute window…

Magick by Trial and Error

Posted in Magick with tags on April 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

We in the occult community all have origin stories. Mine is no stranger than most, though I did get an early start thanks to a steady diet of comic books, horror movies, and ghost stories around countless campfires, both real and proverbial. My foray into magical practice came after a thirst for hunting monsters, boogeymen, spirits, and the fae. It was initiated by my belief that those things were real and that if I was going to interact with them, I needed the sort of protection that only magick could afford.

My first book on the magical world was Unseen Forces by Manly Palmer Hall. It had been my great-grandmother’s. Through it, I learned that magick was real, as were all manner of elemental creatures and spirits and the like. I was eight years old. I had never been beholden to my Christian upbringing, and it was shortly after reading this book that I began exploring the gods of Germanic Heathenry. It seemed natural to me that the gods of my ancestors were more salient to my ambitions, especially if I were to pursue the esoteric as a matter of course.

When you’re young, especially in the rural Indiana of the early 1970s, a magical education was not easy to come by. But I managed, thanks to the sparse collection of books in the Public Library, such as the works of Sybil Leek, Richard Cavendish, and Arthur Edward Waite, but it was Francis King’s Techniques of High Magic that really opened a few doors for me.

It was a struggle though, which brings me, finally, to the subject of today’s missive. One of my biggest struggles for years was the very nature of the magical workings I was able to get my hands on. Most of it, variations on ceremonial magic, was so rigid, never mind overwhelmingly influenced by Christianity. Though I did the work, it felt wrong, and if there is a lesson I might impart, after more than forty years of this it is that magick is real and it is personal.

All of those books. All of that study. The lesson that came the slowest to me was that magick was not the rituals in these tomes. Magick is not a set of formulas and equations to be memorized and recreated verbatim. Oh, it works quite well if you do so, but you don’t have to adhere to any of it. While it’s true that there are some laws and protocols required to interact with preternatural intelligences, the actual art of magick is just that — an art. Yes, it can be approached like science, and with incredible results, but magick can be so much more, through embracing your own creativity.

Do the work. Learn the etiquette. But, by all that’s holy and unholy alike, once you’ve got a handle on it, make your own rules. Make your own magick, by trial and error.

Happy October! #40DaysofHalloween

Posted in Magick on October 1, 2020 by Occult Detective

For those who don’t follow my twitter or facebook author page, here is where my mind was at this morning.

Yesterday, I read a 2014 interview with Jimmy Page, from GQ of all places, that was cracking good. My son has been discovering Zeppelin in recent months, and as I still place Page on a considerably high altar, that has been a thrill for me.

But I was reminded of all the “satanic panic” nonsense that surrounded Page and the band growing up, and around the untitled album, called 4 or Runes or Zoso or what have you. Play Stairway backwards and you’ll hear Plant opine about “my sweet Satan” and other oddities.

One of my favorites was that, if you placed the inner artwork up to a mirror, the face of the devil would be revealed. Well, quite clearly, as evidenced by the image I’ve recreated at the top of the page, it is not the Christian Devil that appears, but rather the Egyptian god of mummification, the afterlife, and, perhaps more importantly, of lost souls.

“You have the hermit, and you have the aspirant. And the aspirant is climbing toward the hermit, who is this beacon of light. The idea is that anyone can acquire truth at any point in his life.” — Jimmy Page

The idea of Anubis as the god of lost souls fits in well with Page’s explanation for the symbolism of the Hermit illustration, and Barrington Coleby’s artwork is stunning… mirrored or not.

As for now, I wish you all a Happy October! This is, as I’ve probably overstated, my favorite time of the year, without question. There is something positively magical about the season, on both a mundane and spiritual level, but this year’s Hallowe’en is a far different creature than in years past.

I hope everyone stays safe, has fun, and wears an appropriate mask.

Please help to continue to keep the Spirit of Hallowe’en alive in the hearts of the young and old alike, despite the current social, political, and medical climate.

If the Spirit is Willing / #40DaysofHalloween

Posted in Magick, Paranormal on September 23, 2020 by Occult Detective

Michael Hughes posted on twitter, “Weird that I don’t get requests to appear on podcasts anymore.” I was having the same thought. Usually my inbox is inundated at this time of year, setting up interviews and what have you for the Witching Season, but I suppose there are more pressing matters on everyone’s minds, and Samhain is taking a back seat to matters of the material.

More’s the pity. We can have our pumpkin cake and eat it too.

We have become mere shadows of our former selves. The pandemic has shown where we are weakest, both above and below. Cabin fever, or something akin to it, has everyone on the verge of total lawlessness.

What was it Howard said? “Barbarianism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is the whim of circumstance. And barbarianism must ultimately triumph.”

But I digress. We are here to celebrate Hallowe’en and all that entails. There are still some of us willing to cast word to spell and see what comes crawling out of the dark. So, if the spirit is willing, let’s turn our gaze inward and conjure up something spooky.

It’s a task to be sure, especially when things are scary enough in the mundane world. But let us set that aside shall we and invoke wards upon our fragile state. What hungers just beyond the gate, behind the veil that separates this world from that? Oh, believe me, the spirits of those other realms are licking their lips at the crackling energies being manifest by our distress.

Tell me, my fellow occult detectives, have you noticed a darker turn in your investigations of late? How about you, conjurers of spirit forms and the gods of our ancestors? How fare these breaches into the otherworldly?

Believe me, I’ve taken note. There are dark, unseen forces on the rise, and they would take us to task, hoping we are distracted by pestilence, unrest, mourning, and death. If you allow these things to take root in your consciousness, then you have no place in a working or investigation.

We have to be as wolves. Keep the pack close. Approach the preternatural with reverence, as always, but with a keen eye on defense.

It is the Witching Season after all, when the veil is thinning. Don’t let your guard down, not for one second. There are sinister forces that smell blood in the proverbial water.

As we begin to reenter the vocations of our magical lives, we must stay focused and stay safe, but we must also be prepared to help others. When the world grows dark, who else is there to shine a light?

This weekend, I plan on shooting some video to share next week, a little stroll through the early days of my paranormal adventures. Tomorrow, I’ll post the second installment of my Occult Detective Countdown, and Friday brings us an all new Last Writes.

Join us as the 40 Days of Hallowe’en continues…

I Watched the Fire That Grew So Low

Posted in Magick on March 23, 2020 by Occult Detective

He not busy being born is busy dying.” — Bob Dylan

All things must pass away.” — George Harrison

Upon us all, upon us all a little rain must fall.” — Robert Plant

“Even at the time that the pebbles are being counted out, be not frightened; tell no lies; and fear not the Lord of Death.” — Tibetan Book of the Dead

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I spoke with an old friend this past weekend, our conversation primarily focused on how our respective families were dealing with the social and economic upheaval that the novel-coronavirus (COVID-19) has wrought.

I mean, what else are we going to talk about in times like these, no?

But, as we hadn’t had a chance to talk in a while, other matters crept into the conversation, music and magic in particular.

Brian mentioned he was reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a book that I was intimately aware of in the days of my youth, when I lived in a haunted little place on Martin Street, just off campus at Ball State University, a short walk from Papa Lou’s Chug-A-Mug.

This set off a flood of memories, mostly good, but some sad and others, well, frightening.

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The picture above was taken in 2006. When I lived there, twenty years earlier, from late Fall of 1986 until Spring the following year, it had a comfortable brick porch, where we lulled away the hours, stretched out on the broad walls, sipping Budweiser or Rolling Rock, and deciphering the mysteries of the universe.

In ’86 I was twenty years old and at the height of my fascination with the works of Aleister Crowley. I had recently been sitting in with a local Alexandrian Coven led by a University Philosophy professor, and my longtime chum and roommate, Brent, and I entertained a small group of magically-minded folk (primarily chaos magicians) on a regular basis.

The TibetanI had purchased a copy of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, secondhand, after reading The Psychedelic Experience by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert. Both books had a huge impact on me during that time.

After my talk with Brian this weekend, a lot of those old thought patterns began to resurface.

For those unfamiliar, the Tibetan Book of the Dead is a sort of guide through the journey of consciousness after death, and of that space between death and rebirth. It also has a number of rituals for those dying and for those who have already passed.

There is a beauty in passing when faced without cowardice or fear. But, I feel, the Lord of Death should not be welcomed until the very end, in those final moments when fate’s hand is played.

As I’ve said, time and time again, life in this material plane is to be cherished. Every moment should be savored. Our time here is painfully short. One should not hasten its ending, but neither should it be feared.

“All things must pass away.” But, to borrow from George R.R. Martin, what do we say to the Lord of Death? “Not today.”

Far too many people are being callous with their lives and the lives of others during this pandemic. Modern society, it seems, cannot be inconvenienced, even if it means preserving the lives of those medically challenged or long of tooth.

Too many lack the capacity to care for anyone beyond themselves.

Too many cannot handle being alone with themselves, because it is in those quiet moments that we see ourselves for who and what we truly are. Few can handle revelations such as these.

It was a pleasant stroll through my memories of immersion in the Tibetan Book of the Dead and of that period of self-discovery. Those studious days of my youth, magically alight on a journey of expanded consciousness, are paying dividends in the here and now.

If you get a chance to read it, you really should.

And while you’re out there on the perimeter, remember to take care of yourself and those around you. Don’t be the cause for another’s illness. Be diligent. Be smart. Be safe.

 

 

 

Magick in the Time of COVID-19, Cheap Day Return

Posted in Magick on March 16, 2020 by Occult Detective
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“The condition of the people was pitiable to behold. They sickened by the thousands daily, and died unattended and without help. Many died in the open street, others dying in their houses, made it known by the stench of their rotting bodies. Consecrated churchyards did not suffice for the burial of the vast multitude of bodies, which were heaped by the hundreds in vast trenches, like goods in a ship’s hold and covered with a little earth.”
— Giovanni Boccaccio
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COVID-19 is not the Black Death. COVID-19 is, however, the first real pandemic that I have experienced in my 50+ years. It is, in a word, surreal. The panic is perhaps more infectious than the corona virus itself. The anxiety is palpable, and yet, too, there is a segment of the population that is utterly unmoved or concerned by the virus threat to the point of malaise.

There needs to be a balance between these two reactions.

Which brings me to magick.

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In addition to our social distancing, self-quarantining, hand-washing, disinfecting, and short/mid-term prepping, we should not lose focus on our spirituality. As I have truly believed for as long as I can remember, we are spirits that have chosen to descend into matter to experience material existence. We are made of stardust and magick is our birthright.

Through all of this chaos that the world is choking on, we must not lose sight of the positive energy that flows through us, and we must channel that energy, that positivity, and give it back to our communities.

Our families, friends, and neighbors need us, and we need them.

Now is the time to lift one another up; to embrace this experience; to bend it and shape it to our will that it might feed our spirit and move us onward and upward in service to the divine path each of us walk.

Now is the time to make magick, like we never have before.

Magick is not some impenetrable shield to protect us from the virus, but it is a powerful tool of healing and comfort, and it can be an undeniable influencer, making subtle shifts that create ripple effects through reality.

Whatever flavor you prefer, make magick a part of you. Make the world around you better by force of will.

We can, collectively, make a difference, even in quarantine.

If you need supplies, might I suggest Lailokens Awen, the finest purveyor of occult wares you’re likely to find in the Western Hemisphere. You’ll not find more magically charged and potent candles short of making them yourself.

It’s Friday the 13th (As We Know It) & I Feel Fine

Posted in Magick on March 13, 2020 by Occult Detective

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.

— William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act V, Scene I, ll. 203–206
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Welcome to a world in chaos. In the grip of a global pandemic — a global panic — we watch as civilization slowly crumbles beneath the weight of denial, slow and inept response, out and out deception and criminal malfeasance, and herd mentality. Economies are collapsing, the contagion is spreading, and the political machine is failing.

I have preached since the first strains of this reached our ears through social media that there is no need for panic. And I still believe this. Panic is wasted energy. It literally serves no purpose other than to cause you to make errors in judgement. In situations such as these, a calmness of spirit and careful evaluation of events as they transpire will greatly aid in your navigating these turbulent waters.

Let’s look to the cards, shall we?

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The Past – Ace of Cups: Reversed — disharmony, being out of balance

The Present – Two of Wands — a time for planning, difficult decisions

The Future – Death — transition, an end and new beginning

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This whole coronavirus scare just seems so… strange to me. Something doesn’t ring true about it. It presents, essentially, as the flu. It is treated, again, like the flu. It is, for all intents and purposes, the flu. Like the flu, it can be terminal for the elderly and those with respiratory and auto-immune issues.

So why the panic?

For one, news organizations are really stoking the fires, and social media is feeding it gasoline. Look at the inane hoarding of toilet paper going on. All of this stems from a shortage in a small part of China. As this went viral, the masses mistook China’s relatively minor issue and conflated it with an international crisis. The fact is, here in the US, there is no shortage. We manufacture more than 90% of the toilet paper we use right here at home. Toilet paper is the least of our worries.

This is the power of social media. This is the power of panic.

Herd mentality is dangerous. It’s what drives the stock market collapse.

Panic.

I’m not saying this is an orchestrated event, but when the dust settles, pay close attention to the changes that will have been wrought as a result. The world, post-coronavirus, will be very different, I suspect.

This is my mantra:

Relax. Be calm. Be smart. Be safe.

As I stated on twitter, “We will adapt and overcome, because we are resilient. Read. Play games. Make magick. There’s absolutely no need to panic.”

I believe this with every fiber of my being. We will get through this and be stronger for it.

Over Under Sideways Down

Posted in Magick on March 5, 2020 by Occult Detective

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Stan Lee said something to the effect of, “Thor can have all the adventures he wants in Asgard, but every once in awhile he has to return to Earth to take a trouncing from the Absorbing Man.”

I don’t believe there’s ever been a better metaphor to explain the life of a magician than this. For all the wondrous explorations into the multiverse, all the magic and fellowship, and esoteric shenanigans one is a part of, the “real world” comes a-calling.

We are spirits, to be sure, but we have chosen to wear these uncomfortable and poorly engineered meat-suits, as we wallow in the material plane as beings of matter. For all the weighty, philosophical, and metaphysical gymnastics we perform in the imaginative spaces of other planes, we are still beholden to this one.

And when we delve into the mysteries, peeling that esoteric onion — when we engage in unseen forces — we do so in frail physical forms that are emotionally connected to others of our ilk, and sometimes we falter.

Such is the marriage of spirit and flesh, of being a slave to the biological processes that govern our physical forms. But, I have long held that one should deny neither, for spirit and flesh are in a symbiotic relationship.

We have to remember, we chose to descend into this plane for a reason, perhaps many times over, because for all the wonders of the heavens, it is this world of matter where we can interact with creation in ways unimaginable to those solely spirit.

Or so I tell myself, when the body fails, or the weight of financial concerns rear their heads. It’s all part of the process, part of the dues for being able to be a part of something instead of above it and transcendent.

We’re here for a bloody reason, to express our True Will, and to embrace life in all its peaks and valleys.

Will Wright’s Yggdrasil — “Everything is alive.”

Posted in Magick on February 21, 2020 by Occult Detective

“I like this poetic way of seeing the similarity and connectivity of everything, through the rune shapes, as a simple description of animism. Everything is alive.”
— Will Wright

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My friend, artist and filmmaker Will Wright, has been blogging about the Northern Mysteries, with three posts in the past week. Will is a rare breed. His art is inspiring and evocative. It is contemporary, yet evokes ancient wisdom. His insights are enlivening, heartfelt, and a welcome respite from the inflammatory rhetoric that seems to make up so much of fringe thinking these days, from both liberal and conservative voices.

Will is honest and fearless. He’s exactly the sort of wizard we should all aspire to be.

I highly recommend these short essays on Yggdrasil, and the accompanying art he has created.

He begins with The Universe Inside, exploring his artistic examination of the inner journey and the World Tree as a portal between worlds.

The second, Symbolism, sees Will dissect his art, breaking down the symbolism of the piece and displaying systemically his thought process and the myriad influences that shaped the design.

His most recent post, Runes, delves into the interconnections between us and our ancestors, the symbolism of the runes and how they are ever-present, visible in a myriad of natural habitats.

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Will’s thought-processes mirror my own. His journey has been my journey, and I hope to find my way back there again.

 

Paragnosis

Posted in Investigations, Magick on February 17, 2020 by Occult Detective

 

DisembobiedThere are a number of things that hang around the neck of paranormal research and investigation like a proverbial albatross, not the least of which is the veritable legion of amateur thrill-seekers that muddy up the field.  That the majority consider themselves “professionals” and “science-based” investigators only adds salt to the wound, especially when you consider their educations to have largely come from watching every episode of Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, or some equally loathsome para-entertainment programing.

But I don’t want to paint them all with the same wide brush. I have met a number of investigators who are diligent and thoughtful, adverse to parroting the techniques displayed on late night Travel Channel mockumentaries.

Bob Pastorella, co-host and columnist for the This is Horror podcast, tweeted:

Paranormal is not the same as supernatural. The former suggests phenomena science hasn’t explained yet, while the later are things which cannot be explained by any means. There’s overlap, of course, but researchers using objective scientific methods to contact ghosts is silly.

Using sensors to determine the smallest variations in light and sound yield few results other than those shifts in light and sound that could possibly be anything, really.

I’m really enjoying Hellier on Amazon, because they tend to use subjective methods to test phenomenons based on eye-witness testimony. The real drive of the series for me is the continuous synchronicities they uncover, which is also very fascinating.

While I don’t believe in the supernatural, I do think that a way to access that reality is through subjective means, which also means kicking science to the curb for a bit.

There is a lot of truth in Bob’s stance, in my opinion. Far too many “investigators” approach the so-called paranormal as a “science experiment” that they are recreating based on what they’ve seen on television. K2 Meters, Thermal Cams, REM Pods, and the like are fun toys, but not really very useful in the field, at least not as they are typically used.

The very best tool you have is your own senses. All those fancy gadgets do is put up a barrier between you and the phenomena you’re hoping to connect with. And that is what we’re doing out there — trying to connect with and understand these unseen spirits. In our most gracious moments, we may even be there to help them understand themselves, or to provide solace and understanding for the people who live amongst these entities.

At the end of the day, we look to define ourselves and our place in the multiverse. By interacting with paranormal phenomena we learn more about the worlds we are a part of and the worlds outside ourselves to which we will one day cloak ourselves in. We commune with these intelligences in a hope for mutual understanding and a lifting of the veil.

We seek gnosis.

So, if I were to offer a single piece of advice to paranormal adventurers, it would be this — think outside the box. Be silent. Be still. Be open… And be prepared.

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