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This started out as a call for content from Mikes Prattle. I started to write the last question and it turned into an essay and a half. I figure its worth sharing so readers might better understand where my personal system came from. There’s more to tell, much more. There’s forays into Enochian, there’s hilarious experiments in skrying. There’s ghost hunting and all sorts of diversions, but there’s always the golden thread in the background.

I skipped the story details, not because I have no particular story but because the practice for any magician is ongoing and continuous or that person shouldn’t claim the mantle of “magician”. What is a nonpracticing magician? “Where does Harry Potter vacation?”

There is no single event I can point to where I came to GOLDEN DAWN JESUS. I think that’s how it was supposed to be designed, which is why it was so attractive to me. “The goal of religion and the methods of science” or something like that. I was raised Presbyterian, but the church offered little in practical application and training aside of “talk to my buddy Christ over here”. My neighbor was Jewish and didn’t attempt to convert me but obviously understood my disillusionment and was happy to lend me an ear and a book. I embraced that for a bit and thoroughly enjoyed mainstream Jewish thought, but to the Chrisitans, God is some soft, buddy-buddy sort of entity, and I did not hear his whisperings of encouragement or admonishment in my ear. To the Jews, God is unknowable and the whole thing rests on the fulfillment of prophecy. It felt like a gap to me, and how do we bridge that gap? I had read up on the occult but it was XFiles brand McOccult stuff and I wasn’t ready. I became an atheist through college when I left home. How does a deck of cards empirically tell the future? How do so many empty words summon the devil?

Sometime after college I started listening to this new band TOOL, and while the old stuff is steeped in Jungian psychology – something I deeply appreciated having tried for (and eventually dropped) a psychology minor in college – the new stuff was talking about planets and hermetic philosophy. At the time I didn’t have a name for it, I was just listening to the music and wondering what all this was about “as below so above” as a concept. This really renewed my interest in the occult. The bands newsletters were interesting if not spastic, but there were enough nuggets there I was convinced whatever they were tuned into I wanted to be tuned into. At the time, 55 gallon drums of LSD were sold out at Amazon, so I opted for the next best thing and started reading what they were reading. Similar to the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, and most great artists before, they were into Crowley.

Crowley proved to be impenetrable. To the uninitiated, and I was, it was impossible to make heads or tails of him. Determined to get into this occult stuff I started shopping around and ran into wicca. Wicca was just far too lightweight for me. Unbeknownst to me this was the first “test”, some people are completely comfortable throwing around ‘spells’ and ‘blessing things’ and generally enjoying the pagan scene – and there’s nothing wrong with it, but at the time I just knew it wasn’t for me having been exposed to psychology and heremetics and kabalah in my own small way. Digging deeper I hooked up with the Asatru groups, and found they still had shades of racism they weren’t able to exorcise. However this gave me another important tool – a mystical alphabet. Similar to wicca, it has some precepts of philosophy but it’s sort of auxiliary to the faith. The distinctions in druidic and asatru heathen orders persists today because of this – reconstructionist versus pagan. But there is an important idea here – if we can reconcile the opposites, we can build something. My experience here however was soured by the racist overtones and Stephen Flowers (Edred Thorsson) who attempted to hammer Golden Dawn/Temple of Set ideas into heathenry into a disaster that looked like neither. I knew enough, though, to know he too had encountered Crowley and the Golden Dawn and attempted to take the framework and apply it. Just because I personally disagreed with the application simply meant it wasn’t right for me. By this time, however, I has a practical knowledge of what would be considered low magick. I owned several sets of runes which is my preferred method of divination and really learned divination from the runes. I also prefer the runes for my low magick spellwork and sigilization. Finally the whole ideas of the occult virtues of things jived with Agrippa, who I would encounter later.

This is really where the lightbulb went on that we needed a formalized system. Eclectic wicca was missing it, asatru was ignoring magic at best and offered no guidelines at worst, I knew Edred had touched-the-hem so to speak, so I started looking for formal systems. I read Kraig’s “Modern Magick” and it was an eye opener, I read everything by DuQuette which was great too, and eventually happened across Regardi’s books. Regardi’s books really helped, along with Cicero. Where Cicero is missing the nuts-and-bolts, I filled it in with Kraig. Where Kraig is missing the system, I filled it in with Cicero. There were detours in there too, Enochian entities seemed to have their own agendas, the Goetia was helpful – seriously too helpful sometimes. The low magick worked, and became better as I learned tricks like doing divination before and after and paying attention to the moon or the day and hour of the planet. The high magic worked – I could evoke Goetics entities almost on command and query them for answers. Agares in particular predicted my kid would be born almost three days early a month before the due date.

That’s really the state of the art. I do magical working for myself for issues at work and in my social life where I have little or no conventional influence. I do workings for my friends. But it’s not about having “magical powers”, it’s about the philosophical questions raised by each working. Was my kid supposed to be born three days early or did Agares affect things as a show of power? I was told by another magician that Agares had “something big planned” before I successfully evoked him – this would certainly fit the bill. Do the spirits represent metaphysical or spiritual forces in the universe or are they intelligences doing a job? Who is God to have these spirits and why? Why does Tarot work even when I casually play with the cards versus before which surely was a random draw? The golden dawn (and related organizations like the OTO) seems to have understood these questions, people were asking them, people got the magic to work, and people wrote about and reflected on these very issues. That’s why I think the Golden Dawn is the way to go.